By Icoy San Pedro

SOME people I know have a special label for this strange time we’re in at the moment. They term it “After COVID”. Even though the threat of the pandemic, which had wreaked havoc worldwide, still exists, the desired wish that it be finally over lives on in many. During one of our chats on “After-COVID”, I mentioned that if only everyone were to have themselves vaccinated, it would truly be the Post-COVID era. Still, as that would only thicken the plot, I would rather stick to this as a strange time.

For one thing, the situation we are presently living in appears to be very much like carefully tip-toeing down a dark alley where street dogs sleeping by the roadside might suddenly wake up and pounce on you. I personally know of one who tested positive just a few weeks ago.

Bad dog. For one of my After-COVID callers, it’d be like him trudging home late one night down Balite Drive where he lives, and then encountering his long-haired white lady girlfriend. Sneak-sneak.

It’s also strange because, lo and behold, we already have face-to-face meetings in school, workplaces, and entertainment venues… In short, everywhere. Even though the signs may say, “face to face but still maintain social distancing”, the usual puzzled look and SMH seem to infer, “what does that even mean?” For all concerned, hugging a classmate, a workmate, or whoever after a very long while seems to be the only thing that’s common among people these days. Even a fist bump seems dodgy these days, especially in a very crowded area. Strange time.

The lull and dimming of the lights in 20-21 have likewise slowly given way to price hikes in practically all commodities, including travel. While it may have been understandable to increase passenger fares during the later days of the pandemic to compensate for the drivers’ meager earnings, these days, the riding public continues to bear the burden of steadily-rising fares as dictated by some unscrupulous drivers. In one barangay, in-road tricycle transports have

continually made a killing by imposing steep fares while concerned barangay officials appear to turn the other way, seemingly unconcerned. A friendly neighbor working in a big corporation has even been heard to say, “I might as well work as a tricycle driver these days, I might actually be earning more!”

Overall, no matter where you turn, it’s the culture of blame rearing its ugly head again. Starting with last month’s Toril diarrhea outbreak which had affected more than two hundred residents and killed six (was it 7) people, up to the continued flooding of several city streets despite road improvements in many areas, finger-pointing appears to have become the current pastime, segueing after the national elections. Meanwhile, one acquaintance I recently bumped into and had a brief chat with had said all this was nothing to him. “I’m busy kicking a sardine can down the street and counting lampposts while looking for work.”

Source: Mindanao Times (