Life in the Time of Covid-19
Tatler Philippines|November 2020
A tiny molecule with a diameter of at least 60 nanometres is disrupting the lives of 7.8 billion people around the world in different ways; but for everyone, bar none, the effect is life-changing. Tatler Philippines speaks to eight such lives who share their fateful encounter with the coronavirus

ON GETTING MARRIED

FRANCES UY

Restaurateur

Not in my wildest dreams did I think my wedding would happen like this. But, it was perfect in its own way. My husband Marco and I decided to get married about six months into Covid-19 so it didn’t really disrupt any wedding plans. Initially we were going to do a small civil ceremony at the city hall, but the more we thought about it, the more we realised that we wanted to celebrate with those who mean the most to us.

There was lots of anxiety involved, especially because we were going to have a gathering of more than 10 people. Thankfully, in San Francisco reliable testing is easy to get, so that gave us peace of mind. A bunch of us took Covid tests in the days leading up to the wedding and I was super nervous that someone would end up positive. Throwing a safe celebration was definitely the biggest challenge. Due to Covid-19, we had about three weeks to plan the entire wedding … ourselves! Yes, DIY! We chose to do everything ourselves to minimise contact with anyone outside our bubble.

My focus with Marco was the overhaul of the backyard. His brothers Maui, Mateo and Mico Uy worked day in and day out to help us renovate our backyard— together we went from cleaning, to sanding, to painting, to staining, to gardening. Eventually we realised we couldn’t overhaul the entire place ourselves and hired my tito’s construction team at the last minute. They did all the difficult parts, thankfully.

As a part of backyard makeover Marco and I visited several nurseries and learnt how to design a garden! We had to drive out ourselves to pick up 300 planks of redwood in order to transform the space. In the days leading up to the wedding, there were fires that broke out all over California. We had to race to get to the Santa Cruz Mountains (about 1.5 hours away) to pick up the wood in time before the seller evacuated! The fires were terrifying! We were lucky and thankful that the air quality only got really bad shortly after the wedding. That day that everyone saw on social media, when the sky was overtaken by darkness and an eerie hue of red, came three days after the wedding—I was incredibly relieved!

Some of my best girls (Monina Gangoso, Timmi Cabacang, Becca Garcia, Sabrina Chiongbian, Brigette Balagot) got-together to brainstorm the total vision and plan the decor and flowers. In fact, it was so personal that we wrote the ceremony script ourselves and program! Marco’s closest brother and best man Mico Uy was our ordained minister who performed the ceremony in the cutest most heartfelt way.

A super important facet for me is food since it is such an integral part of my life. Our amazing meal was planned by my good friend Claudine Chiongbian and her sous chefs and included my favourites: oyster, uni shooters, ikura, burrata, onigiris to name a few!

From photo, video, to even the soundtrack of our evening—our friends stepped up. With regards to music, Carlos Lopez, Mikey Onglao and Tomas Cabili crafted playlists for the ceremony and reception, so we did not have to hire a DJ! These nuances totally enhanced this momentous day for me, I knew that the songs they chose were connected to fabulous memories and that there was meaning to each track.

As crazy and unorthodox as things got, I would not have had it any other way. It all made our wedding more special because our friends gave so much of themselves to one of the most important days of my life. The fact that we brought it all together, by ourselves not only kept us safe from Covid-19, but made my wedding all the more meaningful. I am so grateful for all my friends and family!

ON BEING QUARANTINED

THELMA SAN JUAN

Writer/Editor

Clutter Landing on You (CLOY) has been my drama in this pandemic. The stuff I have ignored to file away finally caught up with me as I, like everyone else, got stuck at home. Clothes, office files, bags, magazines, books and more clothes—name it, I simply had to give away or reorganise if I was to have an airy work den (with room for my Gong Yoo, Lee Min Ho, BTS calendars). Decluttering is a work in progress which I feel would last as long, if not longer than this pandemic.

But honestly, I never felt cooped up. I welcomed being at this prolonged stoplight perhaps because I’ve had my fill of the social whirl—preening in the morning for lunch appointments, picking out the look that could bring me from lunch to dinner (the car was a shoe cabinet), rushing to office, flogging my brain muscle to edit, stepping out for events and dinners, refreshing make-up in the car, refiguring the brain for possible story leads and dish I catch at dinner. The daily social grind was like a chain-and-ball around my ankle.

In that sense was this quarantine welcomed. Now I can play tennis outdoors in the club in the morning, or go to Mass at noon, settle down to write my essays and anything else I like to write afternoon on to evening, then prop myself in bed to watch my BTS videos and laugh and get hungry with these digital rulers of the century, or Park BoGum’s Record of Youth which reminds me of our heyday in the glossies. I always recommend BTS as a happy pill to friends.

But the above is a mere escape from the jarring reality that we’ve lost acquaintances and friends to Covid. It’s a sadness that we cannot adequately put down in words. So, before my BTS escape at night, I’ve actually gone back to praying the rosary.

You never thought you’d see the day when your household must wear mask at home, or when you cannot kiss your sons’ mops of hair because you must keep them at a distance, since they go out regularly (my youngest is with Pernod-Ricard) and thus could be exposed to the virus. Never thought I’d see the day I’d be spraying disinfectant in their trail in the house. (“Ma, stop treating us like cockroaches!”)

Paranoia + prayer—that’s the pandemic lifestyle. But add to that the Filipino’s compassion to help others when she/he can. Just note how we keep buying the baked goodies and dishes of friends.

Like what the BTS boys say—“Life goes on. Let’s live on!”

ON LOSING PARENTS

ROBERT “TAJ” CURATA

Student

If I could send a message to my parents right now, I would like to say that I miss them very much. I would also thank them for taking care of me and for sacrificing so much for me.

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