Looking up!


    ‘When you’re flat on your back everything is looking upwards – and maybe that’s the one single hopeful message we can hold on to as we take cover and hide from this surging virus!’

    I AM starting to realize how little value I get from my SkyCable channels, mainly because I have maybe just six favorite channels to which I tune in regularly, but not even daily if I can help it.

    There’s Channel News Asia or CNA, 109 on the dial; Al Jazeera, 151 on the dial; CNN, # 28; Bloomberg, 30 on the dial, and HBO. That’s generally it. But my account has, I believe, over 30 more channels that I do not patronize, except on those rare occasions when I surf and end up stopping for a few seconds to check what’s showing on NatGeo, or what Japan TV has to offer. But even for the latter, Singapore-based CNA has its own “Japan Hour,” which is by itself quite informative about the Land of the Rising Sun that sometimes you may mistake the broadcaster as a Japanese network.

    Note that I do not make it a point to stop at any of the local news networks. I just pick up bits and pieces of what’s being reported in my social media news feeds. Which may not be too wise a thing to do, not going to the source yourself, because when we pick up hearsay stories and pass on hearsay stories, we only compound the sins that social media commits on the general, oftentimes innocent, public.

    I steer clear of news reports, especially local ones, because they can be so toxic, giving you a sense that everything is about to collapse on our heads and maybe the only exit strategy left for some of us is to pray. (I say some because I don’t think I will count among those who will take this option.)

    But now even news reports from oversees are getting toxic, too.

    In America, the country’s unshakeable loyalty to the Constitutionally-enshrined “right to bear arms” makes every administration struggle to find ways to limit mass shootings. It’s one thing to allow citizens to own weapons for defensive purposes, and for these to be left at home; but assault rifles? And those logged around in cars and minivans and trucks, as if the gun-lovers want to outdo the Mujahedin in the Middle East?

    Gun advocates keep saying that “Guns don’t kill; people do.” And that’s correct. But if it is so easy for anyone to buy a handgun, or a rifle, or an assault weapon. Heck, even a bazooka? Won’t the risk of the owner lapsing into his default “defensive” stance only increase the chances that people kill people with guns?

    As someone said, anyone armed with a hammer will look at every issue as a nail.

    Even stories from Europe aren’t too encouraging, what with the virus resurging in many countries and governments being forced to impose lockdowns of different kinds on their populace. There’s also a tug-of-war on vaccine supply, with the EU and the UK at loggerheads over who gets AZ raw materials and doses.

    Thankfully, there are more positive news coming from this part of the globe, such as the soon-to-be-available COVAXIN from Bharat BioTech of India, already issued an EUA by the Philippine FDA with initial delivery in early April. Same goes with the Russian Sputnik vaccine, already issued an EUA by our FDA, but we just don’t know when the first doses will arrive on our shores. I have to be honest: I am concerned that Russian President Vladimir Putin had himself vaccinated in private, sans the fanfare that attended the same event for most of his fellow world leaders. At a time when you would like to boost the public’s faith in your product, you take a jab in private?

    In contrast, the Indian President and Prime Minister were jabbed with their home-made vaccines in front of all to see.

    Also, more doses of Sinovac are coming, I think for healthcare workers, and doses that are donated by the Chinese government out of the kindness of its heart. Sinovac already has an EUA from our FDA, apparently because we saw results of their trials earlier than our American and other Western counterparts? Singapore took a donation of Sinovac but the supply sits in storage because tiny Singapore has the means to decide which to inject into its people.

    Finally, I was happy to see what looks like a vaccine roll-out plan for the rest of 2022, with supply slowly building up. By May onwards we will be receiving 20 million doses of Sputnik and Sinovac monthly from China and Russia, allowing vaccine czar Sec. Charlie Galvez to achieve his happy Christmas of 70 million Filipinos vaccinated.

    So let’s wait. Anyway, with the country basically flat on its back, there is nothing much we can do really but take their word for it (stop the cynical hissing, please) and wait for May to roll in. When you’re flat on your back everything is looking upwards – and maybe that’s the one single hopeful message we can hold on to as we take cover and hide from this surging virus!