A time to reboot

Forum, Lifestyle  /   /  By Marge Enriquez

THE enhanced community quarantine can be very jarring for business or economic activity. Yet, it also provides professionals time to pause from the rush of life and rediscover that what’s important to us is not always material.

For restaurateur Guillermo “Yong” Nieva, the lockdown is a big blow to the restaurant industry. COVID-19 has become an equalizer, since it has impacted the rich and the poor, the young and the old. The co-owner of the Filipino restaurant Romulo Café, Relish resto for comfort food, and the newly-opened Pandan Asian Café is worried about the workers.

“You become most concerned about their basic needs—beyond the business itself. You are like their parent—worried about money, their food and survival,” he says.

Like most owners, he is going by the recommendations of government in compensating their employees.

On a personal side, the social distancing has made him more appreciative of his friends. “The world has become smaller. We may be isolated, but reaching out to friends merely through text messages makes you feel closer. Checking on each other has replaced the intimate dinners we would regularly host at home. It’s only temporary, anyway,” says Nieva.

He realized that now is the time to make the most life. “Be simple and love our quality relationships. We cannot miss the enhancement of spirituality. We all have the same God!” says Nieva.

Book designer and culinary historian Guillermo “Ige” Ramos has always worked at home. He follows a routine of waking up at 9 am even if he goes to bed at 1 am, enjoying a leisurely breakfast, working until 1 pm, having lunch until 2, resuming work, exercising and stretching. After dinner, he continues to work till midnight.  On no-design days, he reads and reread books. Another simple pleasure is enjoying his coloring materials.

The disruption is timely. “I don’t have to attend meetings that can be done via email, anyway. I’m equally lucky because there’s a grocery in our condo. We’re clearing the planet of needless carbon footprints,” says Ramos.

Despite his PCOO (Presidential Communications Operations Office) card, photojournalist Teodoro “Teddy” Pelaez is immobilized by the ban on public transportation.

Yet, he has come to terms with the quarantine. Time is spent doing household chores and laundry, and feeding the cats and dogs while monitoring the news.

“As Holy Week draws closer, it’s time to reflect on our wrongdoings. This is also the time to say, ‘Thank you, Lord for the life you gave us, and please forgive our sins,’” says Pelaez.

Architect Emmanuel “Manny” Miñana’s construction projects have come to a standstill. Project deadlines and submission of design plans and blueprints have been postponed. His clients understand the situation. “These are extraordinary times,” concurs a client.

Miñana welcomes the lockdown as he works from home. He has more time to sleep and let a wound heal. “For two peaceful hours, I swept the leaves in our yard and on the street outside our home—something I’ve never done before,” he says.

He describes it as a “blessed time” to be with his family to enjoy the simple pleasures of listening to music, painting, and sharing conversations and tasty meals.

“There is an existential pause from Above to slow things down, gather your thoughts, decide what is important to you, and re-orient the way you see and do things. Motivational author Wayne Dyer said, ‘Change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change,’” says Miñana.

He’s been walking his talk by reorganizing areas of the house and discarding unnecessary possessions. “I’m ready to let of things at home because I’ve also changed over time. I’ve not had the occasion to do a major revamp because I’ve been busy over the years. I am now ready to refresh my environment,” he says.

The outbreak has made him more compassionate. He reflects on people who are close to the family and who are financially debilitated by the stoppage of work. The family is willing to help.

Miñana muses, “This calamity has given me context, breadth, perspective, and time to reflect on what it means to be alive and to be human. I ask myself, ‘What good can I bring to the world?’”

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