Philippines

ANXIOUS


I deactivated my Facebook account for a good two months last year or so I think. Unsure of how many months but I really did. This was when the onset of a stricter lockdown in the metro was happening. The consumption of news via television and my mobile phone have dawned in me three months into the community quarantine. With me just staying at home and not being able to go outside took a toll on my mental health. Honestly, until today, I get anxious and experience some nervous feeling whenever I would go out and take on with my alternate work duty.

Sometimes, I would feel palpitations and it is like I can hear my heart beat. To self comfort, I calmly find my core and focus in my breathing. Breathing in deeply. Exhaling slowly. Taking silent counts to at least five before breathing in next.

I often daydream at the moment of having the freedom to breathe outside without my mask on. But I know exactly where I can do it. Back in my home province.

I miss you home.


One Week Later

Two weeks ago, I was holed up in my apartment. My skeleton workforce duty was extended to two weeks and I was not assigned any work from home tasks so I was only using my time for my online foreign language course and some readings for the upcoming audit of our office.

I felt like a slug just easing slowly and unproductive, work wise. I kept thinking on managing my time with email management and process approvals for consular work. On a bright side, I just thought that it is somehow good not having been assigned with work from home tasks because I was also able to focus on my readings and do my online foreign language course homework on time.

Come this week where I return for onsite work, it was quite a hectic work week because it was audit season, as I put it. I am part of my agency’s Internal Quality Auditors and I am also a Quality Management System representative of my unit’s core team. So I wear both hats as an auditor and an auditee.

At this point, all this I am sharing is boring and oh so my apologies. Chronicling the end of my work week made me realize some things. These realizations effect were positive in all sense. What I am saying was, yes it was a hectic work week but I was able to go outside of my apartment. It was just this week that has sank in me. I realized from my transfer of transit that my body aches for this experience. My mind, my heart and entire muscle are missing this constant mobility. This work week was not perfect. But manageable enough to make things work for me productively.

My commute experience was the highlight. I challenged myself to take at least one photo a day of my five-day work week. This is an opportunity I accepted and pursued because queueing is an understatement while I took my commute daily. A total of 3 transfer transits were my thing. I spent an average of 40 minutes waiting in line before I can get on a mini bus. The trains were more efficient but still long lines await you towards the end of the week. Around Thursday or Friday during the after-work rush you will be caught in a doom, long lines of passengers eager to go home. Waiting. Standing. Aching feet. Uncomfortable humid platform environment. Just there waiting.

Patience is company.

Day 1: Quarantine

Last July, after three whole months of not seeing my office and work station I was finally given a work schedule. We are on a skeletal work duty. We are divided into two teams to report on site and observe minimum health protocols.

Wear your face masks.

Wear your face shields.

Observe social and physical distancing.

Practice coughing and sneezing etiquette.

Wash your hands regularly and avoid touching unnecessary surfaces.

It was a surreal feeling. Seeing familiar faces of my colleagues and yet it feels foreign as if it seemed like we were just working a day before.

Smile were painted on our faces but not visible, just our eyes were telling, squinting because masks were covering our faces.

Under the new normal – a tagline I overhear churning from news, social media and even at the office. New processes and procedures are at the helm – for continuity of life and trying to getting back to normal pre-pandemic.

Days feel long and uncertain. While I get back to going outside, a lot has really changed and still changing. Still adjusting. This pandemic has affected many in magnanimous proportions.

The world has stopped. At a point. And regaining mobility will take an army, will take time, will take an overhaul of what things should be prioritized, should be done in anticipation. One cannot simply be prepared. I realized at this time that we can only prepare so much but for the love of life and everything important around us, giving in and cultivating our faith is a start.

Outside My Couch

OVER THE WEEKEND I had the chance to gather my backpack and put in my hammock. This weekend is about family time, sharing company and making memories. I was with my maternal uncle’s family hitting the road at dawn on the way to a beach I have never been to. Excitement ran through me.

