To get a dental appointment two weeks ago, I had to fill an online questionnaire not only on a patient’s basic information, but also with questions on whether or not I had traveled recently and if I had new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) symptoms. Then I was asked to forward a photo of the culprit—my problematic tooth—so the dentist would have an idea, before my appointment, what procedure I’d need. That, for me, raised the level of the selfie.
Doing a tooth selfie isn’t unique these days. If it’s not your tooth, it could be your throat, as in the case of our assistant editor. (I never asked how she photographed it.) With quarantine still in force and doctors and patients doing teleconsulting, photos of the afflicted areas find their use somehow.
Patients are screened for possible COVID-19 symptoms, thus the online questionnaire.
This is but a part of the “new normal.”
The new normal is work-from-home (WFH). We’ve done it since early March, and perhaps because there are no lunches or events to attend, we manage to get work done quickly, earlier and with stronger focus. Routine has given us a much-needed breather from the social whirl.
In our club, tennis is allowed again for nonseniors—but only for singles and if you wear a mask—while playing. Is this really an IATF ordinance? Limit one’s breathing as one runs and hits the ball, in this heat? Death by stupidity.
The new normal is accepting that life, as we knew it, would not be back, not for as long as one fears human contact. Fear of contagion preempts any economic, indeed any human, activity—from learning, working to earning to spending, socializing.
It’s as if recession takes place in one’s mind before it actually happens in the economic environment. Consumer spending will be back only if and when consumers feel safe about their environment. People are raring to step out, yet are reluctant except to get the bare essentials. It’s impressive how mall developers got the ball rolling and instituted health and safety protocols.
But who are we to quibble about lifestyle? People are alive, yet are losing their jobs, or taking pay cuts. Unemployment, it is said, will hit the double digits this year, in a population so young and potentially productive.
Resilient and ingenious
But Filipinos are a very resilient and ingenious lot. They are helpful and forgiving. This text going around cracks us up: “China—We resolved the virus. USA—We will die. Italy—We cannot survive. England—The end is near. Philippines—Hello mga Sis! Avail po kayo ng ube cheese pan de sal, sushi bake, hopia-mani-puto, crinkles…”
We’re too resilient that the powers-that-be knew it could get away with the terror bill at this time, when they should be trying to flatten the curve (produce reliable statistics, for starters), continue propping up the health-care system amid the expected spikes of cases (how to expand testing and contact tracing), arrest the slide of the economy, and restore people’s faith and confidence in a system that could be untrustworthy.
Our new normal comes only one day at a time. One hopes the new normal is a new day. (In the meantime, listen to BTS’ Jungkook’s “Still With You,” released just this week. It’s a balm. How could this young boy sound like an old soul? Or the good old “Rama Hari” of Kuh Ledesma, “Magbalik Ka Na Mahal”—like an old normal gone forever.)
How friends try to ease into the new normal:
Charisse Chuidian: In the new normal, I have never appreciated technology more, especially for us who WFH, keeping us safely connected—with occasional remote troubleshooting support from the office—via Boxer, vdi, authenticator, etc. and other techie words added to my vocabulary. Because of Zoom, Messenger, Viber, WhatsApp, podcasts, online chats and forums, video streams for liturgical services and fascinating entertainment, I stay connected with the office, family, friends, service providers and the world, even learning a new language (por su puesto!) while laughing and bonding with dear friends. My initial challenge was enrolling my utilities and bank accounts online, something I avoided doing for so long. I’m appreciating staying home 24/7, while having the luxury of freedom to spend my time as I want and need it, at my own pace with no time boundaries (OK, it could be inimical to one’s health), and being mindful and respectful of how all those around me are adjusting to the new normal in their own ways.
Marco Protacio: My preparations are mostly psychoemotional in nature. The first step was to accept the possibility that my life may never be the same as it was pre-COVID-19. As soon as I embraced that possibility, things became clearer. I now know how I will rebuild my life and more importantly, I now know how to win my daily battle against the three demons that confront me—Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. Change is inevitable and I have no choice, but to adapt to thrive. However, I have also realized that my willingness to change does not only come from necessity, but also from the fact that it is inherent in every human being to want to become better. Life goes on… so ready or not, here I come, new normal!
Tokie Tantoco: When GCQ took effect June 1, the first thing I did was to visit my 99-year-old father. It was such an incredible feeling to see him again. He was in such high spirits—and this is how I am easing back into my normal activities.
Nes Jardin: The new normal for me means no shows, art events, concerts, parties and occasions to see and enjoy live arts. It’s such a grim scenario. So evenings will probably be spent with small groups of friends talking about the glory days when art was abundantly accessible, and devising creative ways to keep it alive.
Susan Joven: I’m still my fun, youthful, bubbly and energetic self. I just do it in house clothes. I’m actually embracing this new normal. New challenges, new ways of living, new discoveries all excite me. I don’t allow fear to get over me. What did I change? Maybe my mindset that this will be my life for a very long time. And professionally I temporarily stepped back and appointed my daughter Ginggay as president of Visions.
Mia Borromeo: I actually turned another year older and, hopefully, wiser with all the lessons from the lockdown. Removed from the outside world and the frenetic pace of my former life, I’ve realized in the last three months in quarantine how much I’ve taken for granted. Now, more than ever, I am deeply grateful for God’s countless blessings.
Living with my 93-year-old dad during a pandemic means that I will continue to follow “stay home” rules for now. Daily life under the new normal for me means simplifying, getting back to basics and slowing down:
I spend early mornings or late afternoons gardening (and getting a nice dose of sun!). I then use leaves and flowers from our garden as inspiration to create fun table settings and tablescapes for our daily meals. It’s a great form of creative therapy for me.
Finally having time for regular workouts on my trampoline with the help of YouTube.
Zoom meetings and mobile banking, which is a totally new discovery for a nontechie like me!
And the joy of rediscovering my prayer and spiritual life which has become a real source of peace and contentment throughout the day.
Chunchi Soler: It’s been a challenge, to say the least, because being on home quarantine for almost three months has become a very comfortable habit and routine. But definitely, some things may not change for a while, like going to the gym, so home workouts (a new normal for me) will continue for the meantime.
I guess the basic change that I am already making is to be prepared when leaving the house. I am consciously making it a habit and trying to make a routine of it—to put on my face mask, wear my cap with a face shield, place sanitizer spray and throat spray in my pockets. I have caught myself sometimes stepping out without one of said items and have had to go back for them. These are things I didn’t use to do. So I am trying to adapt my morning routines so I don’t forget. Also, I guess I am more aware of what I touch—constantly sanitizing, washing hands, avoiding touching my face, etc. And, of course, practicing social distancing. It’s not how I used to do things but we do what we have to do.
Jackie Aquino: The best way I know how: one step at a time. It’s now a balance between surviving and living, and I will have to find a way to do both. Work is important, and the time is coming soon for me to rejoin the workforce.
Ching Cruz: Now more than ever I retreated back to the basics. I have focused primarily on comprehensive health of the mind, body and soul. My needs have become simpler during this crisis. Prayer, staying in good health and spending quality family time are what truly matter to me.
Carlo Tanseco: I’m painting a lot these days. Something beautiful came out of this ugly virus.