First off, this essay is filler.

There is something else I've been meaning to write - the sort that already has a mental outline - but I haven't mustered the energy to write the whole thing down. I just tell myself that it's evergreen anyway, and besides, the State of the Nation Address is happening next week, and that feels like a more appropriate time to write it.

Also, I have been busier at work for the past couple of months, now that things are a little more certain (in its uncertainty, you get the idea) and we realize we have to still earn money somehow. There goes my time spent looking out windows and composing essays nobody reads.

That's it, really. Things have felt a little more certain. Four months in I have internalized that this is going to be normal now. Not the mask wearing. Not the fact that you have to plan all of your trips. Rather, it's the fact that everything feels more uncertain now because the people on top clearly have different priorities. And so nothing feels new anymore, or shocking. Of course we've seen it coming, that we'll be sleepwalking to our deaths while those in charge get busy fabricating charges against critics.

But again, this essay is filler. I told myself I won't go overly political here.

I remember the last time I saw a lot of people gathered in one place. It was last March, when Shalla had a booth at Komiket Cavite. It was packed - there is a pretty big market for indie artists in my home province, as it turns out. It also helped that on either side of her half of the table were two popular comic artists whose stuff you've likely seen on Facebook - although I'll admit I have never come across one of them, and I never have since - and we were on the same aisle as the Pol Medina Jr., which led to some legit fanboying on my end.

Around this time the coronavirus threat was starting to knock on our collective doors a little bit more. We already had three cases - and the first death outside of China - and the government was minded to downplay the pandemic-to-be for fear of offending certain countries. But the malls have started to get stricter. I spent those two days at a Starbucks - Shalla only had that one seat to herself and I can't really hang out there unless I'm filling in for her - and it overlooked the mall entrance, and the lines going in were really long, as the security guards had to get everybody's temperatures.

I remember when I did fill in for her, and seeing just a couple of people every twenty minutes or so wearing a mask. We weren't forced to wear masks by the event organizers then, but some of the stalls had the foresight to put alcohol bottles out for potential customers to use.

It was really crowded, and I don't think anybody of us got sick after that, but that's me being terribly presumptive.

Of course, now, it's different. The malls are empty. Well, they were emptier a few weeks ago. Shalla and I went to the mall last weekend and there seemed to be more people. Everybody was wearing masks. Lots of alcohol and hand sanitizer around. Lots of signs saying "please observed social distancing" - typo included. Lots of health declaration forms to be filled, if you had to. Lots of lines outside stores selling laptops, for some reason. And yet Shalla wasn't comfortable with eating at a restaurant, so we spent ten minutes inside our parked car eating drive-thru burgers. You can't drink something with a mask on, as it is now clear.

But that's normal now. We talk about the need to get back to normal, when really, this is normal now, and will continue to do so, for as long as the people in charge have different priorities than the rest of us. But again, this essay is filler. I told myself I won't go overly political here.

And your responses...

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