We’ve been on COVID lockdown in Manila for some time now in an effort to stop it from spreading further. It’s only been 12 days but it certainly feels like forever even if my confinement might be considered a privileged one. I have space, a stocked fridge, a view of the city and daily showings of the spectacular Manila sunset.
This weekend, Wolfgang’s Steak House is even delivering dry-aged T-bone steaks. They’ve offered their inventory to regular customers since the restaurants has had to close, and I’ve taken up their offer. Life can’t be that bad if you can have dry aged steaks during a lockdown, you might think. But it is.
I can also see the empty Manila Golf Club and Manila Polo Club nearby, and this makes everything more surreal. It looks like a wonderful summer day in Manila except you’re not allowed to go outside.
WHAT IT’S LIKE IN JAIL
I’ve never been to jail, but I imagine this must be how the experience is like, minus the Egyptian cotton sheets, the raw juices and the nightly shows on Netflix.
Even this luxury version is tougher than I thought. The first ten days under COVID lockdown are the hardest. You start out in denial and disbelief, and you still haven’t acquired the necessary coping skills for confinement.
Days 7 to 10 are probably the worst, especially if you live in an apartment. Cabin fever sets in and you finally realise that your freedom has been taken away, albeit for your own good. Where I live, even the dog needs permission to go out for 15 minutes to do his thing.
This is when it all sinks in, that this is the most terrible thing you might ever experience if you’ve lived a pretty wholesome life until now. Because of COVID, you’re locked up at home by government. Then you’re also isolated from friends, family, and neighbours to avoid infection risks. You never know who has the virus after all.
THE END OF A SOCIAL LIFE
Friends who were once in and out of each other’s homes are suddenly separated by a symbolic ocean, even if they live in the same building. You’re lonely and in shock, and you need to process this with another human being; but you can’t risk getting infected by an all-pervading virus that’s everywhere but you can’t see it.
And you can never be sure whether a casual drinks at home with the next-door couple, even if social distancing in place, will result in one or all you needing ventilators at the ER several days later.
CREATING A DAILY ROUTINE UNDER COVID LOCKDOWN
Surprisingly, the days pass quicker than imagined. I always make a list of goals for the day when I wake up, but absolutely nothing gets done. Between checking the latest COVID virus updates and exchanging medical information via messages with neighbours, my most immediate task is to procure fresh food for the next few weeks.
Thankfully, I found a supply of fruits, vegetables and eggs which I happily share to grateful neighbours. And before I realise it, the day is over and I’m having a small bowl of strawberries for dessert after dinner, which incidentally becomes the highlight of my whole day.