[OPINION] Bougainvilleas, the sky, and the quarantine pass
The bougainvilleas are all abloom, red and pink petals against the azure sky, towering over the gate of my neighbor’s place. From below, I could see the little white dots of flowers, the real flowers, nestled among the petals.
It is Day 10 of the quarantine. I went out at about 10:30 am to get a quarantine pass.
Oh the heat! I would have wanted to complain and say all this quarantine pass hullabaloo is quite useless. But I remembered what I earlier read that during these times, it would be best to obey the authorities. (READ: Luzon lockdown: What are the do's and don'ts?)
The day before, I saw a video posted on Facebook of uncrowded Makati. So un-Makati-like, an occasional bike here, a passing car there. It is the same where I live, near Katipunan Avenue, that road choked with students cars' going to Ateneo, Miriam, UP. On a normal day one would hear honks, the sounds of a nearby construction site, the cars at a standstill. Today, there was none of those. How would it feel like to zip through EDSA or C-5? Finally, one can get to Makati from Cubao in 5 minutes.
There was a tree with yellow flowers a few feet away from the gate to the barangay hall.
There were sacks of rice outside the Loyola Heights barangay hall, and a lady behind a desk. I inquired about getting a quarantine pass and said that I lived in Varsity Hills. The lady said I had to go to the VHHA office. I walked to #48 Jocson Street. I decided I would enjoy the walk under the heat – that is the secret to life they say – to see the joy in things. But in truth, I was nearly seething from irritation. And then I realized how pathetic it was of me to complain when nurses and doctors were risking their lives for the sick and dying.
So to the VHHA office I went. The village guard who directed me to the office was eating, and he said “Kain tayo ma’am.” I politely declined. I knew where Jocson Street was because it was actually a part of my jogging route, but I was irritated, and asking for the office’s whereabouts was probably my way of cooling down.
Then a guard by a tent took my temperature with a temperature gun. He asked where I was going, and I said to the VHHA office. Then I walked on. A sign to my right read not to throw trash by the house's garden. On I walked. From B. Gonzales I turned right, then turned left, then turned right to Albert Street, then right to Jocson Street. Silence all around. A priest had mentioned it was like Good Friday every day these days. Right he was. And the heat was everlasting. My armpits were beginning to sweat.
And then I reached the office. The lady in charge thought "Clyde Arawiran" was male, and I said that was me. Yes, my name is masculine, haha. I gave her my ID and I signed something. And so I got the quarantine pass without any difficulty and walked home, this time in a far better mood, having been cooled down by the electric fan in the office and the kindness of the lady there.
I walked home along the usual spot where I jog. My sister had commented last December how she found tropical flowers beautiful. Well of course she calls the common flowers, “tropical.” She lives in Texas now and does not see bougainvilleas and santans and gumamelas regularly. I remembered what she said when I passed the bougainvillea bushes in front of the Varsity Hills households, clumps overflowing from gates like bubbles frothing from the cauldron of a flower wizard. They were beautiful. I rarely take a second look at these flowers, but today I did. And just at the fork of the road was an acacia tree and the flowers just looked so pretty. I took out my phone and took a picture. Maybe the pandemic has made me notice them more closely, these pretty flowers, because now I don’t have to rush and there is time to take it all in.
Nature has gone on, I realized. Above was the glorious sky, peaceful, oblivious to the deaths all around. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has gone over 500 already. If one did not read about the news, or did not go to the grocery store where the garlic and the eggs and the bread have vanished, one would not think there was a pandemic going on, if we were to base things on nature and the beauty still all around. In fact, nature has blazed away, the sun becoming hotter, the skies clearer, the flowers prettier.
At nightfall during these days, one can see Venus to the west. So bright and solitary. Clouds are rare these days too, so Venus is bright and clear in the twilight sky like a star. I took a picture of it and the security guard of the village saw me and commented at how the airplane was not moving. I said it was the planet Venus. I should have told him it was actually moving, although the motion was not noticeable, but I was in a hurry to get to Rustan’s to buy groceries. Then I found the store was closed. Of course, COVID-19. – Rappler.com
Jionette Clyde Arawiran is a high school English teacher and school paper adviser at PAREF Rosehill School.