Recent Posts

Breaking News

The world out there

By JULES VIVAS

IMG-1d5a80777233530d5f1a37c6eaaecb42-V

Although the virus is still on the prowl, the lockdown, an emergency measure adopted all over the globe under various names, whether community quarantine or shelter in place, is now easing up in answer to the nagging question: Do we die from the viral disease or the economic ruin it has already caused?

The first week of May saw the reopening of businesses, such as restaurants, in dozens of states in America, the country most hit by the coronavirus. Various places have followed suit even though the battle against the deadly Covid-19 is far from over. No vaccine or cure has been produced and we are still in the dark about the most effective treatment in the interim. In fact, some nations are suffering from even more casualties now than before. With this great “reset,” safety measures have been enforced. But are they enough? Here are some stories of people from all corners of the earth as they emerge into the great still-plagued outdoors.

CARU SAN LUIS

Brittany, France

Cary San Luis and the Medieval castle near his home in France

Cary and the Medieval castle near his home in France

My wife and I live near a Medieval castle in a small town here in Brittany, France. Throughout the year, especially springtime, our town would fill up with tourists from around the world. The virus decimated the economy of our town. 

“But we are lucky,” we would tell each other while watching the news. Our paychecks never stopped, our city hospitals were continuously reporting zero Covid-19 patients, and our stores never had any problems. “We are so lucky,” my wife would also tell me whenever we walked around our beautiful, deserted public parks, that there was an exemption for dog walkers here in France. I would tell her that, while we were having a “first-class meal,” because I used to be a cooking teacher. We were so lucky.

The lockdown ended on the day we booked a doctor’s appointment. My wife had been feeling extra heavy, tired, and sick. Everyone seemed happy that France was re-emerging from the lockdown, except for me. I was so nervous I could not sleep for two days, until the doctor told us, “You are very lucky. You are having twins.” 

HUSSAINI JOSHUA

Abuja, Nigeria

Hussaini Joshua in the streets of Abuja, capital of Nigeria

Hussaini in the streets of Abuja, capital of Nigeria

On March 30, about 3,277,740 people living in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, went into total lockdown because of the increase in the number of Covid-19 cases. I was in bed when a friend whispered to me that the city would be reopened for usual activities starting from May 4. I rushed to watch the news, wondering what the city would look like after a month-long lockdown. Everyone was eager to see the day that activities would return to normal.

Then came the day. The city reopened. At dawn, I stood by the window, where I was looking at the empty streets that would soon be full. Soon enough, people started coming out of their houses, so did the cars and buses. I went out to get a snack at a nearby shop. From one person, it became two, then three, and so on. The city filled up as if a lockdown never happened. The bars that were empty were full and so were the restaurants. The banks were crowded with customers and there were not enough ATMs to accommodate the people. With everyone in a face mask, it was like a ninja film, but then it was also a new world order. Walking home along the busy streets, I ran into beggars. Everyone was asking for alms, among them women with kids. I shed a tear. I did what I could, but I rushed back home because I couldn’t stand feeling sorry any more. It has been a couple of weeks since the lifting of the total lockdown.

VINCENT SORIANO

Prague, the Czech Republic

Vincent in Prague Old Town Square

Vincent in Prague Old Town Square

I landed back in the Czech Republic the day before lockdown. I came from a vacation in Sydney, where there was panic buying of toilet paper. I went straight to the supermarket, and the first thing I checked was toiletries, even though shelves were well stocked and there was no panic buying. One could go out for essentials during the lockdown, so supermarkets were open. The elderly even had reserved time slots exclusive for them. 

There was a shortage of face masks so the whole country went into sewing masks out of cloth they no longer used. You would find masks on trees so passersby could take them for free. In lockdown, public transport frequency was increased to avoid crowds.

The Czechs love the outdoors. I run in the forest regularly, and find bikers or runners wearing masks. Prague’s tourist sites are still empty, but I took the chance to walk one day to enjoy the city’s iconic sights, free of crowds, a rare treat during the lockdown. 

As a long-time resident, I admire the discipline here that resulted in the Czech Republic being one of the countries in Europe to have done well.

ELAINE EDRALIN PASCUA

Seattle, Washington

Elaine with her family in Seattle

Elaine with her family in Seattle

I have spent the last two months, while under Washington’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, with my husband and our eight-year-old son. Quite honestly, it has been the most time we have spent together at home since my maternity leave in 2011. We have always been an on-the-go, extroverted family, who thrived on a full-activity calendar. It was the life we knew, and we loved it. But now with the world forcing us to be still, we adjusted our busy bodies to co-exist in our home 24/7. After the panic of feeling unprepared to shelter-in-place subsided, perspective kicked in and we understood how fortunate we were. After all, our son’s school did not skip a beat pivoting to a virtual classroom. My husband and I were both gainfully employed and had careers that allowed us to work from home. Most important, we had our health. All we continue to need is patience.

