What will happen to the palm frond vendors this Palm Sunday?
World War III?
FROM MY HEART - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura (The Philippine Star) - April 5, 2020 - 12:00am

It’s the middle of the afternoon. I look out the window at the street far below usually crowded with vehicles. Today, once again, there are very few. We have been in quarantine going on three weeks now. I must admit I love my quarantine costume:  shorts and huge, cool, oversized T-shirts I bought at the supermarket across the way for less than a hundred pesos each. My hair, which I have hardly cut in two years, is now about two inches below my shoulder. I tie it back in a ponytail.  I think I sport the standard quarantine look — old and ugly. But who cares?

I know I thought about this before someone sent me a text that referred to this situation as World War III. I was born as World War II was ending so I don’t have a vivid memory of that war but my husband, who is a few years older, remembers and agrees that this is somewhat like a war. For some time now I had been wondering what the Third World War would be like. I thought it might be nuclear — huge bombs being dropped leaving hundreds of thousands dead and buildings standing like skeletons. But I could not imagine it. Maybe because World War III wasn’t going to happen that way.

It would happen this way. It would start in China with a virus that came from bats. From there it would travel by plane, by sea, by bus and train to virtually all corners of the world and it would be called a pandemic. Instead of lives being in the hands of the military, they are in the hands of the medical and scientific communities and, of course, the country’s government. The victims of this war are in hospitals, more and more of them makeshift. The doctors and nurses are dying along with seniors. Even people at sea, either on naval ships or on pleasure cruises, are not spared.

How can I be sure that we will be spared? Part of my earnings come from selling capsules that help our bodies generate more stem cells, our natural healing systems. We now take double the dose and I have given our housekeeper a bottle to take to increase her immunity because she does the groceries and drugstore shopping for us. I am not selling these days because there’s no delivery service but thankfully, I have enough stock to see us through, or so I hope.

Staying home has also made me review my bedroom closet and give away more than half of my clothes. Every day I do a little something to tidy up. I have thousands of beads because I make jewelry. I have yards and yards of thread because I knit, so I knit while watching Netflix just to make something wearable from the threads. One day I will get around to making jewelry.

I watch international news on TV. I wonder why Italy and New York seem to be the most afflicted. Could it be that it’s because Trump is from New York? Even Washington, DC is badly hit. That’s where he works. And why Italy? Could it be because of the unresolved sins of the Church? I don’t know, but I wonder because this pandemic is a Godsend. Like Adolf Hitler was a Godsend. I know in my heart that all wars come from God, His way of cleaning house, of telling all of us to stop and think about what we have been doing, to put a stop to what we have been doing wrong, if we open our eyes wide enough to recognize what we need to change, to think about how we are going to change for the better. How do we think less about ourselves and think more about helping other people?

Today is Palm Sunday. Traditionally we go to church and buy our palms outside the church from vendors who weave them for us. Then we have them blessed by the priest and take them home, attach them to a window or door. A classmate suggested that since we are all quarantined we should just pick a spray of greens from our garden or flowerpots and hang them on the door. That’s a great idea, I thought, but then again what will happen to the people who make the palm fronds? They make some money from us on Palm Sunday. What will they do now that people go to Mass in their living rooms and get a sprig of greens (can be plastic for condo dwellers) to tie to their front doors?

How will this quarantine affect our economy? Just think of the people who sell balloons, birds, palm fronds, little chicks dyed red, green or purple outside the church during the Lenten season. What will they do this year? How will they feed their children?

* * *

Please text your comments to 0998-991-2287.

  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with