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Missing and hoping

I miss getting stuck in traffic. Spending hours inside the jeepney and bus feels like an eternity, especially during rush hours. But listening to music or podcasts, recalling good memories, and daydreaming on how to improve my misguided existence always help me get by during traffic situations (or forget that I have been wasting my time while a stranger comfortably sleeps on my shoulder). I miss spending my free nights inside nearby malls to window-shop, on the road for late-night drives, or in some fancy coffee shop to occasionally indulge myself with pointlessly expensive meals. Sharing stories with your friends inside cafés, restaurants, or even just badly lit shops feels a lot better compared to chatting or videoconferencing with them.

I miss the “old normal” way of teaching. Under this “new normal,” I am constantly doubling my preparations for each class given the need to expect possible internet connection issues, awkward silences when no student is responding, and difficulties in confirming whether they understand the discussions or not. I also miss personally joking around with them, asking how they are doing, and checking on their well-being.

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I miss performing onstage, whether it be solo acoustic sets, or with my bandmates. Music has always been my outlet; it helps me keep my sanity amid all the uncertainties and vacuities of life. It never bothered me that no one — or only a few — cared about the stories behind my original compositions whenever I narrated them. Although I am not (and will never be) a great singer, I am always proud of the effort and honesty that I put into the songs that I write and share with the audience.

I miss her. Those rare, three-to-eight-second glimpses of her never failed to uplift my mood even in the gloomiest of days. I will probably have to wait until next year to see her again (that is, if I survive this pandemic and if we will ever cross paths again). I have, however, resigned myself to the fact that we are not meant to be. There is no reason for me to talk to her and vice versa and, thus, this story will never end happily like those clichéd and mainstream rom-coms. Outside my family, she is one of the few reasons why I am inspired to live, smile, and survive. I hope she’s doing well (and if by any chance you are reading this, please take care of yourself always).

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But my nostalgia and apprehension are trivial compared to the adversities being experienced by other people, especially those who are suffering from the ill-considered priorities of this government.

I will never understand why the enactment of an anti-terrorism law, the shutting down of a major media network, and the appointment of nonexperts in key positions were among the foremost actions done by the government during this crisis. In addition, we have implemented (or merely renamed?) different modes of quarantine and received loans worth billions of dollars. And yet, mindbogglingly, there has been no concrete plan on the part of the government to conduct mass testing which is needed, among other vital measures, to reopen our economy (the burden of doing such has instead been placed on the shoulders of the private sector). It does not help that we have incompetent and dishonest officials reminding us through their habitual inanities of how luckless we are as Filipinos. I feel insignificant, given the limited opportunities on my part to aid the needy and instill change in this increasingly forsaken country.

I am thankful that I still have a job and that my family and friends are all safe and healthy. But others are not as fortunate as I am. I fervently hope that this crisis will end soon. I also hope that the government will listen to public health experts, attend to the needs of the disadvantaged, and implement the appropriate strategies to manage the impacts of this pandemic. And by the time everything goes back to normal, I hope that we have learned significant lessons—from appreciating the little things that we usually neglected before this crisis disrupted our lives, to how we should choose leaders that will enact measures not for their vested interests but for the welfare of the citizens.

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Kevin Nielsen Magat Agojo, 26, lives in Las Piñas and is currently a part-time university instructor.

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