MANILA, Philippines — What was once thought to be essential has become a luxury. What seemed unattainable became reality. What was once impossible became the new normal.
The Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) has become the new benchmark for everything. Decisions will henceforth be made on the basis of their efficacy under a lockdown scenario, most probably even in the post-Covid future.
So what has a month of ECQ taught us?
Rain can fall even in summer
Covid-19 came like a freak storm. Everyone was caught unprepared. Lives were overturned in an instant, forcing us to enter unchartered waters and making difficult decisions in the midst of uncertainty. Out of work, out of business, stripped of the many luxuries and conveniences we once enjoyed, we were forced to accept our new realities, re-engineer our lives, re-calibrate our days, and revisit the way we did things.
But as we were forced to enter an entirely new existence, we also learned to appreciate the many things we tended to overlook in our pre-Covid lives. For one, we are now seeing our community frontliners in a different light, appreciating their service to our community more than ever.
Closeness need not be physical
With limitations on personal movement, we learned to adjust, to purge, and to find ways for things that really mattered to us.
Most of us have reconnected with our families, finding ourselves communicating more and taking an interest in each other’s lives.
A New York Times analysis of Internet usage in the US shows behaviors shifting, sometimes starkly, toward devices for work, play, and connecting, with people wanting to do more than just connect through messaging and texting. We want to see one another, to have that sense of belonging, of family, of community.
Our own Smart Telecommunications’ data traffic shows a spike of 15 to 20% in the first week of the ECQ.
Condominium living has given us that sense of community. We may be alone in our units, but it gives us a sense of calm to know that there are people around us who share our plight and that there will always be someone to heed our cry for help.
With our safety and security on the line, it is reassuring to know that we can rely on our property management to immediately provide emergency assistance, whether to bring us to the hospital or to secure medical or professional help for us or to link us with our local government units.
There is so much to do in 24 hours
We used to complain about not having enough time, wishing there were more hours in a day. But once the commercial clutter was taken away, we realized how long 24 hours was.
We found ourselves doing things we had been putting off – learning a new skill, rediscovering an old hobby, reading a good book, starting an art project, volunteering for or spearheading a cause, re-decorating our homes. And yes, praying.
For some of us, work has not skipped a beat. In fact, many of us realize we are more productive working from home (WFH) than when we were in our offices. And we are able to do that while being able to eat healthier, watch more movies and shows, exercise with greater regularity, sleep longer and more soundly.
What used to be little things that we took for granted in the past, we now see with renewed eyes. Our balconies offer us a magnificent view of the outdoors – clear, blue skies hovering over our well-appointed amenities that, post-ECQ, will allow us to be able to spend quality ‘me’ or ‘family’ time without the need to leave our homes.
Our wifi-equipped, resort-like lobbies and open-air lounges or co-working spaces provide the perfect setting for a new normal that encourages work from home.
We do not need much
When the commercial noise settled down, we found ourselves going back to what really mattered.
As in Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy, everything starts with – and everyone returns to – the basic needs: physiological and security or safety. Roofs over our heads, food on the table, and protection of our health and of our existence, became the be-all and end-all of our lockdown existence.
Never have we appreciated the presence of retail shops within our community than in these trying times. Having shops that provided the true essentials – a grocery, a pharmacy, a service center, ATMs, even a full-service bank in many of our developments – has given us peace, security and comfort knowing that we do not have to travel long and hard nor risk our health in order to survive. Yes, ECQ has taught us that we do not need much.
But the little that we need – the bare essentials – are within easy reach. What used to be just a convenience or an add-on feature for some of us has become a necessity for all of us in these trying times.
5. We will weather the storm
Life choices will now have to focus on the true essentials.
Many of us are now looking at saving, not just for the rainy day, but also for another eventual freak storm. More than saving, we should now look at investing our hard-earned money on the essentials: health, food, shelter.
Investing in health would mean eating well, exercising regularly, sleeping longer, stressing less, and buying health insurance. As stock prices plummeted in record time and businesses closed down, we learned that investment choices should point in the direction of stable assets, like gold and real estate, which are the least affected in times of uncertainty.
And because it is essential, a home will always be a wise investment. Not just any home, as this experience has taught us. We need a home that would provide easy access to our essentials, that would give us protection, security and safety, and that would allow us to easily move from home to office and back to home.
The COVID-19 storm is bound to pass, but it will have left us with these valuable lessons to last a lifetime.