Sunday, June 14, 2020

Lockdown: The Ws and H of Our Generation

If you will sum up the year 2020 in one word, even if we are still in the first half, one of the words that would easily come to mind is “lockdown.”

Online dictionary defines lockdown as "an emergency measure or condition in which people are temporarily prevented from entering or leaving a restricted area or building during a threat of danger."

Unless you are living under a rock or deep in the Mariana Trench, you will surely agree that this generation has never faced a worldwide nightmare like the COVID-19 pandemic. Global economy nosedived… thousands of deaths recorded every day… people turned like prisoners in their own homes… millions of employees affected of the full or partial workplace closures… unimaginable things became realities.

But in the midst of fears, uncertainties and so many questions looming in the air, hope still exists. We celebrate every small win humanity achieves from inspiring survival stories to good news of possible cure for the virus to initiatives of organizations and individuals who have gone extra miles in this battle against the unseen enemy.

I would like to share not only my story. I am recollecting tales of other people I know and come to know and the many Ws that we faced during the lockdown along with the traps and cages that a lot of us are still trying to unlock while looking for the H.

My name is Richard. A 40 something family man who has a day job as a main source of income. In the last 90 days, I miss (an understatement) fun breakfast chats with officemates, the traffic jams to and from work (yes, because I used those moments to finish my favorite TV series); weekend family dates; our annual summer getaway and the euphoria of seeing #WalangPasok on my feeds because of a national holiday.

My daily musings are not really worthy of a social media shoutout compared to the noble acts of good Samaritans like police officer Jon who gave his well-kept $100 bill to a delivery guy he caught due to a traffic violation; bicycle owner Fe who refused to accept the payment of an senior citizen who have been wanting to buy her bike; Couple Penn and Avic who despite having no income converted their shop to be a kitchen for free meals of needy strangers and frontliners; student Kenneth who wanted to sell all his medal to help out his mother who has no work; Doctor to the Barrios Dr. Mar who give free consultations all his life and died along with other doctors in their battle versus COVID-19.

They are just some of the people who kept this nation sane in the midst of the chaos with their kind hearts, sacrifices and the good vibes they bring.

To be honest, when the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was announced last March, I thought it was no big deal. I am not new to work from home set-up since I used to have clients from overseas from previous work. I can also work on my own although I still prefer face to face to face team collaboration.

For the first few weeks, it feels okay and I thought I am already getting the hang of it. I receive my monthly salary and have it transferred to online payment channels which I used to purchase grocery and food for delivery.

But then it hit me. I lost count of how many times I uttered or sent messages of condolence. The number of deaths during the pandemic, whether due to the virus of not, is alarming. The worse feeling is I was not able to personally pay my final respect to my three cousins who died just weeks apart due to different medical conditions.

This is something that will haunt me for a while. I hate to admit it but I was not prepared for this.

You need not to go far to witness heroism, how bold or simple the act may be. You can hear about them in the news or read from a Facebook share of a friend. You might also already sitting beside them now in your respective offices or talking to them via online meeting rooms if you are working from home like me.

It is through online meetings and messenger group chats (GCs) that I was able to have real talks and exchange of thoughts with friends, officemates and relatives on how to get through the situation.

We even had a blind survey among colleagues and through that activity, we were able to find out that most of us are experiencing mental issues like excessive worrying or fear, feeling sad or low, confused thinking or problems concentrating, sudden mood changes, prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger, difficulties understanding or relating to other people, changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy, and other concerns. Our team is already taking appropriate steps to manage the situation.

I also find a venue to help others in need in social media. Together with some friends, we silently chip in donations from cash to grocery items to lend a hand to victims of online food delivery pranks, individuals who have nothing to eat, frontliners who are in need of PPE and others.

The joy of being able to help is priceless and in a way therapeutic.

You might have heard of this saying for countless times before but it's Oprah Winfrey's version that I always remember, “I trust that everything happens for a reason, even if we are not wise enough to see it.”

The magnitude of the impact brought about by the coronavirus pandemic is an enormous challenge across the globe. While we continue to thrive and heal in the midst of waves of disruptions, many of us still struggles to accept all the lost opportunities, financial challenges and worse, death of loved ones.

What have a learned during all of these disruptions? It is still hard to say honestly because the battle has not won yet and we still don’t know what is the end of this war looks like.

Maybe, I learned to be more hopeful and how to patiently wait. Indeed, it is during circumstances like this that we discover a little bit more something about ourselves.

Why should we move forward? Remember that there is no place to go but up when you’re down.

Why should we lose hope when there are still courageous frontliners out there--- military and policemen manning the streets rain or shine, health workers with their lives on the line, delivery personnel who bring food and supplies to our doorsteps, government employees sending help to every corner of the country---- and they only ask for prayers for their safety.

Why should you easily embrace darkness when there is a promise of celebration of humanity once we finally reach the light at the end of this tunnel.

Right now, the question of how is still something we all wish to answer as soon as possible. How do we end this pandemic?

There is no guaranteed respond for now.  However, we can start healing one wound at a time. Let us learn to change tires while driving.

I want to share a prayer that I prepared for one of our online meetings. I feel a sense of comfort every time I recite it before I begin my day. I hope you'll experience the same feeling when you read it.

Dear God, 

You know how hard the struggles we are going through now. Many of us bear problems financially, emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. There are some who feels like giving up while others already lost the fight. 

But despite all these challenges, we continue to keep the faith knowing that you have the power to remove all the yokes that had been giving us sleepless nights.

We believe that your healing hands is always upon us... that help is on the way... that the promise of cure to the pandemic is within reach.

Continue to guide, bless and protect us with your embrace of unconditional love. We will fight our way out of this chaos, we will heal as one, and celebrate every small victory.

We ask all of these through your holy name. Amen

Please continue to support efforts of the government and private sector during these challenging times. This pandemic may have broken this generation but we will not be defined on how many times we fall but how many times to stand up and hold our ground. We’re all in this together. We heal as one.


This story is an entry to ComCo Southeast Asia’s “Write to Ignite Blogging Project”. The initiative is a response to the need of our times, as every story comes a long way during this period of crisis. Igniting and championing the human spirit, “Write to Ignite Blog Project” aims to pull and collate powerful stories from the Philippine blogging communities to inspire the nation to rise and move forward amidst the difficult situation. This project is made possible by ComCo Southeast Asia, co-presented by Eastern Communications and sponsored by Electrolux, Jobstreet and Teleperformance.