Journal of a Lockdown No. 6
I brew a fresh cup of coffee this morning. French press, coarse ground, strong. I have enough coffee to last me a month, thanks to my patients who gave them to me as parting gifts. Everyone is still on lockdown, and if you're reading this from Metro Manila, I say cheers to another day, my friend.
I sit beside the window, plug my earphones, read the final books of Genesis and a chapter in Mark, the part where Jesus feels compassion toward the people because they are like sheep without a shepherd. I pray for friends and family. The end of the pandemic. A heart that trusts and depends on God. That I will have a ride to work when I report for duty next week.
I write a story that's been brewing in my head, but it's in its infant stages and may never see the light of day. Toying with my imagination is a good way to pass time. If you're tired of reading toxic material in social media, try writing or journalling, practicing social distancing and social media distancing at the same time. It's good for the mind and heart. I also read Mia Alvar's "A Contract Overseas," which appears in her collection, "In the Country." It is the first story in a long time that brings me to tears. It's written from a point of view of a college scholar whose brother goes to Saudi to support her education; her mother is a
traveling seamstress, making 'house calls' after church each morning in some nearby, nicer towns.
And yet, the girl sees her mother with contempt and admits it with regret:
After that, I had a terror of becoming [my mother], the multipurpose servant a few lucky scraps away from living on the street.
The images of people stranded in checkpoint areas come to mind as the background to this story. If they don't get to work because of the lockdown, their families will starve.
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We now have a total of 200-plus COVID-19 cases. Epidemiologists predict it will increase to thousands more if the lockdown is not carried out. This is sound science that must be applied with compassion.
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PGH nurse dedicated to her job walks part of the way to work, in the Manila Bulletin, features Ma'am Daisy Nietes.
Nietes was among the thousands of passengers trapped at the borders of nearby Manila provinces who struggle to find a means to report to work daily despite a massive suspension of physical work duties.
But her job cannot be made part of a virtual type of work arrangement as she is part of the skeletal workforce.
And in times of a global health crisis, medical health workers serve as the unsung leaders.
She said her normal duty shift, from Mondays through Fridays, starts at 6 a.m., and it usually takes her only an hour to travel from her house to PGH.
But on Tuesday, the first day of the implementation of stricter community quarantine measures, she was left with no choice but to walk.
“I know mahirap ang transpo kaya 2:30 a.m. umalis na ako dito sa bahay sa San Nicolas 1, Bacoor City going to Talaba. It’s a 40-minute walk and I just brought a flashlight and extra uniform,” she said.
(I know transportation would be difficult that’s why I left our house in San Nicolas 1, Bacoor City at around 2:30 a.m. going to Talaba. It’s a 40-minute walk and I just brought a flashlight and extra uniform.)
The distance between the two barangays is around five kilometers, around an hour’s walk.
Nietes said: “Wala po akong kasama sa 40-minute walk ko from our house to Talaba. I didn’t mind the fear, though my tears were rolling down because my daughter was worried when I left the house. Sabi ko lang sa kanya, ako ang bahala.”
(I was alone during my 40-minute walk from our house to Talaba. I didn’t mind the fear, thought my tears were rolling down because my daughter was worried when I left the house. I just told her I can manage.)
While many other workers are working remotely and some are finding it hard to productively function in the days to follow, Nietes, as a devoted health worker, just wanted to reach PGH even if she had no transportation.
For her, the real measure of public service is to be true to her duty in whatever crisis.
I remember Ma'am Daisy from the fourth floor. If I happened to make rounds during lunchtime and she spotted me, she would invite me to eat and wouldn't take no for an answer.
My heart swells with pride. These are the people I work with.
“Never lose hope. Let us all help one another in the service of our countrymen. Never get tired of our calling. Even if our situation looks gloomy, the little sacrifices that we make will make the biggest impact on our people,” she said.