Briones: A trip out

Publio J. Briones III

IT WAS the first day of Holy Week.

In Roman Catholic-majority Philippines, this time of the year is marked by solemnity as the faithful contemplate the last days of Jesus Christ before his crucifixion.

I’m just guessing since I never bothered to ask, but I think that’s what most of them do.

My immediate family has never been religious. In fact, when we lived abroad, “Holy Week” was no big deal. In the States, people celebrated Easter and that was it. Maundy Thursday and Good Friday were regular working days. Unlike here.

Everything shuts down. The streets are almost empty. I’m not going to say quiet since I now live near the city center where the concept is foreign.

But yes, the “atmosphere” has indeed been solemn, more so because the whole of Cebu is under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), which has already claimed the lives of eight people in Central Visayas.

So where was I? Oh yes, I was talking about the Holy Week.

I thought I’d do something different. I figured I’d do without meat for the next five days. Call it an act of penance. You know, because it’s that time of the year. Then I realized I didn’t have any fresh fish. I have several cans of sardines and tuna, but it’s not the same.

I decided to walk to the Carbon Public Market Monday morning since fish at the supermarkets are obscenely expensive. Anyway, Carbon is not very far from my house, less than two kilometers away, I’d also be getting a much needed exercise.

I expected fewer cars on the streets because of the ECQ, but who was I kidding? If I thought nothing of walking several kilometers while a highly infectious virus is going around, what’s to stop others from throwing caution to the wind?

But you see, I had an excuse. Our household was never given a quarantine pass because the barangay had run out. That meant I was the only one who could leave the house to make “essential” errands because I am an accredited member of the media and therefore exempted from the “lockdown.”

It was really hot out so when I passed by E-Mall I decided to pop inside for a minute and ended up heading straight to the meat section of the grocery and bought myself two kilos of pork belly.

Hey, we are living in strange times.