Friday the 13th is not that bad after 3 years of the COVID pandemic
It’s past 6 o’clock in the evening and I just missed the provincial bus going to Laoag City, Ilocos Norte. It’s Friday the 13th and I felt a little dread, wondering if this is the start of my string of bad luck, missing that early bus, a sure indication that I might arrive in the wee hours of the morning.
As I sat at the waiting shed with other weary commuters, loud guffaws from students filled the surroundings, tricycle drivers ignored potential passengers because they were already occupied, and cooks from the nearby lechon manok houses competed to attract customers. It was the usual scene replaying at the end of my day.
It then it hit me: Why do I consider Jan. 13 as unlucky when in fact I am still here, almost three years since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country?
As I sat there, listening to some background music with my earphones on, I pondered, “Was it really almost three years since the pandemic?”
I remembered like it was only yesterday when the enhanced community quarantine was announced in Luzon. Understandably, everyone back then felt uneasy. Border restrictions limited our movement, particularly the delivery of goods and services. Although I was an authorized person outside of residence being a government employee, I could only go home once every three to four months for fear that I might carry the virus and transmit it to my family, especially to my brother diagnosed with autism. As a new employee in the office and being away from my family at that time, I was forced not only to learn and adjust to my duties and responsibilities at work but also to be strong and to take care of myself alone in the middle of the pandemic.
When I had the chance to go home after how many months spent at work in La Union, I had to deal with strict border protocols at home, such as submitting an antigen test, being subjected to home quarantine and monitored by the barangay health emergency response team, and overall, unable to enjoy my time with the family since I couldn’t hug or kiss them. When I bought groceries at the mall at that time, I had to stand in a long queue outside, as the mall only allowed a limited number of persons inside.
As the bus I’m waiting for stopped in front of me at 7 o’clock, I hopped in and smiled seeing the “standing” passengers. Before the pandemic, I might have considered this as bad luck for Friday the 13th. But as I stood along the bus aisle with the other commuters, I realized how much I took for granted the end of my “usual” day: the noise coming from students meant an end to the academic freeze; tricycle drivers ignoring passengers meant that their income for the day was already enough for their families; cooks from the lechon manok houses competing for customers meant businesses were already in full operation. I realized that we’ve really come a long way in our fight against COVID-19. Sometimes, I forget the “luck” that I have or better yet the “blessings” that came my way due to my everyday dealings. Somehow, I have forgotten how much I prayed to God for this “usual” day to come.
As I stood there in the bus aisle, I thought to myself that I wouldn’t mind standing for two hours so long as this usual day remains as it is, “usual” and full of blessings.
JESLEN B. TESORO
Burgos, Ilocos Norte
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.