Eleanor Trinchera

SYDNEY (MindaNews / 5 May) – I cannot recall the last time I have written a story for “Snippets of Life in Sydney.” The thought of contributing during this significant period of our history made me write a short note to the Editor of MindaNews, Ms Carolyn O. Arguillas, asking if I could continue contributing to MindaNews. I am grateful because here I am again, sharing what life in Sydney is for some of us.

I am on my seventh week of working from home, which seems to be the “new normal” for those who are able to do their jobs at home. I am grateful to be able to continue what I love doing despite the restrictions, the limitations and the overwhelming meetings by Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Messenger and What’s App. I have learned how to use two screens, which I could not fully grapple with while working in the office. Some employees are fortunate that they are able to work from home and all those working in essential services continue to do so despite some doing with reduced hours.

New South Wales and the entire country is slowly easing out of lockdown restrictions. The Prime Minister announced today that it’s time to “get Australia back to work.” A national framework on how restrictions will be eased will be released on Friday and will depend on how individual States and Territories respond.

Scott Morrison was joined by New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during the National Cabinet meeting today in what Scott Morrison said “was the first time since John Curtin during World War II.” The two leaders discussed what is considered to be a potential “safe travel zone” between Australia and New Zealand.

Looking back on the past weeks, it seems people have adjusted and the environment is much better. Friends from across the seas have shared that they now hear birds chirping every day, the skies look brighter compared to the grey skies they had before and with roads and factories shutting down, air quality has become better and most of all, people seem to care more for each other. People in densely populated areas have become more aware of their health and hygiene and everyone seems to respect the physical/social distancing everywhere. A few commented that even animals are observing social/physical distancing.

We have seen the rise of collaborative action to raise funds for the most vulnerable from artists’ loungerooms or homes increasing. Activities like “Bayanihan Musikahan,” “One World: Together at Home” and the “Walk with Me: Loungeroom Sessions” encourage us to help raise funds for those who have lost their livelihoods.

However, our world is going to be boring if we all follow the law. Thus, we have all the memes, cartoons and satirical pieces proliferating the internet, showing how some continue to disregard the law.

We also watch on the news people launching protest actions, citizens being warned that they will be shot dead for violating lockdown measures and more extreme measures to keep people off the streets. Different countries react according to what is effective in their context. However, in the end we all hope that Governments should always take into consideration that preventing the spread of COVID-19 and taking care of those affected should be done without sacrificing their citizens’ basic human rights.

Written on the day ABS-CBN signed off the air due to non-renewal of its franchise.

(Mindanawon Abroad is MindaNews’ effort to link up with Mindanawons overseas who would like to share their experiences in their adopted countries. Eleanor Trinchera of Kidapawan City is now based in Sydney.)