by Francis Miguel Panday

I wanted to write something about lockdown, especially for a Filipino.
Where do I even begin to write about the saddest summer of who-knows-when?

Where do I find it in myself to start saying that I now dread these humid afternoons when I binge eat and watch series or download what would then only be the sound of time, TikTok.
And laugh and perhaps cringe myself out from the old photos puberty didn’t warn me about.

These local versions of Les Mis barricades at every street entrance swarmed with enforcers taking shifts.
These patrols strolling around with sacks and bags of rice and canned fish.

But despite being locked down, I love it.

I love that this brought the best out in us.
We started coming up on the littlest to the cleverest of ways to back those in the frontlines.
Families got to talk, eat, and catch all the absences up.
The dusty Bible and the barely used rosaries over live streams of Masses started taking space.
I love it.
The silence from 8 in the evening and beyond, I love it.

I wanted to write something while locked down.
But how do I write about the quietest weeks of the year when there’s constant inefficiency from a leader who practically says everything that comes out of his head,
when there is faux order being implemented in public spaces,
when the sickening romance toward resilience remains on sale,
when there is poorly executed distancing measures,
gunned officers shooting mentally-challenged person,
and all of the stubbornness that we can only resist.

But these don’t seem to matter when the only thing you’re holding on to is close at hand: the end.
When things will fall into place again; when you’ll be able to gladly say the word “again”.
It’s a gain; there’s more to gain, again.
Get your favorite milktea with 50% less sugar again; eat your chickenjoy from the actual store stove again.
Hug your friends again, hug you mom, your dad again.
Go get dressed to hear Mass again.
Do the normal again.
Begin again.

And I swear, if you concentrate enough,
You can hear a mushy music on your background, with a chance of tears.

I wanted to write on lockdown
And if I have to, I will write about silence.
The kind that feels like morning after Good Friday.
3:15 in the morning when anyone who wakes up feel like they’re in a horror movie.
Swerving off from a roller coaster and felt like they’ve missed a second of their lives.
In prayer, most of all.

If I were to continue this writing,
Let me write about You, the sound of silence.
Because it is in silence that I hear Your voice.
You are the throwback, the relief, the order, the end.
The sound and the silence.

And if I were to finish this writing,
Then let me just write about You.
Because You, alone, are our again.

When all of this ends,
When they reopen up the streets,
When people step out of their doors,
When everyone and everything starts anew,
You stay in me.
And to be honest, that is the best lockdown I can ever think of.

Francis is an incoming second year Philosophy seminarian from the Diocese of Antipolo.

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