Fear and panic and quarantine

Difficult times.

There is disease everywhere, and death for many. It’s hard to say what the world will be like tomorrow, but today the entire country was declared to be in a state of calamity, and we’re not entirely sure what that means.

Last week a “community quarantine” was announced, and that led to panic-buying. We spent four hours in the grocery–most of that time waiting in line for our turn at the cashier–just to get food and essentials. Oneal and I had to take turns standing in line, having lunch, going to the bathroom.


There was no alcohol available. Even the fresh produce shelves were nearly empty. The meat section was only half full. The lines at the drugstore were so long.

It’s hard not to panic.

So many people we knew were being told to work from home. Classes were suspended.

On Sunday, March 15, we went to visit my mother and my brother for lunch, and we saw some checkpoints as we exited Metro Manila and drove down Marcos Highway towards Antipolo. Not once were we stopped though. Still, it was worrying.

We discussed emergency plans, and what we would do if my mother would be allowed to work from home. We decided to head home early, in case a curfew would suddenly be implemented. We were in Cubao when my brother called.

“Did we forget something?” I asked.
“Yes. Your mother,” he said.

Apparently as we were leaving, Mom’s office decided that whoever had the capacity would be allowed to work from home on consideration of the crisis. So she hurriedly packed her things, and we drove back to Antipolo to pick her up.

So now here we are, with two seniors–my 65-year-old mom and my 78-year-old father-in-law–and a very talkative, very energetic three-year-old.

It’s hard not to panic.

I’m used to working at home, but since Lucas started going to school I’ve also gotten used to the peace and quiet. I’ve gotten used to working at my own pace, working out during breaks, eating and taking a shower on my own time. Now there’s five of us here, and nobody is allowed to go out.

I told friends, I cope by project managing the situation.

I suggested a plan to Oneal, so that we would have some semblance of a routine, and we wouldn’t go crazy. I would wake up earlier, and work in the mornings, until lunch. Oneal would be in charge of Lucas, and spend a few hours in the play room with him, home schooling. After lunch, Lucas would take a bath, then I would lie down with him for milk and a nap and Oneal would work. If there was enough time and daylight, we would go to the park for some sunshine and exercise.

Since my mom is staying with us, she’s helping with Lucas, especially during his lessons in the mornings. In the afternoons, she works.

It’s been two days of this routine, and we haven’t killed each other yet. I’m going to count that as a success!

Still, it’s hard not to panic.

Yesterday, it was so hard to work. The whole day, I had a sick feeling in my stomach. It was fear, mostly, and probably anxiety. What would happen? When would this uncertainty end? There was so much frustration about the ineptitude displayed by so many people, the greed of some, and the persistence of those who would spread fake news or unverified information. There was anxiety about our home situation. What if one of us was sick?

Today, there was anger. Anger at government officials and socialites and those unable to check their privilege. Anger at their lack of empathy towards those who could not comply with the quarantine guidelines, simply because not working could mean not eating.

Today it was still hard to work, but there was a sense of “Fuck you, world, this will not beat me.”

Today, I told a friend to fight for love, because this disease and this divisiveness we see in society should not win, that she should fight and celebrate and love.

I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Difficult times, for sure. Disease everywhere, and death for many. But tomorrow I’m not going to be scared. Tomorrow, I say to fear and panic and anxiety, “You have no power over me.” (Yes, I watched Labyrinth a bazillion times when I was growing up.) Tomorrow I write. Tomorrow I work to tell stories that will maybe save lives and make the world kinda sorta of a better place, in my own little way. Tomorrow, fear and panic will not win over me.

I don’t know what’s going to happen the day after that. But again I will say to fear and panic and anxiety, “You have no power over me.”

And I will probably have a drink of soju.


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