It was announced a few days ago. Rizal on lockdown beginning April 6th. And I thought I’d start keeping a real diary about life in quarantine.
Perhaps, I should have started three weeks ago when Metro Manila was placed on community quarantine, or about a week after that, when the entire island of Luzon was placed on enhanced community quarantine. What the heck is the difference anyway except where to place checkpoints?
But the first week of quarantine, I had trouble sleeping. Mental stress set in immediately. I responded by chopping off my hair. Unevenly. Messily. Alex said I looked like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I was worried about food and I spent almost all my waking hours looking for groceries that would deliver to our doorstep.
There were days when I was filling online carts the moment I woke up. Before washing my face. Before brushing my teeth. Before coffee. Not a single grocery delivered everything I ordered nor did they deliver on time. In one case, the “shopper’s fee” and “delivery fee” taken together cost more than the items I purchased.
We were caught off guard. We’ve never been big on keeping eye-popping amounts of food. Meat, poultry and fish in the freezer, yes. Canned food, no. It would take us almost three weeks to stock the pantry. Canned meat, canned fish, canned vegetables. Cooking oil. And, finally, rice. We’ve never bought more than five kilos of rice, a month’s supply, and we didn’t replenish until we were down to last few cups. Now, we have 30 kilos of rice which should be enough for six months.
We were quite willing to rely on a neighborhood Korean minimart but they closed two days ago. Their stocks were stuck at the port. Pardon the alliteration but that’s an accurate statement. Cargo vans have been lying around the port area in Manila for weeks. Because of the skeleton staff in government offices? Maybe. But, according to some business people, it’s because of the checkpoints.
The government guaranteed that food would be allowed through checkpoints but the soldiers and cops haven’t been trained properly. They don’t know the rules, they don’t know the exceptions, they don’t know that thermal thermometers aren’t supposed to touch the skin… In one case, a doctor was fuming at a checkpoint because the morons there wouldn’t let her through despite presenting her PRC ID that indicated she’s a “physician”. The damn soldier manning the checkpoint didn’t know that a physician and a doctor mean the same thing.
So… I was thinking that, living in the suburb, there was less chance of food shortage. There are animal and vegetable farms all over. But, when I think of those cargo vans some of which carry ingredients for animal feed and raw materials for food packaging, I start to wonder how the pigs and chickens will survive and multiply if they had nothing to eat. And how in the world meat, fruits and vegetables will get to the groceries if there was nothing to pack them in.
Maybe I shouldn’t look too far into the future. Maybe this will be over before food shortage turns into nightmarish proportions. Wishful thinking? I hope not. Suffice that, for now, we have enough food for several weeks, and there’s still enough supply out there to keep replenishing our stock.