Hope Swann (coffeebased) wrote,
Hope Swann

Day 1-4: Adjusting

They announced the community quarantine on Thursday night.

Mum and I are mostly good at keeping the house stocked for most eventualities, and we'd been slowly adding to our stocks ever since they started locking down other countries, so we were fairly secure about our "survival". We picked up a few more things on Friday, mostly medicine and other small sundries that would make our isolation more comfortable.

I'm fully aware, of course, of how lucky we both are. How lucky so many of our friends are. I'm not going to spiral into anger again, I'm not going to spiral into despair again. That is the point of this blog. My mother and I have done what we can to help other people, but it does not feel enough. The worst part of this for me is that I cannot reach far enough to do anything significant. But that could just be some kind of vanity, wanting to assuage my conscience so that I can feel slightly better about how well-off and comfortable I am. I probe my conscience every so often, interrogating my motives. Maybe if I surprise it, it'll change its answer.

I don't think that anyone should feel good about what is happening to other people. Even if we can't do anything about it. It is unethical and immoral to not, at the very least, acknowledge that the majority of the population is at a disadvantage. I think that only the most self-involved would not notice that this community quarantine really only benefits the middle and upper economic classes. Omelas, once more.

Can you walk away from Omelas in the middle of a military-enforced quarantine? In my heart and mind, at the very least, I am leagues away, running.

How lucky I am to have the worst thing be so simple and so easily remedied. In the absence of being able to do anything more than I already have, I can simply turn off the television, disconnect from the news reports, and do one of the many tasks I have assigned myself. I'm waiting, hoping to make an opportunity to do something for other people. In the meantime, self-improvement, and maintenance.

Behold, the basic schedule that I have made for myself, with room for changes:

I put it together on Sunday, the first day of the community quarantine. As there are only two people in this household, there are many ways to lose oneself in mindless tasks. My mother is immunocompromised because of the last big virus that hit Metro Manila, H1N1, so I've been very zealously guarding her and her weak and scarred lungs. All my friends know about this and are probably very tired of me mentioning it. So I'm doing as much of the work as I can and trying to find ways to divert her from boredom.

Both of us are pretty good at staying indoors. I think that we're also pretty good at working alone, quietly, so that'll hopefully keep us from hating each other by the end of the quarantine. Taking care of her and keeping the COVID-19 virus at bay has been a high priority since we first heard of it, so we'd been going out less and less, anyway. Continuing to keep it away from her also limits my ability to go out and participate in the community care projects that people have been forming, taking it upon themselves to fill gaps in the government presence.

Since Metro Manila was under Community Quarantine, people from outside of it were not allowed to cross into the province, unless they had employment inside, or if they had emergencies that would require services from within Metro Manila. Checkpoints were put up to check employment papers and IDs.

On Monday, we had to go out to pay some bills. I was sure that most banks and utilities would suspend or extend their due dates, but mum wanted to be sure to get what we could out of the way. There were fewer cars on the road then, even though the news and social showed traffic building up at Metro Manila perimeter checkpoints due to the lack of equipment and infrastructure. That's really one of the main problems of the Philippines. We have so many people, good hardworking people, who are betrayed by the lack of infrastructure. The creation of infrastructure would create more jobs for people as well, perhaps ones that aren't contractualised. Perhaps ones that wouldn't leave them in fear for their families' well-being as most of the people out and about have no good choice left to them, as they're all no-work, no-pay.

The grocery lines in Metro Manila have been very long these past few weeks, as people with money to spend have been preparing themselves, some of them hoarding, hoping to suffocate their fear under rolls of toilet paper, perhaps. The lines have been consistent, not because people keep going back to the grocery stores, but because the opportunity to go has been very variable for different kinds of workers.

"Animal Crossing: New Horizons is an upcoming life simulation video game developed and published by Nintendo. The fifth main series title in the Animal Crossing series, New Horizons will be released on the Nintendo Switch on March 20, 2020."
I had pre-ordered Animal Crossing: New Horizons from Datablitz, on the recommendation of the staff. I had planned to simply pick it up on the release date, not a lot of people go to the game store that I buy from, but they told me that it looked good on their sales sheet to have more pre-orders and hinted that there might be a little tchotchke given to those who did. All malls in Metro Manila were "encouraged" to close, so every company closed their buildings. Datablitz put out an announcement on their Facebook page, social media being the best way for private businesses to engage and communicate with their buyers, saying that all pre-orders, not only ACNH, would be satisfied after the quarantine. I read the hundreds of comments that people left on that post. The replies were mixed, very few compassionate.

So I bought the game online and downloaded a digital copy that evening, resolving to sell my hard copy when I did receive it. I've been excited to play it for a while now, but the game'll only be playable on Friday, March 20. I've scheduled some time for that then, as well as an online Dungeons and Dragons game on Discord with some of my friends from college. I'm DM-ing, so I'll have to use some of my free time tonight and tomorrow making sure it's cool!

