A Year on Lockdown
The beginning: March 15, 2020.
I remember vividly how that day went about. It was a Sunday, and I was out in the province after months of staying in Metro Manila. During this point in time, a little-known virus had spread mostly in the capital. Government officials, scrambling to contain it, declared a “lockdown” days prior to its actual implementation.
That day came on this particular Sunday. There was a sense of fear in the air and doubts about the new precarious situation. With the lockdowns come checkpoints, and many people were stranded in the capital with nowhere to go.
Luckily, I escaped Metro Manila almost weeks before the whole situation unfolded.
March 17, 2020.
Escaping the comforts of home, I went outside my village and observed intently on the outside world. Eeriness unfolded before my very own eyes. The highway was almost empty, save for some vehicles going into their respective destination. It was as if the world stopped for a moment. Except that this is not a fleeting, momentary situation.
Walking around, I see shops paralyzed by the whole situation. What was once a bustling scene was replaced by an almost-empty ghost town whose silence and invisibility is broken down by some people from time to time.
April 12, 2020.
It will over be a month since the lockdown was implemented. Going back on this particular moment, the lockdown was conceived as a last-resort option to stop the virus. But that option took a heavy toll on the country’s economy. Devoid of any activities, the country’s economic engine grinded to a halt.
As a little glimpse of hope, the lockdown also cleared the air of Metro Manila. People were astounded when they saw the mountains of Sierra Madre for the first time. Apparently, Metro Manila pre-lockdown was so polluted that the smog in the air literally decreases visibility.
On this day is Easter Sunday, but there is nothing particularly joyful about this day. Typical stories of hope and rising from the ashes were absent and replaced by a gloomy note of despair and longing for the pre-pandemic days.
And the days went by
Days go by like a terrible slog. Before, I used to go out frequently since I like short brisk walks to clear my mind. Slowly, the pandemic made me a “homebody” — that is, a person who is always home. What was once a weekend filled with fast-paced itineraries became a slow passage of time.
Eventually, society would come to accept that the world is in a point of no return. Businesses eventually re-opened months after the strict lockdown, and semblance of normalcy gradually returned too. In the occasional times that I had to go out, I eventually saw a sign of hope that things will return to what they used to be.
But during those moments, I also think of the future possibilities and the roadblocks that could hamper any return to the days before COVID-19. I also had some quips with the return to normalcy — return to the “normal” shouldn’t be returning to the old ways that have gradual impact on the planet and everyone else.
October 1, 2020.
I celebrated my 22nd birthday at home, devoid of the usual going out to places routine that my me and my family used to do. Without the pandemic, I could have celebrated it elsewhere, perhaps with other people too. Instead, I’m stuck at home eating delivered food. In all honesty, it was a good food made much better by the fact that it was one of those fast-foods that I sorely miss since the whole pandemic started.
December 25, 2020.
By this point in time, new cases had subsided a bit to prompt the government for eventual reopening of business establishments. A simple celebration marks the occasion of the day: Christmas Day.
January 1, 2021.
What was once a joyous occasion needs to dial down for a moment. Fireworks can be heard from afar, but it is not as thunderous and loud as last year’s. Granted, people were optimistic with the turn of the decade so hopes were really high. But as the pandemic started to ravage the whole world, all that hope were turned into despair.
Still, there is no need to be a pessimist on day one of 2021. Things may change for the better, and I certainly do hoped so during that day. Like what transpired on Christmas, there was a simple feast to welcome the new year.
Everywhere, there was an itch to go back to the old ways of living and surely enough, people missed those dearly. During a brief stroll to a favorite spot, I can see people lining up to stores, with some eating the food they have probably missed. However, I also noticed something: the absence of chaotic haggling that could have been during this time of the year.
And the days go by … again
New Year’s Day went by and it was once again a return to the newly-found habits and routines that have become normal due to the pandemic
The pandemic, for instance, made my mental health suffer. I am all well and alive, but my anxiety has crept back into my life like it was my first time to experience it again. As such, my productivity took a hit also and I was procrastinating more.
I could have also have a job at this moment in time, but the pandemic has forced many businesses to take drastic measures too. As such, I am at a worse time to seek a decent work with other jobless people also applying for whatever position is open. Luckily, I have freelance opportunities that I can rely on for a monthly subsistence.
Talks of vaccine arrival also provided a glimmer of hope that this pandemic won’t last long. However, government incompetencies delayed the arrival of the vaccine and it was not long before the pandemic caught on.
The end: March 15, 2021.
This day will mark the anniversary of lockdown, but things have notably regressed as compared to the previous months. Not that there was any significant improvements during the past few months, but the new cases on the anniversary is significantly higher than the recent past months.
Clearly, the situation felt like a déjà vu with cases increasing as the days and weeks unfold. The increase on daily new cases, however, surfaced the sentiments of the few that the government had been incompetent on dealing with the whole pandemic. I, for one, supports this sentiment and blames the new cases on the inability to deal with the pandemic with a unified plan and resolve.
The lack of an efficient contact tracing and free mass testing proved to be a sore point for the government. It also doesn’t help that the government deals with criticisms on a non-professional and intimidating way. Plus, the slow rollout of vaccines is complicating the whole situation.
It is as if the government are content with the bare minimum and not much else.
While I saw despair and harbored fear at the start of pandemic, my sentiments have changed over the year to that of anger and a clamor for better. I know that many also feel the same. Some may not be angry, but tired instead. Things are not going to get better soon, and the night is still young. In the meantime, however, all I could do is rage into the night, wear some common sense (and mask), and hope that the pandemic will go away soon.