What I’m Doing to Prepare for a Post-Quarantine Manila

Once expansive, our worlds have contracted in less than a quarter of the year. I’m not happy about it, but I’m also eager to see what it means for us to have our worlds redefined by (what we thought were outdated concepts of) provincial and city borders. 

PNR station at night

Everywhere used to be accessible. No matter where you were in the world, you could get from Point A to Point B in less than 48 hours (assuming your passport has the right level of privilege, of course). Now, that doesn’t seem plausible anymore. It doesn’t even sound like a responsible choice to be making, after we’ve learned how massive air transport has led to the rapid spread of the Coronavirus.

With our lives upended, it’s easy to feel apprehensive and anxious. Having come from a one-month furlough, I know how hard it could be — and I know I’m in a better position than many in my generation. 

So how do we even get started in re-building the life we’ve lost? I don’t know. What I do know is that the pandemic is not yet over, and it’s only prudent to take the necessary precautions when we go back to our daily lives after lockdown, no matter what that looks like. 

Pero for my sanity, here are some things I’ll be doing in the coming weeks:

1. Use my bike everywhere

I’ve been practicing commuting with my folding bike since February, and I think I’m ready to use it every day (except for when it rains, because I wear glasses and I’m blind without it). Now that the government has no clear plans or guidelines yet on how our mass public transport system will operate post-lockdown, it’s only wise to start bike commuting. 

Besides, we all know how crowded our jeeps and buses can get. I am not going to risk rubbing elbows with an asymptomatic person just to get to where I need to be.

2. Watch out for good travel deals in the next 12 months…

 …assuming that a vaccine will be developed before that. We need to help our domestic tourist destinations somehow, but of course, I don’t see myself booking a flight in the next 6 months. I will not leave my city unless I’m 100% sure that I’m not carrying the disease.

3. Try to live a gentler life

I’ve been telling myself I’ll go vegan once I can afford it. But I think there’s no use delaying that decision. We’re in this crisis precisely because someone thought it was a good idea to peddle bats and pangolins for human consumption, and I find that sickening. Moving forward, I’ll do everything I can to live a life of compassion for all beings. Or be a vegetarian at the very least.

4. Complain less, help more

I know that there’s just too much depressing information out there on the internet that scrolling through our feeds can be infuriating. And I guess that’s okay, because when we’re still capable of having strong feelings over something we know to be wrong, it means that we are not blind to injustice. When we feel indignant over news of corruption or abuse of power, that means that we still have hope for a better Philippines. But it can be so exhausting to care too much. 

In the coming days, I’ll be looking for ways to give back to my community so that I can take my mind off the terrible state of affairs in the country. The past nine weeks in quarantine have been enervating, so I’ll have to distract myself with some new projects to regain my strength. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean that I’ll stop being vigilant about things that matter. I’ll just focus on doing what I can, with what I have, from where I stand. 

How about you? How are you preparing for the “new normal”? 

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