[OPINION] The Luzon lockdown from a Filipino student’s perspective

JC Gotinga
[OPINION] The Luzon lockdown from a Filipino student’s perspective
'Because of the lockdown, students might only get to see their loved ones via gadgets – if they have one and if their internet connection permits'

About a month ago, we were advised by university officials that all student activities would be suspended. Moot court competitions, sports competitions, college weeks, and other activities for 30 or more participants had to be suspended.

 

Weeks after this suspension, we received news that there would be a week-long suspension of all classes in Metro Manila. Days after, the week-long suspension turned into a month-long suspension. Should coronavirus cases continue to increase, are we to expect a longer period of suspension? Probably a year long? Or an indefinite one?

Everything is a blur, but this is the unfortunate reality. (READ: [OPINION] Why I think the lockdown won’t work)

Internet troubles

 

As a way to cope with the pandemic, schools have established e-learning communities. Different online platforms were resorted to just so classes could still push through. 

When we were told that classes would be conducted online, there was a mixture of reactions. I got both excited and worried. Excited because this is something new to me, and worried because I am not convinced our internet connection can properly handle class video calls.

I made a list of places I could go to in case our wifi at home stopped working. I planned on going to a 24-hour coffee shop located outside our municipality, or to my grandmother’s house which is one barangay away. I could also try to exceed the internet usage limit allowed by my phone service provider. 

This is a shared problem. Some of my friends and classmates are in a similar situation, and other students’ situations are even worse. Not all students have gadgets that easily connect to wifi. And with the Luzon-wide lockdown and all other preventive measures, how can they access alternative solutions like computer shops? How can students get access to their own education? (READ: Students urge suspension of online classes during coronavirus lockdown)

Yes, professors have to be commended for still wanting to impart knowledge to their students, but virtual classrooms just remind us of our pressing social inequality. By implementing online classes, some will not be able to participate.

However, our problems as students do not end there. 

Physical distance

Not everyone can afford to leave their apartments or dorms just to be with their families during this pandemic.

Some have opted not to leave for home because they’re scared of being carriers of the virus and do not want to infect their loved ones. Others don’t want to deal with the struggles of commuting. These reasons are both valid and worrisome.

The physical distance between these students and their families puts both parties in distress. 

For a month (or probably even longer), what can these students do? They can watch movies or series, read books, write articles, compose songs, play indoor sports, and other similar activities, if their resources permit. But it is inevitable for these students to feel alone and sad in the midst of this pandemic. Sadness can affect one’s perspective and even one’s ability to think. (READ: ‘It’s like someone’s hit pause on life’: China turns to therapy amid virus lockdown)

It’s difficult not to be with anyone, especially a loved one, in times like these. Because of the lockdown, these students might only get to see their loved ones via their gadgets – if they have one and if their internet connection permits. 

This long-distance set-up is new to some, and who knows how long it will last?

This pandemic has opened our eyes to the realities our people and our country (and other developing countries) face. Problems with our education, our technology, the widening gap between the rich and the poor – they have always been there. They are not new to us. This pandemic only reminds us of how unfortunate life is for most of us. 

While this social reality is clear, what comes ahead is not. Should this pandemic be addressed, how do we proceed? And even if it isn’t addressed in the end, how, still, do we proceed? – Rappler.com

Maria Frances Faye R. Gutierrez is taking up her Juris Doctor degree at the University of Santo Tomas. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the same university. 

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JC Gotinga

JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.