On top of the tragic circumstances the world finds itself in, full-blown unrest has erupted in cities across the United States. Thanks to technology, there is no land too far or too remote for the rest of the world to see or hear about it. We have something else again to keep us awake at night.
Over the last week, grief-stricken and enraged Americans, in total disregard of mandated distancing regulations to fight the virus, have vented their anger over the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck to subdue him but stayed there until the black man died. It was brutal. Heartless. There is no other way to describe what happened.
Video footage of the crime is all over media. Nothing anyone can say or do can minimize the inhumanity of that act. Floyd was unarmed, handcuffed and on his belly on the ground. He was defenseless. He pleaded for his life. His last words: “I can’t breathe.” There were three other police officers on the scene. They did nothing.
People were in shock. They wept. They came out of their homes to grieve together, but what was meant to be a peaceful protest march turned incredibly ugly. We watched scenes of violence, looting and wanton destruction. And the anger grew and spread like wildfire from coast to coast.
Recently thousands of people in cities across Europe took to the streets to show solidarity.
At the Vatican Pope Francis prayed for “unity in diversity.”
The protests have quieted down a bit. In the aftermath, it is interesting to note that some people are more focused on the vandalism than on the gruesome murder. They are looking for some sinister provocateur or opportunist to blame for the chaos. My friend in Vallejo refuses to see it as a racist crime. It is her way of dealing with things she cannot understand.
How are parents explaining this tragedy to their little children? Do they just skim over the horror and pretend everything is okay? How do they address the real issues of prejudice and discrimination? How do you explain racism to your kids?
Sadly it is not only in the United States that one sees this painful inequality. It is an old global malady.
But I don’t believe this is just about color. It is more than skin deep. This is an issue of the heart.
Slowly but surely
My first daughter came for lunch the other day. I had not seen her in three months. It felt strange to stay far from her. No hugging. We kept good distance; masks in place except when we ate. Despite our daily texts, we had so much to talk about. FaceTime is good, but face-to-face is the best. We planned our first dinner date. At Cibo, of course.
Restaurants are poised to make a comeback and are just waiting for the go-signal for “dining in.”
That will be a real treat. I know I have a longer wait than most, but it is nice to know that people are again starting to feel hopeful. I can feel it in the air, even in my casita.
I asked internationally celebrated restaurateur and star chef Margarita Forés her plans for reopening.
The protocols as per government guidelines for dining-in have yet to be finalized. But Margarita has anticipated and prepared for the inevitable changes and modifications. She is ready for a projected 50-percent capacity with a minimum distance of six feet between tables, menus made of disposable paper or on barcodes that are accessible on your phone. Her staff will wear masks, spit guards and gloves. Disinfectant mats will be installed at every entrance, and alcohol and hand sanitizers in strategic places.
“Cibo will operate 12 of our 16 outlets,” she said. “And when the dine-in option kicks in, Grace Park at Rockwell, Las Casas Manila in Quezon City, A Mano at Power Plant Mall and Lusso at Greenbelt 5, Makati, will open. The catering commissary for Cibo di Marghi at Whitespace continues to operate as the food outlet for deliveries and takeaways and our bakery is going full blast.”
I can hardly wait.
The other night, my granddaughter and her family drove by our house. Her mom had called to say they would and that maybe I wanted to take a peek, as I had not seen anyone in three months other than my twins with whom I live.
It was evening and drizzling. Afraid to fall, my yaya and I made a slow dash for it under a golf umbrella.
They pulled up, rolled down their windows; we shouted our hellos, and Leia waved and blew me kisses.
And I realized how deeply the lockdown has impacted me. I am by nature quite emotional, but even I was stunned to find myself in a state close to uncontrollable hysteria.
If I write about this today, it’s only because it occurs to me that people my age may soon experience this same feeling and be frightened, like I was, at the sudden surge of emotion.
Someone said it was my pent-up anxiety abruptly letting go. I call it “isolation trauma.” So if this happens to you, don’t worry about it. Embrace it.