COVID-19 began as a simple “No class today” for me Erick Tabiolo

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /03 October) — The entire night last night was spent studying. Cramming. Trying to understand the lessons in calculus as much as I could. Burning the midnight oil, I was relentless in trying to maintain the high grades I had managed to keep since the very first day of class. I wanted to go out with a bang. It was our final exam, after all.

Imagine my surprise upon waking up in the morning. There was news about not having classes on the radio. However, I couldn’t believe it. I refused to believe it. Knowing all that I have studied will have come to waste. I looked at our group chat to see if they were going to school or not, but it seemed that there was no news whatsoever about having no classes. I decided to go on with my daily routine of eating breakfast, taking a bath, and then going to school.

The school was deserted. There were a few cars here and there, but other than that, the school was eerily empty. I checked the time and knew that this street should have been bustling with cars dropping off their students by now. But there weren’t any cars. I went down to ask the guard if there was no class today, and she confirmed it. As I was returning to the car, several thoughts crossed my mind: our exams, my grades, and even what I was supposed to do for the rest of the day. But even so, I could have never thought that that day was the beginning of a drastic change in the world and our own lives.

COVID-19 began as a simple “No class today” for me. I never minded the reality of it. I never looked at it as something life-changing. I just thought it would come to pass within a few months or so. Little did I know how wrong I would be. Little did I know how much the tides of life had shifted at that very moment.

This virus that managed to spread all around the world has ravaged the lives of 7 billion people. It has impacted everyone on this planet. It has become the catalyst for a necessary change in our livelihood and environment. This tiny minuscule of a cell managed to reform the entire world: health protocols, work environment, school environment, and even government activities.

Knowing how much COVID-19 has changed our lives, most of us would expect that everybody sees this as an entirely negative thing. Most of us would agree that the world would be better off without the existence of COVID-19. However, talking to a few people about their own perspectives on COVID-19 has left me astonished. Their answers were not what I was expecting at all.

Personally, I abhor this whole COVID-19 situation. It has taken way too much from me. It has apprehended my freedom. It has stolen my time for my friends. It has taken away the one thing that has kept me truly happy: my schoolmates.

My family and I have been stuck with each other for nearly two years now, having been forced to adjust so we can be safe from the virus. There were no get-togethers on birthdays or other events. No parties or vacations. We were literally stuck in the house, observing the safety protocols as best as we could.

What makes the situation worse is that schools have to adjust for these circumstances as well. Schools have decided to continue their classes through online means. This sounded convenient at first, but soon I would come to realize that this type of education is the absolute worst. What schools fail to realize is that our environment is not fit for online class. There would be times when the internet is down, there are blackouts, or the neighbors are just noisy. Another factor to this failure of education is that students are more likely to simply memorize the things needed for a quiz or exam, never truly understanding the material given.

And so, I repeat myself; I absolutely abhor this whole pandemic situation. For me, there is absolutely nothing good about it at all.

However, my friends seem to think otherwise. I have asked a few of my friends what they think of this whole COVID-19 fiasco, and their answers contradicted mine.

One friend of mine, whom we shall be calling El, shared similar sentiments as I do. We both understand that the entire situation is a bad thing. We both believe that everything would be definitely better without COVID-19. However, what I failed to realize in my perspective is the brighter side of things in this seemingly dark situation. That was what El saw. In this dire reality, she saw that she would have never become the same person that she is now had it never happened. She understood that the pandemic changed her in a good way. She noticed she is more open with her friends through calls, and she even discovered something she is very comfortable with. In a profound sense, she found herself in these bleak circumstances.

I was amazed to hear of such a profound discovery she has gone through in this pandemic. It was something I had not heard of before. I thought she would have just said that the pandemic is an awful thing. Her perspective gave me a much broader view of this whole situation.

Another friend of mine, whom we shall be calling Ei, also had an interesting view. However, now that I think about it, her view might be more common than I would think. Just like El and me, she hated the pandemic. The whole situation it has caused. The changes to education and lack of leisurely activities. What was unique in her perspective, though, is that she acknowledges her time with her family. She blatantly said that that was the only good thing about the pandemic. She got to spend a whole lot more time with her family. She found her family as her light in these dark times.

Admittedly, I have never acknowledged my time with my family like Ei did. Far more frequently, I would wish that they had to go to work so I could get some time by myself. However, I do get her point. She loves her family, and the pandemic gave her the chance to spend time with them even more.

From these two friends of mine, I have gained a broader perspective on the effects of the pandemic. Even though we have experienced the same things in terms of online classes and quarantine, we still see several things differently. Their answers caught me off guard. I was under the impression that they would simply agree with me that the pandemic is all negative with no positive outcomes. They proved me wrong.

The pandemic has caused undeniable misery to everyone in various ways. Because of the virus, some lost their loved ones. Some lost their livelihood. Some quit going to school. And much, much more.

The tides have shifted differently for every individual. But even though the pandemic has taken away a lot of things from us, it would be entirely our fault if we were to give away our chance to be happy, to progress, and to change in this dreadful time of COVID-19. We can always guide our sails in these ever-shifting tides so that we may be able to continue forging ahead (Erick Tabiolo is a 19-year-old first-year student currently studying AB Psychology at Ateneo de Davao University. He is passionate about resting and ‘chilling’ but is usually caught up in numerous school activities).

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