Our world and our lives have been forever altered by the COVID-19 plague. As nations struggle to contain its spread, each one of us is left to confront and adjust to our ever changing reality set by guidelines, rules and mandates. Our experiences have tested our resilience and patience. Yet, we still have this unwavering hope that a better and brighter future lies ahead, the light less dim than in the year 2020 when it all first began.
We are grateful to those who have shared their stories.
This Pandemic is Personal
by Dr. John Lo
On this most unique Thanksgiving that we’ve ever had, Marichi and I have the opportunity to take a moment to reflect and count our blessings.
Throughout this pandemic, prior to our trip to Manila, I have been on the “provider“ end: treating COVID-19 patients at the hospital, and spreading good cheer and comforting words to affected family and friends. But none of these prior experiences directly affected or impacted us or our immediate family.
Upon our arrival in Manila on November 17, we had to undergo COVID-19 swab test at the airport, as mandated by Philippine law. And then we had to be whisked by special shuttle to an accredited hotel to hold us while awaiting results. As it turned out, Marichi tested positive. And though I tested negative, I was considered a “person of interest”. She then had to be brought to another hotel accredited to house positive cases for quarantining. While I was allowed to stay at my hotel for a 14 day quarantine or sooner if retested to be negative. I’m awaiting arrangements for my retest.
She has arranged for a repeat test that got done on November 24 where the RT-PCR was negative and the IgM/IgG ECLIA was negative. She was free to go home without further quarantine. We have both been asymptomatic.
The offshoot to this whole thing, however, is that the 2 weddings that we came to attend - nephew Kenneth’s wedding on December 1 and Papa’s and Mama’s 60th wedding anniversary on December 3 - had to be postponed to allow for our attendance. They were planned to be small family gatherings. Marichi will extend her stay. But I will be unable to do so, and have to fly back to the US, and not achieve my purpose of travel.
I am sorry for missing these two milestones.
Having directly experienced quarantine, I now know first-hand the physical and emotional toll that it can take, even if mitigated by modern technology (TV, internet, video call, online medical conference.etc. ). I can only imagine the worse toll on those that actually got sick and the toll on their families. Not to mention the economic devastation that this pandemic has wrought on many.
Marichi and I feel fortunate. For it could have been worse. We’ve been symptom-free. We’ve had the love and understanding of our families. We’ve had the well wishes of family and friends. We’ve had assistance from friends. And we have experienced the dedication and professionalism of the airport personnel, the hotel personnel and the Philippine Bureau of Quarantine. We feel that they wanted to do things right by us and the general public. We are proud of them.
Our travail will come to pass. And it looks like this scourge will eventually be vanquished. We look forward to the future with renewed hope and vigor. We would like to renew our commitment and redouble our efforts to live a life of purpose.
Happy Special Thanksgiving to you all!!!
John is a physician in Rancho Mirage, California. This essay was written in 2020.
Thoughts, Challenges and Lessons Learned
by Kristine Claro
This pandemic was unexpected. It caused a lot of struggles and lost opportunities, closing doors to many around the world.
Personally, it resulted in a lot of challenges and adjustments in my life. I struggled in adapting to this new form of learning that is way different than what it used to be. There were no professors beside us to explain and lecture. There were no friends and classmates to talk to during vacant times. It was purely a virtual interaction that made me feel uneasy and worried.
Days passed by like a blur. The world was bombarded by news about the pandemic getting worse. I was so anxious. What about my studies? What about our safety? What about our everyday living?
I believed in God and I prayed.
As time passed, I was able to grasp the 'new normal' way of learning. With the help and guidance of our professors, I was able to handle this new way of educating easier than I thought. I was able to adapt to it. There are still times and moments where I feel like giving up. But I persevered and continued on with my journey.
At the end of the day, it's my family and dreams that keeps me going. I am grateful to my teachers for guiding me and my fellow students. I am also grateful to my family for cheering me up and supporting me from the very start up to now and my friends who never fail to comfort me.
This new fresh approach to learning is a response to the situation we are currently facing. It may be hard from the start. However, don't lose hope. Everything will be okay. Everything will pay off. It may be new for everybody, but it is one step closer in reaching our dreams. I'm rooting for everyone!.
Kristine is in her 1st year of college studying for a Bachelor of Secondary Education degree with plans to major in English.