Life in The Middle of The Pandemic


People wearing medical mask | Free Vector
Photo credit: Freepik 


Not so long ago, I went out of our gated subdivision to withdraw some of my hard-earned money. I needed to pay my house rent. This was when the National Capital Region (Metro Manila) was still under the Enhanced Community Quarantine caused  by the deadly Coronavirus- Covid-19. Under the Enhanced Community Quarantine or ECQ, only one person from one household could go out in order to buy essentials or run errands. 

I walked leisurely on the deserted road to the bank, under the leafy acacia trees. It was early in the morning and I wanted to get some much-needed sunlight. Everything looked gloomy. The once busy street outside our subdivision was now almost deserted.

At one point, I stood at a corner and for a while I watched the few people going by. All were in a hurry to reach their destinations. On strategic locations were some policemen and policewomen who were alertly watching the people hurrying by, making sure that each person had a mask or a face shield on, and making sure that social distancing was properly observed.

At the entrance of the building where the bank was located, my temperature was checked. Anybody with a temperature of 36.8 over was not allowed to get in. The lady guard sprayed my hands with sanitizer. (In all fairness to me, even when Covid-19 still belonged to the distant future, I always had a bottle of 70% solution Isopropyl alcohol in my pocket, and another in my bag, and a lot more in my house.)  Anyway, I joined the line at the door of the bank. Only 3 people at a time were allowed to get in.

When it was finally my turn to enter the bank, the security guard checked my temperature again and sprayed my hands with sanitizer again. This has become the Standard Operating Procedure in all establishments—in convenience stores, in drugstores. This, as they say, has become the new normal.

On my way home, I passed by a big church, the St. Peter’s church. I instinctively looked around, and there---I saw—a policewoman kneeling by the outside pew, with her head bowed down, deep in prayer. She was wearing a blue-green camouflage uniform, which means that she belongs to the Philippine National Police Mobile Group Company. I also said a silent prayer for her and for the frontliners out there, in the whole world.

Filipinos in general are merry people. We love laughing and talking while walking (or while doing anything, as in anything) we love socializing, we love hugging when we meet our friends, we kiss them on the cheek as an expression of a warm greeting.   It was, therefore uncommon to see people walking two or three meters apart instead of cheerfully (and noisily) walking in groups. It was uncommon, yes, but it did not bother us in any way. We all understand that this is not a political thing, it’s not discrimination, it’s not an issue that we should take to court. We all understand that we have to wear masks so as not to spread or spew out our saliva or droplets when we talk or sneeze. We understand that we have to practice social distancing to prevent close contact to people who MIGHT be asymptomatic Covid-19 carriers. We all understand that we have to stay home, under community quarantine, to limit the movement of people, thus, limiting also the chances of transmission. We understand that this deadly virus is a global problem and as citizens of the world, we are under moral duty to do whatever we can to help stop or slow down the spread of the virus.

I dropped by a supermarket to buy some essentials. Again, I had to fall in line, because only ten shoppers at a time were allowed to enter. After a long wait, my temperature was again checked with a thermal scanner. At the entrance, I was made to clean my shoes by stepping on a disinfectant-sodden rug. My hands were sprayed with sanitizers again.

Inside the supermarket, the atmosphere was different. Customers were moving a little faster than usual, being mindful of other shoppers. There were absolutely no senior citizens there.  There were a lot of "restricted products", such as bath soap, sanitizers, detergent bars, and the like.  To make sure that all shoppers who need them can also buy them, only two of those products could be bought. The cash register was reprogrammed to automatically reject the third item when scanned or punched.

As I was quickly walking from one aisle to aisle, I also noticed that the music was different. Prior to the Covid-19 attack, the radio would spew out pop or hip hop songs. At that time, however, worship songs were being played. I remembered the policewoman at the church. 

We all have our own way of worshipping, and we call this religious diversity. However, whenever we are faced with extreme difficulties, we, generally, all need a Higher Being  to turn to, a Supreme Being to pour our hearts to, Someone we can talk to whenever we are overwhelmed with fears, anxieties, and uncertainties. In the face of the pandemic, our differences don’t matter anymore. As the say, we all heal as one. Again, I said a little prayer for the frontliners out there and for all the people in the world.

I quickened my steps when I got out of the supermarket.

At the gate, the uniformed subdivision guards were there, also checking the temperature of the people who were coming in and going out of the village. They were checking  car stickers  to make sure that only the residents of the subdivision were getting in, thus preventing, or at least minimizing, the possibility of infections.  
When one of the guards saw me approaching, he politely greeted me while he opened the gate, and I got in. I spent about six seconds cleaning my shoes by wiping them on the disinfectant-sodden rug again, under his watchful eye. At the big gate, the tires of one car were being sprayed with disinfectant.

Before the lockdown, I did not interact with the guards that much. I’ve always been a very busy person, and I did not have the luxury of time to chat with anybody for more than a minute. Besides, the guards have always been there at their posts, opening the Entrance Gate or The Exit Gate when a car would come in or get out, or opening the small gate for the people who don’t drive cars, just like me. I would just respond with a little smile or I would say “Thank you” with a slight bow. All of those were just done mechanically, on autopilot. At that particular time, however, I realized how important their job was, and how dedicated they were to their tasks. The village guards are fathers, brothers, sons, uncles, husbands—not just uniformed humans who would open and close the gates.  I vowed to buy them some coffee the next time I’d go out again, a thing which I did after two days.

