THE village of Inayawan in Cebu City celebrated the feast of St. Augustine of Hippo yesterday. In normal times, my family would have endured the traffic going to the old and new chapels of the village and the thick crowd moving in and out of village paths. But we were home in our current residence and merely monitored the fiesta via Facebook.
While Cebu City is slowly but surely easing down the restrictions imposed as Cebu City battles the Covid-19 pandemic, large gatherings are not allowed just yet. To stress this point, an armed personnel carrier or APC was sent to Inayawan. This was the subject of a post yesterday by former dyLA and SunStar Superbalita reporter Vincie Monterde. Vincie is secretary to Inayawan Barangay Captain Kirk Bryan Repollo, who is with the opposition Band Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan, or BOPK.
Considering how cramped with people Inayawan fiestas usually are, I was not surprised by the move. The police leadership in the region prefers to maintain strict restrictions even if the city shifts to a supposedly moderate general community quarantine or MGCQ from GCQ or general community quarantine. After all, the coronavirus has remained a threat in the city.
How can physical distancing and the wearing of face masks and face shields be imposed strictly in a fiesta environment? The purpose of going to fiestas is to visit relatives and friends, destroying the stay-at-home ideal. And when you are with friends and relatives, all inhibitions vanish. More so if alcoholic drinks are served.
In a way, it would have been better if the fiesta celebration was called off by the Catholic Church. I really could not say what the precautionary measures were that the Church imposed on the chapels during the fiesta. I just hope these were in consideration of the continuing danger of the spread of the coronavirus. On this, barangay officials play a bigger role.
Experiences of the recent past have shown us that complacency is dangerous. Until a vaccine has already been discovered and has been put to good use against the virus, a new wave of infection is always possible. That wave could bring us to another round of lockdowns, which are economically destructive. And the next wave could be deadlier.
Interestingly, most of the members of the Inter-Agency Task Force, or IATF, that President Rodrigo Duterte sent to Cebu have already left for either Bacolod or Iloilo where the coronavirus infection is still a problem. That does not mean, of course, that they can’t go back if the coronavirus threat resumes here. But it would be bad if that happens.
That is why we should never be absorbed by complacency. We should continue to do under MGCQ what we did when we were under the stricter enhanced community quarantine or ECQ. That, essentially, is what the so-called new normal means. We do things like we are still under an abnormal situation.