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The Corner of the Sidewalk

It has been a year since President Duterte announced a nationwide quarantine as the whole world began to experience the COVID-19 pandemic. Quarantine meant we were to stay at home for the greater good of all for a certain period. We have undergone a “new normal” that was definitely a shocking change in our everyday routine, from wearing masks to working or studying almost entirely at home. It’s safe to say that all of us have had several shared revelations and new-found hobbies during these not-so-great past months. Here are some discoveries, learnings, and new hobbies from folks who gained profound insights this past year:

Kids have been focused on being safe online, developing their skills, and little-by-little discovering more about themselves and the important things in their lives. Several students have become cautious of online usage due to the rise in online scams, so-called “online trolls”, and other similar cybercrimes in the past months. One student, Maya* shared, “Since we use technology a lot these days, from what I've heard in school, not everybody's the same on the internet. People can be good offline, but not exactly online, so we have to be careful of trolls and stalkers and viruses too” .

Most kids have maintained a positive outlook in spite of the current negative situation. They have also learned how to appreciate the things in their life such as family and friends. Some of them use their talents, such as playing instruments, and special abilities to help them cope. Taking up something new such as learning languages and studying academic interests have helped them as well. To them, “This pandemic was not a punishment nor was it a curse, it taught the value of family and helped us discover our individual possibilities.”

An essential part of teen life is discovering who we are, and the stories shared by Emily* and Elana* are no different. “I may not be mature yet, but I'm in a better place than where I was last year,” says Emily, “I should always do my best, and because everybody's best is different, I may not always be the best, but I know that I've done my best.”. Elana adds, “Basically I learned that not everything matters as much as I think, everyone has problems, friends are necessary, and learn to look after yourself”.

As for the adults, they’ve been keeping busy with the extra time they were granted in quarantine. Some of them have been up to tidying the house and homemaking, such as stay-at-home mom Vanessa*. “I had to declutter a lot of things during this quarantine, things we accumulated all these years and don’t actually need anymore. I realized that we don’t need to have a lot of things which will eventually be put away in the attic or closet,” says Vanessa. Decluttering helped her realize how everything is temporary and how we can live with little and still stay happy.

If there is one thing common between adults and kids during these times, it would be the online school and work-at-home set-ups, simply because both parties have to stay at home and continue their daily tasks as students or employees. These new working and studying conditions have been quite a pain in the neck for most people, such as extroverts or those who are still getting used to the way we have to do these things now.

For others, it is quite a blessing. Lydia*, a marketing manager, shared her preference to work from home. “Work from home arrangement actually works better for me. The stress from the daily long drive, deciding what to wear to work, what food to bring to work or where to eat while in the office just drains me,” she said, “I am fortunate to have a home that could actually foster work-life balance.”

The hardest experience anyone could ever have during this pandemic is the loss of a loved one to COVID-19 and not being able to be near them for fear of falling ill as well. Kate* shared her realizations after her mother recently passed away from the Covid. “You can't really decide how you want your life to go. It will go according to God's plan,” she said, “You can’t really control how much time you want to spend with certain people so it’s important to show them that while they are with you. I realized that one of my regrets is that I was not able to talk and spend more time with my mom before she passed.”

It has been a year since quarantine started. Quarantine simply meant we were confined in our homes. Most of us experienced loss and gains, hopes and doubts for the future, joy and pain in the moments that we had at the start of 2020. Upon going into quarantine, we were given time to rethink our actions and contemplate our life decisions so far. Eventually and unexpectedly, quarantine became that corner on the sidewalk where we could stop to reflect on whether we wanted to stay on the path we were on or change our course. Have you reached that corner of your sidewalk yet?



All people mentioned in the article have been surveyed through Google Forms.

All names mentioned in the article are aliases substituted for the real respondents’ names for anonymity and protection of their privacy.

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