The idea of being locked down seemed unthinkable before the novel coronavirus hit us. While we have learned to cope with the adjustments, given the government thought of the lockdown as a measure to best contain the spread of the coronavirus, the plan to continually restrict senior citizens from leaving their homes even after ECQ was met with protestations—especially from the seniors themselves.
Hence, government was forced to rethink its quarantine exit plan. In the recommendations given by the IATF for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), it included a provision that allows senior citizens who form part of the essential workforce of industries or offices that are allowed to operate, to go out and work, even in areas under the ECQ.
“They have to let us out eventually,” neurologist and art patron Dr. Joven Cuanang, 80, quips smiling, reacting to this development.
“Keeping us locked in our homes may be a little too much,” agrees architectural historian Paulo Alcazaren. “A lot of us seniors are responsible. We can fend for ourselves if we know the rules to follow. Besides, in smaller firms and industries, it’s impossible for work to pick up, unless you let the seniors out.”
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Ricci Barrios, a journalist and tertiary education teacher, had opted to make fun of the development. On her Facebook page, she recently posted: “BREAKING NEWS! IATF has allowed seniors to go anywhere they like during the ECQ and GCQ as long as they are accompanied by their parents!”
She also posted a photo of herself in a miniskirt in order to raise a point. “To say that because of my age, I should not be allowed to do my work as a teacher and journalist is violating my right to gainful employment. People half my age are taking tons of maintenance medicines and suffering from a host of chemical side effects as a result. I cannot run the marathon but I do not take any maintenance meds, thank God. At my age, my badge is the miniskirt of my generation. I am going to wear the miniskirt of the '60s for as long as certain parts of the anatomy resist the pull of gravity.”
Seems like these three senior citizens are taking their extended quarantine vacation with sense of humor intact, but they also really want to be able to venture outside of their houses.
Here are just some of our favorite excerpts from their zoom conversation with ANCX executive editor Ces Oreña-Drilon for next week’s Ces and The City episode.
CD: How are you spending your time while on quarantine?
PAULO ALCAZAREN: Fewer clients have been trying to reach us for deliverables of designs and plans because of the extended lockdown, so what I do to get into the right frame of mind is to actually get dressed up in the morning. But I don’t wear shoes upstairs, so naka-paa. It’s hard to work in your pajamas. So I segregate my room wherein on one side I have my bedroom and on one side is my study. In between, there’s been time to do some general household cleaning—dusting off old files and putting papers in order—otherwise you’ll go crazy!
JOVEN CUANANG: As a doctor, I continue to practice telemedicine. Patients present their problems to me and if I need to examine them, we do a video call. I make sure that I sort of make rounds on my phone with the patients that I have in the hospital. I’ve also taken a lot of out-patient consults. Some people would ask for an opinion with regards to a health problem and I help out by connecting them to specialists.
Since I have most of the museum and the grounds to myself, every morning I get out of my room, exercise near the pool, and get my doze of sunshine for about 15-20minutes while I’m walking around the area. Then I take pictures of flowers that recently bloomed and things like that.
CD: Do you remember any moment in History that reminds you of this time—this fear, anxiety, and uncertainty?
RICCI BARRIOS: The only thing I can remember close to this level of uncertainty is Martial Law. I graduated 1971, so right about that time I graduated, there was no job because media shut down. You didn’t know what’s going to happen. Where will you go? So for the next 14 years, I worked in a bank. Then when People Power happened, that’s when I started in media in my early thirties. But the level of uncertainty now is different. You really don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow.
JC: The closest perhaps would be the dengue outbreak. I was a hospital guy working at St. Luke’s. We had to convert the chapel into a ward to accommodate all the patients. We were running out of blood at that particular point because a lot of people were bleeding. But the proportion of the fear, of what we don’t know about this COVID-19 is totally unprecedented. I’m 80 years old [and had gone through a lot].
CD: Natatakot ba kayo’ng magka-COVID? How anxious are you being faced with your own mortality like this—being in the vulnerable age?
PA: The only thing you can control is your health so I’ve been on this health binge to address all of that. I have not drank coffee for over a month, I have avoided any sugary drink, so essentially I only drink water—six glasses or so every day. And I started exercising over a month ago about a month and a half. I started 15 minutes of power walking and now up to 35 minutes of walking, so I’ve lost 25lbs. My problem afterwards is I need new pants.
What would be the first thing you’ll do if it were safe to leave your home?
JC: I will go have my hair cut and visit my dentist.
PA: I’m nursing a tooth, so I hope I can get a root canal.
RB: I would love to eat some ice cream. I’m dreaming of ice cream, milk shakes, and stuff like that.