January 29, 2023

We are human beings. By nature, we are tribal. Meaning, we long to be in the company of others, to interact and to socialize. For us, it is not good to be alone, to be isolated and to be quarantined from others of our own kind. It is heartless to separate one among us from the others.
In the olden days, the penalty of banishment is the most severe of all. To be excluded is worse than to be penalized with death. At least, if one is penalized with death, the suffering ends when death comes. Whereas, to be penalized with banishment is to suffer the supreme banishment of being an outcast.
Outcast. This is what we have become because of this pandemic. We are all marginalized by a virus that robbed us of our sense to belong. It robbed us of our desire to socialize, to unite, and to interact. It deprived us of our nature as social and cultural beings. This, probably, is the hardest part of this crisis – our inability to be physically present. Our absence is frustrating as it is degrading. We lose our confidence.
We are fighting back, though, no matter how wrong it may be. Little by little, we are gaining back our confidence. We are restoring our basic right to converge and to gather, even if it is at the expense of our health. More than ever before, the Filipino spirit is becoming complacent.
Hence, last month, at least a hundred people braved the threat of the coronavirus to go swimming in a pool in Metro Manila.
This week, a homeowners association threw a bash for its members, numbering more than 50. Ditto in a river in Bulacan where residents gathered along the banks to picnic and swim. There are other unreported incidents where people wittingly and knowingly gathered among themselves to exchange pleasantries and to feel human again.
They, just like us, are too tired of being isolated, too insulted of being banished from their friends, and too frustrated of being quarantined for such a long dry spell.
The Inter-Agency Task Force says that any gathering is a super-spreader, which poses danger to everyone. It cites as an example the aforementioned socialization of people to justify that it is the main cause why our country is having plenty of Covid cases in its midst. The only way to prevent such super-spreaders is to strictly prohibit mass contacts. Violation of the prohibition means prosecution and penalty.
Still, the IATF cannot eradicate, much less prevent social gatherings. Why? Because when people gather, they are doing so on instinct. It is instinctive that we crave for the company of our fellowmen. It is instinctive to yearn to be with others. Like birds that fly as flocks, or lions that converge as packs or fishes that swim as schools, we human beings long to fraternize with one another. It is what makes us human beings.
Thus, it is wrong to be judgmental against those who gather during this pandemic. They are merely acting on instinct. Sure, it is impolite and improper to be careless about their personal health and the health of their loved ones. But to be with others is the only way to give meaning to our existence.