Nostalgia as Pinoys mark 3rd anniversary of week-long #WalangPasok due to COVID-19

March 10, 2023 - 1:40 PM
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Students in face masks
Students wear masks amid a health scare over a new virus that has infected thousands since emerging in China, in a Chinese school in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines January 28, 2020. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

Do you still remember when a week-long declaration of class suspension turned out to be the “longest” one yet due to the threat of COVID-19?

Filipinos on Thursday marked the third anniversary of then-President Rodrigo Duterte‘s order to suspend classes in Metro Manila as preventive measures against the then-novel coronavirus.

Reddit user u/omararara on March 9 shared Facebook screengrabs of news outlets reporting the imposed suspension from March 10 to 14, 2020.

“On this day, 3 [three] years ago, marks the first day of the ‘one-week-long suspension’ due to COVID-19. But where were you on March 8, 2020, and what was on your mind when you read THAT announcement?” the Redditor said.

The class suspension announcement was made on March 9, 2020, but it was imposed the next day.

In that year, March 8 fell on a Sunday.

Redditors filled the discussion thread with their own memories of the day before Duterte made the declaration that would change the lives of students and other Filipinos for a while.

“I was in a mall, celebrating my birthday with friends. My parents called to tell me na, ‘Umuwi ka na dito sa province kasi maglo-lockdown.’ Told them that it’s just a week and I can handle being alone in our condo for a week,” a Reddit user wrote.

“And uuwi na lang ako after ng 1 week lockdown. [Joke’s] on me (smiling face with tear) Buti na lang may animal crossing to keep me sane, haha,” the online user added.

“Honestly? My first thought was ‘YAY! Makakatulog ako for more than 5 hours!’ because I was so burnt out from doing schoolwork and chores for so long,” another Redditor commented.

“Plus, I think I was really depressed during that time since I recall just wanting to stay in bed all day and not move since I was so tired,” the online user added.

“My JS [junior-senior] prom is postponed. It was supposed to happen during that week aaaaaaand weeks later, it’s canceled,” another Reddit user shared.

“2nd year college ako nun, umuwi ako agad sa province namin kasi mag-lo-lockdown daw. Akala ko 2 [two] weeks lang ‘yung maximum lockdown, p*tcha, sa bahay na ako nag-graduate,” wrote a different Pinoy.

“Kumakain kami sa labas, nag-ma-mask na kami noon pero minsan lang. That was the time na nahihiya pa ako mag-mask, lol. Quarterly exams na sana next week. Relieved pa nga kami,” another Redditor said.

“But then nag-announce ng school namin ng sudden suspension of the school year entirely. Dun ko na realize na grabe pala ang lala ng [nCoV] dati. Our class GC [group chat] exploded. Akala nga namin fake news until cinonfirm ng teacher namin. Then boom, 2 [two] years inside,” the online user added.

The OP (original poster) who created the post also shared his/her own story in the comments. It reads:

“Actually, for some reason, March 09 pa ng gabi, namin nalaman na mawawalan na kami ng pasok sa Cavite. Grade 11 kami niyan at recollection namin sa Silang noong araw na ‘yan.”

“Kinakabahan pa nga kami habang nasa bus noong pauwi kami kasi may nalalapit kaming deadline sa research paper na hindi pa rin namin natatapos that time.”

“Noong nasa [biyahe] kami pabalik sa campus namin, isa-isa na naming nakikita ‘yung mga announcement at mga posts tungkol sa suspesion of classes sa Manila. Nagtatawanan pa kami sa loob ng bus kasi halo-halo opinyon ang naikot.”

“‘Saglit lang ‘yan”
‘”Paano kung end of the world na pala ‘yan pre, ‘no?'”
“Bakit kaya sa Cavite wala pa rin suspension? Malapit lang naman tayo sa Manila.”

“Isa ako sa napasabi na ‘di magtatagal ‘yung suspensyon ng klase pero at the same time, kinakabahan ako kasi wala pang suspension sa Cavite at hindi ko pa tapos ‘yung chapter 3 ng research namin.”

“Little did we know na ‘yun na pala huling [beses] na magkakasama-sama kami. Natapos naman namin ‘yung research pero wala ng defense. 2nd year college na ako ngayon. Nahinga pa naman.”

On March 9 three years ago, Duterte declared the class suspension of all levels in Metro Manila from March 10 to 14 to observe the “incubation period” of the virus, which has first detected in the country in January 2020.

He added that the duration of class suspensions would be monitored since the usual length of the virus’s incubation period at that time was known to last 14 days.

“Children should study while they are being detained in their respective homes…” Duterte was quoted as saying before.

Then-Health Secretary Francisco Duque III explained the suspension was “a preemptive call to ensure that national and local governments and public and private health care providers can prepare for a possible increase in suspected and confirmed cases.”

At that time, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country was only 24.

READ: Memories of #WalangPasok: Students recall last moments of pre-pandemic week-long class suspensionThrowback Thursday: Students mark 2nd year anniversary of class suspensions

Government education bureaus had planned to eventually resume face-to-face classes in areas with low COVID-19 infection rates but by May 2020, Duterte said he would not let students go to school without a vaccine against the disease.

“I will not allow the opening of classes na magdikit-dikit ’yang mga bata na ’yan,” he said before.

“Wala nang aral. Laro na lang. Unless I am sure that they are really safe, it’s useless to be talking about opening of classes. That’s what I meant. Para sa akin, bakuna muna,” Duterte added.

By June of the same year, then-Education Secretary Leonor Briones said her department was laying the groundwork for a different kind of learning using modules and technology such as radio, television, and teleconferencing platforms.

It would be November 2021 — more than a year since the declared class suspensions — when the country would resume limited face-to-face classes in selected areas.

By November 2022, almost all of the public schools nationwide have begun to conduct physical classes.

In the same month, the Commission on Higher Education said it was requiring higher education institutions to hold face-to-face classes beginning the second semester of the academic year 2022-2023.

ALSO READ: Moments ‘outside the bunker’: Filipinos share pre-community quarantine snaps