Footprints

For Cultural Hybrids Seeking Home

A Reader's Contribution by Reeda Bantug

08 June 2020

Pundits say that stereotypically, we Filipinos only want to talk about what we and others do--today rather than tomorrow; or what things feel like, look like, taste like, sound like, and touch like. In other words, we are sensual creatures, concerned mainly about people and relationships, but unable to deal with abstract issues critically. We do not operate using concepts—and therein lies some of our difficulties. We cannot de-personalise our experiences, and therefore cannot create impersonal systems and procedures, or construct longer-term goals and strategies. Unfortunately, we need impersonal systems in order to build efficient structures and institutions, so necessary if we wish to move ahead.

If these were true, the purpose of my Blogs is to stimulate discussions about ideas: for example, what we mean by “freedom” or “democracy.” I have invited comments but also, to counter these rather heavily ideological accounts, I have asked for contributions from more “down-to-earth” readers on any topic discussed in my Blogs. After I published The Life in a Day of a Lockdown Resident, one reader responded with a description of her own “day-in-the-life-of” during her quarantine in Negros.

The following is her article:

 

“I would rather just read other people’s blogs or Facebook posts than write my own. Unlike many of my friends, I think of myself as more of an introvert and not the type who could easily share her thoughts with others, much more with strangers. But then again, I am now here and doing some brain exercise that I know I have been wanting to do for quite some time.

When our local government mandated a community quarantine some six weeks ago, I had some concerns and apprehensions about it. Mostly business concerns such as how we will support our employees when our business is closed. But then, I decided to just put my trust in our Lord to provide for all our needs. I know there is some good that will come out of this crisis.

The lockdown in my city called Bacolod, which is located in Negros island, has brought the entire place into a certain degree of stillness. This is evident every Sunday for the past month, as roads are totally empty because security checkpoints were deployed all over the city. For the rest of the week, minimal movement is maintained as only one person per household is allowed to go out of the house to do errands. Quarantine passes were issued to each household and this could be used only by one person on scheduled days three times a week.

As for our household, my 23 year old daughter, Laica, is tasked to hold the quarantine pass. However, she lends her pass to our helper once in a while to go to the wet market. My sister, Carmeli, and I, together with my other 10 year old daughter, Alyssa, prefer to stay home as there is no need to go out. I was only forced to venture out of the house once because I had to have some laboratory tests done.

Laica was able to visit the family-owned farm resort, Bantug Lake Ranch. It is located around 15 kilometers from the city proper. The business is not able to open, but we let our employees go to work on a skeletal force. They are tasked to keep the area clean and to tend to the animals, such as the horses, ducks, rabbits, peacocks, birds, fishes, etc.

It is disheartening to realize that tourism related businesses, such as resorts, which usually peak on these summer months cannot operate this season. Our customers had to cancel or postpone their reservations for special occasions like weddings and summer outings. I could only imagine how frustrating this would be for those couples who were looking forward to their big day.

So, how do my family spend our quarantine days at home? It simply feels like taking some kind of vacation in our own home, being able to take time in doing new things that have been long forgotten. Because our cook is not able to report to work, my daughter’s nanny and I have to do the task of cooking our meals. I have not practiced my cooking skills in a long time. After all, I took up Culinary Arts back in 2008. This is the perfect time to try out new dishes such as Korean Beef Stew, Chicken Teriyaki, Sweet and Sour Pork, and Pot Roast. After this lockdown season, I am now encouraged to be more friendly to the kitchen.

Afternoons are spent gardening. Laica decided to make a victory garden in our backyard. This started her interest in growing plants. With the assistance of gardeners from our ranch, they created plots, and planted herbs and vegetables such as basil, pechay, cherry tomatoes, green onions, and lemon grass. She looks after them every day, even getting quite flustered when there was a day of heavy rains. After one month, she was able to harvest some basil which she used to make pesto sauce for our pasta. We also just picked some green onions to use in cooking. We are still looking forward to eating the pechay once it matures. What a joy to have fresh picks from our own backyard!

The best thing that this season has done for me is that I am able to spend much time with my one true love, our Lord God Jesus, and The Holy Spirit. After breakfast, I write on my journal prayers for my family and friends. I also spend many hours getting to know our Lord by reading the Bible. I have read a few chapters from the Old Testament, like the Psalms, Proverbs, Kings, and Chronicles; and a few more chapters in the New Testament, like Mark, John, Acts of the Apostles, and Romans. I also have watched videos about the life of our Lord, my favorite is a new series entitled The Chosen. After dinner, we worship and pray together with our Pastor friend whom we have invited to stay with us during this quarantine period. I have received some revelations about myself and the world which can help me in my journey of faith.

Thus, I can say that this is not wasted time spent at home, but rather a very productive one. I am able to spend more quality time with my family and have had some rest from the hustles of daily life. Despite the craziness and uncertainty that the pandemic has caused , I have chosen to have peace in my heart and mind”.

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Reeda Bantug is Director of Bantug Lake Ranch, a recreational farm resort in Bacolod City.