“Sure najud ka mouli?”
These are simple questions that have increased my anxiety in the past weeks.
I never thought, in my 28 years of existence, that I would become apprehensive about going home. I mean, who doesn’t want to go home when you’re an OFW? However, reading all the news on the coronavirus continuing to spread in my country – it’s now even in my hometown – gave me no other option but to do the right thing.
I’ve been doing my best to react accordingly despite the anxiety and fear that keeps building in my head. And I tell you, it’s not easy to deal with this every single day.
With that said, I had to make the hardest decision of my life. I would not go home. Not this time.
I’ve been crying since the night I learned about the cancellation of flights to Manila. I am frustrated that I have no control of the situation. No matter how badly I want to go home, I cannot risk being a possible carrier of the virus. (READ: Metro Manila to be placed on lockdown due to coronavirus outbreak)
I’d made a promise to myself that starting this year, I would be as helpful a person as I could be to 3 people: my lola, my closest friend’s dad, and my former tutee’s grandfather. And this is the best thing that I can do for them at this moment.
The fact that the virus hasn’t stopped spreading, and could especially kill the elderly or people who have weak immune systems, is an issue that needs to be taken seriously. What’s worse is how it can affect our mental health, incuding those who won’t even get infected by the virus. The virus can threaten our wellbeing, and test how we treat other people. It’s a normal reaction to panic, but it is not necessary to be selfish in this situation. (READ: [OPINION] Notes from a supermarket on the last day of freedom)
I do have high hopes that most of us will help one another by obeying the protocols given by professionals and the government. They may not be easy to follow, but they are doable. Despite the panic and fear that we are feeling right now, the best solution to the problem is to be the solution and always do the right thing. And I hope we will continue to practice washing our hands, keeping hydrated, and basically having a healthy and balanced lifestyle even if the outbreak is over.
And even if this year didn’t start well, remember that as long as the sun still rises and sets for us, there is still hope. It will be over. Let us be patient together and encourage one another.
If you have OFW friends and family who are having a hard time understanding the situation, please do check on them by sending a message or calling. It’s the best way to comfort them during this time.
My heart goes out to all my kababayans abroad, and my friends who had also planned to go home this summer. It’s not easy to seek comfort by yourself, to need a warm hug when your loved ones are away. Know that you are not alone. I understand how you feel.
And to those who are currently in the Philippines during the quarantine, I may not know how it feels like to be isolated because of the virus, but please don’t feel so bad about it. Hang in there a little longer. Things will get better. Let’s continue to believe that they will. – Rappler.com
Marie Claire Balase is a professional teacher and overseas Filipino worker in Thailand.