Our current modified enhanced community quarantine is up today. I am told we are now ready to go into general community quarantine, or general community quarantine, which allows a little more movement in and out of our barangay. I understand that curfew and the liquor ban will remain. Other details are still being discussed.
We are entering our 12th week in quarantine. Soon it will be three months. That’s a quarter of year 2020. Eighty-four days. 2,016 hours! It has taken a big chunk out of every single lifetime. That’s an awesome thought.
And for some of us, it isn’t quite over. I belong to the “perishables” and must be kept away from “outside stuff.” Except for the fact that it has totally altered the quality of my life, I am immensely grateful to have come this far.
Super seniors like me will totally agree.
What have we learned?
I asked a few people. Many were surprised to discover that we could get by with so much less. That time is precious and life fragile. That life can change so suddenly, it takes your breath away. That staying home is a gift. That happiness does not depend on what we can buy or where we can go; that there is a vast difference between price and value.
All those notions fell by the wayside and stopped being the “end all and be all” of our existence the moment life showed itself uncertain and unpredictable. This virus does not care who you are. Priorities had to shift. We all had to make difficult choices as we faced the specter of painful loss and our own mortality.
A colleague writes: “I have discovered that giving and doing for others brings more satisfaction to the giver than it does the recipient. I have also learned to appreciate receiving from others. I was always skeptical, even suspicious, thinking that if someone gave me anything there were strings attached. Suddenly I see the heart behind the gift.”
As excited as everyone is about getting back out there, many ask if it is too soon. The coronavirus is still around. The numbers are up. The curve has not flattened. We are not testing as many as we should. There is still no vaccine, no cure. But people need to work.
Slowly businesses are starting to reopen. It will take time to get back into the swing of things. The economy is in tatters. In my mind’s eye I see new front-liners stepping up, happy to work but taking risks to help business get back on its feet. More heroes.
Restaurants, hairstyling establishments and other personal service businesses are ramping up their reentry plans following strict protocol for the “new normal.”
“We have to be in total compliance for our own protection and that of the general public,” one owner explained. “We have been working hard and should be ready to roll out our renovated facilities when they give us the green light.”
I spoke to Vicky and Henry Sumbillo, top hairstylists and owners of South Salon. They shared guidelines for their outlets in Ayala Alabang, Bonifacio Global City and Nuvali.
“For starters, to avoid a crowded environment, walk-in clientele will be discouraged. At the entrance of the shop, we have a sanitized welcome mat and someone to check temperature. We have hand sanitizer at the door, a health form to be filled up and a disposable cape to wear. Operators wearing coveralls and masks will work on one customer at a time. Seats are 6 feet apart and each one is disinfected before and after every client.”
The Sumbillos have invested in state-of-the-art air purifiers to ensure that any airborne virus or bacteria is neutralized. Patrons are urged not to bring bags. Phones and wallets are allowed. All transactions will be cashless.
Best and worst
It is said that times of crisis bring out the best and the worst in people.
You may have heard about the construction worker, sole breadwinner and father of four, who like thousands of others was jobless since the start of lockdown. After weeks of waiting for ayuda from government, his number finally came up and he lined up for hours to collect.
The following day, he had more good news. He was called back to work. Without a second thought, he went back to the barangay office, lined up and returned the money he received the day before. When asked why, he said it was only right. He was lucky enough to get his job back and knew someone now needed that money more than he did.
And then, from a privileged part of town comes the story of this well-connected couple that allegedly has been manipulating the sale of new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test kits, charging outrageous prices, and literally making a killing. Here we are, in desperate need of better and more affordable testing facilities to quell the spread of COVID-19. But someone without a conscience gets a sniff of a windfall and turns into a heartless monster who thinks nothing of “selling his own mother down the river.”
The great Mahatma Gandhi once said: “The world is big enough to satisfy everyone’s needs, but will always be too small to satisfy everyone’s greed.”