Quarantine Reflection #2: Like a Cell

By A.S.

Edited by Serina Alonzo

The quarantine life is only good when you are living with your family. Other than that, those living in apartments or dormitories away from their families can probably say that it is prison. Aside from the fact that you should survive on your own, there are times you succumb to your fears but nobody can comfort you like they used to.

While it is true that the virus takes a toll on our physical health, the management and implementation of protocols affect greatly the mental health of its constituents. Living inside the dormitory gave me time to reflect on the reasons why a lot of people are suffering more than anticipated.

From the beginning of the enhanced community quarantine implementation, I had no job so I need to stay inside. I go outside whenever it is necessary such as buying groceries or ordering a take out meal from a nearby carinderia. Despite my situation, I try to eat healthier options. I seldomly consume canned goods or processed meat and made it a habit to eat vegetables and fruits. There were even times that I just poured soy sauce in my rice since it wasn’t my schedule to do the groceries yet.

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Poster by Hazel Nobleza

For more than a month without a job, my body clock was totally ruined. It felt as if waking up early is pointless when you don’t really have something to do for the rest of the day. Because I’m just using my last pay to survive my expenditures, there are times I worry for the future days. Also, the lack of specific plans from our government on this crisis made me a little bit hopeless if we can truly go back and make a living.

While watching the days go by, I see how the quarantine is a big prison facility. Each community is like a cell. If somebody gets “positive,” the whole community undergoes a stricter protocol. It is necessary however, the way people reacted to these COVID-19 positive communities aggressively puts the situation into the worst humanitarian crisis not because of health threats but because of unequal treatment and discrimination.

Sometimes, I hear people saying that these communities with a lot of positive cases had hard-headed residents. Well, in a group, there will always be a black sheep. What most people fail to evaluate is the environment of these communities. I have seen how there seems to be a pattern of communities with high vulnerability. The cases of Brgy. Zapatera in Cebu City suddenly had a rise of positive cases in just a matter of days. The same goes to Barangay Labangon and Barangay Mambaling. Living in Cebu for quite some time now, it comes to no surprise why there was a rapid spread of positive cases.

Even if you look at these communities from a satellite, you can tell how the spread is favorable in such an environment. Plus, the residents here are probably those living with the minimum wages. Perhaps, they are unaware they already had an underlying illness because feeding the family comes as a higher priority than getting a consultation. It was frustrating for me how the government did not take a look at this aspect. Moreover, the fact that we are judging against our fellow Filipinos instead of helping them understand made me realize that maybe, we only help when it’s convenient.

Combining the struggle to do groceries, to secure a financial source and the lack of model leadership from our government made me consider quarantine as a stay in prison.

A lot of people are struggling with their lives because the virus resides in their body. But, the greater number of people in our population are fighting the silent battles. The pandemic may be hard to contain yet, because scientists are still understanding the virus and that clinical trials are still ongoing. I just hope my quarantine story will remind everyone to be, at least, sensitive of people. After all, everybody’s effort in battling this pandemic is necessary for us to go back living our dreams in life.

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