On Monday evening, they announced that they were enacting an Enhanced Community Quarantine, covering the entirety of the island of Luzon. While there has been news about COVID-19 cases in the Visayas and Mindanao, I have heard little about the measures being taken there. I'm sure that a large part of it is the tendency of the government and news to focus on the National Capital Region, and the rest of it is just that Luzon is one large island and the Visayas is more the archipelago than the rest of the Philippines. I've heard that the capital cities, Cebu and Davao, have been put under lockdown, little else.

They suspended public transportation. People were still coming home from work at the moment it was enacted, midnight on Tuesday, so thousands of people were stranded. They want important services to continue during the Enhanced Community Quarantine, they want groceries, and garbage collection, and hospitals, and banks, and deliveries, but they did not make ample provisions for the people who work in these places. The Local Government Units have been tasked to find out which people need to go to work and to arrange transportation for them. There are many anecdotal reports saying that this has not been effective. It is especially worrying to hear that hospital workers, we are not simply talking about nurses and doctors, as hospital workers encompass janitorial staff, orderlies, administrative staff, etc., have had to walk to and from work. Some of them across whole cities. Some of them even across several cities.

I spent most of Tuesday, yesterday, cleaning. I had scheduled a creative endeavour for the afternoon, and saw on a friend's Instagram that Carson Ellis, a wonderful illustrator, had started an online art challenge for those who were quarantined called the Quarantine Art Club, so I participated. I drew a self-portrait and posted it on Instagram, putting it under the #quarantineartclub.

I looked through the hashtag, full of lovely and surprising self-portraits from all around the world. The Philippines is not the only country with COVID-19, after all. Many countries preceded our quarantine with their own lockdowns, as they all had sufficient test kits for the virus and had been able to prevent international flights from infected countries almost immediately. There are less than 200 official cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines, but it is clear that there are more, even though we do not have the test kits or a mass testing program to implement. Around ten Philippine senators tested positively for COVID-19, albeit asymptomatically, showing that asymptomatic people at the highest levels of government exist.

They declared the entirety of Luzon under a State of Calamity so that they could access more funds to help people.

Last night, the news showed that food trucks coming into Metro Manila from the provinces outside it were turned away at checkpoints; those that came in were stuck for seven hours with their produce and livestock. They arrived at markets in the afternoon. Since public transportation was suspended, market vendors doubted that they'd be able to sell the food that was so badly needed. Those who could walk went to the market. The LGUs have been tasked to provide their constituents with food in addition to transportation.

I don't own the Switch that I will play Animal Crossing on. I bought it for my mother two years ago, for her birthday, so she could play Bomberman. We played New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe before dinner. It had been months since we'd last played together, so it was difficult to get back into the swing of things. We screamed so loudly and so frequently that the dogs were complaining. The duck abstained. I've allocated an amount of time each day to share an activity with my mother, ideally a game. She decided that today we will play UNO. I'm pretty excited for it because I've slotted listening to episode 31-40 of the podcast The Magnus Archives and it's fairly creepy so I'll need the cheeriness afterwards. I listened to 21-20 yesterday right before playing Mario and that helped me shake off the feelings of dread from episode 27, A Sturdy Lock. I'm hoping to catch up to The Magnus Archives before the fifth season comes out so that I'll be in on the weekly fun each time an episode drops.

My girlfriend is super into AC and TMA, so that'll probably be the bulk of most of our bonding over the course of the quarantine. She's sent me a book and some of her Philosophy readings over email, so I'll probably read that later tonight if I don't keep on going with the latest Kikomachine: Bulwagan ng Misteryo, the fifteenth anthology in that comic series by Manix Abrera. I haven't been reading much this month, comics here and there, but I started a chapter of Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia on my Kindle, and someone on the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast says fans of The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin would really enjoy it, so I'm ready to be messed up. Speaking of podcasts, I've been listening to a lot of 99% Invisible recently because it's very soothing and the perfect background to cleaning. The host, Roman Mars, released an especially calming one today: he's quarantined in his house so he spends the entire episode doing his normal routine and sharing design information about it. It's here.

"I'm a big fan of genius, lagi kong sinasabi. Unang basa ko sa kanya, "sira ulo 'to" kaagad ang naisip ko. Sira ulo. Na para sa akin ay pagkilalas a katangi-tanging uri ng talento. Hindi ito naituturo." ~Bob Ong, mula sa paunang salita"
"Pop Culture Happy Hour is a fun and freewheeling chat about the latest movies, television, books, and music."
"99% Invisible is about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about — the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world."
"Tuesday Mooney is a loner. She keeps to herself, begrudgingly socializes, and spends much of her time watching old Twin Peaks and X-Files DVDs. But when Vincent Pryce, Boston’s most eccentric billionaire, dies—leaving behind an epic treasure hunt through the city, with clues inspired by his hero, Edgar Allan Poe—Tuesday’s adventure finally begins.

