‘We are all soldiers’
Brutal, majestic, exploding like “Rex tremendae majestatis” from Mozart’s Requiem is the soundtrack I choose for the ongoing crisis engulfing the world, brought on by the coronavirus or COVID-19 that is spreading and roaring into our lives. Or what about Orff’s “Carmina Burana” with its thundering chorus and ominous opening lyrics?If I had to choose lines from the psalms, it would be: “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.” (Psalm 42:7)
We are like watching a futuristic suspense/disaster/sci-fi/drama/action movie with a soundtrack about to go awry. If I seem overdramatic, it is because drama is what we have going on in our lives right now. And it is both real and surreal. Is it mere hyperbole when we say that an apocalypse of biblical proportions is upon us? Where is Noah’s ark?
In checkpoints, we have boots on the ground, blockades, law enforcers in fatigue uniforms, thermal scanners, face masks, gloves, irate commuters, people who are refused passage and in tears. A just-landed extra-terrestrial would be wont to ask in Orkan: Na-nu, na-nu? What is going on?
If there was anything I took away from President Duterte’s rambling and incoherent (in most parts) announcement of the “enhanced community quarantine” (euphemism for lockdown) to be imposed on the whole of Luzon, it was this sentence: “We are all soldiers.” Because we are at war against an invisible enemy, he said. That was written into the prepared speech that he often put aside and was not part of his befuddling stream-of-consciousness utterances and ad libs, like “ang veerus nga yawa.”
No kidding, some of his off-the-cuff spiels did make me double up in laughter, ad libs that a colleague described as something the tambay in the kanto would enjoy listening to. Well, serious as the situation is, Mr. Duterte sure did play to the gallery of the Great Unwashed that we will be when the water crisis hits Metro Manila.
Consider his mimicking the unhygienic habit of some people who expel their snoot from one nostril and then from the other and let these land around them. There he did slapstick comedians one better even when he was supposed to be serious. Hey, the Grim Reaper’s counter is ticking.
Then, he fumbles again as if to ask, “Where was I?” With drooping eyelids, he goes back to the script and reads like Demosthenes with sharp pebbles in his mouth.
But seriously, yes, we are all soldiers. And we must fight the virus from all fronts, with all our might, collectively and individually, in spite of our leaders. With action, prayers, and clear-eyed compassion.
I hail the people who are in the trenches and frontlines. Science nerds working out of sight while racing against time to discover a vaccine. Health workers — hospital attendants, cleaners, lab technicians, nurses, doctors. Fellow media workers who risk life and limb. Law enforcers.
My own young, intrepid niece, Clea Doyo, an emergency nurse in the biggest private hospital in Quezon City, has been working on 12-hour shifts because some of her fellow nurses are either sick or under quarantine. Like in many hospitals, nurses are never enough, with some resigning to go abroad. Even at this time.
Added stressors are patients and relatives who are overbearing and feel entitled because “Ako nagpapasueldo dito sa inyo! (Your salary comes from me.)” Huh?
Oh, but kindness shines through, with individuals and restaurants around the hospital sending in free food and good cheer for the staff. Pizza, pansit, and fried chicken galore in the time of COVID-19!
“Sometimes I am on the verge of tears because I am super kapoy (exhausted),” my niece texted, but she bravely soldiers on with verve because, as her mom (also a nurse) reminded, “You promised to serve humanity.”
My niece sent me a photo of herself with protective cover from head to toe as if back from outer space, taking a needed breather at two in the morning.
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