Wenceslao: Respect

·3 min read

I WAS talking with somebody yesterday when it dawned on me that I was doing so without protection. I forgot to wear a face mask. Good that I was at a safe distance (but with the delta variant of the coronavirus, how far should one stand for one to say that one is in a “safe distance”?) My wife passed by and later called me out for daring to talk with somebody without a face mask. That’s what I call respect for the virus.

Some of the people I know who died from Covid recently had one of these episodes of complacency and paid dearly for it. One joined a superspreader event that jettisoned the needed minimum protocols, didn’t know he already got the virus, fell ill and died. This is why I always admonish my relatives not to hold gatherings yet at the risk of them calling me a killjoy. My answer has always been, “agwanta lang usa ta.”

I do respect the virus and its ability to kill. But some people don’t, which is why the number of Covid cases in Cebu continues to rise and the government is increasingly finding it difficult to make people follow minimum protocols like wearing face masks, maintaining distance from people and regularly washing the hands. And the price paid by many of them is steep.

Setting aside protocols and joining gatherings instead of staying home is like us toying with our own lives. Which reminds me of my admonition to young activists who are eager to join a war without considering the costs. “You are not acting out a scene in a movie wherein you have a director who shouts, ‘Cut!’ when you make a mistake, allowing you to start again. Neither are you in a situation wherein after you play dead you go back to the hotel and take a bath. In a real war, when you die, you die.”

What I am saying is that our battle against the virus is real and what is involved here are our lives. One false move and we could lose our lives altogether. You pretend to be daring by not wearing a face mask, but what if the virus gets you after that one period of indiscretion? You refuse to get vaccinated, but what if the virus gets you when you are not protected yet?

I remember Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque expressed remorse months ago when he got sick with Covid-19 after he initially refused to be vaccinated when Malacañang conducted vaccinations using a vaccine that was not what Roque preferred. Good that the illness was mild and he was asymptomatic.

That’s why I ask people to respect the ability of the virus to kill people and to watch out for that one instance of indiscretion. I am referring to that instance when we let down our guard to enjoy or do something risky. And with the election period nearing, those instances of recklessness could be many. Like joining meetings, campaign activities etc. It would be like we are naive and are suddenly letting go of our inhibitions.

We Cebuanos have a saying for that: “Way pagbasol nga mag-una.” (Regrets always come later.) Sadly, it’s a saying whose sharpness has been blunted by its being repetitively uttered through the years.

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