Beyond the quarantena
26 December 2020
There is silver lining in quarantine.
I always say these words to my friends, as early as the onset of the quarantine declaration in March 15, just two days after my birthday (my students did not know that the "Friday the 13th" of March was my birthday, and my Econ103 and Econ110 classes had their first [and only] sit-in exam). And after nine and half months, 2020 ended: the Philippines remaining to be the country with the longest lockdown in the world. Of course, we are also the country with some "fancy" over the names (enhanced, modified, extreme, localized, etcetera), which I have mentioned in my last journal article for the year. Not only the pandemic has an effect in our 2020 experience, the year started with the Taal Volcano eruption (for at least one week), and ended with series of typhoons (affecting further the dismal economic performance) plus the series of earthquakes throughout the year (of course, the "Christmas earthquake").
The year began with a required weeklong seminar-workshop on teaching and learning (just a week prior to the Taal Volcano eruption, and thankfully my planned Tagaytay getaway was aborted). I was delighted to see my former Math36 professor as one of the speakers: Prof Alleli Domingo (twenty years ago, she was my professor in an elementary calculus course, which furthered my interest in mathematics). She gave a UP trivia quiz, and later became our critique in teaching demonstration. I am very thankful for this engagement, and rekindled the pressures we had in calculus (I always recalled: "'Yung mahihiya kang hindi mag-aral kasi sobrang galing nung teacher mo").
Then March came, and the lockdown began. I started the first days of the quarantine indicating a go-signal to textbook projects offered to me by Oxford University Press. The first textbook--Practical Research 2--was written during the first twelve days of the lockdown. This lockdown was an enabler for me, to work on and further with other research and writing engagements. Later, there were also speaking engagements, and Zoom was a good ally for this purpose. Apart form being a speaker, I have also attended a lot of webinars coincident with the National History and Language Month (August), and the National Museums and Galleries Month (October). These are timely supplements for a course in Philippine economic history (Econ115), which I was tasked to administer via remote mode. Also, these made additions to the museums and historical places to be visited soon.
I am grateful for this year, to everyone who offered and provided opportunities that I have worked on. As always I say, "maraming salamat sa lahat ng naniwala, nagtiwala, at sumporta". While initially I never saw myself working on research and writing engagements on topics related to the pandemic, it turned out otherwise. The pandemic has really its silver linings: I had my twelve entries in GoogleScholar to date [click here for the link], and in my third year in ResearchGate I have recorded historical-high metrics [click here for the link]. To everyone, thank you very much for making all of these possible. As always, take time to improve and never to compete or compare with anyone.
Part of the inspiration on working on each opportunity during this lockdown was the story of Isaac Newton. I encountered the article sometime in April in Washington Post by Gillian Brockell [click here for the article page]. In a parallel experience, this longest lockdown of the world enabled so many opportunities for writing and contemplation, which will not be possible if I am doing my routines on a usual basis. And as always, the enabling environment is important in any opportunity. These opportunities do come once in a lifetime, and it must be seized with all effort. Thankful to so many firsts in my academic portfolio, plus the numerous people I have met and institutions that I have collaborated with (despite the online and remote setup).
Coincidentally, the journal article "Silver linings in Philippine history and macroeconomics of Covid-19 pandemic" was accepted on the second anniversary of Catriona Gray's Miss Universe 2018 win. Indeed, this is a cap to a year full of silver linings. This paper is actually a testament and affirmation to Miss Gray's farewell walk and speech in Miss Universe in 2019:
To everyone with a dream, know that your dreams are valid; and on your path you are never denied and only redirected.
This year is very challenging and historical for everyone. And of course, this is more difficult with the passing of so many people: from pandemic to natural disasters, from illnesses and complications of comorbidities, among others. Perhaps these realities of life has come into my own terms with my personal experience in the recent past (in 2014, and this near-death experience due to an illness made me to look at life very differently). This is the reason why the topic of death and illness is a very personal topic for me until this very day.
As the cliché goes, "when life throws you lemons, make a lemonade (and jokingly, some would even add, pull up a tequila)". And the challenges of remote learning, altered bio-clocks, sleep issues, eye strains, and the longing for socialization hopefully have provided us to work on things that are worthwhile and rethink of life in general.
And finally, my takeaway of the year: after my record-length hair of 13 months, I cut it off on 08.08 (August 8) at home. Not bad for a first timer, but perhaps a better one in 09.09 in 2021 (easy to remember, just like in online shopping deals).
To a better year ahead. Padayon!
With Maam Alleli, salamat po sa notepad! Photo by Tsina Quilloy