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View from ‘ano raw?’ republic

/ 05:06 AM September 16, 2021

Today marks the reclassification, reconfiguration, recalibration, regranulation, and other -ations of the COVID-19’s threat to our lives and livelihoods and how we should go on with our woebegone existence. Here’s how it looks on the ground to me:

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Four friends of mine living in different areas in Metro Manila have tested positive for the coronavirus. All are fully vaccinated. One got Sinovac, another AstraZeneca, two got Pfizer. Three are seniors. I know for sure that two of them have not been going out of their homes, or, if at all, one only drives and waits in the car for “authorized persons outside residence” to come back with the groceries.

All are experiencing mild to moderate symptoms. Three are quarantined at home and stay alone inside their individual rooms with bathrooms and other amenities. One is now in the Manila COVID-19 field hospital in Rizal Park. She’s been doing well except when she had to wait for a day to be given a room because the more serious ones had to be accommodated first. Her breathing was not good. I could hear it on the phone. When she learned that medicines had been prescribed for her, she wondered why she wasn’t getting any. She asked for a prescription so a relative could buy them. Still, there was none.

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To make a long story short, there were angels in disguise who connected the wires, so to speak. The doctor came and so did the head nurse. My friend got her medicines. Her left lung is now being monitored. All’s well that ends well in that part of the woods.

Just in from a religious sister who tested positive along with four other sisters in her convent: “All our lay partners—cook, driver, gardener, laundry woman — tested positive. Though am ok now, I still have to isolate myself to avoid re-infection. The other sisters are still in isolation. The LGU put us on lockdown till Sept. 25.”

Here’s a recent meme that shifts the burden on us who are not essential workers or health care frontliners: “We, the healthcare workers, are not your front-liners any longer. We are your LAST LINE OF DEFENSE. YOU, my fellow people, are the front-liners now. The war has shifted to the community and it is up to you. This cannot be won in the confines of the hospital.

“Let this sink in. You are responsible for protecting yourself, your family, the community and the country. Lifted restrictions do not mean carelessness and that life is back to ‘normal.’ Gatherings are still not ok. Be responsible.”

It is signed by a Dr. B. Calinawagan. The meme’s author could be Anyhealthcareworker weighed down by the countless deaths, the sound of weeping and gnashing of teeth in the triages, ERs, wards, corridors, and ICUs.

Sideliners. That’s how we could call ourselves and others when we do small online errands and other virtual runs for the stricken and disabled during this pandemic crisis. Sideliners because we are not frontliners who are in the thick of battle to save lives. We are not the so-called essential workers either.

But we can do our part. The health care frontliners are so battered and extremely exhausted. That the health care system is overwhelmed if not near breaking point, sad to say, already sounds cliché. But so real.

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Now the czars and guys in the government task force overseeing the country’s battle against the pandemic just came up with a reclassification (or whatever you call it) of the quarantine status/alert levels/restrictions to be imposed on geographical areas. It is a switch from the super messy GCQ, MECQ, ECQ, granular, bubble, lockdown categories, etc. Better late than later. Using numbers for alert levels had been proposed by many when the pandemic began more than a year ago. Or the use of letters of the alphabet in succession, as in ABCDE. Instead, the task force served us a scrambled alphabet soup with “bubbles” and “granulated” stuff added. “Ano raw?” has become a hilarious refrain and expression of puzzlement. Like when you hear President Duterte mumble and jumble his words and unfinished sentences.

I hope they don’t switch to colors to signify alert levels. People who had not learned in grade school the succession of colors in the color wheel or the rainbow (remember ROYGBIV or VIBGYOR) might be asking “Ano raw?” without end.

Filipinos are in a state of enhanced, granulated confusion. We are an “ano raw?” republic.

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