September 30, 2023

Legend states that if you’re someone who wants to win the imaginary Ultimate Taraki award, then a face shield isn’t enough – you need a face kalasag. Crafted from all-natural materials, aka wood, it’s 100 percent effective in keeping sane people six feet away, sometimes to the point of them running from you as if you were an asylum escapee. Say goodbye to those crowded Session Road sidewalks and say hello to a world where folks steer clear and give you the whole street for yourself!
Do note, however, you will need to drill eye holes into the kalasag if you want to see where you’re going. This may be an issue, especially since you only borrowed this antique shield from your Auntie Martha’s house.
It’s also inclusive because a face kalasag would be the perfect gift for the self-proclaimed “shy mango” among us. Messy as it may be to continue chewing momma behind the thick, heavy wood, it’s definitely worth the exchange to have the latest in “hide-my-face-behind-something” technology.
Priorities, people.
As for me, although I would appreciate the gesture of someone giving me a face kalasag on Valentine’s Day – what would be more romantic than a giant wooden shield meant for your face? I would prefer this pandemic ends sooner so we won’t need them in the first place.
In what feels like a few hundred years since the virus made headline news – and another hundred years since masks became required extensions of our faces – I’m over the craze of covering my face. Even before mask-wearing became a public-safety necessity, I’ve always felt I had enough masks on already. There’s the “I’m a professional” mask I wear at work. Or the “I’m taraki, I don’t do feelings” mask I wore whenever I donned my leather jacket or scurried away from moments of vulnerability. Lately, I’ve had the “It’s all fine. I’m not stressed and anxious” mask plastered, glued, and taped to my face since the pandemic began, and I’m afraid it’s starting to chafe raw what lies beneath it. It’s an uncomfortable mask that sometimes keeps me from sleeping or finding joy in days spent alone and away from those I love. News articles about new strains, vaccine roll-outs, travel restrictions, and death tolls seem to tighten its straps against my face, leading me into forced smiles and hollow laughs designed to hide any evidence of burn out.
It’s not an uncommon mask. And if you’ve had one on too, I feel you, kabsat.
After months of endless tragic tales of difficulty and loss, I’ll gladly welcome the day when we can genuinely declare this pandemic ended. Thank you to everyone, from the frontline professionals to the regular folks trying to make ends meet, all the way to this piece’s reader, who has kept going and making it through one day at a time – even if some days require more masks than others. You are all inspirations to continue placing one foot in front of the other and forge ahead.
I look forward to when we can all get together at the family reunion without our masks and face shields once again.
I know I can’t wait to take mine off. (COUSIN FROM BAGUIO)