Espinoza: Ghost month and the monkeypox

·3 min read

August is ghost month to astute businessmen. In Chinese folk legend, the seventh lunar month is the Ghost Month. It is said that every year on the first day of the seventh lunar month, the gate of hell will be wide open and the ghosts will come out until the gate is closed on the 30th day of the month. For the safety of both ghosts and human beings, China has had the tradition of worshiping the dead in lunar July since ancient times. In folk China, people would offer sacrifices on the first, second, fifteenth and last day of the Ghost Month.

But to most of us who are not into business, or who have no Chinese affiliation and don’t believe in feng shui, sometimes called Chinese geomancy, this month is just any other month and we just work. Of course, for those who have the money, they spend. My Ilocano friend and businessman also believes in ghost month to the point that he decided to delay the work on his farm project until next month.

This ghost month in folk China has many taboos. Some of these are weddings, moving into a new home, crying at midnight, tapping someone on the back, taking a night tour, addressing others by name, glancing back.

Having lived in the rural area in my younger days, I remember my late parents’ advice: When walking alone in the wilderness, one should not look or glance back to avoid seeing bad spirits or ghosts.

Well, folklore is not only endemic to China. Our own native land also has its own folklore. But a true-blue Filipino friend jokingly said he doesn’t care about Ghost Month because he’s not Chinese and he just goes on with his daily chores.

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Monkeypox is not yet a threat to us, said the region’s Department of Health (DOH). But should we be overconfident just because the DOH Central Visayas said the region remains free from monkeypox? Certainly not. Monkeypox is a viral disease that rapidly spread to more than 70 countries this year.

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, during the flag-raising ceremony on Monday, Aug. 1 that kicked off Capitol’s month-long 453rd founding anniversary celebration, said there will be no lockdown in the province even with the threat of the monkeypox. The governor said diseases are here to stay. The challenge is to boost our immune system, to ensure that we protect ourselves. But never again to the implementation of a lockdown. For saying that, the governor earned applause from the audience.

No one wanted a lockdown even in those days and months when many people were severely hit by the coronavirus and the unfortunate ones had died. A lockdown causes misery and suffering not only to the poor sector in our community, but to all and it’s a bane to our economy. Isolation of those infected with the virus is the appropriate solution and not a lockdown of the entire barangay, town, city or province.

The same health protocols to avoid and prevent the contagion of Covid-19 are imposed to prevent the spread of this monkeypox virus that the DOH 7 advised everyone to strictly follow and observe. But the problem with some people, if not all, is that they only comply with the minimum health standards when it is strictly enforced. Mind you, Covid-19 infection is increasing, according to the Octa Research group.

Monkeypox, according to health experts, can be fatal for one in 10 people, and it is thought to be more severe in children. The incubation period is from five days to three weeks. Most people recover in two to four weeks without needing to be hospitalized.

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