Waiting, wailing, watching

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At start of the week, it’s bound to happen, for something like vaccines would not be at hand for the jab to get through. Maybe, at some point, we’ve expected something like this to happen, for the sought after medical hope in pandemic times to be out of sight, while variants and super mutations are on the rampage. Everything was doing well for the national vaccination program to even ramp up, with millions of the desired doses are coming in, one after the other.

But at week’s start, the government officials in charge of the procurement, whether paid for or not, whether donated or not, had to weave plausible reasons for the dis-materialized vaccines. A simple case of bad timing, most drug makers were on inventory period in the first and the fourth week of any month. Or maybe, it’s more than that. Not just in sheer simplicity of an excuse, but in utter magnificence of seeming logicality.

But this is something beyond deniability: After weeks of public confidence instilled in the vaccinees, after persistent appeals for public acceptance despite the years of shattered enthusiasm, the crowds were simply herded by no other obstinate desire but to get the jab done. Whatever is the brand, whether from nearby China, or distant USA or Great Britain or Germany. The catch is simple enough: get the jab done now or remain unsafe, unprotected, unshielded from the besieging virus.

After weeks of raised enthusiasm, the doldrums had to cave in. And why not? Just when vaccine hesitancy was beginning to shrink and dissipate, just when the scare of ineffectuality was starting to grow, then the dreaded eventuality had to happen. Vaccines are of out stock, the new arrivals are getting delayed, the drug makers are shoring up whatever have been produced down the road.

Those in charge of the procurement, of the arrangements, of the nitty gritty details of getting the job done were beside themselves of the insipient rage. Much more so old folks like you and me and the rest of target sectors who had hoped to give willing arms for the sought after shot.

The struggle had been epic all of more than a year. It has been waged on all fronts, balancing the intricate weight of public wants against public needs which oft times were not in synch. It has been pushed all year long to keep folks generally safe even as varying mutants were menacing here and there. Then too is the economy, which has been battered enough all year long. Businesses grounded to a halt. Jobs disappearing in a huff. Workers making do with abbreviated schedules. Livelihoods vanishing at the first hint.

What can common folks do, but to wait, to wail, and to watch out for any sordid meaning getting rushed out of the public tube, remarks that are knee-jerk reactions of a herd gone loose. There may be much gnashing of teeth, much wrenching of hearts, much weakening of the human spirit, but after the clouds of despair had been blown off, there’s only a hollering collective wish: that just by being together, we can prevail; just by holding off public steam, we can heal and rise as a people seemingly accursed by tragedy after tragedy in moments defined by how much more strength can ensue.

Old folks who can remember always called it a matter of patience embedded on a solid rock called persistence. Oh yes, that’s how much of a patient people we’ve been. How else explain that it has taken all of 400 years for Spain to relinquish its colonial hold, and all because another white man has deemed it proper to take over the colonial reign.

Patience versus the vaccine lack? Not much choice really, except to re-invest public trust in those mandated to get the jab for us. 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.

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.

Herd immunity seems a far away light at tunnel’s end, unless the vax supply stabilizes with expected regularity, unless the voices heard night and day are in unison, not to veer away from a poorly conceived script, but to get the vaunted animo going.

As they used to say, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. It’s just a matter of knowing where.

* * *

JUST THE OTHER day, a breath of fresh air seems to have infected the creative ranks when Mayor Benjie finally enacted an Executive Order designating private representatives of the various sectors comprising the creative community.

Three months back, a City Ordinance went into effect institutionalizing the establishment of the Creative Baguio City Council. Scores of private representatives have been enlisted to toughen up the creative voice long dominated by government.

This time around, Mayor Benjie made it plainer by the day, as he exhorted retired UP-Baguio Chancellor Raymundo Rovillos to “get going in upraising the culture and the arts culture.” Getting this off the ground is an auspicious step that we’re taking with audacity in mind, that’s what he gave the creative community by way of a marching order.

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