February 9, 2023

Stella Maria L. de Guia
How is the world coping with the pandemic? There are a million stories to tell. Some people have taken the opportunity to learn and survive the quarantine and lockdowns. Some people use it as a venue to air grievances and protests. And some have discovered new ways of learning, bartering, teaching, and of helping others.
I have chosen four Baguio residents to share their stories: a Bookshop owner, a mother-mentor, a performer and youth leader and a vlogger. Let’s read their stories and learn there is more to life than being in quarantine and lockdown. Life can be happy and healthy while staying at home or helping others. Discovering one’s potential is one way to win in this pandemic
The good news is, the World health Organization has produced a new story book to help children from six to 11 years cope with Covid-19 in collaboration with about 50 organizations worldwide. It deals with a fantasy creature called “Ario” and explains how children can manage their emotions during difficult situations with a fast-changing social norm called “new normal.”
Let us start with Maricar Docyogen and a nurse by profession. She is the owner-proprietor of Bookends, home to the Pasakalye group of artists, and now during the pandemic a “bartering hole” for donated art, creatives and paintings to help other artists. This concept of “art for-a-cause” started about three years ago to help an indigent patient undergo a kidney transplant. Then progressed to “Sketch Mo, Buhay Ko,” to help other dialysis patients headed by the late journalist Ramon Dacawi.
Donated art works are being exchanged for goods; or a painting for a sack of rice and groceries or any pantawid buhay contribution like art materials, canvass, paint or carpentry tools. Local art master Roland Bay-an, a “shy-mango” Igorot artist is a strong supporter. He bartered or traded about 20 of his works (supposed to be part of an exhibit prior the pandemic) for his family’s needs and to help fellow Pasakalye members and indigent artists.
“I bartered my own collection. Eventually, other artists joined in like Sam Bautista, Alex Musni, Jordan Mangosan, Art Lozano, Resty Lopez and even young Pasakalye teens who made signages from scrap wood, “ says Docyogen.
“To me, this is humanity being restored. I felt that the creative sector not only have talents and skills but also compassionate to help. They used their works to help out. I said to myself, I do not regret being a conduit because the creative sector is so selfless,” she added.
Docyogen continued: “Barter has always been an acceptable way amongst artists. But during this pandemic, it gained more attention and support from a lot of people. It paved way for the local community to be more aware of the presence of creativity in the city. There were more pieces that went to private homes during this past 2 months than in any given year. And it made a lot of Artists survive the effect of the pandemic. Did the artists get shortchanged? No, because they knew they gained new appreciative friends while their basic needs were also met.”
Next, is Leia Fidelis Castro-Margate. She used to be the assistant publisher of the Baguio Midland Courier, now a mother of two: Amihan, seven years old, and Tala, 5, and a University of the Philippines lecturer. I asked her how she was coping with home schooling her kids during this time of pandemic. Castro and lawyer husband Karl converted her brother’s room into a study room to set the mood and routine.
“Initially we just wanted to set a routine for the girls so they’re not watching TV the whole day. We also needed a routine for Amihan so as not to undo her therapy. They know naman na how to keep themselves busy. Tala makes puppets and houses for her toys using tissue rolls and boxes. Now, they are enrolled in online enhancement classes in English. Just to test viability of online schooling. Nae-enjoy naman po sila.”
The couple take turns teaching the kids. A mutual parenting effort in between work and teaching. She finds it more challenging though compared to teaching college students, especially with Math and Filipino. When done with academic duties, she does other life skills like: gardening, laundry, baking, cooking, doing dishes, even carpentry which she considers very important.
“We move lessons all over the house,” explains Casto.
A good hint from a home-schooling mom. Remember the attention span of your kids.
“We find that a change in location, seat, setup also gets the girls excited to work on their books. We bought new desks so they would be more comfortable. We also bought them tablets from Amazon where they get limited screen time if they want to play with it. May timer and lock yung tablets, which says “you’re all done for today” once their time is up. We also have reward mechanisms for them too. They work on Khan Academy Kids (learning app) or watch YouTube kids. They do get plenty of TV time after we’re done with school. Madami din naman silang natutunan”
I am amazed at Castro’s methodology of teaching. She says, “Another aspect we are really proud of now is conducting the virtual physical therapy for Amihan. So we fixed the living room to accommodate her therapy exercises using existing toys and things we have in the house. Teletherapy for kids. Grateful din kasi may ganung program ang A Child’s DREAM. Added to all these mechanisms is dad Karl’s showing them videos of the things that interest them. For example, they see dinosaurs or rockets in the cartoons they watch, then they start asking questions. So, we take those learning opportunities and supplement more. Kung may related books kami dito we show them too.
“Lately, may fascination sa Australia si Tala. Amihan likes building blocks naman.”
Coming in third is YouTuber Jesse Reuben Bestre.
Bestre is a youth leader, involved with the youth ministry and a member of non-government organization Toastmasters Club OSCAR. He is also a good singer and used to be a member of STAGE Theatre Company Group. His instructional YouTube channel is very helpful especially to senior citizens.
“I have been wanting to make YouTube videos in the past but fear has been stopping me. Two or three weeks ago, I realized that this pandemic is the best time to start a YouTube channel. Mainly, because a lot of people are on the internet now, so I might as well take advantage” says Bestre.
“This is also a good opportunity to be more productive. I want to teach and be a good influencer. I believe YouTube is a good avenue. At present, I am also learning a lot from what I’m doing and I wished I started sooner. But it is never too late. This pandemic has opened my eyes, Just as I teach, I continue to learn good content, video editing, and others,” he added.
Last in our personalities is budding vlogger Mark Hamada.
Hamada started blogging when a friend bought ube pandesal from Bistro Lokal. He was requested to pick up an order that was placed thru the phone. The order was followed by more orders for the family because it tasted so good.
“I took a video of the bread using my phone and uploaded it on Facebook and my vlogging started from there. Some of my videos now has 2,000 plus views and counting. I get calls left and right now from different restaurants and bakeries to endorse their products. There are a lot of people ordering from them now. I actually just finished shooting NORA’s ice cream last night and will upload it later,” Hamada said.