By Penelope A. Domogo, MD
About three months has passed since the
outbreak of Corona-2019. It has spread from China to many other countries in just a short while. This is not surprising, though, considering that it is an airborne infection, meaning the infectious agent which is the virus gets out and enters the body through the respiratory system. Just one sneeze and the virus would be floating in droplets around you. We, humanity, have made the spread of communicable diseases faster. Infectious diseases are actually carried by people or animals or plants. Any living thing has the potential to carry diseases because living things have the potential to host a virus, a bacteria or fungi or a bigger parasite. Being a “host” to any or all of these parasites means you carry them and you feed them unknowingly but you may or may not manifest any disease. But in any case, as you travel, these germs or bugs will travel with you. Marunong din silang mamasyal. So with increased mobility of people and animals, then it follows that germs also increase their mobility.
If you have been to our local airport, NAIA, you would see the hordes of people coming in and going out of the country. How many airplanes land and take off at NAIA in one day? How about Cebu? How about Wuhan? New York? San Francisco? How many people can one airplane seat? 100, 200, 500. Every hour, everyday, all over the world, millions of people are crisscrossing countries. You can imagine the germs they carry from home and the germs that hitch ride with them as they travel from one country to another. If you are paranoid, then you won’t even get out of your village. But then other people will visit you from the outside. Waahhh, what to do? Lock-out.
Lock-out is what Igorots do in case of disease outbreaks. The Bontoks call it “tengao” or “te-er” and the Kankanaeys call it “ubaya”. No one comes in and no one gets out the village for a time until the outbreak subsides, usually in just a few days. Of course, life was and, still is, simple in our traditional villages. There’s no worry of food shortage because we have the “allang” or “agamang” or rice granary and we had legumes stored in the house. In the past when we, Igorots, had to rely on ourselves for survival, we developed traditions to ensure food supply. For example, the rice you eat is last year’s harvest, the new harvest is stored in the “agamang”. Another example is the value and practice of zero waste – even a grain of rice is precious. Now the store and the market have taken over our lives and these traditions are forgotten.
For the past many many years, we have come to depend on the market and the store. They seem not to run out of stock of rice, sugar, bread, canned goods, noodles, sugary drinks, clothes, medicines, candies, cigarettes and gin. And shoes, too, and cars! In fact, modern society has been enticing people to buy buy buy, consume consume consume. So that factories will produce produce produce, even at the expense of depleting our precious natural resources. We are deluded by industry to think that these goods don’t run out of stock. So even if we don’t need an item, we will buy it because it is there and TV says it’s good to own it. How many cell phones does one person need? And yet how many people own at least 2 cellphones? The market has been bullish and economists say our economy is good because much money has been spent. But this overconsumption and needless consumption have, among other things, generated a lot of waste that is making our environment sick and a lot of diseases that is making people sick. It is not a sustainable life, it is not healthy. It is not quality life at all.
Comes nCov-2019 now renamed Covid-19. There’s lock-out. Travel restrictions. “Tengao” on a global scale. Locally, Besao and Tadian have cancelled their festivities. I heard that the Mountain Province Lang-ay Festival is also cancelled. Sagada has closed tourist spots. Some businesses worry but some rejoice. We know who benefits when people get sick or when there’s a disease alert. Three days ago, I saw this sign in one pharmacy “Face masks out of stock.” Fortunately, health authorities have given the advisory that masks are for sick people and health workers.
There’s a message in this global disease outbreak, not only for superpowers like China and US but also for you and me. The world (meaning you and me) needs to slow down and reflect on how we are living. Perhaps we have reached a breaking point. We cannot go go go go on forever. We have to rest at some point.
We cannot keep on cutting our forest trees to make way for gardens. We have to stop before we ran out of water. What are we doing with our food? We do genetic-engineering with our corn, soy beans, etc. We spray pesticides, herbicides everywhere. What are we doing with our bodies? We use antibiotics left and right. If there’s a bacteria or virus or any creature that we don’t like, we kill it. It is as if we are angry at creation. It is as if we, humans, only have the right to live. We cannot keep on tampering with nature forever. We have to respect it and let it be. A friend was saying that if it’s true that this Covid-19 originated from wild animals, then the message is to let these animals be in the wild. Why kasi do we catch them and cage them and confine them in congested markets that make their life miserable?
There are laws that govern the universe. One is the law of cause and effect. It says that nothing in the universe happens by chance. There’s a reaction for every action. So the Covid-19 did not happen by chance. Could we be so dense that we don’t get the message?***
“You stubborn and hardheaded people! You are always fighting against the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors did…. Angels gave you God’s law, but you still don’t obey it.”” Acts 7:51 & 53