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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, May 30, 2020

FIRST PERSON
My Quarantine Days
BY AC HIMAYA TUPAS

Editor’s Note: The writer, a nationally-recognized campus journalist, is an incoming 11th grader at Negros Occidental High School.

She is the daughter of Allan Tupas, chaplain of the Bacolod Christian College of Negros, and wife, Chorelie, a government employee. The Tupases reside in Mansilingan, Bacolod City.

During the quarantine days, AC has made more than a dozen art works, mostly on nature and landscapes.

***

A palette of watercolors. A huddle of color pens and markers. A bunch of paintbrushes. All these are cluttered on my usually not-so-tidy art desk. As stacked papers and canvases await to be drawn and painted, I jounce the tip of my pen as I ponder what my new artwork would become.

Adversities surged since the city issued its first community quarantine due to the pandemic caused by COVID-19 – bringing deaths and virus cases, threatening livelihoods, and hampering dreams, among others.

As such, in this crisis, teenagers like me are left with no choice but to stay at home as a measure to reduce the risk of virus transmission.

However, managing one’s life and sanity at home can also be an inevitable struggle in these challenging times. Given the various circumstances laid upon us, we also have different coping mechanisms while confronting this global crisis.

This is why I believe finding one’s own means of catharsis is a beneficial factor in being at peace with our emotions. As for me, I found it through art.

In this period of isolation, the role of art becomes more significant to our lives, whether or not we realize it. People turning to video games, films and series, music, and novels is something that can attest to this.

The “Eastern European Art” said engaging in art in this quarantine gives us an outlet for self-reflection which is integral in building emotional control and resilience, leads to a reduction in the cortisol or the stress hormone levels, and helps relieve mental exhaustion.

Since the city’s quarantine observance, I have been investing my time in creating art through various visual forms – from calligraphy and lettering, watercolor and poster color painting, to pen and pencil drawings. I’ve been always inclined to art since I was young, albeit I never had a proper training.

My family and kin would claim that I got the inclination from my grandmother, who is also an artisan. Through the years, I have learned art techniques and tips from photos and tutorials on various social media platforms.

For one, I stopped creating such arts for quite a while before probably because of the undeniably fast-paced world we live in where we feel we need to catch up with things and leave some behind.

Yet during this quarantine, I found myself doing a lot of things that I could not find time for back then, such as going back to creating art, which other people may claim as the “right time” we have been waiting to happen, but something I do not have.

Although I got to do these things, I never deemed this crisis as something like a “blessing in disguise” just because of the opportunities and time that I obtained, since to do so is to romanticize and neglect the overall impact of the pandemic to our lives.

I got to further discover watercolor painting in this quarantine and got fond of it. I started doing paintbrush polaroids and watercolor postcards, with landscapes as their typical motif, and I’m still working on exploring other types of themes. Moreover, I got to make more calligraphy and lettering stuff, an art form that I learned somewhere in sixth grade.

Apart from these, among the hobbies I have pursued at home amidst the lockdown are watching movies, sporadically playing table tennis, making do-it-yourself crafts, and perusing readings on the internet and academic books in preparation for the strand I will be taking up in Senior High School.

I must admit that the numerous posts of netizens showing how they maximize their time doing different things has somehow pressured me to be more productive while staying at home during the pandemic. But then I remember that we are facing a health crisis and a traumatic experience, and we all cope with it in different ways.

Monica Torres wrote in an article in Huffpost: “Doing your best in this time is different from doing your best during non-pandemic times. Recognize that it can look different for each person, and don’t compare and despair over how others are managing hobbies and activities during this crisis.”

Her words remind me that we can be productive, but we are not obligated to. We also have to be gentle with ourselves this time.

So if there are times that the only thing that you've done is to simply rest and breathe, it is okay, for this quarantine is not supposed to be a “competition” on productivity. We are all dealing with different challenges during this time.

Another work of art that I am doing currently is writing. I keep a journal where I jot down my reflections, lessons and realizations from this global pandemic which I believe will help me understand and assess the factors, systems as well as the economic, political and social issues associated with this global crisis.

My keeping a journal has been inspired by a suggestion of Historian Tico Braun that I read online which said: “I suggest that you keep a record – in one or more different forms of your own choosing, a journal, a blog, an e-portfolio, a film, a series of artworks, a short story, poems, a series of haikus – of your life in these unprecedented days. What is it like to live today knowing that we do not know what tomorrow and the day after will bring?”

Art plays a significant part in keeping our sanity during these trying times. When we are swaddled by the dark, art keeps spilling light. When things seem dull and monochromatic, art gives us a spectrum of colors. It is what keeps us sound, what keeps us human.

When the dust finally settles, I long for a world that embraces art more than ever. I hope we will o learn to wield a palette where we mix colors of generosity and truth – blotting out shades of greed and fraud. I desire that we get to pen and mark strokes of hope and humanity. Above all, I yearn that we unite to paint a world from pigments of love and light.

As I look at our world awaiting to be drawn and painted, I once again jounce the tip of my metaphorical pen as I ponder what our new world would become.*

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Feast of the Pentecost

Tomorrow will be celebrated as the Feast of the Pentecost, one of the prominent feasts in the Christian liturgical year commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Christ after the Resurrection.

The feast is celebrated seven weeks, or 50 days, after Easter, hence its name. Pentecost falls on the tenth day after Ascension Thursday.

It is historically and symbolically related to the Jewish harvest festival of Shavuot, which commemorates God giving the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai fifty days after the Exodus.

For Christians, Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus as described in the New Testament (Acts 2: 1-31). Thus Pentecost is sometimes described as the “Birthday of the Church”.*

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