Puzzle-loving Tuesday searches for clue after clue, joined by a ragtag crew: a wisecracking friend, an adoring teen neighbor, and a handsome, cagey young heir. The hunt tests their mettle, and with other teams from around the city also vying for the promised prize—a share of Pryce’s immense wealth—they must move quickly. Pryce’s clues can't be cracked with sharp wit alone; the searchers must summon the courage to face painful ghosts from their pasts (some more vivid than others) and discover their most guarded desires and dreams."
"A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing's will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger - and a possible murderer - to inherit his vast fortune, one thing's for sure: Sam Westing may be dead... but that won't stop him from playing one last game!"
I signed up for a free online Data Science Training course this morning while waiting for mum to wake up. She had a late night, waiting for the latest presser about the quarantine, so she felt a little tired, and we had a late start.

"Learn about data science and analytics from the comfort of your own home! 🏠👩‍💻

Register now at https://coursebank.ph/sparta/

Watch this video to learn more about the registration process: https://youtu.be/DCYP_kFRq-Y

If you have questions on the online training, send an email to Coursebank - learn@coursebank.ph

Project SPARTA or Smarter Philippines through Data Analytics R&D, Training and Adoption was launched in order to place necessary online education, research and development mechanisms and infrastructure to not only enable the industry of data science and analytics but also to advance smart governance practices. It aims to train and graduate 30,000 learners in data science, analytics, and related fields through online learning.

Visit https://sparta.dap.edu.ph/ to learn more about Project SPARTA.

Keep following the DOST-PCIEERD page to be updated of the latest info on Project SPARTA!"

I saw the post about the Online Data Science course on Facebook. I was immediately interested when I saw that it was a program under the Department of Science and Technology. Since my dissertation requires a fair amount of data crunching and analysis, I really would like to become current with what's being taught now. It's good to see that this is being offered to Filipinos, even though you need at leaqst a Senior High diploma to qualify, because there's been a lot information being bandied around recently, numerical data and graphs, percentages and averages, and a lot of misunderstandings as a result. I keep seeing half-arguments on my social feed. Only half, because my friends and mutuals are arguing with people I don't know, and aren't on my feed, so all I see are my friends' rebuttals and righteous anger. I'm hoping that this course will keep me sharp, because I've got a scholars' conference to present at in May, if this quarantine is lifted by then.

I've got academic work scheduled every other day, so I'm going to devote most of that to my dissertation, but I think I'll use the rest of it, and maybe some of my free time on this course. I've only enrolled in the foundation Data Analysis track because they need to approve my application to the program, but that Data Analysis track already has five weeks worth of study and information in it. I'll probably be able to finish it before the quarantine ends, though. Which will be a nice achievement.

Speaking of achievements, I've also pencilled in alternating days of exercise. I've got a little indoor bicycle that I usually use while studying or writing, but it'll be enough to help me get some cardio in, as well as a yoga course to stop me from fossilising into a lump hunched over my laptop. On odd days I'll be running around with the animals to keep me from getting stir-crazy, as well as to give them their due exercise and stimulation. This morning was pretty fun even though the puppy bonked his head several times. Babies are sturdy, I've been telling myself repeatedly since we got him.

Our puppy, Lettuce, is four months old now. He was scheduled to have his last distemper shots yesterday, as well as his Rabies shot. However, the vet and I came to the conclusion that we should put it off until the end of the quarantine. It'll just be an additional shot, anyway, and I live right off a main avenue so there are a lot of checkpoints in the area. Our vet lives closeby and she said that her daughter had a hard time getting home last night. Despite the fact that we live off the main avenue, it's pretty quiet since Monday. More often than not, the barking of our dogs sounds like the only noise in our whole neighbourhood. I hope that it only seems quiet; it would really suck to finally meet our neighbours because they've braved the quarantine to tell us off about the noise.

I should be getting offline soon. Mum and I were hoping to do some laundry while we have water, but she's napping now because she's been having chills since lunch. I have to clean the kitchen before 1630 hits, which is the time our water provider's been cutting us off since mid to late last year. I hear that it's been happening at different intervals all over Metro Manila, but it's an inconvenience most of us have gotten used to, I think. I hope.

More tomorrow, I suppose. This post's longer than I thought it would be, and this is AFTER LJ ate half of it while I was putting pictures in. I had forgotten that Livejournal does that. I don't know why that bug's managed to make it all the way to 2020 but here we are. I'm assuming my other posts will be much shorter since they'll be daily little things. Insubstantial wafers.

Okay, off I go to the kitchen with a podcast about the history of Hawaiian shirts
Tags: #quarantineartclub, books, comics, data science, dogs, podcasts, quarantine blogging

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