June 21, 2024

(Writer’s Notes: I am writing this at home – rural Binga, Itogon, Benguet, 8:15 a.m. of Sunday, March 22, 2020, at the height of the COVID-19. Infront of me is a 400 mL “Doctor J” alcohol, contents only about one-fifths left.)
Except the occasional barking of the dogs plus the sound of the washing machines, it is pretty quiet here. Let me now share part of my experiences and of others we’ve heard during these times – for lessons, learning, and reflections).
WE’VE BEEN ON Quarantine (Lockdown?) already in previous days – the whole of Luzon. You watch the TV, listen to some folks, etc., you get the same waves of talk: the dangerous virus.. fear, alarms, anxiety..
EVERYBODY WAS AS if saying: ‘this may last longer than we think.. therefore, let’s do this, or that.. let’s buy some food, provisions, whatnot; let’s be prepared!’
BUT THE ‘RESTRICTIONS’ keep coming too, e.g. ‘Stay at home’, ‘wear those masks’, ‘do not panic’, ‘only 18-60 years old may go out’, and others more.
ON THE 20TH, a Friday, we went out to Baguio City – four purposes in-Mind: to pay my bills, to get my clean copies of articles at Kisad, to buy a gas tank, most especially: to buy my usual medicines.
HOURS BEFORE WE started, my son informed me: some bills were suspended – this lightened my ‘load’.. feeling lighter too for the pricks drawn.. but no further, as we heard:
‘THERE ARE CHECKPOINS.. and many individuals managing them. When they ask this, say this.. or that, say that.. etcetera. By the way, don’t forget the ‘Preventive Measures’!’
QUIET BUT SOFT-SPOKEN I always am, I asked: ‘I’m sorry, what is a Prev M, po?’ And the reply immediate came:
“FACE MASK AND Social Distancing po.” I looked at the driver – a big and humorous man: Mark Anthony Pataras, and he explained.
‘OH, THEY MEAN ‘Distancing..’ that we are at least a meter apart, and same space with those at our backs’. I nodded, I quelled myself to about-ask of the term ‘Social’. We were nearing the first checkpoint: at Tuding.
OUR VEHICLE STOPPED.. I heard the word ‘Thermal..’ an officer took my temperature.. he said somethin’.. then I saw his hand – and another’s, motioning: ‘Go!’ Ah, that was where my attention was: the hands to tell us in-motion, you may go now!
THE SAME EXPERIENCE we had at the Pacdal circle – don’t mind them taking your temperature.. and their comments.. just wait for those hands to motion you: yes, you may go.. proceed2..
[REFLECTING NOW ON this, I was young since last I saw in-person (not on TV) so many uniformed men – back in the Martial Law years.]

PROCEEDING TO TOWN, we first went to the Midland at Kisad. Another ‘surprising’ welcome: too late I realized – they were running after my hands.. to sanitize!
[‘OH NO!’ I later told myself: ‘I thought what was it?’ Driver Mark was chuckling, then poised: “You mean they don’t get that excited when you visit them there..?” But I just answered with a smile].
THEREFROM, WE PROCEEDED to the ‘Central Business District’ ) others of the Time-is-Gold persuasion simply use ‘CBD’) – to buy household necessities n.l. gas tank, toiletries, some foodstuffs, etc., and I?
TO THE DRUGSTORE usual I first went. St. Joseph near SLU traffic circle, oh.. woe!
CERRADO! IT WAS c l o s e d! Then, to the Circle Drug – across the Street. There was a queue – Pila. When my turn came, and the assistant checked my Medicine list, she said: ‘only the Vestar.. but just a generic. We don’t have that brand’.
MY TENSION WAS mounting: ‘What shall I do if in the other drugstores my medicines are ‘out-of-stock? But I had to proceed.. and resolvingly I did.
AT LAST, I found myself at Mercury Drug – still anxious but now with a number and, queueing.
WHEN WE’RE ALL done-missions and we texted one another we can now go – home, it was nigh 12 high noon.
WE’VE BEEN IN the City for three hours or so, and nothing to view except quiet, silent faces and few people on the streets, apart from ourselves?
[I ANSWERED MYSELF. Yes! but time’s up, and we should now proceed home..]
ALONG THE WAY home, we even got more surprised – even if we took the same route. “Why so?” You may say.
THE CHECKPOINTS DOUBLED, and the people assigned were truly active.. doing this, asking that, et cetera, but thanks to the Lord: we came through securus et sanus – safe and sound.
WE ARRIVED HOME at 12:45 p.m. or so, glad and relieved of our high tension experience going in and out of our city: locked down or quarantined Baguio Hallelujah! Whew!