I used to be glued to the news, scrolling through feeds on social media looking for an answer as to when this surreal situation would end. I learned to minimize doing this to protect my optimism and sanity. The number of reported cases in our state has gone down and so has the number of deaths. Washington was the original epicenter of the pandemic in the US and now we are in phase one of a four-phase plan to reopen our state. Seemingly, Washington is winning its battle against Covid-19. The curve has flattened and we hope that social gatherings become an option soon. At least so we can see our family, friends, and colleagues even if physical distancing of six feet remains. 

CARLA SIBAL THOMPSON

London, the United Kingdom

Carla in London, photo by Alex Atack

Carla in London, photo by Alex Atack

The lockdown in the UK only started on March 23rd, so a lot of Londoners were still out and about that month. Things, however, were slowing down. You could see there were fewer people out on the streets. The restaurants were all quite empty, as were the pubs which are usually quite full over the weekend. 

Thankfully, the weather started to turn during the lockdown and spring had arrived. The trees were all growing their leaves back and there was an abundance of flowers everywhere, from the trees to the little weeds on the pavement. Everything was lush, the sky was blue, and the sun was out.

Despite the uncertainty of the times, people were suddenly thrilled to be going out for their daily dose of allowed exercise. With the sun out, the flowers all abloom and the temperature quite mild, there was a palpable feel of joviality. It was lovely to see so many people out and about in their gym clothes running and walking everywhere, families in their bicycles, dogs being walked. London in all its glory. 

MICHAL PROCH√ĀZKA

Seoul, South Korea

Michal in Seoul, capital of South Korea

Michal in Seoul, capital of South Korea

I always tend to overdramatize my own life as well as that of others. I regret such egocentrism even without global hysteria. Confined and busy with work, I felt anxious on lonely nights in my Seoul apartment. Regrettably I lost touch with my true imagination and the mythos of any impending apocalypse to banal catastrophic movies, if not to daily high-tech life a long time ago.

My stress syndrome manifested in obsessive sentiments as I endlessly waited for the end of the pandemic that the Koreans were handling rather efficiently. There were mass testing and tracing of the members of secrecy and the authoritarian sects who brought the disease in like forbidden magic in Medieval times. This is the trap of the modern world, sarcasm and absurdity can always request its truth. 

On better days, I was entertained by illusionary dialogues with people who disappeared from the emptied streets of Seoul. The smoking factories abroad were shut, the cars were left in garages. The megalopolis was livable, and humans once again enjoyed the deep blue sky through the window. Will this be a chance for a new beginning or a declined world? But then I had to answer the real questions of my little kids. 

Once upon a time there was an insatiable prince, who, in his palace, was being served with the most delicious dishes, but the prince ran away in search of food that no one had ever tasted. In a deep cave, he arrowed down a rare bat, but in doing so he angered the spirits of the night. The prince was cursed to move around like the wind. Whoever came across his poisoned souffle or his invisible footsteps would go ill… The kids looked satisfied with the tale. 

FRANZ DEJON

Montreal, Canada

Franz's sister, Bing Dejon, enjoying the cityscape of Montreal

Franz’s sister, Bing Dejon, enjoying the cityscape of Montreal

Spring should be a joyous time of the year in Montreal. It’s the season we Montrealers look forward to after having spent almost six months of winter. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, instead of enjoying the sunny outdoors, most residents are still holed up in their homes because of the “stay at home” directive of the government. Montreal became the pandemic’s worst hit city in Canada with more than 30,000 confirmed cases and more than 3,000 deaths and counting.

For more than two months, my family has been doing its part by heeding the call to stay at home. Like in Manila, only groceries, pharmacies, restaurants for takeout, banks, and gas stations are open for business. There are no restrictions on who can go out as long as people maintain social distancing so no need for community quarantine passes here. Thanks to technology such us video calls, my family can still see each other during this lockdown. My biggest worry, though, are family members working on the front lines. So, shout out and thank you to Bing, Olive, Evic, Tita Peach, Tita Joy, Tito Mike, and Tito Joel, who all work at the Jewish General Hospital saving lives. 

CLINETTE SEDGWICK

Los Angeles, California

Clinette Sedgwick at Hermosa Beach, LA county, California

Clinette at Hermosa Beach, LA county, California after phase one was imposed

Throughout this pandemic, I have been trying my best to keep sane. Because of the low volume of work, many have been laid off from their jobs. Luckily, the government has unemployment benefits.

Despite the large number of cases, we are currently in phase one of Trump’s plan to reopen the US. Right now, we have more freedom to drive from one city to another. We’re also free to walk outside, as long as we do social distancing and always wear a face mask. In terms of foot traffic, it’s not crowded. Almost everyone here travels by car. No one ever walks. Most of the people here are law-abiding.

We can go to the grocery stores whenever, but the salons, gyms, and malls remain closed. Likewise, the US border remains closed.

The beaches in LA are open now. I recently went to Hermosa beach. It’s quite a breather. It made me feel that the health crisis was over for a bit. It made me feel that the day was normal, like things could possibly go back to the way they used to be. 


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2020/05/29/the-world-out-there/)

No comments