Vexing vaxxing

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At some point, we’ve expected something like this to happen, for the national vaccination program to simply give in, for vaccination sites to close down in a matter of hours, for the vaccinees that have lined up since dawn trekking back dejected. Far too long has the plan been revved up every now and then, but ultimately the one singular thing that’s holding the well-intentioned plan to go awry wasn’t simply there, the sought after vax.

In recent days, localities outside the NCR area have been besieging the airlanes with expletives you’d not expect from the Honorables. But when your own folks are themselves besieging local executives, practically down on their knees, imploring for the sought after panacea to the raging virus, more so the mutating lifeforms deadlier than the parent, something’s got to give.

It’s called patience, that legendary Filipino trait that has held the country more or less intact during the Spanish reign. How else explain that in this Far Eastern place at the other side of the world the Spaniards seem to have wielded the magic wand to stay the course of the usual colonial unrest striking in pockets throughout the 7,100 isles? For 400 years, dear ‘Pinas remained subjugated — except perhaps the mountain peoples in Northern Luzon, who simply refused to surrender — until that golden age when Filipinism began to flower.

It’s really all about the supply of vaccines, which government authorities have been regaling everyone, from the loved ones to the once young, since a year ago when the virus held menacing sway here and there. They’re coming, and in millions of doses, enough to mesmerize Pinoys everywhere that the covid threat has its days numbered. They’re almost here, just beyond the horizon, millions of doses of whatever brand is there, from Sinovac to AstraZ, to Pfizer to Gamaleya to Moderna to J&J.

And all this time too, there has been non-stop reporting of the more menacing health threat, the Delta variant and later a deadlier one, the Delta plus, driving up us folks to the scare wall, getting us scurrying to the nearest vax site, regardless whether we’re on deck for the jab. And why won’t anyone be any brave, when hundreds of thousands all over the planet are said to be easy targets of this deadly strain? Go in haste, folks, get in line, and get jabbed. The best vaccine is the one’s available. Perish the hesitancy of old. Set aside bias against the vax. It’s all fake news.

This is why the mightiest force that can drive everyone to the vax site is fear itself, the fear that anytime, in fleeting seconds, you’d get the Delta variant. And since it has a 60% speed rate of contamination, there’s the next level of fear that loved ones are next in line, then neighbors, then the nameless others.

But where oh where are the vexing vaccines? Just yesterday, some local officials are already bewailing the vaccine lack. Only a pitiful few are available, while the waiting lines are even lengthening, far beyond the eyes can see.

Last night alone, the litany of lack gets repeated, ad nauseam, this time in rising decibels enough to harangue anyone all night, enough for the newscasters themselves to get in the fray of discussion, enough for listeners like us to get even more befuddled and bedraggled.

As my barber used to say, winking up at avid listeners, “Anyare?”

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TODAY, IN CASE anyone has missed it, it’s Philippine-American Friendship Day. Despite the seeming sweep of anti-American sentiment several decades back, that seems to have had no sway here in Baguio. What old folks fervently remember are Uncle Sam’s expatriates who’ve founded families here, raised kids the American way, and brought to bear what seems to be the legacy of astuteness that Baguio’s American founders have had in plentiful stuff.

Like it or not, Baguio rose from the wilderness of pine-clad mountains to be an American-bred haven, a health station for the sick, the infirm, and the ailing, founded to replicate the fine American cities that have glistened through time. Make no mistake about it, things America are much in dominance, not just in the physical surroundings, not just in the aura but even more so in the vista of a vision long embedded in the breast of locals.

Kennon, Harrison, Leonard Wood, Burnham Park, Camp John Hay — these are not just American names, but signature brands of what possibilities for the American way have been ingrained deep in our consciousness. True, Baguio today is more of a pride of place, but not just for those living here in peace, striving hard to raise families of their own. Thriving here is a cosmopolitan blend of the best (and the worse) that the American heritage has done. Warts may have become standouts, but worries of this kind do happen everytime. At day’s end, it’s Uncle Sam’s values, insights, lessons that Pinoys like you and I harbor any good time of the season, enough to get in line at the U.S. Embassy for the sought after Visa.

Happy FilAm Day everyone. Cheers from our champagne glasses!