by Heidi M. Pascual
Love in Quarantine
My hometown has been in Extreme Community Quarantine (ECQ) since middle of March 2020 due to the rising cases of COVID-19. There is a very
strict rule for people not to get out of their homes except in very rare cases, such as medical emergencies. The simplest political unit, the barangay,
has issued one identification card for every household’s head of family, who is the only one allowed to get or buy food and other needs only at a
particular day and time during the week.

With all the various activities that each family member does every day before COVID-19 came about, we must admit that we pay less attention to
each other, as if it is but natural to be with friends or office mates more often rather than with our own family. We spend more time literally with  other
people during the day, whether we’re in school or at work, and when we’re back at home, tell me, who’s not using their cellphones to again connect
with people who were with us during the day? It is actually a modern scene at home: all kids are on their cellphones, too busy in their own world that
they become oblivious to others, including their mother’s reminder to do their homework. Even house helpers have their own cellphones that they
continuously connect with their parents, relatives and friends. Thanks to the miracle of technology we don’t need wires nowadays to connect with the
rest of the world. We only need cellphone “load” to make things happen, post- or pre-paid, with as little as fifteen pesos (about 30 cents) for three-day
calls or texts.

With our Extreme Community Quarantine (ECQ) and lockdowns, however, families are forced in a way to stay at home and do things together for
days and nights during this more-than-a-month period (Mid-March to end of April 2020). When everyone is confined strictly at home for weeks,
together with family —- spouse and children — there is only one virtue that stands out, and family members now have realized it is the most
important thing in their lives: LOVE for one another.

Facebook is filled with so many family activities at home that it is a 180-degree change from what we usually saw in the past. Before COVID-19, we
usually posted our travels, especially abroad or in various tourist spots in the country, and these were journalized almost every day, from the moment
we got to the airport and checked in at our hotel, to our daily tours, food, sceneries and experiences, and our return trip. We saw various posts about
birthday and wedding celebrations, class reunions and parties of all occasions, grand fiestas, eat-outs, and lots of food and music, mostly with
relatives and friends.
I said 180-degree change, because today, Facebook is so much alive with
photos of what the family had for breakfast, lunch, merienda, and dinner.
Whoever cooked the meal is praised profusely by family and BFFs who post
comments, as if cooking for the family stands out as the most important
and significant activity for the day! Board games and online family games
are aplenty, with posts of family members happily competing for snack
prizes. There are also videoke posts where kids sing and dance while
parents applaud with so much pride and joy. Simple photos of
togetherness and sweet loving smiles truly make this period of confinement
a happy occasion for the family.

And love is not complete without the grace of God. We see FB posts of
families praying together, saying the rosary, or watching live streaming of
virtual masses on TV. These sights were never given much attention until
now, because it was rare in the past to see families truly connecting to God
together and sharing the same to the world.

If there is one single good thing COVID-19 gave the world, this is it. Love of
family. It is love fully expressed while in quarantine.