• By JOE FERRERIA

70A27CF2-72A7-43E6-8A33-463F1FCF6226

This pandemic has hit us hard and without warning. Suddenly we are all prisoners at home, immobilized and thrown into a new routine. We long for the day when we can all go out to the mall on a weekend, do grocery shopping with the family, and travel to destinations we always said we would go to.
But alas, our dreams of ever going back to that normal has been shattered by the reality that we are only on the first wave, there are two, three, four or even more waves of sickness and death that lie ahead.
If you look at the situation squarely, the only time we can truly say we are safe would be when the vaccine becomes available and the combination of medicine they use to heal those afflicted start to work effectively.
There is, however, a new “abnormal” or, better yet, as we should call our future, the new “different.”
Let’s begin with your commute. Gone are the days people will jam the trains, the UV Express, the jeeps like sardines. Angkas and other motorcycle taxis will have to repurpose their vehicles because back riding now is not allowed. With fewer passengers to carry, the transport group will have to charge higher fares, which may be beyond the reach of ordinary day workers. The roads therefore will have to be re-designed to accommodate bicycles and motorbikes. These will be the default mode of transport of the blue collar workers of the metro.
What should work would be a shuttle bus system with defined rules on commute. Heavy duty masks are now mandatory and so is the scrubbing of the air inside the bus to eliminate bacteria using aircon filters. Disinfecting procedures before the shuttle bus is used again will be the norm. Latex gloves and protective gowns are mandatory for all employees entering the office.
Arriving at the office reception, you go through a process of disinfecting yourself and vetting using thermo guns to check on your body temperature. Eventually, these guns will be replaced with thermal scanners, which send a signal to a computer screen as to what your body temperature is.
When you go to the office, the days of open space seating is gone. Every employee will have to be in a cubicle where he cannot see other employees. The partitions can be infused with activated carbon, which will again catch any airborne bacteria in the office. Meetings inside the office will all be digital. No physical, no social contact at all.
Work breaks for lunch and you don’t get off your chair because a pre-ordered meal will be delivered to you via a disinfected trolley.
You go home and follow the same routine you went through coming in.
On the weekend, you bring out your tablet to access your grocer. You will buy food, sight unseen except the pictures on display but may not be representative of what you eventually get. For the more affluent, you can hire a personal grocer who will walk through the aisles with a Go-Pro camera on his shoulder. You will see on live streaming the food items he will pick up for you.
Wet markets will eventually die. Villages will have their own system of buying directly from the farms bypassing the middleman and the local market.
Eventually, people will tire of being glued to internet movies provided by Netflix or Amazon. Family conversation and interaction with young kids will be the norm. A family vacation may be a trip using the family car to the province to run in the field or swim in the rivers or sea. Family entertainment will go back to basic. Our parents, siblings, and children will remain connected on the weekends through online meeting facilities. Family will be our support structure in this new isolated world. Blood ties will thus become stronger and we will adjust to our inability to go out to commercial spaces, which we used to consider the modern Luneta.
The way business is run will dramatically change, the way we work, eat, laugh will be different. We are at the threshold of a new way by which the human species will exist on this planet. Some of the changes will be good, some bad.
You will spend more money on some things but it will be compensated by your not spending on others.
Large tuition fees may be a thing of the past with homeschooling moving forward as the most important source of education. New names in the educational segment will rise. It is with great difficulty that regular classes with 50 students in the room can be conducted.
The internet will be as valuable as electricity. Telcos will be hard pressed to upgrade the system for video streaming will now take most of its capacity. A powerful computer will be the most important appliance a family will buy. It’s their only window to the outside world.
Life is changing, money is changing. Some will become new millionaires because of the pandemic and yet some will go bankrupt. We are seeing evolution happening before our eyes.
How do you cope in a world where there are a lot of unknowns?
The first recommendation I will make is for people to go back to living simply. Money will be a very valuable resource so spending should be wise and prudent.
Put value in plants that you can eat rather than ornamentals. Do pot gardens, hydroponics, or even hanging gardens if you don’t have enough soil space. You cannot predict the future so learn to roll with the punches. Be willing to adapt and do it quickly.
Build strong family ties and do take care of each other. Sharpen your mind by reading. Learn a new skill. The confinement takes a toll on our mental health so mend fences with family and start talking to each other. Sitting around the table telling stories to one another is the cheapest, healthiest form of entertainment.
Value your work and give more than what your employers ask for. Maintaining an employee will be more expensive so do value what the company is doing for you.
Take care of your health. Going to the gym now will be next to impossible. A lot of them will suffer or even fail in the coming days. To maintain your health, do housework, build your own home gyms. In the ’60s, the kantoboys would put up a parallel bar called baras where they do chin-ups and create barbells out of excess cement given gratuitously by the neighborhood carpenter.
Buy more health insurance. This virus costs a lot of money so do pay attention to risk products that will help you when you get sick and land in the hospital.
Finally, get on your knees and pray to an Almighty God who will deliver you from this plague. Having faith and a belief system is your ticket to becoming strong on the inside. Rather than be afraid of it, welcome the new “different,” the new “abnormal.”


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2020/05/18/how-to-survive-the-next-chapter/)