by Gabriel Paolo M. Aquino
I did groceries today. I usually don’t do it halfway through the month, but the news had people panicking, and I felt like I needed to do so, too––even just a little. The grocery was the most crowded I have ever seen it. People in masks were filling their baskets over the brim. It wasn’t too bad for me though. I just needed to do groceries for one.
I called my parents today. They said Malaysia was going through the same thing. They were safe, though, at least. We agreed to just stay indoors until all this blows over. I haven’t visited them in a few months. I should do just that after this semester.
The news has been filled with people suffering unusual punishments from the police and the army because of their supposed “quarantine violations.” There were teenagers who were put into a dog cage and paraded throughout the barangay for being out during curfew and another man who was forced to pray before a coffin to make him realise that he would die if he violated the rules. Some friends and I started compiling these incidents to report them to the CHR. Would it help? I don’t know, but it’s all what five law students can do at the moment. Maybe they’ll be referred to an actual lawyer who can help. Someone like Chel Diokno. Yeah, that’ll work.
Over 3,000 Filipinos have been infected and 177 have died. People have started to starve in their own homes because they can’t go out to earn their wages. They say that they’ll start “mass testing” next week. I don’t know what exactly that means, but my med school friends are saying that it’s a good thing.
An old employee of my parents greeted me today. I thought she was doing great, until she said that she and her kid have been starving already. “No more work in the pandemic,” she said. I had to scramble to look for someone with PayMaya who could transfer her money tonight. I didn’t feel like eating my dinner anymore.
Have you ever heard of the story of Eichmann in Jerusalem? Adolf Eichmann had a desk job under the Nazi regime. He sat all day looking at paper with numbers and names of people who would eventually be sent to Auschwitz to die. After World War II, he was put in trial in Jerusalem. What people were expecting was evil incarnate, but what they really saw was something much scarier: a regular person. He wasn’t an evil genius who twirled and planned for world domination. He was just a regular person following orders. The banality of evil, as Arendt would put it.
That’s what’s happening right now. That’s what’s been happening the past four years. Evil is seen in the Philippines regular people following orders.
The big story today was how one PNP Police Major General Debold Sinas violated quarantine regulations to celebrate his birthday with a large number of people. A lot have been calling for accountability. Sinas, on the other hand, argues that it wasn’t a “party” per se but instead a “mañanita.” It’s hilarious.
I am now starting to feel the psychological effects of physical isolation. It’s been two and a half months since our lives changed drastically. I always thought I was impervious to any damage on my mental health. Depression and anxiety––I thought these were just words used by wealthy people who felt a little stressed. I was wrong. All of it––it’s starting to get to me.
The Senate passed something called the Anti-Terror Bill today. I haven’t read it. I should; people make it seem really important.
It’s Independence Day. Ateneo and UP had arranged protests against the military presence. I opted to join Ateneo’s; UP will always have its protestors. So, I finally had a reason to get out of the apartment for the first time in months that wasn’t grocery shopping. The sun felt nice on my skin as I stood in a line just behind the campus’s wire fence. It was good feeling of some use after being sedentary for this long. The day was doing great until I saw a truckload of 40 or 50 soldiers armed with automatic rifles going in the direction of UP. I called to warn my friends there. You know, just in case.
It’s my birthday today. I’m spending it alone for the first time in my life, so I just got a small cake for myself. I never really liked cake that much, but it seemed proper to get one. Mom and dad called a while ago to greet me, and so did Yen. We never really got along growing up, but you tend to miss your little sister after a few months of not seeing her, you know? I wanted to visit my grandparents back in Antipolo, but it seemed irresponsible. I just hope lolo isn’t being stubborn by going out in public unnecessarily again.
In other news, FLAG just filed their petition against the Anti-Terror Bill in the Supreme Court. I’m happy I got to help with that. That’s a birthday gift enough. The petition was really solid, and the law seemed obviously invalid. I’m sure it won’t be much of a fuss.
Mom and I had a fight today. I don’t even remember what about anymore. I’m sure she’s just frustrated by the fact that I haven’t seen them in almost a year, and she and dad are stuck at home too. Just give her time. Online classes start tomorrow. Can’t get distracted.
I felt like crying every day ever since classes started. I can’t take talking into a screen for 12 hours a day anymore––I just can’t. I want to drop some of the heavier subjects. I don’t care anymore if the professor ridicules me in front of the class for not trying. I just can’t.
Happy New Year.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
It’s been a year. It has certainly been a strange one, and I am not the same person who began all this in March 2020. My heart now is so empty and so devoid of hope. The only reason for me to stick with the status quo is because it’s the path of least resistance.
I am sad. I am irretrievably, irreconcilably unhappy. Yet, I have neither the heart nor the will to do anything about it now.