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Just for a couple of hours I can get out. Feel and commune again with nature solely this time. Nothing in mind but spare leisure time with people you get along well. Adding to this was the food we brought. Home cooked meals that is thoughtfully made by a mother longing for her children’s hugs and banter while they live on their own at the big city. Holiday breaks is the only time of year they get to come home again and reunite.

She cooked for their missed out staples at home. Meals in the city doesn’t come close to the warmth, the memories that every flavor it brings out. That distinct home cooked flavor. That smokey taste and aroma of wooden fired stove. Indeed, food is memories.

Memories about family. Memories of having the time together.

The sea breeze smelled of moss. Really it was weird not to smell of salt but it was refreshing. By the time we waited for the sun rise, walking by the coarse sandy shore, the water is cold. Enough to what we all wanted, to cool ourselves from the hot weather of this year’s dry season. Intensely mad heat it was the couple of days past.

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While we were settled at the beach hut I saw a boat loaded with men and a woman approaching the shore. We all thought that they have already with them some fresh catch. My uncle intends to buy a tuna or anything that we can feed to the grill and eat comes lunch time.

As they offloaded and docked their boat, we saw them with a wooden contraption being turned. So much like the reel of a fishing rod where you spool the string once you caught something. This one is huge and it is attached to a net. They are hauling their what could be a big catch on that day. A couple of men, women, some kids and dogs gather round on the shore as they continue to haul in the net which they might have cast the night before.

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This sight was never new to me but it amazes me every time I have the chance to see fishermen doing what they do best. My younger years I was exposed to doing some farm work during summer time at my paternal grandfather’s. I learned to sow corn seeds on a freshly plowed earth. I wanted to learn how to maneuver the plough pulled by a water buffalo.

My grandmother begged off because I was a little bit small and she feared I might be pulled by the animal if I called out a wrong command. I insisted that the verbal command is easy. I just needed to learn how the rope works because it is where the buffalo relies on. How loosely or tightly you pull and flick it sends signal to the way it walks through the field.

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I am fascinated how they live their lives out here. How they thrive and sustain. I’ve learned from the books since that this sector of our country is left out and measly a fisherman’s income isn’t enough to earn a better keep for himself and his family. The irony of how rich my country is when it comes to our marine resource. I can only say so much because I don’t want to get so serious on this.

I went my way around them, taking their picture in their state of busy-ness. I felt excited seeing the net get closer to the shore and see if we have, I mean, they, have a big catch that morning. My excitement transcend to an urge inside me to help in hauling out the net but I restrained myself in doing so because I don’t want to feel intrusive. I contended to just taking some more shots of them. Watching their faces and actions as they continue to pull in.

More of them gather round where the net finally was hauled out and unfortunately it wasn’t a big of a catch. Sighs and low quips could be heard among them. From where I stood I clearly heard some of them that they might have reeled the net too quickly. Then the group dispersed quietly. My cousin went near the end of the net and found that small fishes and a squid were caught. Not even a pail could be filled of it.

My uncle walked away knowing we don’t have a fish to grill. It was his birthday that day. He too was excited to buy some fish but there’s just no fish to his wanting. He still got cake though and his birthday suit—rash guard and walking shorts.

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We returned to our hut and change to our beach wears. I could still see them afar that they put back the net on the boat and will be casting it again. I hoped they got lucky the next time they hauled it in.

 

 

Ready For A Night Spread

THE SUN HAD JUST SET FOR a few minutes.

I was standing on the pebble covered shore watching this as every change of light’s intensity and color shade is amazing and magical. The ambient lighting just brings me to a subtle mood and would want to never leave its cocoon like embrace.

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February, 2014.

There you go.

Me romanticizing again. But it feels good though because I know that that mood is fleeting.

The perspective behind this photo was inspired from the travel blogs I have been reading, some of them I’ve been following from WordPress and Instagram. That day I appreciated traveling and began dreaming of it up until today on reaching more places with people I love to be with is a reflection of the entirety of the travel photos I took.

I may have been stationary temporarily but the dream is still on. As my bestfriend put it, we have a bucketlist going on that is needing some checks on it.