Refraction, Digression, and Reflection

“Life is like a refraction; sometimes it is towards the normal and sometimes it is away from the normal, depending on the various medium of life’s journey.” –Neelanjan Roy (Jadavpur University, Dept. of Production Engineering, Doctor of Philosophy)

COVID just turned one.
Festivities are in order but not without helpings of heaping sarcasm. No one can be happy not being free to work and live normal lives – travel, dine out, take a stroll, go to school, etc.
Normal, in this case, has become an understatement.

Psychologically, the definition of ‘normal’ depends on the individuality of a person – how a person’s character is exhibited in his own way of life. Now commonly, normal simply pertains to how life was, pre-COVID.

Vaccines became available January of this year, with Canada and the United States at the forefront among countries that have made certain brands accessible to their citizenry, more importantly, to the frontliners in the medical field of practice. In the Philippines, the arrival of Sinovac (in late February)—donated by China and the first vaccine available—caused a bit of a stir because of its efficacy level, which was initially reported at 50%. Nevertheless, it paved the way for a perceived mass inoculation with 600,000 doses. Astra Zeneca came second to arrive with their product. Other pharmaceuticals like Pfizer and Moderna are also considered but not yet available.

Many, we would like to believe, are indeed following health and safety precautions set out by the Department of Health; but notwithstanding those official medical advice –and now the availability of vaccines – the death toll is still up – counting the numbers by the thousands. To add more fuel to the fire, new strains have been recently discovered, aggravating the woes of those who religiously observe health and safety procedures and who have developed untenable amounts of anxiety.

Kindness and Compassion
In his recent late-night address broadcasted online, President Rodrigo Duterte referred to the pandemic as “Maliit na bagay ito sa buhay natin [This is just a small thing in our lives]. From a sociological standpoint, he has already downplayed the plight, deaths, coping means, mental, emotional, and physical health of the citizenry. What is the quality of life of these people? How do they actually survive their day-to-day strife? How is the crime rate vis-à-vis unemployment rate? In my opinion, he has violated every citizen affected by the pandemic; more so, those whose companies have closed down, creating a depressed and disillusioned mob bereft of work. However, fortunate are those who, in spite of the pandemic, could still keep their jobs and receive their basic monthly salary sans overtime pay.

Overall, this global war against COVID is not something one can just sweep under the rug. At this time, the citizenry is vulnerable. Winning against the COVID would be the greatest achievement this generation will ever undertake. With kindness and compassion, much of understanding and cooperation will immensely help the population heal and start life anew, more than ever – to say the least.

Yes, COVID is one year old. Happy Anniversary! I hope this will be your last.

*Currently working at the Philippine International Convention Center, where she began services 22 years ago, Kathryn Valladolid Ebrahim is an alumna of St. Scholastica’s College–Manila; she finished a degree in Bachelor of Arts, major in Sociology, at the University of Santó Tomás; drawing and writing are her primary avocations.