Jimmy K. Laking
This business of staying alive is no joke. It has the face of death stamped on its flipside.
The more people tend to relax their guards in so far as health protocols are concerned, the nearer they are to the embrace of the novel coronavirus.
On a personal note, I had long taken a sabbatical from my favorite karaoke joints, and discovered I also did not miss the company that would belt out “And now the end is near, and so I face the final curtain…” in a variety of ways.
Adios, Elvis Presley. Not for now you don’t.
On the other hand, the more compliant people are in observing health measures, the further they are from harm’s way. Ergo, for so long as the pandemic is still around and for so long as no vaccine has been made available, we as a people cannot afford to let our guards down. It is our only defense.
Yet having said that, I had over the past two months been to places in the region where people no longer see the need for masks but still practice distancing.
The first one was in a village in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur where I visited a friend, Kim Pescadera and his family last September. Kim and his neighbors saw no need for masks but it was plain they were health-conscious and were compliant with distancing and other health protocols.
It was also here where I partook of a dish consisting of fish broth topped by basil leaves, and a soup consisting only of saluyot (Jute Leaves or Corchorus) leaves. It was exhilarating as it was an eye-opener.
The second was in a village in Mabini, Davao de Oro where I went to visit the family of a province mate who settled in the midst of a Mansaka ethnolinguistic community. The old man has passed away but his children are still around.
Here too, the community saw no need for masks. It was also evident their houses were built within respectable distance from each other, negating COVID-19 transmission.
The last was in barangay Lavigan in Davao Oriental’s Gov. Generoso town just recently. It was normal as in the old days. No masks. No face shields. The only people that wore masks were the commuters and visitors that stream almost daily to the old lighthouse at the Cape of San Agustin on their bikes and vehicles.
Here, I planted my first Adlay (Job’s Tears) on a slope dominated for so long by coconuts. I also took a selfie, mask-less, to
mark what to me was a historic event.
Back in the city, it is back to the new reality. There is no arguing with what is required to stay alive or perish. It is as it is as Donald S. Trump is wont to say, the same man whose country is averaging 907 deaths daily from the COVID-19 pandemic.
With most of Mindanao transitioning into a modified general community quarantine mode, the economy has loosened up a bit. Businesses have reopened. Transportation access has eased up. Traffic is brisk in most places.
But there is no loosening up the health protocols spelled out since the start of the pandemic.
As President Duterte has reminded us time and again, all the more reason for people to stay healthy. This can be achieved by staying home. By avoiding crowded places. By practicing social and physical distancing. By washing the hands regularly.
The other face of this reality is that it may take perhaps near the end of Duterte’s term before a safe antidote to Covid-19 is discovered. Worse still, the pandemic appeared to have dug in for the long haul in a wanton display of attrition. It is not going away. It does not sleep.
It is not a bad dream either we wish we could dismiss with the coming of a new day. Hence, there is no gambling away life by taking health protocols for granted. Mind you, it is not just you and me. It is about the people and the children around us who value and cherish life. They deserve something better from us. We must not fail them. It is what is.