2020 – 2022

Originally published from HF Volume 36 Issue 3

The idea of going back to face-to-face classes after two years of isolation feels like a time-skip.

I don’t dare hope and call it a light at the end of the tunnel, but a glimpse of normalcy arises compared to our situation in the past two years. We have vaccines and booster shots now. We have schools and universities conducting pilot online classes, workplaces requiring employees to report onsite, and transportation lines back on track. It’s still a far cry of how things were before coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) hit the world, but we’re trying, somehow. Or at least, the realization that two years had already passed has begun to sink in for everyone.

For some, this is their first step into the light. It’s dawn breaking through a long night — as online classes, remote setup, and the mere act of being subjected to the confines of their homes put a halt in their lives. We’re talking about stolen youth from those in their prime years, stolen time to be spent with family, and stolen moments for those who have yet to explore the world and chase their dreams.

Then there are those who remain in the dark. Those who lost someone in that span of time, unable to bid their loved ones a proper goodbye…unable to even bury their bodies because corpses had to be cremated for safety. We have those who were part of the staggering death toll, those who have been left behind — not just in life, but also by time and privilege. Students who had to drop from their studies to make ends meet. Workers laid off from their jobs. Innocent lives that were killed by incompetence, state oppression, red-tagging, and the mere fact that they are underprivileged.

The idea of going back to normal after the last two years feels like a time-skip, but the scars and memories linger. There is no moving on.

We can’t allow ourselves to move on — not until justice is met, not until those dark years are recorded in history books exactly as it happened, and not until we are certain that a better future awaits. We cannot allow ourselves to forget those hellish years spent in fear – and if not ours, then for our fellow Filipinos who did.

We have seen how the dark years of martial law stand on the process of being rewritten, and how these dark chapters and those that followed after paved the way for another Marcos. Now, we also have another Duterte. The time-skip makes it seem like they will blaze the path for a better Philippines. But never forget those who walked with us in the darkness — those crawled with us through hell, walked with us through calamities, and public servants who did as their duty entailed. The misinformed, fake news peddlers, and troll farms are rewriting the dark years of 2020, 2021, and 2022 as you read this. They’ll tell you it wasn’t so bad. They’ll repeat it over and over until you believe it.

But before you do, remember: that the same rotten system and its enablers had already swindled billions of pesos from our coffers. The past administration and all their accomplices have already buried our country’s next generations in-debt. The time-skip will make it seem like it never happened. The truth will be buried along with the bad memories of lockdown, the stresses of online classes, the influx of news, and distorted narratives. Do not let them steal away your pain. Whether or not you suffered in those two years, the reality is that many did, outside your bubble and beyond your screens.

The idea of going back to face-to-face classes seems surreal considering everything that we’ve been through. We may go back to our classes but never to our old lives. Let this be written in history.

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