Continuous upending routines

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Baguio City — Thousands whose lives are interwoven into the fabric of highland and lowland stream of life stoically accept their routine undertakings will continue to be hobbled by this dire times, yet look forward to a light at the end of the tunnel when they’d  revert to their former and rewarding activities.

Those contacted Monday by Herald Express spoke that sporadic lockdowns or self- confinement have forced several to re-structure or reset their plans, adjusting to the times they describe as, “madi nga a tiempo,” for all walks of life.

Used to normal bustling atmosphere, Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Region 1 dwellers feel discomfited finding their daily routines shuffled with unpredictable patterns when communities alter to restriction.

Donata Ludovico, petite lowlander, possessed with mischievous grin and   staying in La Trinidad, Benguet, sighs resignedly when the word “lockdown” is uttered.

She’s a hard-working mother-entrepreneur, prepares, cooks and deliver those favorite native suman, patupat, tupig delicacies to households, stores in La Trinidad and Baguio and misses those times or man-hours lost when communities are on stand still.

Asked, “What she missed/ is presently missing after the pandemic struck,” Donata answered, “Ma-mi-miss ko, Sir, diay comfortable nak anya man oras nga ipan ko ideliver dagiti lakok.  Ngem nu madamag ko lockdown, dispalko garaw ko, aglalo panagbirok ti pag-biagan pamilya.”

Even government officials operating at levels of uncertainty are faced with difficult trade-offs and significant implications for crisis management and policy response, as Baguio City councilor Arthur Alladiw observed.

Councilor Alladiw, having developed his own resilient response for a coordinated effort among constituents as his policy-making consideration, when queried   on the missing link between him and constituents after the disease struck, said, he missed, “Touching ground regularly. I missed it most. As it was limited by this pandemic.”

Alladiw, who draws on transformation involving diverse knowledge and multiple actors, said, “This is already a part of my brand of public service: to learn from the people and try to address it through legislations.”

Alladiw happens to balance appreciation of the politics of pandemic, how it’s vital to understanding how it got to places, what’s being done about it and what the highland and lowland post-pandemic environment may shape.

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Even entrepreneurial businesses are struggling, mostly from economic fallout from the pandemic, curdling not only local economy but also the fabric of communities, as Joel Belinan, Baguio resident, observed.

Joel, previously long connected to a Baguio-based weekly newspaper, said, “The small income that I earn from marketing business since 2019 became zero since mid-March this year. The nature of the business is that we have to travel, but the first to be restricted is travel. Hence, our business died the moment the country went into lockdown.”

Sports, long considered a valuable tool in   building bridges between communities, generations and major contributor to economic and social development, has also been disturbed.

Joel dwelt on such disarrangement: “Second is our combat martial arts events. I used to teach boxing, kickboxing at the park. (Joel meant at Burnham Park.). Now we can’t do that until City Hall says so.

Across   highland and lowland cultures, families are associated by their ability to maintain equilibrium, drawing upon individuals and joint strengths to cope effectively particularly during these critical times and missing such can be upsetting.  Joel said, lastly, he misses “foremost, my usual date with my family, to the park and downtown.”

When travelling, you become enjoined, a part of it.  Gina Dizon, a vivacious lady from Sagada, Mountain Province, who can be dead serious or bubby with mirth depending on the occasion, and curtailed of travelling, rued: “Missing out on important travels is an agony. Till now, I haven’t gone to Baguio to secure my camera which I had it repaired. So I settled for video cam and cellphone photos. I had to edit to let good resolutions.”

“I miss going out to Bontoc, too,” Gina went on, “when the town goes on lockdown and important matters I have to attend, on following up letters, whether personal or organizational, are set aside for the time being.”

Yet, despite having missed part of normal activities, Gina discovered there’s more to be gained from a missing link of a normal activity.

“While there’s something I missed, I am more excited with the fact there’s something with this pandemic that made life fulfilling. Things I wanted to do which I finally did,” Gina revealed.

“With restrictions of travel, I come to sit and work on things I long wanted to do. Matters which have long been in my mind to do for quite some time. Either I didn’t have the time and space to do or didn’t prioritize. Which in my subconscious are matters more crucial and more important than what I usually do before the new normal struck,” Gina explained.

At the back of Gina’s mind, there’s this lingering truth that humans can build back better and emerge from this disease scare more resilient than ever. But to do so means choosing actions like nature protection and preservation – nature can help protect humans, too.

And Gina started to plant. “The pandemic made me do something fulfilling of having planted trees. Yes! Trees! Pine trees, coffee, Alnus, planted in the rainy days of June, aside from the usual beans, corn and camote planted in the first rains of April. I literally planted trees and planted more than what literally meets the mind,” Gina underscored.

Resting for a moment of planting, Gina finds time to be reflective, with slices of laughter laced with the ingredient of rural setting of the highlanders, but understood, too, by any lowlander.

“I find it amusing, yet satisfying having written complaints I long wanted to write and this begins the resolve to get things done before I physically disappear from this material world, “Gina humorously intoned.

“Anyways, I could have travelled to wherever, or did something else which, along the process, couldn’t have been that meaningful as what I realized I did during the pandemic,” Gina reflected, soberly.

“And with this over eagerness and zeal to do something out of this dreadful virus and seemingly idle situation of staying at home, staying at home meant indulgence in the sun, the wind, earth and rain, lest staying at home would    be really dreadful without having to take on the wonders of nature. And feel good, “Gina expounded, happily.

“And before the normal travels come around again, I’m reminded there’s something else more I have to do while the pandemic is working real. A paperwork long unattended to waits for my time and space to do, including those agonizing, long overdue assignments which I have to do, tells me to get those done,” Gina stated, seriously.

Herald Express was also able to contact another Cordilleran, Carmen Del-ong Ikid, from Besao, presently working in Great Britain and residing in London.

Queried what she missed most after the pandemic, Carmen disclosed the feelings of a thousand folks who, at this time seem weary of the world half-stilled by the pandemic and long to steal away to some green, quiet, and not trammeled way.

“I missed going out into the woods and enjoying the beauty of nature. Looking under the trees for mushroom. And wild flowers, big and small.”

Carmen narrated: “If I look closely under the trees, there are myriads of little flowers. There are wild raspberries, too, that I can pick up and cook into raspberry jams. Sometimes, I just sit on one of the weeping willow trees and enjoy listening to the music of the birds. That’s what I miss during this pandemic since I came to this country (Great Britain).”

Yet, Carmen revealed her pining for home when she ended her conversation with this Herald Express columnist, saying, “Which reminds me of the beautiful pine trees of my beautiful hometown of Besao.  I feel most happy when I am surrounded by the beauty of nature – God’s handiwork displayed.”

In a virtual blink of an eye, of a world being scorched by a virus, those spoken with, by Herald Express, profoundly indicated how recollecting the “good ol’ days” can serve as lessons by re-shifting the memories towards the future.

And they have spoken. — Bony A. Bengwayan

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