Three Years Ago, Metro Manila Was Placed on Lockdown. This Is What It Looked Like
It was supposed to be a 30-day lockdown. It stretched for years. The government refused to call it “lockdown” even if it had all the hallmarks of one. Instead, they called it Community Quarantine or CQ. Iterations included GCQ, ECQ, MECQ, Hard GCQ, Soft MECQ, depending on how many COVID-19 cases were being recorded in your community. Two years later, they decided it would be easier if they just used “alert levels” instead of a lot of confusing Gs and Cs and Qs.
The lockdown started at 12:01 a.m. on March 15 with military personnel dispatched to secure Metro Manila.
As the day progressed, we woke up to what seemed like the result of an exodus.
On March 15, 2020, Metro Manila stood still. Curfews were enforced as early as 9 p.m. but by 6 p.m, everyone was indoors. The busiest roads were emptied on that day, spare a single brave scooter on Guadalupe by afternoon.
EDSA-Ayala was also empty, and its usually jam-packed tunnels were echo chambers on that day.
It was a Sunday that day. Churches were devoid of the faithful, and for the next year and a half, this would continue.
Malls were shuttered, but the pharmacies remained open. Long lines were seen inside Mercury Drug, where people attempted to buy paracetamol, vitamin C, Zinc, to no avail.
Grocery stores were open, too, but only five or so customers were allowed inside at the same time. People lined up outside grocery stores as early as 6 a.m. The crew was cleaning floors or fidgeting because there was no one to attend to. Looking at the shelves, the first ones that were swept clean were rubbing alcohol and bread. The city ran out of bread on that day.
All forms of public transportation were banned on that day. No one could go in or out of Metro Manila. Checkpoints were placed at all entrances to the cities.
The roads and checkpoints felt like scenes from a movie: military and police were everywhere.
Now, we're no longer wearing masks. Ther are no more military securing hundreds of checkpoints around the cities. The churches are full, and the groceries are well stocked with bread and alcohol. The past three years seemed like a very bad dream, and we've only started waking.