Waiting, watching, wailing

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When news finally broke out on the re-imposition of ECQ in the metro area, along with 4 adjacent provinces, so much fuss has already taken place, besieging the social network, getting a populace already worn and weary to trek it out to the nearest food retail outlets. For hours, on that day, the developing story went through fits and faults, no doubt ignited by how quick and unrelenting the buzzword caught fire. No, it aint so. Yes, it is. That’s just how rumors feed on the unsuspecting, those with wit and guile to act freely, those who have been on pins and needles all week.

For some, placing the MM plus 4 under ECQ isn’t really a brainer. For days on end, the cases were in an upsurge, surpassing even the July-August 2020 tally, when the virus was hopping gleefully, from body to body. Yes, that was when the economy — grounded for five months then — needed to get going once more; that was when the jobless were groaning in multitudes; that was when livelihood access stood shuttered.

This time around, belated it may have been, it’s back to ECQ, this time harsher in restrictions than the last, but resilient enough to be adjusted as the days went by. It’s only for a week, till after Easter Sunday, assured the Palace spokesman. With cases shooting out of the roof, there really was no choice but clamp down hard on mobility. The telltale signs have been there, the cynics have been hollering all week, the critics have been jeering those in charge to absurdity. Hospital capacity was stretched out too thinly, the health and medical workers were already themselves exhausted to even know what day it was, and the stricken just kept on coming.

ECQ would snap things out in a snap, make the overall crisis hitting the metropolis under some control, giving time for the crisis managers to take stock of what’s happening, what went wrong and right, and give the over-burdened capacity time for reprieve and re-charging. Ok, guys and dolls, the fiesta has rung down the curtain, let’s take a breather and determine how well we’re facing up to the challenge. ECQ may last beyond the week-long duration touted about, and well throughout April. Getting the situation at hand, in close grip, for a better, more efficient grasp may well be the order of the day.

But wait, what about the Kabuhayan that everyone who’s buhay na buhay is supposed to be worrying about? An ECQ that’s more painstakingly difficult for everyone out there will snuff out whatever is left to retrieve — businesses grounded once more, if not altogether closed, allowed under limited operations; jobs that are either lost anew or merely rotated to spread working hours to as many.

Already, on Day 3 under ECQ, the images rolling off the screen are hardly uplifting. Pain, heartache, anguish, helplessness, suffering — all these are singularly telling, wrenching, but repeated under different names, locations, and circumstance, they hit you with unimaginable force, the mind drained of all empathy, the body convulsing in rage that in a country steeped in common decency, things should get out of hand, just because not much fistful of anger had been upraised, just because the heart kept on being hopeful, just because the legendary resilient spirit of the Filipino has always made us get through, get past, and get going even under the toughest of times.

About the only chance for worthier rectitude is another V let loose on the deadly V. Vaccine versus virus — there’s the chance that happily has evolved to offer comfort for the careless, salvation for the sinful, hope for the helpless. Never mind that not many would take the jab for any good number of reasons. It’s their choice. Never mind that the vaccination sites have not really been as crowded, as if to indicate that no too many are just about to have the plunge. It’s still their choice.

For two months now, all we had was Sinovax, and another cool million doses have just landed, blistfully on a journey to willing arms. Always the first to arrive, it should make up for the unwillingness of the vaccinees to be jabbed, and get others less reluctant to be on line. Remember that during the first week, it seems that the reception to this vaunted Chinese vax has not been euphoric enough to literally jump-start a stampede of willing arms.

First in that line are the frontliners — they who have undoubtedly labored all this time, exposing themselves to virus-infected environment, tending to the health needs of stricken compatriots and even distraught foreigners. Since Sinovax is out there heading the pack, as if in a race, shouldn’t the eligible first-rankers be out there with their outstretched arms, willing to get the proverbial shot? It may not have happened that way, but the way things stand, Filipinos are just that, standing out by being out.

Are we just being reticent and reluctant? Lest we yield to malice with discontent, let it be said, as announced by hospital authorities, that the health workers were simply being rotated in turns amid performing their hospital duties. And shouldn’t we first see if serious side effects would erupt, enough to bring the entire process in disappointing disarray.

Prayerfully, it’s not the anti-vaccine bias that’s holding off the pack the first weeks the vax had its turn to wait. Alright, so it’s not even the painful experience of Dengvaxia coming into play, dissuading even the frontline actors to stay out of script. Nothing of that sort. Even in dear ol’ USA, vaccine reluctance is hitting a good 30%, and it takes a whole new ballgame to turn things around.

Indeed, far too long have the populace been lured up that the light at the tunnel comes with the inoculating needle containing the awaited vaccine. All this time, drug makers have themselves been going through their own race, who gets first is where the treasure chest beckons. All this time, people have been led to believe that the salvation is at tunnel’s end, even if that’s as far, far back just yet

Any time of day, good sense tells us that it’s better to have an effective, safe, and protective vaccine into our body, than to have the virus pouncing on us without warning. It simply means not just saving ourselves, our loved ones, our friends and intimates, but others as well. If that isn’t making some sense at all, nothing else will, except getting to weep and wail over a lost loved one, whose hospitals couldn’t carte for, because “there wasn’t room at the inn.”

Under holier times like now, nothing else should raise us up than to feel the glory of a resurrected life gone weary and worn.

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