ECQ Chronicles # 1

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How do I describe life these days?

My quarantine story started several days earlier. The City Government of Manila decided to suspend all classes for a week. Admittedly,  I considered this as a blessing. I have been chasing deadlines since January. I sleep at most, two hours everyday. Added to this, I have pending reports, which always get interrupted at work. Calls, meetings and other urgent concerns. I can’t seem to get my working pace in the day. I took the suspension as a much welcomed opportunity to work in the comforts of home.

I stayed at home for several days. I planned to go out and attend to some errands on weekends. But Thursday came, my social media accounts were flooded with advanced reports of a possible lockdown in Metro Manila. I felt alarmed so I forced myself to go out and have an unplanned grocery shopping. Much to my surprise, everyone shared my reaction. Everyone flocked the supermarkets, hoarded canned goods, instant noodles and other necessities. What was usually an hour of errand took me five hours. I booked a Grab Car and was able to reach home before the President made his Official Announcement.

It started as a community quarantine, became enhanced community quarantine (ecq). No one was prepared, not even the government. Hence, it’s not a surprise that everything came so disorganized. What caught my attention was fellow employees stuck in military check points. Since most employees work and live in different cities, most of them cannot reach home. Added to this, the government implemented a curfew. Not all companies dismissed their employees before the government’s proclamation. Since everyone rushed home, availability of public transportation and traffic worsened. I feel fortunate because I never had to undergo all these inconveniences. I felt grateful, but worried for fellow members of the working class.

There are contractual employees under no work no pay arrangements. There are BPO employees still required to report for work. Same goes with employees from the healthcare industry, supermarkets, military personnel, banks and food manufacturing companies. Most of them depend on public transportation. Not everyone has their own car. On the succeeding days, I heard stories of employees having to walk and cross several cities to report for work.  I’m worried for senior citizens living on their own.  Some of them are financially capable. Some of them have means that can only afford their daily needs. How can they support themselves? In some cities, senior citizens are not even allowed on public places. I also remember a fellow Grab Share passenger. She lives on her own and completing her series of chemotherapy sessions. She depends on Grab for her hospital check ups. I keep wondering how is she coping now.  There are also the informal sector workers, who depend on foot traffic for their livelihood.  Their means can only afford their daily needs are suddenly, taken away.  I have entrepreneur friends forced to stop their operations. As much as they’d like to provide for their employees, they are likewise faced with financial constraints.

My list of worries goes on. I settle with the best I can do, stay home and continue whatever work I can contribute. The school where I work for was considerate enough to continue paying our full salaries. The least I can offer is to return with good service, by continuing my reports. Everything seemed to be working well. I have supportive and responsive colleagues from other offices. Unfortunately, it’s a different story within my own department. I’ll write this on a separate post. But really, this is testing my patience.

I still have stories to relate, a lot…. I’ll take this unexpected break to write again.