Now more than ever, Every Body matters
Our current situation needs no introduction; the world is under lockdown and all of us—from the employed-at-home to the frontliners to the waiting-to-be-employed-again—are still struggling to accept this new (and hopefully temporary) normal. But while we wait for a clear answer, there’s no hushing the heroism and criticism that humans are capable of.
While we look for a way through this, we are looking out for each other. That’s where the anger, guilt and generosity are coming from: that deep-rooted instinct to save our own and the understanding that Every Body matters.
And it’s because of this that Wonder, with Toto Madayag of Libreng Komiks, worked on this series of comic strips to illustrate our new realities—with a little help from others, since it’s not our individual outlook that takes precedence here.
This story of ours, like many, starts at home. It’s bunkering down, creating a makeshift office space and trying to keep some of the momentum we had before the enhanced community quarantine kicked in. It’s preparing for those inevitable video calls, whether to share a drink with friends or updates with the boss, and finding the right background that gives only a slight look into our once private lives.
That said, plenty of us have had—or have been on the receiving end—of a mishap or two. Colleagues forgetting their mics are on while they scream at their kids, expecting friends and family to be in the same pambahay ensemble only to be greeted with fresh faces and decent clothing. Some of us have had to dig deep into our closets and put on those “never again” pieces because of lack of choice. Consider these moments the new tripping-over-our-own-feet, spilling-coffee-on-white-shirts and secret-but-not-secret-selfie-sessions.
We’re still embarrassing as people, it seems.
But it’s all part of the struggle we share now, and it’s a struggle that we all cope with differently. As some of the people we spoke with pointed out, “Whether we’re in ECQ or not, [the circumstances are different].” And another: “Maybe Kevin doesn’t have the resources to keep up with his officemates’ appearance or he doesn’t have the same level of productivity.”
The demand to stay productive has, after all, been on overdrive. But because we’re treading on very uneven ground, how are we all supposed to keep up? But as they say, kanya-kanyang laban.
The answer is to do what we can, to accept that we each have an individual battle to persevere and knowing that doing our due is sometimes the most that we can offer. And if this means suiting up for the grocery and simply keeping our distance from strangers and loved ones alike, then so be it.
It might be funny for some people, a little over the top or an overreaction, but every hero needs a complementary outfit, right? If we’re going to battle it out, remembering that the enemy is not each other but the virus, so we might as well dress the part.
But as we all know, there have been shining lights in these trying times. The individuals and groups that make us smile amidst all the bad news, harsh words and frustrating headlines. They serve as little reminders that there are humans out there that are still…human.
“The other day when I was on duty at the hospital, a group of firefighters riding on their fire trucks stopped in front of the hospital and started cheering on frontliners, with sirens and lights and the whole shebang. It was such a simple thing, but for some reason it was enough to get me to feel a lump in my throat.”
—Mambo, 28, Physician
“The Jollibee delivery guy helping out an elderly woman with her Jollibee order, or the Pizza Hut delivery guy buying bread to give to those in need.”
—Adi, 28, Lawyer
“I’ve seen a lot more people show their kindness, whether it be through messaging friends to check in, or sending over baked goods—you can see how the best we can do to help each other is to show up for each other in simple and small ways.”
While we can—and should—opt to celebrate instead of harshly criticize sometimes, there’s no hiding the fact that this situation we’re all in has been mishandled at times. As a society that knows we can demand more than what we’re used to and as we’re armed with the knowledge that social media is a voice worth using, many of us have taken a stand against those using the crisis for their own personal gain.
Given the opportunity, those in our pool would say something along the likes of “Get your shit together” or “Actually do something” or “Our country is not for sale” or another string of words a little too harsh to share—and we’re not in the business of giving them yet another platform. Instead, we look forward.
Everyone’s challenge is different but we’re all going to share the same outcome when this lockdown lifts and we can finally start telling the stories of the ECQ that we survived. But what does that look like? What will have to say then?
Many of those that we spoke to are skeptics, believing that things will more or less “unfortunately” go back to normal. They think we’re in for the same jam-packed malls, over-crowded bars and beaches filled with people. And you know, they might be right.
But here’s to hoping that won’t be the case anymore, that these weeks spent in isolation are enough to instill a lesson that won’t be easily forgotten, to remind us of humanity’s finest moments, to demand nothing less than what we deserve and to collectively look out for Every Body.
After all, this is what Toto Madayag of Libreng Komiks wanted to portray. “A few days into the lockdown, a lot of people seemed to be making things about themselves instead of helping the less fortunate,” he tells us of his inspiration. “This was when I decided to make the cover.” He goes on about how our attention should be focused on the frontliners: medical professionals, janitorial staff, those in food services, farmers, security personnel.
And while there is always the option to get serious and harsh about situations like this, he urges us all to still find the humor in the everyday, to break the bleakness and drudgery or life as we’ve learned to accept it. He poses a challenge: Do we use our privilege to keep ourselves safe or to help out in ways that actually make a difference?
“My hope is that whoever gets to read this will use their privilege to do something good: give something extra to a food delivery guy, help our frontliners get the support they need, donate a little time or money to do something good for the less fortunate,” he says. “It doesn’t even have to be a grand gesture by a few people, but small bits of kindness by a large group of people.”
The choice, of course, is ultimately ours to make. An illustration is powerful and speech can be a catalyst of change; but all this urgency means nothing if we choose to do nothing, to forget, to stay indifferent. The human race is, as the last few weeks have proven, capable of so much good—so remember that even when all this is over.
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Illustrations Toto Madayag of Libreng Komiks
Layout Alexandra Lara
Interviews and Cover Story Adie Pieraz