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Holy Week rituals and the COVID

Twinkling with Ninfa R. Leonardia

Many people were excited when news came out that movie houses would be allowed to re-open. But Senator Migz  Zubiri has apparently turned killjoy and insists that it still is not safe to do so because such places do not have proper ventilation. I don’t want to be another killjoy, but I think the ones who will protest are sweethearts who resort to the fake privacy  granted by the darkness of cinema houses to do their things. And I also heard such places will be allowed to admit only 50 percent of their usual capacity.

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So there will also be social distancing even inside moviehouses. I bet the ones who will be against that are those who go to the movies, not really to watch the show, but to have the privacy given by the darkness there. I have not gone to a movie for, I think almost 10 years now, but I guess what goes on, not on the screen, but at the balcony, is still the same as what we and my friends used to see that many years ago. In some countries, lovers go to parks where other people mind their own business, but not in our country, especially not in cities and towns where everybody knows everyone.

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Anyway, I think Senator Zubiri has a point, as far as ventilation is concerned. But most moviehouses now are air-conditioned, so what’s the hitch? He must be referring to those old cinema houses in Tondo and other areas in Metro Manila where there are still those surviving moviehouses. But most families I know now just rent tapes of the movies they want to watch, and share them with entire family, or even lending them to neighbors and relatives before returning them. But of course, there is nothing like the kind you see in moviehouses where the characters are bigger than life.

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But things are no longer the same as they were a few years ago. Everything now seems to go by a different medium, and there is even a plan to make the bar examinations digital. I saw a news item stating that the Supreme Court has okayed it, and so prospective examinees must be forewarned so they can be assured that they must have the mechanism to avail of it. I am not confident of what I know about the process, but would it be foolproof against cheating? Just asking.

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The trouble in Myanmar after the military  attempt to take over has apparently not been settled and this has resulted in the return of several Filipinos either working or residing there , coming back to the Philippines. Yesterday’s reports said 139 more arrived, and this could mean an addition to our unemployment problems. But what do we do when they are no longer safe in the country they had moved to in order to find a job? I am sure that they still consider the Philippines as home even if they have settled there and already have families.

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Meanwhile, several European countries are again back to lockdown status, after what seems like a resurge of the  coronavirus. We don’t want to sound holier than thou, but I suspect  it could be that their people are not observing the very simple precaution of wearing masks. Even in those riots in Washington shown on TV, one could see that a lot of the participants were “unmasked”, which is a sure invitation for the virus to land on them. Maybe they feel it is not manly to be masked, but it is that, or a welcome sign to the virus.

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I heard a report saying that our economic recovery will depend on the roll-out of the vaccination program. But do we have the vaccines in the country already? And when is it going  to reach our towns and cities, as well as the barangays and sitios? And what is more, do we have the funds to pay for the vaccines that should be enough to cover our entire population? I fear that any initial stock of vaccines that may come will not even be enough for Manila, which is now considered the “most densely populated city in the world”. In the world, ha, not only in the Philippines, or even Asia!

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Holy Week is nearing and the question of most people is whether  we will be able to observe the same rituals that we have always done for centuries  now. I hear that on Ash Wednesday, one has to put the ashes on one’s own head, no longer the officiating priest. What about the processions on Holy Thursday and Good Friday? Maybe they can be observed, since social distancing can be done, although it might mean a long, long line. Anyway, we are now used to doing things differently, but if the intentions are the same, the Good Lord will still accept our offerings.*

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