Today, June 12, 2020, we celebrate the 122nd Independence Day (Filipino: Araw ng Kasarinlán; also known as Araw ng Kalayaan, “Day of Freedom”) of our country. Philippine Independence Day is an annual national holiday observed on June 12, commemorating the declaration of Philippine independence from Spain in 1898.

Today is also our 88th-day in community quarantine, beginning in March 17 when President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire Metro Manila and other high-risk cities and provinces in Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) as a solution to combat COVID-19, a deadly new virus that originated in Wuhan, China that started at the very least, in December 2019.

The virus becomes a global pandemic and many countries suffered a number of losses in deaths and economic figures.

Due to the continuous rise of the coronavirus outbreak, the president had to extend the executive order until the country recovers.

Businesses and work were disrupted, travel and tourism were suspended, and telecommuting became vital in reporting to work and communications.

Looking back at the records, this is where the Philippines is at right now, 88 days in community quarantine.

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Prisoners of quarantine: A look at our situation during the pandemic

All of us became prisoners of quarantine, lockdown inside our homes. This sudden isolation from the outside world puts us in a different perspectives and changes in emotional feelings were quite obvious.

But there are who managed and were able to fight emotional and mental anguish of being stuck at home. They even discovered that they have hidden talents and skills.

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Fighting quarantine

And we kept ourselves busy. We became our own master chefs; we discovered we can bake, paint, draw, sing, dance, and do many things that we weren’t doing before because we were too busy and have no time before this health crisis happened

As a result of many days in quarantine, people became entrepreneurs and now they sell their products online.

Many of us have become the designated ‘alays’ of our household, always bringing our weapon of choice – the quarantine pass to the grocery and supermarkets.

But the pandemic isn’t over and we’re still in quarantine.

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A taste of freedom

The Metro Manila Council and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Disease or IATF, made recommendations to allow the transition to Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) from ECQ.

On May 16, 61st day of community quarantine, the first day of MECQ began, people were so eager to feel what’s like to be out on the streets again it caused traffic to come ‘back to normal’. It was like liberation that folks thought it was best for them to go out of their residence.

And those who didn’t follow the quarantine protocols had to suffer the consequences.

IATF decided on placing Metro Manila and some highly urban cities affected with COVID-19 under MECQ. The eased quarantine allowed authorized persons outside residence (APOR) to go out so that they can buy for essential goods while following the social distancing protocol. Many businesses were allowed to open but only on limited capacities. Restaurants and fast-food chains only accepted takeouts and deliveries. Few malls opened while enforcing some restrictions to keep the safety of the people coming in.

In Cavite, Gov. Jonvic Remulla ordered the suspension of mall operations in the province for violating social and physical distancing protocols. It made headlines that it became a case example for other establishments that they’ll be ordered to close if they don’t follow the guidelines properly.

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The ‘new normal’

On June 1st, upon the president’s declaration of the implementation of General Community Quarantine (GCQ) on cities and regions having less reported cases of virus transmission. Doors were opened for more businesses and for people to go back to their offices.

There was just a problem. There was inadequate public transporation for the masses returning to their work places.

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The tale of the ayuda and SAP

And we can’t blame these people for going out. They have mouths to feed. The government ‘ayudas’ weren’t enough and even the social amelioration program (SAP) isn’t a privilege for everybody to receive.

These people need to work, to earn for a living. And the government can’t aid them all.

The first day of general community quarantine is a test for all of us. Are we ready?

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COVID-19 worldwide and Philippines update

As of June 7, the worldwide cases of COVID-19 is at 6.42 million confirmed cases and 383,000 deaths.

Here in the Philippines, the Department of Health COVID-19 Tracker reported 20,626 total confirmed cases and 987 deaths since the outbreak began in the country.

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We are at war fighting an enemy we can’t see,

We are at a global war and we are fighting an invisible enemy that we cannot see. We are already in GCQ and that means we are slowly recovering from this crisis but we are not yet on the safe zone. Things could escalate again if infections rise up because of some people violating the protocols. We haven’t flattened the curve.

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but we still stand tall to celebrate Independence Day in quarantine…

As we celebrate the 122nd Independence Day, it’s time to reflect and think of our precious life. Think of our families, our friends, our colleagues, our loved ones, who are away from us during these difficult times.

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Let’s honor these modern day heroes

Think of the frontliners and the health workers who are sacrificing their lives to keep the nation safe from COVID-19.

They too have their own families that they weren’t able to see and visit because they’re still in the line of their duties.

Many of them have died saving others. All of them are heroes – the living and the dead ones.

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and let’s all be a responsible citizens

Ask yourself, “what have I done or contributed during these unpleasant times?” Were you a good and abiding citizen who followed the guidelines of quarantine and you did not put other’s lives at risk? If you’re following these protocols, then you have done a great contribution in keeping the people around you safe and protected from COVID-19.

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as we move forward into the ‘new normal’

This is now our ‘new normal’ and we can’t go back from the things they were before COVID-19.

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and forever ignite the Filipino spirit!

This is a contribution to ComCo Southeast Asia’s “Write to Ignite Blogging Project”. The initiative is a response to the need of our times, as every story comes a long way during this period of crisis.

Igniting and championing the human spirit, “Write to Ignite Blog Project” aims to pull and collate powerful stories from the Philippine blogging communities to inspire the nation to rise and move forward amidst the difficult situation.

This project is made possible by ComCo Southeast Asia, co-presented Eastern Communications and sponsored by Electrolux, Jobstreet and Teleperformance.

#WriteToIgniteBloggingProject #ComCoSEAxPHBloggers

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