Why masks are ‘musts’

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I bet one of the most distressing announcements for most Filipinos is the prohibition of visits, or closing of cemeteries and memorial parks on November 1 and 2, which are the proclaimed holidays by the Church as All Saints’ and All Souls Days. For centuries, now and even in the lifetimes of the oldest people in our country and communities, those days are considered so important that those working in other provinces, and even abroad, make it a point to time their vacations on those days so they can visit the graves of their departed loved ones.

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But there is a very good reason for the prohibition, you see. Recall how crowded such places are on these two days, especially on the first of November, which is not even the appropriate day, as it is All Saints Day, while November 2 is All Souls Day. Which means that unless you believe your departed kin are saints, November 2 is the day you should make the visit. Well, such visits can be made any day of the month or the year. In our family, we include the birthdays and death anniversaries among our visitation days. But so long as you remember your loved ones and want to pray for them, any day and anywhere, I am sure, will be listened to by our Lord.

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There is one thing, though, that should concern us and our medical experts these days. That is the report that the Philippines has the highest number of COVID cases in Southeast Asia. How did that happen? I thought our hospitals and doctors have been working overtime and with all their attention focused on dealing with it. Most alarming, too, is the fact that until now, no surefire cure or vaccine has been produced to counter it. Only vigilance and self-protection, that could also mean isolation, seem to be working. This is one pandemic that has not been conquered yet, so it is still every man, or every country for himself, or itself.

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What is also alarming are reports, especially from the Asian Development Bank, that Philippine economy is slowing down because of the sudden continuous rise in COVID cases in the country. Meanwhile, it was a good move for Bacolod City to impose the wearing of masks, with penalties for non-compliance, because world records are confirming that they are really effective foils to transmission of this new virus. Those who ignore the wearing of that tiny covering could regret it, because they expose themselves recklessly to it.

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I don’t know if statistics are available and where they can be acquired, but it seems to me that mortality in COVID cases in our province and city are slowing down somewhat, and let us all continue to hope and pray that this will continue. It seems that early detection and treatment are the best response to it. But some people seem to be in denial and ignore what could be signs of infection, until the situation gets worse. By then, the virus may already have moved on, not only to family members, but to other people they encounter.

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By the way, I am neither a specialist nor a doctor, or even an herbolario, but I believe that the more we avoid being in groups, especially with people who may be your friends, but whose state of health you are not sure of, the less our chances are of getting infected. I heard stories about men who could not forego their weekend drinking sprees, and did not realize that a member was positive. Now some of them are in isolation because they, too, are showing symptoms.

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I saw an item on TV where a man said he would rather be dead than be infected with the COVID. To most that would sound ludicrous, but there is some justification, you know. If he were dead, everything is over, but if he gets COVID, it is not only the agony of its effects he will go through, but also the fear of contaminating his family and friends, to say nothing of the medical expenses they would be incurring, that could turn out for naught, because he is likely to die, anyway. See?

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But how can some people, government officials, particularly, be so wicked as to take advantage of the country’s funds even in times of emergency like this pandemic we are going through? What about that report about some P18 BILLION discovered to be the overprice paid for protective equipment for frontliners? How could such officials be so callous and greedy in this time of great sacrifices? I hope and pray that all those will be identified and instead of charging them in court, just exposed to a roomful of COVID positive patients for several hours! Let us see if the money they stole will save them!*

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