The New Normal

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Tomorrow is a brand new day, as we all head into a true, purposeful life. Metro Manila is on GCQ, and for whatever that means, I hope the changes from the last 77 days lead us to lifestyle changes that last longer than the usual New Year’s resolutions. 

Who could have predicted that we would spend almost the first half of the year stuck in our homes? Now we all need to pitch in and focus on economic progress while maintaining the hygiene standards necessary to prevent a relapse.

Although we are still at some level of quarantine, June 1 is our first, tentative step towards the “New Normal.” As we cross the Rubicon, let us bring along only what truly matters – the values learned over the past 2.5 months, the intentions to help others and protect our world.

For me, the slower pace due to the pandemic gave me the opportunity for discovery, and the realization that we don’t have to go very far to feel the richness of the world around us. Here are ten things I’ve learned during the lockdown. And all these are findable on Instagram and Facebook.  

  1. Embrace nature. Watching birds and squirrels while walking outdoors may not be as thrilling as catching the Big 5, but it is just as heartwarming to see animals able to coexist with us. I hope that someday I can start planning my next A2A safari (@a2asafaris), but for now, I will be happy to play with my two house cats (@mainelyprismo).  
  • Support local. One of the loveliest silver linings of this pandemic is the discovery of local food dealers and provision providers. As my sister-in-law Ria Prieto (@riarecommends) commented, “everyone is selling something.” From fresh fruits and vegetables, to restaurant deliveries to first-time bakers’ products, you will find what you need from your local community.
Cranny’s Kitchen chocolate chip cookies

For those who have a sweet tooth like me, check out Raeanna Cranbourne’s sinfully delicious homemade goodies. My running girlfriend Rae started Cranny’s Kitchen on Instagram (@crannyskitchen) after she received several orders of her delicious cookies and cakes.  

  • Get takeout. The food landscape is changing at an unimaginable speed. All restaurants now deliver. We can support these entrepreneurs by getting takeout whenever we can. There are too many to list, but here is one fave.

For Spanish favorites, Cirkulo Restaurant is now open for take-out and delivery. The Milky Way group also has pre-cooked dishes and homemade ice creams. Check the accounts of Malu Gamboa (@malsyg) and Chef J Gamboa (@chefjgamboa) for complete listings.

  • Detox your space. I must admit that de-cluttering my house was my only goal during the quarantine, but somehow I avoided this chore and found a more exciting activity. I made sure to safeguard our home from germs and bacteria. 

Just before the ECQ, Hazel Go of BactaKleen (@bactakleenph) came over to thoroughly disinfect and sanitize my entire house. The process was a combination of their two powerful, plant-based solutions and machines, the Bactashield and Powersprayer combo. All products and services of Bactakleen are non-toxic and plant-based so it is clearly the healthier option. 

And at our house entrances, I placed a SafeStep (@safestepph) disinfecting mat so all outside footwear is sanitized prior to entry. 

  • Create art. I haven’t picked up my paintbrushes in years because I was too busy. Now with a lot of free time, I ordered some from National Bookstore (@nationalbookstore) and have completed over 40 watercolor paintings and 10 oil paintings. Painting is a brilliant way to detach myself from the negativity and practice mindfulness. I want to create an online charity auction for the benefit of Sisters of Mary Girlstown. Hopefully I can sell enough and bundle it all up with other goodies and giveaways for the children.
My watercolor artworks and face masks by Charina Sarte
  • Celebrate your faith. Among my quarantine highlights are Easter masses with Pope Francis (@pontifex), and the Vatican Mass last May 18 for the birth centenary of St. John Paul II. As an important side note, it was also during the quarantine that Pope Francis promoted our Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle (@cardinal_tagle) to the rank of Cardinal-Bishop, the highest rank within the College of Cardinals. 

Cardinal Bishop Tagle left his position as Archbishop of Manila in February this year to take up his new post in Rome. Six years ago, the Archbishop was special guest at my hubby Dennis’ and my 20th wedding anniversary Renewal of Vows. Hopefully, we will get a chance to reconnect with the Cardinal Bishop in Vatican sometime in the future. 

  • Practice yoga. Bikram yoga (@bikramyogamakati168) is practiced in a hot room, but even without heat, the session is wonderful for the body. Since all yoga studios are closed, Bikram Yoga Makati’s owner Ollay Aninion (@ollayaninion99) conducts Zoom classes so we can continue practicing. 

Kundalini yoga is another yoga that I practice with urban healer Rosan Cruz (@rosancruz). She has teamed up with the Aegle Wellness Center (@aeglewellnesscenter) to do classes on Thursdays, but also has sessions on her own. Hopefully, we can all practice together even if our yoga mats are houses apart!

  • Play Mahjong. Just like any game, Mahjong requires a certain skill in making winning combinations. Dennis and I taught our kids, and we have used our three-games-after-dinner schedule to chitchat and bond. I am looking forward to getting skilled enough to know what a tile is just by passing my finger on the markings.
  • Appreciate the small stuff. My “small stuff” right now is baby Louie (@louiedoesthings), our first grandson. Hopefully, I will be a wonderful “Glam-Ma” and won’t spoil him too much! Louie was recently baptized by Fr. Reu in the “New Normal” way, with just Daddy Bryan Prieto (@bryanprieto) and Mommy Tinkay (@tinkerfries) in attendance, plus the sneaky participation of lolo-photographer Dennis (@hkpirate) and me, of course.
  • Always have hope. I am reminded of the Greek myth of Pandora’s box, where she unleashes evil and misery all over the world, but in the end, what remains in the box is hope. 

Follow @seaprincess888 on Instagram.

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