Its 2020 and we suddenly woke up in a whole different world, COVID-19. Everyone’s lives have been altered and the thought of normal life was but a dream of a month ago and the President ordered a nationwide quarantine and to practice safe social distancing. Many people lost their jobs due to being laid off from working conditions due to the corona virus pandemic. Many “non-essential” business had to temporarily close to practice safe social distancing of avoiding crowds which helped to flatten the curve of the roaring virus. This meant many establishments that we frequented on the daily, mall, gyms, restaurants, and local hubs had to temporarily shut down which meant laying off billions of people, hopefully temporarily. Life had officially changed, and we needed to learn to adjust.
Among the casualties affected was the hospitality industry, this included chain restaurants and local mom and pop shops. The way we saw restaurants and food had to completely change. We were not able to sit and dine inside let alone celebrate special events inside the restaurant. Many celebrations had to be postponed due to the virus outbreak. Being Filipino, food and family meant so much to me. When realizing visiting our family, going out to eat together, or even a few beers with friends had to be postponed till further notice, I couldn’t help but think about the times that I was able to. Celebrating with friends and family hold such a place in the hearts of many Filipinos—food plays a big part in our culture.
As I made my dinners, I scrolled through social media and noticed how many celebrations were being postponed or celebrated minimally: birthdays, anniversaries, and other notable celebrations. I began to think about the last time I was able to see my entire family, how that felt, how much good food we had. You see, I’ve noticed that Filipino’s will basically celebrate just about anything to invite and feed each other. I thought about my family that would travel a few hours to spend time with one another and a big percentage of that travel was in hopes of getting that homecooked meal that Nanay, Tito’s and Lolo’s had spent hours in the day getting ready. Food, to me at least, is not just nourishment of the body but nourishment for the soul, the company surrounded is what rounds it all out. All of us, our immediate family definitely felt the absence of each other. Not being able to see your parents, cousins, or even your close friends. Our family text and face time was the only way for us to get some reality and still celebrate each other and break bread. We adjusted. We realized the quarantine was going to last a while longer and we made the most of it. Although missing celebrations like school acceptances or dance recitals were put on hold, we still found a way to communicate and celebrate. Our family text became a thread of “what I made for dinner.” Seeing those notifications, even from my elders, was so fulfilling. We found a way to still eat together and still express gratitude. Seeing my nephews be so proud of their biscuits, muffins, and ribs, to my cousin showcasing his barbecue and to my Uncle so proud of his pantry bibingka; we all found a way to temporarily adjust to this lockdown and we reassured each other this definitely was temporary.
If there is anything this worldwide pandemic has shown me is that we do take a lot of things for granted, even as simple as sitting across from your parents or meeting up at the Asian buffet after for celebrating a graduation. I’ve realized that we are not alone in this and that we really are #alonetogether.