We are now under General Community Quarantine, or GCQ. This means, anybody from a household can go out BUT still, he/she is required to wear a mask and of course, social distancing is still strictly implemented. The skeleton staffs of the companies can now go to work by using the shuttle buses provided by the companies they work for. We don’t know when classes are opening. The president said, “No vaccine, no school opening.”

We don’t know when this virus is going to disappear. We don’t know if things would be just like the way they were before.  

But anyway, despite the pandemic, life has to go on. 


Japanese Translation:
Credit: Google Translate

少し前まで、私は自分の苦労して稼いだお金の一部を引き出すために私たちのゲート付き区画から出ました。私は家賃を払う必要がありました。これは、首都マニラ(メトロマニラ)が、致命的なコロナウイルス-コビッド19によって引き起こされた強化コミュニティ検疫下にあったときのことです。強化されたコミュニティ検疫(ECQ)の下では、必需品を購入したり、用事を実行したりするために出かけることができるのは、1世帯の1人だけです。


緑豊かなアカシアの木の下で、無人の土手道をのんびりと歩いた。早朝だったので、待望の日差しを浴びたいと思いました。すべてが暗く見えた。私たちの区画の外のかつてのにぎやかな通りは今やほとんど人けのない状態でした。

あるとき、私は角に立ち、しばらくの間、数人が通り過ぎるのを見ました。全員が目的地に到着するのを急いでいました。戦略的な場所には、人々が急いで急いでいるのを注意深く見守っていた警官や警官がいて、一人一人がマスクまたは顔面シールドを着用していることを確認し、社会的な距離が適切に守られていることを確認しました。

土手があるビルの入り口で、体温をチェックしました。体温が36.8度を超える人は入室できませんでした。婦人警備員が私の手に殺菌剤をスプレーしました。 (公平に言うと、Covid-19がまだ遠い未来に属していたときでも、私はいつも70%溶液のイソプロピルアルコールのボトルを私のポケットに、もう1つを私のバッグに、そして私の家にはもっとたくさんありました。)とにかく、私は銀行のドアで列に加わりました。一度に3人しか入場できませんでした。

ようやく銀行に入る番になったとき、警備員が再び体温をチェックし、手に消毒液を吹きかけました。これは、コンビニエンスストアやドラッグストアなど、すべての施設で標準的な運用手順になっています。彼らが言うように、これは新しい常態となっています。

家に帰る途中、私は大きな教会である聖ペテロ教会を通り過ぎました。私は本能的に周りを見回しました、そしてそこに---私は見ました—彼女の頭がお辞儀をし、祈りの奥で、外のピューでひざまずいている婦人警官を見ました。彼女は青緑色のカモフラージュのユニフォームを着ていました。つまり、彼女はフィリピン国家警察のモバイルグループ会社に所属しています。私はまた、彼女と世界中の第一線の人々のための黙祷を述べました。

スーパーから降りた時、足元を早めました。

ゲートには制服を着た小分け警備員がいて、村に出入りする人々の体温もチェックしていました。彼らは車のステッカーをチェックして、区画の居住者だけが侵入していることを確認し、感染の可能性を防止、または少なくとも最小限に抑えていました。


警備員の一人が私が近づいているのを見たとき、彼が門を開けている間、彼は丁寧に私に挨拶し、そして私は入りました。大きな門では、1台の車のタイヤに消毒剤が噴霧されていました。

封鎖される前は、警備員とあまり関わっていなかった。私はいつもとても忙しい人で、誰かと1分以上チャットする余裕がありませんでした。その上、警備員は常に彼らのポストにいて、車が出入りするときに入り口ゲートまたは出口ゲートを開くか、私のように車を運転しない人々のために小さなゲートを開きました。ほんの少し笑顔で返事するか、少しお辞儀をして「ありがとう」と言います。これらはすべて、自動操縦で機械的に行われただけです。しかし、その特定の時間に、私は彼らの仕事がいかに重要であり、彼らが彼らの仕事にどれだけ献身しているかに気づきました。村の警備員は、父親、兄弟、息子、叔父、夫であり、ゲートを開閉する制服を着た人間だけではありません。次回また出かけるときは、コーヒーを買うと誓った。

現在、一般コミュニティ検疫(GCQ)の下にあります。これは、世帯の誰もが出かけることができることを意味しますが、彼/彼女はマスクを着用する必要があり、もちろん、社会的距離は依然として厳格に実施されています。各社のスケルトンスタッフは、各社が提供するシャトルバスを利用して出勤できるようになりました。クラスがいつ始まるかはわかりません。大統領は「ワクチンなし、学校開校なし」と言った。

このウイルスがいつなくなるかはわかりません。以前と同じような状況になるかどうかはわかりません。

しかしとにかく、パンデミックにもかかわらず、人生は続く必要があります。



















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