DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 4 February) — It has been almost a year since the lockdown has affected most of us. Ten months ago, I was doing fine. The struggles were bearable and not so obvious compared to the present time where the socio-economic divide can be felt. The new normal has changed a lot of things, even for me, yet I chose to understand and take it all in. Really, what choice do I still have for now?

I was just waiting for the morning to pass by when my phone buzzed. It notified me that my prepaid subscription for my internet data has just expired. I rose up, got into my spartans, and grabbed a few peso coins and went outside.

In a backstreet where Aling Nene’s sari-sari store is located, I bumped into a few boys in their twenties. One guy—wearing a tucked-in polo and a strong perfume—was firmly holding a bouquet of flowers. The next person next to him was busy wrapping a box, which I assume was a gift. The last one was clutching the “most valued trio” of panunuyo: milk tea, burger and fries. It seems like another girl will end the day smiling.

Unta tanan.

“Registered ka na, ka-TM!” my phone notified. I bid my goodbye to Aling Nene and went back to my apartment. Looking up at the grayscale skies from the narrow alley, I knew it was cloudy, but it was undeniably humid. January may have been known to have the coolest breeze, but I never felt it, not even once for this year. It was a good thing I have my fan to get me through the heat of each day.

I set up my banig and turned on the fan in front of me. Knowing I still have ten minutes to kill and internet data to spare before my online class will commence, I scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed.

A lot of people have been sharing where they were up to lately—from local destinations to Mati, Buda or even Samal—with their smiles and poses captured in front of the camera. Those pastel sunsets and calm waves we all dreamed of were there, peeping through every corner of every frame.

Unta tanan.

“Good afternoon class, we will not meet today. However, I will be posting your midterm grades in a while. Enjoy your Friday!” my professor posted in our platform stream. For me, it was a relief to know that there is no class because that would also mean that I can save up my data for the next one.

Just when I opened my lock screen, a notification popped above it. “81,” it says. I figured out I was notified about my midterm grade. 81 is not so bad, is it? Considering my outputs were passed later than the deadlines due to my circumstances, this grade is actually good already. At least I did my best. More importantly, I did not fail.

“Bai, pila ka? 93 ko haha! Salamat kaayo sa tabang!” a classmate of mine messaged me.

Unta tanan.

It was dusk already when I realized I slept for two hours. Who would not want to sleep after knowing such a grade—after knowing that even if I did my best, I did not get a grade that could justify the process I have undergone to finish such outputs? Well, there is nothing that I can do but to force myself to keep on going… for now.

“Life is unfair but that’s life,” they say.

True. Well, maybe not. I do not want to know.

I went out once again to go to the nearest bakeshop to buy some bread. I reckoned it is the wisest food to eat for now, considering that my allowance is almost down to the brink. Walking past a busy parking lot in front of a local Korean restaurant, I saw a lot of customers inside flipping the thinly sliced meat in front of them. The smoke it produced made its way outside, and the aroma of the grilled meat was just enough to make me salivate. What a sumptuous dinner indeed.

Unta tanan.

Under the stars with my dusty feet walking and my sweaty palms holding a mismo, I noticed how my mind unconsciously say the Bisaya counterpart of a famous Filipino expression sana all. Honestly, I did not understand why it became a bandwagon in the first place. Sana all… unta tanan… huh? (Sana all translates to “hope everyone.” – Ed)

While kicking the pebbles in front of me, I realized something. However, the realization did not make me feel enlightened at all; it only disheartened me more. I let out a faint laugh as I grasped the reason why I keep on saying it… why I feel a tight grip inside my chest every time I say it. I look above as tears slipped from my eyes and wished that the world were a better place for me. Now, it all makes sense:


Unta… tanan.

Unta… ako pud.

(Batang Mindanaw is the youth section of MindaNews. Harvey Spence P. Kentilitisca is a third-year AB Psychology student at the Ateneo de Davao University. He dreams of becoming a clinical psychologist in the next five years.)