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5 Things I Had to Learn During the Pandemic (and Wish I Won’t Have to Again In My Lifetime)

Looking back to some of the more mundane things we had to learn and manage during quarantine.

It’s the era of ‘The New Abnormal’. Even when any form of quarantine will be lifted here in Metro Manila, to believe that it will be a simple matter of pressing some reset button and we’re back to early 2020, is a foolish notion. Social interaction—conducting business, dining out, going to the mall, watching movies, attending concerts and large gatherings, even weddings—are all in for a drastic redefining of parameters and acceptable standards. Until a vaccine that’s dependable and readily available is developed, the risks of reverting to the ‘old order’ are just too great. In the meantime, let’s look back to some of the more mundane things we had to learn and manage during the COVID-19 days.


Practically empty Makati streets on a weekday at 11:30 am. For once, missing the snarl of Manila traffic! | Photo courtesy of author


1. Cut My Own Hair

As the weeks and months rolled by, we ‘mourned’ how hair salons and barber shops were closed for business. Like many of you out there, I had to cut my own hair. While the photo was taken on May 20th, and may not look too bad; I never touched the back of my head, and it’s an unruly mess. I learned the best way my untrained hands could manage was to carefully cut a little bit every four to five days, so nothing too drastic ever had to be attempted, and you minimized having a really uneven cut. And yes, I’m still praying for the day the salons do open; ready to prostrate myself, and kiss the toes of my regular hair stylist.


The results of cutting one’s own hair. While the front view is passable; the rear view’s a real mess. | Photo courtesy of author


2. Conversing with Inanimate Objects

I live alone in a condo, with just one help, who handles the cleaning and occasional cooking. As a result, it’s been over two months of intense solitude. When you begin conversing with the fridge to stay cool, begging the A/C not to conk out, talking to the paintings on the wall, and whispering to photos on your smartphone—then you know that the coronavirus is affecting your mental well-being. Loneliness is a dark, tough planet; and I just thank my lucky stars that somehow, I’ve managed (so far); and only wish the best to others in the same lonely boat as myself.


3. Regulate My Eating

Spending hours writing articles, reading books, or watching TV, can easily lead to your hand straying to a bowl of whatever by your side, and munching away. I really had to learn how to zip it, keep my mouth shut, and avoid all those in-between ‘little snacks’. One trick was to overstock, always have so many options situated by the fridge or night table—so that having to first choose tricked me into just not bothering at all! I know, might not work for everyone; but that became my personal foolproof solution.


The top of my bedroom fridge! | Photo courtesy of author


4. Maintain An Exercise Routine

This was really difficult. Pre-quarantine, I would do a daily early morning hour of outdoor tennis—and ironically, this is a sport with natural social distancing. Wanting to, at the very least, maintain my weight during the lockdown; I would make it a point to do push-ups, planks, lunges, jumping jacks in the mornings, and do brisk walking around the condo’s pool area in early afternoon sunshine—and end off by walking up the 10 flights to my unit. I maintain this routine with just one cheat day a week. And sure, I hated having to breathe through the face mask; but no choice. I miss my tennis!


5. Greater Appreciation of Travel and Mobility

Another tough one. Have always enjoyed traveling; and for the foreseeable future, it looks like travel and tourism, as we knew it, are in for some drastic changes. Mobility, the mere moving around the city became something precious, as I do belong to that age-group considered to be COVID-19 high-risk. Spending hours at the bookstore at the mall, watching movies in public cinemas, even driving and making ‘paseo’—these will all take a back seat, even after quarantine is lifted. Please deposit me on a white-sand beach as soon as possible!


Beyond the five above, I do have to offer an extra loud shout-out to the security guards and skeleton staff of our condominium. When the lockdown started on March 16, they had to join us; and for those with families, I know it’s been one arduous ordeal. They’ve been quartered in function rooms turned into makeshift living quarters, and that can’t be easy.


There’s obviously been so much time on our hands; but for me, as the lockdown went on and on, it hasn’t been time spent with people who matter. This has really put into relief how we must find ways to keep these people close to us when the opportunities will arise. Time is precious—but even more precious is time spent with those we love. Even during these COVID-19 times, making precious memories with those you love, and are close to, is very important.


Hopefully, in some not too distant future, we can look back and reminisce with our loved ones about how we coped with the pandemic.


Lead photo from Imgur.