Bedtime Musings on Travel and Life Amid COVID-19


Most recent trip together. Baluarte Watchtower in Luna, La Union | June 2019
Most recent trip together. Baluarte Watchtower in Luna, La Union | June 2019

I went to bed at 3:45 AM, the longest that I kept myself awake since the community quarantine in Luzon took effect on March 16. It's like any other bedtime where despite the languor, my mind wanders off before falling into a sound sleep. But this morning has a slight difference. In my thoughts were myself and the no ordinary situation that we’re all dealing with. I went on to scribble as I got up at eight this morning.


Everyday

I work from home. I'm among those with continuous income while the country grapples with this global pandemic. Wake up at eight, log in to our portal, check emails, then go back to bed. Wake up again at lunchtime, work a bit and stop if it's time to head to the grocery. That’s how I spend a day, supposedly. I’m a bit lucky that the project I was assigned in has completed a phase before the lockdown commenced. I was able to keep myself busy with things outside of work.

I already wrote eight entries for this blog, the most that I was able to produce in a 30-day span. More than a thousand photos from last year's trips to La Union, Mount Tagapo, Baler and Puerto Galera have also been processed and archived at last. At night until dawn, I'm juggling between learning Angular programming and Cultural Anthropology. An in-depth knowledge of the former is needed to keep my job, enrolling in the latter is out of fascination and curiosity about the field. Finishing the books that I started reading since time immemorial is also a plan.

If not on TV for the news or my favorite NatGeo shows, I am online publicizing my thoughts; posting tirades, most of the time, against online friends who habitually let themselves be preyed upon by paid trolls and fake news propagandists. I clearly have the luxury of extra time and energy for this. If my so-called "toxic" negativity, according to some, doesn’t help at this trying time, I don’t know if their "toxic positivity" does. I bet not. Here in our locality, I also used to politely call out our LGU thru their Facebook page regarding quarantine guidelines but apparently as of writing, I was already blocked.

I also utilize my Facebook and Instagram accounts to help my friends get donors for their donation drive for infants and toddlers in our locality whose parents have no income during this lockdown. As a father of a four-year-old, this cause is close to my heart.


Travel plans in mid-air

Set on late March in time for my mom’s 51st birthday, our family could have spent a summer weekend in La Union. I could have revisited Tangadan Falls and took an exhilarating jump from the cliff there. This sucker for water cascades could have also explored Tuddingan Falls in Naguilian, a less popular falls we accidentally learned from last year's trip because of a mix-up with Tangadan.

On Thursday, April 30, me and my best buds would have taken the butt-numbing, twelve-hour bus ride to Tuguegarao City for a five-day trip across some towns of Cagayan. I consider visiting Callao Cave, a childhood dream alongside walking upon rice terraces (thanks to Sibika at Kultura textbooks back then). We would have visited Tuguegarao Cathedral and eaten pancit batil patung, visited the basilica in Piat and munched on pawa, then visited a pottery in Iguig.

The highlight would be the trip to Baggao where we were supposed to stay overnight. It would have been a two-day adventure to the town’s waterfalls, canyons, caves and underground river. And before bringing home Ybanag longganisa, Hopia Ibanag, chicharong kalabaw and other carabao milk products, we would have camped overnight in Palaui Island.

But those won’t materialize for now. This morning, President Duterte has already extended the community quarantine until May 15. Moving my travel plans to December is sensible but with some travel experts predicting that tourism industry will not bounce back immediately, these trips are hanging in mid-air.


To the “new normal”

Like the past pandemics in recorded history, COVID-19 will end eventually though it still seems far from sight. Not trying to romanticize the situation but it is evident that this deadly virus has left us reconsidering our life choices. It allowed nature to recuperate, it pointed out what our society lacks. We’re part of the solution, certainly. Donating is the least we can do. Follow government's guidelines while calling them out if needed because, let’s face it, they sometimes have no clue on how things are in ordinary citizen's perspective. That's how "we're all in this together" should mean.

We got nothing to do but stay at home. Hold our horses. Make plans on rebuilding ourselves while noting how that "new self" will have a positive impact to the society; consider eco-friendly lifestyle, for instance. Write everything down for now. The present goal is to survive and let others survive. When they lift this community quarantine, we should not go back to normal but go forward with the “new normal”, whatever that means to you.


Not Yet

There's still three weeks ahead for the lockdown. With all the travel shows I’ve been watching and travel plans I’ve sketched out this stay-at-home period, I’ve already been to all places except one: the Tiktok arena. Not yet.



DJ RIVERA

Filipino, dad, office guy, hobbyist. Writes computer programs on weekdays, works on just about anything on weekends. Click here to know more.

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