After two weeks of noise, in the end, we're still required to wear these fucking face shields.
Never mind that this supposed second level of protection hasn't prevented a spike of cases a few months ago here in Manila, and a spike of cases currently happening in some major provincial capitals. Never mind that the requirement only exists to remove one more responsibility from the national government, who can freely blame us if cases go up instead of actually working on proper testing, tracing and isolation policies. Nope. We're still wearing these fucking face shields.
It was a weird two weeks, though, because it felt like the requirement was going to be lifted. The noise - particularly from some popular politicians, those with a definite eye towards higher office next year - was loud enough to move things on its own accord. Arguably it was an increasingly rare glimmer of hope for Filipinos who've frankly had enough of this aimlessness. At least removing these fucking face shields would tell us that we're making some progress.
That said, all the euphoria - and the inevitable disappointment - masks one reality we may have tried our hardest to resist: we are literally at the mercy of the president.
Come to think of it, the noise against those fucking face shields would not have picked up this much steam if not for him saying, actually, they really aren't needed. That led one of his acolytes to say that, actually, since he said they aren't needed, it's essentially government policy now. In other words, what he says is law.
Yes, it was annoying when the group overseeing the so-called response against this pandemic said, actually, you still need those other things on your faces. "Set up a group chat!" is something we've said many times in the past sixteen months. There will certainly be more instances of our government leaders saying different things - and that's because some believe in doing the necessary paperwork, while others just take what their patron says and transforms it into policy, just like that.
But then, the fact that we're at the mercy of the president is easy to overlook because we've just learned to live with it. It was unusual hearing from those against the fucking face masks (yes, I will stick with that nomenclature like I have this past year) suddenly hope that the president, for once, does the sensible thing - the "right thing" - and loosen a restriction that hasn't really done much to prevent the pandemic from spreading. Well, it did add red tape, plastic waste, inconvenience for those with eyeglasses, bewilderment from our friends in other countries, and profits for certain companies.
"I can't believe I'm hanging on the president's word for this," one of them told me. "And I usually don't pay attention to him."
Well, last night, armed with justification from experts, he said that, nope, the restrictions won't be lifted, contrary to what he said a couple of days ago, when he thought out loud that they should only be required in hospitals. He said that, yes, you have to wear those fucking face shields, still, inside or outside. And we begrudgingly do so, because he said so.