Header MBV Logo
Columns Banner MB2 v3

Creatures of Habit

We have been in some form of quarantine since March 15, 2020. I cannot remember all the acronyms (GCQ, ECQ, MECQ) assigned to the different levels of restrictions because they have mutated so much just like the COVID-19 variants. And starting August 6 until at least the 20th, we are again advised to stay home. No matter how frustrating it may be, we should heed the counsel of government and health experts—if you have nothing essential to do, stay home.


The challenge of course is how to make the most of the lockdown. We can’t just wallow in misery inside our homes. We need to remain active and productive. We need to remain in shape, physically and mentally. For one, a lot of us will actually continue to work. Some companies have instituted work-from-home arrangements while some economic activities allowed during ECQ will necessarily need their workers to come in.


In my case, work keeps me busy. I continue to hold meetings online, check on our existing projects and study plans for new business initiatives. I discovered that working hard is a good antidote to the boredom of quarantine. Diligence and industriousness are habits. It is something that a person learns and practices for a long time. And it is something you never unlearn, very much like riding a bicycle.


We could use the time to celebrate our Olympic athletes. Hidilyn Diaz (Weightlifting—Gold), Nesthy Petecio (Boxing—Silver), Carlo Paalam (Boxing—Silver), and Eumir Marcial (Boxing—Bronze) should be honored by a nation in search of heroes and role models. I was reading stories about their journey and I was really impressed with the persistence and hard work they exhibited as they worked their way to success. What they have accomplished is proof that you can defeat poverty and provide a better future for your family.


We could also use the quarantine time to plan our future. Some of our kababayans have been laid off from work, some might be thinking about a career change given the emergence of the new normal. Remember that many of our people shifted to entrepreneurship when we first went into lockdown more than a year ago. They used online platforms to transition from being an employee to becoming an entrepreneur.


This is also an opportunity for us to spend more time with family and loved ones. Do not violate health protocols and organize a big gathering of course. But the quarantine should give you and the people who live with you more time to talk, to do things together, reconnect. It’s as simple and inexpensive as having coffee together in the morning.


In my experience, the lockdown also gives us the opportunity to appreciate the little things in life. Sometimes, we become so focused on whatever it is we are doing that we tend to forget the small things. For instance, the smell of coffee and bread in the morning. It is something we take for granted because we experience it every day but recently when we opened two branches of Bread Basket! at Evia Lifestyle Center and Vistamall Santa Rosa, it triggered some nice memories when I was a kid in Tondo.


I remember the smell of “nilagang kape” in the morning. I mean really early morning because my mother and I always get up early so we can walk to the market and sell shrimp and fish. I also remember the smell of freshly baked pan de sal. I like my pan de sal a bit tostado so I can dip it in my coffee. This was particularly delicious during the cold months of December and January when the mornings are pleasantly nippy.


Nowadays that experience has been upgraded. When I visited our Bread Basket! Branch in Evia, I smelled freshly brewed coffee instead of the “barako” boiled in the kettle. And aside from pan de sal, I smelled the aroma of a variety of bread and pastries—baguette, croissant, danish, etc. It’s a different experience but it evoked the same memories from my childhood.


We are creatures of habit. And during times of difficulty, we rely on these routines to give us a sense of normalcy. Let us develop routines that will keep us on our toes and habits that will keep us healthy and sane. Surviving the pandemic does not only mean that we stay COVID 19-free. It also means that we come out of the lockdown mentally and physically healthy.


Manila Bulletin/Views/MannyVillar