The community quarantine was at full blast. All residents were being instructed to return to their homes to reduce their exposure to the corona virus. The virus was named as such as its protein buds resembled that of the corona of the sun.
As it required a strong microscope to even see the corona virus, it would also require a strong telescope to even distinguish the sun’s corona from the sun itself. It was even hard to see it now that it was currently nightfall. Hahaha.
That lame joke aside, what were noticeable as nightfall began were the sounds of creatures making their rounds in dominating the ambience of the mountain night.
It was not the cicadas making that cartoonish creaking sound.
Neither were the trees shaking their leaves against the wind.
The duration of the evening was dominated by the sounds of the dogs barking over non-existent threats. For a neighborhood who wanted tranquility, the barking would be reduced as mere annoyance and boors.
That annoyance became rather a metaphor being employed by the people of privilege over the noise that dominated social media in the light of the poor and unplanned implementation of the enhanced community quarantine that took effect. Enjoying their month-long stockpile of supplies and a security of tenure on their respective jobs, they would lash out against people struggling against the imposed disciplining policies as those unfortunate people had no choice as they would lose their means of living, for they were barely living with paycheck upon paycheck.
The apparent surge of people exposing their bigotry and their disconnection from the reality arose from the slowing down of the activities brought by the quarantine. With the suspension of their own avenue to act busy and act almighty, ergo work, they finally unveiled and opened the lids of their garbage can, or what they called as “mind”.
I wonder how these privileged people would react if they were to put in the same situation that I was in. Situated at a remote barangay with no phone and data connections, with the residents reassuring themselves amidst the fear brought by the diminishing of the availability of supplies and access to mass transportation.
I saw people slowly resigning to their fates of losing their livelihoods as the enhanced quarantine exhausted their energy and efforts to struggle. Those privileged people even had the gall to claim that these disadvantaged people would somehow survive the calamity that loomed, citing what Filipinos constantly boasted before the world. That skewed concept of “Filipino resilience” gave an excuse to tolerate the suffering of others and allow this incompetence in governance.
Maybe such indifference was rooted from the culture which originated from institutional memory. Once, in 1972, in order to curb the supposed violence, Martial Law was declared. Commerce was forced to temporarily shut down. Media coverage was limited. The police (then-Philippine Constabulary) and the military were deployed everywhere. With little to no experience in politics, government, and crisis management, naivete of some people would lead them to think that curbing the unrest was more paramount than combating the pandemic itself, as their detachment from the plight of those who were affected by the pandemic led them into dismissive the woes of the poor and the call for better and effective action as mere barks.
This stench coming out from their privilege brought a series of ironies and oxymorons. They barked into dismissing the woes of others as mere barks. They, along with most politicians and the people in power, were really good at social distancing… from those really affected and the disadvantaged, as the social divide grew wider and wider. They were like dogs forcing others to just “comply” and follow the rules without question, just like domesticated dogs do, reminiscent of that in Martial Law where people were brainwashed into docility.
They were fooled that such repressive actions would curb the spread of the pandemic alone, wrongly referencing the actions of other countries. Ignorant that the military was only deployed as additional manpower to assist the medical personnel in those countries and that those countries had institutional memories of combating the previous pandemics unlike the Philippines, they mistakenly interpreted the slogan of “solusyong medikal, di solusyong militar” as literally placing the health personnel to man checkpoints, instead of its true meaning of improving healthcare, increasing the manpower of the already understaffed health institutions, increasing the number and improving the medical facilities, and a systematic and scientific approach that based on facts.
Only capable of handling dichotomies in their stubborn minds, the privileged imposed a false dichotomy on being critical and being helpful. Such people are incompatible with democracies. We can improve our leaders by pointing our where they are wrong and what they are wrong at. The privileged, just like the one in the 9 pm slot of 90.7 MHz, would just be barking “magtulungan na lang”.
Dissecting that insistence would instead reveal the indolence within those people. “Magtulugan na lang” would translate into letting the government “do their job” without question. The irony was that with the current set of policies of this government, the government was instead expecting its citizens to do most of the job that the government was supposed to do.
Such privilege led into such revelations of their atrocious ways of thinking. Maybe they rendered themselves immune from the suffering of the common man. And speaking of immunity, the World Health Organization has announced that dogs cannot contract the CoViD-19 virus. Maybe the metaphor of likening the people of privilege to dogs was not far-fetched after all.
And speaking of dogs, apart from the bat, within my place, there was a dog who guarded the compound.
When I first met that dog, he was barking rabidly while gnarling underneath the gate. However, such ferocity turned out to be just a show as it became cowardly after I opened the gate, reminiscent of that of the ignorant people in the internet when being asked to present their respective evidence to prove their point.
Just like that dog, maybe perhaps those people were afraid of confrontation as the likely end-result of such confrontation would be them being “emasculated” as they would be proven wrong.
Even so, we still need to change that mindset. We should welcome intellectual clashes and debates. We should welcome the possibility that we might be wrong in or respective viewpoints. We should abandon our pride attached to the ignorance that we are holding on, as we must acknowledge that learning never ended at school as it was a never-ending process. To eradicate the growing divisiveness in society, we must have the courage and patience to reach out.
And with patience, I began my attempt into domesticating that coward dog. I began feeding it Pancit Malabon every day. And by the 3rd day, the dog seemed to anticipate it. The dog began to approach me, unlike the first times where it just ran to hide in the plant boxes.
However, that dog was not the only dog within the neighborhood.
There was also this dog who regularly barked at me as I walked up the road to fetch some food. That dog may have the loudest bark. The other dogs seemed to follow his lead, into barking and imposing threats.
However, all the commotion that those dogs caused were halted by the voice of their owners shushing them.
The owner of that alpha dog then called the dog by its name:
That alpha dog was frightened.
I just smirked.
What a fitting name.