We had our couples victory group meeting last week, online of course, and King asked us, as a warm-up for our discussion, about our favorite memory before the pandemic. Funny that I didn’t know he would ask that question and that he would give his answer. But he was absolutely right. Our favorite memory before the pandemic was our trip to Baguio!!!
In February, a childhood friend of my mom’s based in the US came to visit, and we planned to bring her somewhere special. We needed to work around everybody’s schedules, including hers, so plans could not be finalized right away. Barely three weeks before her flight back home, I read an article about nice vacation homes in Baguio. One of the homes belonged to an old friend of ours, and the pictures were lovely!!! I thought it perfect for a short get-away. I immediately ran this by King and my mom. With their approval and having pinpointed the only dates good for all of us (kids had important school activities, and ballet rehearsals and their recital), I checked the available dates on airbnb. Would you believe that all the dates in the first half of March were booked solid, except for the dates that we needed??? I tried booking online, and I tried bugging King at work so he could book ASAP, but King was busy and I, having limited tech skills, could not successfully do it. I had to directly contact our friend! Hahaha. He was so kind and gracious. We got the booking!
It was my mom’s first time to go back to Baguio since 2006, when my dad was still with us. My mom’s friend’s last time there was probably way back in the 80s. Fortunately for us, we’d visited in 2018 with friends, but that was also our first since 2006.
There were news reports about the Corona Virus in Manila already, there was shortage of alcohol in stores in Manila, they cancelled the Panagbenga festival in Baguio, but for some reason we were not fazed. We were already pretty vigilant (well I was, at least) with washing hands and making sure the kids did too, and trigger-spraying alchohol on our hands after each time we touched anything. We just made sure we did the same while in Baguio. We also bought our stock of alcohol bottles, since there seemed to be no shortage there. Masks were not yet compulsory then, but we spent most of our time outdoors anyway. There were few people out, we thought it was great! Even Burnham Park wasn’t that crowded. It was either there weren’t a lot of tourists or people were opting to stay indoors because of the virus. We didn’t really know for sure.
One of our kids, to be honest, was concerned about school clearance week, so when they announced that classes were suspended, I think on Tuesday, March 10th, I saw it as a favor. She didn’t have to worry about not completing her clearance, though in my opinion, she really had nothing to worry about. Little did we know that Community Quarantine would be announced shortly after.
We got back to Manila late Wednesday evening. That was the last time the kids were out of the house because minors and seniors were instructed to stay home. Well, you know the story. We are still in quarantine today, after 4 long months.
Which is why I really thank the Lord that He allowed us to have that 3-day, 2-night trip to Baguio. Perhaps we were wishful thinking that the virus would not spread as much as it has in the Philippines or in denial that the problem would last as long as it has in the whole world. But who knew?! Who knew how much impact it would make in our lives? Who knew that it would usher us into a new normal? Who knew that it would challenge our habits and way of living?
Who knew that three Sundays before our trip was the last time we’d attend an actual Sunday service as a family because the two Sundays before our trip were spent on the girls’ ballet general rehearsal and recital? Who knew that Noelle’s birthday in January was our last time to go up to Tagaytay (due to Taal’s activity AND the quarantine)? Who knew that our trip to Baguio would be the last time we’d go out, eat out as a family? Last time to explore new places? Last time to sit at Jollibee and enjoy some chicken joy and burger steak? Last time to ride the car as a family??? Who knew that that would be the last vacation we’d be taking this year? It’s only half the year, I know, but Covid is too close and too real. No trips for the rest of 2020.
But I saw the providence of God. The timing of it all — our available dates, our accommodations, home the day covid was declared a pandemic, home before the quarantine. We got to build precious memories with the family, precious memories in a beautiful house in a beautiful city, and everybody stayed healthy. My tita even got to fly back home to the US, days later, without a hitch. (Well, almost. There’s a funny story attached to that, but one that might be better kept among ourselves.) All by the hand of God, I truly believe.
This week, I and a bunch of friends were supposed to go on a trip outside the country — my very first without family. While it is sad that it didn’t push through (I’d already bought my tickets), it was wise to cancel it even months before we knew we would still be in quarantine (modified enhanced community quarantine at that) today. Once again, the providence of God.
In a season of tremendous uncertainty, unexpected happenings, difficult transitions, and heavy losses, it’s good to remember the better times, our better times. To listen to other people’s stories and see God’s faithfulness in their lives too. To look back at what God has done before, so we can endure, remain grateful and trust in what He is doing now, and look forward to what He will do again. Remembering keeps our hope alive.
I imagine all of us around a bonfire, sharing stories, singing songs, lifting each other up, being there for one another. My prayer is that each one of us receive and recognize the abundant grace of God at work in our day-to-day. He is in the details, as well as in the big picture. My prayer is that we carry each other through prayer and encouragement, and rejoice together when we overcome. God is never not in control and He always takes care of His children. ❤️
The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and faithful in all he does. Psalm 145:17