I began watching Korean or K-dramas soon after a pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization. It was an entertainment alternative readily available to me while I was learning the day-to-day realities of balancing my news intake of the alarming health emergency as it was unfolding and the management of life within the confines of our home.
In early February 2020, I was meant to travel with my father to the Fuda Cancer Hospital in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China, for him to get treatments for lung cancer. That particular hospital was uniquely administering a treatment regimen, which my Papa was comfortable with and hopeful about. My siblings and I came to an agreement that it was best to support whatever gave our dad hope and what he believed was best for him. But the international conditions made our trip to that hospital a big health risk. So, with the SARS-CoV-2 threat very much on everyone’s minds, our passports, which were already with our then recently approved China visas, remained unused and hidden in drawers in our respective homes as we awaited, along with the rest of the world, what would happen next.
The last time I was with Papa was end of February in 2020. I had come from a trip overseas to ensure my son was settled into a new chapter of his life as an incoming freshman at university. In hindsight, insisting on going with him and taking him to his new home or boarding house was a good call. My son is now on his second year at that academic institution and I haven’t seen him since 17 months ago. These days I am thankful enough knowing he is healthy and safe and grateful when we get to talk to each other via video call.
Returning from that trip allowed me to catch up with Papa in Manila. It was to be my last time to see him face-to-face, ever. He passed away last April.
This previous year and a half have been a challenging exercise in consuming just the right amount of information from reliable and trusted sources, so as to make informed decisions and staying away from stressful news which I have no control over.
I had learnt all I could to make sensible and practical decisions for my family and I at the onset of this pandemic. Then I discovered the delightfully entertaining K-dramas, which I watched in my spare time up until August of 2020. Afterwards I found other things to keep myself productive and optimistic at home. Well, as hopeful as one can humanly manage even as Covid continues to wreak havoc on our lives.
I am certain this roller coaster of emotions is not uncommon. I make sure to keep virtually connected with my friends and family as it makes the burden easier to bear, for me and for them.
I have attended countless Zoom and Facebook live memorials, funeral Masses and novena prayers for the departed. Yesterday before noon I attended a memorial Mass for a couple friends’ 16-year-old daughter. Before writing this article, I attended a Zoom funeral Mass of my wedding ninang’s son. I have several other Zoom masses to attend and 40th day online church services in the coming days and weeks.
One of my husband’s best friends is currently admitted in a hospital and battling Covid. A few hours ago, I received news that a beloved aunt of mine is very ill. The disheartening developments keep on unfolding and best I can do is to stay safely at home and pray fervently for everyone I know facing illness, whether it be due to Covid or not.
Our city has been placed under enhanced community quarantine and I continue to keep abreast with the latest on the Delta variant and the surges and lockdowns happening in places and countries where I have friends and relatives residing.
There comes a point when one has to take a breather from all the distressing news. A regular respite is important for me, a healthy practice to balance my flow and overall well-being.
Last year, K-drama provided that pause for me. It’s interesting how a year from when I stopped watching K-dramas, I’m back to watching these telenovelas once more. Yes, now’s the perfect time to take another extended breather.
Whatever your unique pandemic story may be, I sincerely hope you find that which helps you take a break from all the challenges. In K-drama lingo, “fighting!”