Contradicting this Covid Time

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It has come to pass that complaining or arguing – over the use of face masks, scoffing at social distancing, washing of hands, breaching quarantine rules and disregard to other parameters recommended to minimize coronavirus infection- has turned into a general past time to a scattering of stubborn Filipinos,  as tracked last week by Herald Express.

On any day, somewhere in any given place in the Philippines, someone is apt to leave his/her house sans a face mask, venture to a public place and gets embroiled in bitter argument with somebody about wearing of mask.

It can become a season of shouting, defiance and tension and perhaps dissonance among the differing versions of Filipino narratives that the things they are complaining and contradicting about are actually the things that may save them from harm.

Apparently, some Filipinos, see the notion that restrictions imposed to contain coronavirus impinge on their freedom.

On the other hand, majority who value their lives and their health view such stubborn stance as “a warped idea about freedom.”

As in the context of the thinking shared on social media by Virgilio Saguid Anudon, from Ifugao but residing in Baguio City, that enjoying freedom carries with it a burden of responsibility.

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Anudon was answering a query of somebody who contradicting the use of a face mask, and Anudon, in exasperation said if the person, if he l gets sick of coronavirus because of stubbornness, to refrain seeking medical help from “a government hospital.”

Flouting public health guidelines is not a common scenario in places like Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) or Region 1, but this problem rears its ugly head in other regions, disclosing a divide of persons in areas preferring to toe the line or in places where hardheaded looms and those doing so deemed as scofflaws.

Up in northern Luzon, the picture is vastly different, particularly among highlander Igorot and lowlander Ilocano and immediately noticed last May by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Diseases, pronouncing it as a totally different approach from other regions in the containment of coronavirus.

IATF chief implementer Carlito Galvez, Jr., said that May, “The uniting factor of the Igorot and the Ilocano, a culture of unity and cooperation as well as being disciplined that is a good strength,” as a response to a common foe.

Galvez, Jr., in his observation of the old adage, “In unity there is strength,” pointed to the CAR experience in his   talks with other government authorities the following weeks, that in in today’s times, strength through unity is unattainable when discord is prevalent than the well-intended course of action.

Following IATF meetings, Galvez reported immediately to President Rodrigo Duterte and national committees involved in infectious diseases the best practices developed by Baguio City authorities and which were cascaded in other Benguet areas and provinces in Cordillera.

In a nutshell, the Cordillerans and lowlanders showed to IATF and other co-Filipinos that they can erect a bulwark of defense against an opponent through altruism and solidarity.

These two traits have sparked a glimmer of hope for Cordillerans and lowlanders smacked by the health plague.

This week, Baguio City mayor Benjamin Magalong, together with six Baguio personnel enplaned to Cebu upon request of authorities there to share the best practices of Baguio.

Take the case of Cebu. It experienced a spike in infection late last month and this month, cases are still on the rise. People there playing with fire when health experts said the spread of the virus has not abated has resulted in authorities ramping Cebu a “hotspot.”

Stubbornness of the Cebuanos had forced the government to send in members of the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to restore order and instill discipline to residents.

Such frustrating scenario has prompted no less than President Duterte to tell Cebuanos in a televised address July 1, “You Cebuanos, don’t be angry with me for scolding you. You’re so stubborn.”

He told the people in Cebu to “better shape up” and follow rules to contain coronavirus which has caused Cebu to become a catch-22 and being locked down in the strictest quarantine level.

Duterte admonished the Cebuanos for what the president termed their “nonchalant” attitude. The President added, “Now you know why it has many cases. One of the reasons I would say without consulting the body (He was referring to the IATF) is many of you did not follow rules.”

In frustration about the attitude of the Cebuanos, Duterte lamented in his address, saying, “My God, you better shape up!”

“This is not the first time. This is not the first national emergency that Cebuanos are so slow to act. If they do something, they complain first,” Duterte lamented.

Such attitude, observed by no other than the Philippine president himself speak in volumes if seen at the level of the seriousness of the Philippines being restive and on edge trying to face an invisible enemy that is constantly prowling on the move, not staying in one place.

Coronavirus, respects no boundaries and chooses where it wants to wreak havoc. And any place, refusing to be prepared is in for a lot of trouble, the chain of events spilling to adjacent places, as explained by health authorities.

As in the case of coronavirus infection as proven by medical authorities that we are only strong, as our weakest link.

Said another way by other authorities that without common ground and serious purpose, a place implementing the strictest of health rules will have its residents easily endangered by others in other adjacent places which are only implementing bluster to fight the virus.

Back here in Baguio City, Ferdie Kawi Bayasen, former barangay captain of Guisad barangay, and a good friend of Herald Express, who is known for stickler of discipline declared clear his thoughts why he would rather use a face mask, rather than arguing about it.

Bayasen’s thoughts run parallel with the expectation of Atty. Ruth Bawayan, assigned at Branch 4, Justice Hall, Baguio City and another good friend of Daily Laborer.

Ferdie Bayasen and Atty. Ruth Bawayan, two durable Baguio friends you can surely ride the river with, intimate they wear a face mask in public for three reasons:

– “Humility –  as one doesn’t know if someone has coronavirus as it’s clear people can spread the disease before they have symptoms.”

– “Kindness. One doesn’t know if the person/s near has/have a child battling cancer, or cares for their elderly mom. While one might be fine; they might not.”

– “Community. Bayasen and Bawayan want their community to thrive. Businesses to stay open, employees to stay healthy. keeping a lid on coronavirus helps us all.”

Now, Virgilio Saguid Anudon, apparently fed up by people exhibiting stubbornness to health guidelines chimed that any stubborn person can do whatever he/she wants, but if struck with big C, “Huwag magpagamot sa government hospital.”

While Anudon’s advice maybe presumed as off-tangent, his message is simply implying that for one not to become a possible victim, then simply follow rules and not be stubborn about it.

Bong Cayabyab, a retired government employee formerly assigned at Baguio City Hall has a message to tell about people wanting to be stubborn about corona health guidelines.

Cayabyab said, “Freedom is not locked down, sun rise is not locked down, oxygen is not locked down, meditation is not locked down, creativity is not locked down, prayers are not locked down, hobby is not locked down, family time is not locked down, friendship is not locked down, love is not locked own, responsibilities are not locked down, and hopes are not locked down.”

“Mask is better than ventilator, home is better than ICU, and prevention is better than cure,” Cayabyab said.

Then there’s this person (no need to mention his name for obvious reason) who offered an argument that “If face masks work, then why do businesses need to close? If face masks don’t work, why are we forced to wear them?”

Daily Laborer counters: “Why does the Land Transportation Office (LTO) or Philippine National Police (PNP) requires us to strap on seat belts when driving? Or why do we need to obey traffic signs?”

If seatbelts and traffic signs won’t improve a person’s chances of being safe, then nothing will.

For those not stubborn and adhere to using face masks: they should pat the other’s back, Cayabyab said.

Sa wakas, dahil sa face mask, lahat tayo ay pantay-pantay. Walang maganda, walang cute, walang pangit, walang pogi. Kahit nakalimutan mong isu-ot ang inyong pustiso, kahit di ka mag-lipstick, kahit di ka mag-brush your teeth,” sabi Daily Laborer na Ah Kong.

“Kahit ba di na mag-panty o magbrief, total di halata ang mukha.  Kahit di mag-suklay, kahit hindi mag-make-up. Thank the Lord for the face mask. Thank God, it’s a miracle!”

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