TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - April 13, 2020 - 12:00am

At this time of the year, people would usually be doing things they normally do. Perhaps certain circumstances may change, situations may require different means, new personalities may appear in the picture while old ones may be substituted. For a change. But normally things would have been largely the same.

But things are not normal. Not only are things not normal, they are strange. They are unprecedented. Eerie might not even be inappropriate. Because of the coronavirus, life as we knew it is no longer the same. We have been spun completely around and turned inside out. At no time have people been rendered so equal and yet not really.

Writing from Carigara in Leyte, from where my wife is, we would by this time be in the thick of the annual three-day Holy Cross College alumni homecoming, the biggest shebang in these parts, even bigger than the town fiesta itself. But COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has made the homecoming impossible to hold, at least this year.

The homecoming used to be the biggest and most compelling reason why we had to come here at this time of the year from Cebu, from where I am and where my family had chosen to reside for the past 35 years or so. All Cebu City-born, my three daughters would normally be with us for the alumni homecoming, the wife being of HCC's Class 1981. But that is no more, for now.

One daughter is in Europe, locked down at home with her husband, the man of her life. The other two daughters are in Cebu, locked down as well but for my nurse who, when duty calls, is a frontliner at her hospital. My youngest is cooped at home, a free spirit struggling with confinement. The only consolation, for me and hopefully for her, she is discovering the joy of writing.

As for me and my Waray, we have been here for a little over a year, on account of both her elderly parents. Caregiving was never our career paths but just as we started to get the hang out of it after a year of challenges, along came the coronavirus and the one thing that everybody here had been looking forward to is no more, or at least no longer until maybe next year.

The alumni homecoming is almost everything to almost everyone. And that is because almost everyone is a Holy Cross alumnus. There are probably more households with Holy Cross alumni here than recipients of DSWD's P5,000 promised assistance which, up to this time, remains a promise. It is the most active, the most organized, most attended, most innovative, and most fun alumni event in the world. And I kid you not.

But this year there is nothing. No homecoming, no nothing. The only real thing going on here is watching what the neighbors are doing. And if your eyes meet, then they must have been watching you too. And if that is normal, it couldn't have been more normal than now. In fact, it is about the only normal thing left that people do normally.

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