Manila lockdown: the upside and lowdown

What is it like to be isolated?

As Manila prepares to be locked down for 30 days, many of the 12 million city dwellers are panicking, hoarding groceries, tuning in to real/fake news, giving in to the fear of the unknown.

Self-quarantine and “social distancing” are lost on most of the Philippine capital’s ~12 million population.

In the land of one of the world’s most hospitable and warmest peoples, it’s weird and unnatural to keep a 12-foot distance from another human being (as prescribed to avoid catching the #COVID2019 virus droplets).

And in an urban jungle like Manila, lack of personal space is imposed on those who take public transportation, ie the twice-daily commutes in packed-like-sardines trains, buses, jeepneys.

It does not help that our government leaders have bungled the pre-planning, logistics and funding of early efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

And when our president announced that moving in and out of the capital city will be limited from March 15 to April 14, 2020, military officers were behind him, as if threatening us with punishment even before gaining back our trust.

This communication style fuelled panic and failed to assure many the government thoroughly thought the lockdown through.

When something is forced on us, instead of being convinced with the truth and moved to personally do our civic duty, it takes a ton of effort to obey or contribute.


In my own “ivory tower” in Manila, I had time to think and reflect.

Do I tend to allow others’ imperfections to dictate how I react? Do I have it in me to control my strong emotions?

Getting past the stark realities of our uninspiring leaders, and giving up the urge to hoard or pass on juicy but unverified news are actually opportunities to self-examine my personal values.

My initial check wasn’t pretty. Controlling my emotions has had hits and misses. But I resolve to re-calibrate, be more self-aware, be more responsible with what I share to my online and offline friends. My words, after all, are power by themselves.

Whew! Being honest to myself and to you is intense, but liberating. I urge you to take this time off to go thru the same reflection exercise.

Be well!

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