OF TREES AND FOREST
The COVID-19 pandemic has turned our world upside down. It has changed the way we behave in our world. Walking around with face masks and shields, pouring alcohol on our hands every time we touch something, and our inability to do the most simple tasks in our daily lives without the fear of getting infected.
One of the negative effects of COVID-19 is the feeling of fear, almost to the point of paranoia, that you might have caught the deadly virus. So when you suddenly get a scratchy throat or an onset of cold or cough, you get this crazy feeling all day that you might have been infected.
The same is true with our daily activities. Even when some of our usual social and economic activities have partially resumed — work, groceries and supermarket, etc. — we still feel that this is not normal. We can go inside a supermarket and buy our necessities but there is still a different feeling of uneasiness afterwards. We are allowed to dine in but if we eat indoor we still feel uncomfortable especially when there are many diners inside. It’s not the same and it probably never will for a long time.
What we need to do is adjust to the new normal. We need to stay positive and instead of wallowing in a sea of paranoia and doubt let us reimagine our social and economic lives in ways that will allow us to live with the virus. The virus has changed our lives so let us change the way we live our lives so that we will not live in constant fear.
For instance, going to the market, to me, is almost a sacred experience. It brings back memories of a time when I was a young boy helping my Nanay Curing sell shrimps and fish in the market. We would go there early in the morning, I would watch her during the auction of the seafood and help her set up our stall before the first customers walk in. I was born in Tondo but the entrepreneur in me was born in that modest stall in the wet market of Divisoria.
I am sure that many other people have the same experience. Some of us use the activity of getting our goods from the market or supermarket as an opportunity to bond with our family. I know that some use it as family bonding time. After church maybe, families would would go to the supermarket with toddlers in tow and buy next week’s food as well as create a lasting family memory.
I was actually thinking about this and my own experience in the market when I thought of putting up an outdoor shopping and dining destination south of Manila. Instead of enclosed spaces let us provide our people with open spaces where they can do things with their family. After one year of lockdown, many months of being trapped in our own homes, being able to walk around in open space seem like a religious experience.
So I decided to put up the SOMO Market Bagsakan and Community Fair in Daang Hari. I wanted a sprawling open space where merchants and the community can meet and where families can enjoy shopping and just chilling about without worrying about physical distancing in cramped spaces. So my ever hardworking team transformed my ideas into reality — five hectares of outdoor shopping space with over a hundred merchants for a few hours of normalcy and peace of mind and lasting memories for families.
You can find almost everything at SOMO Market. fresh and colorful produce, seafoods, meats, plants; apparels from Taytay; toys, and, organic products. Fruits and produce come from our farmer partners from Baguio, Mindoro and Davao, to name a few. So we’re also helping farmers get closer to the community and sell their goods for their livelihood. It’s a weekend market so it is open only on weekends, every Friday from 4 pm to 9 pm, and every Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
We cannot turn back the clock and hope that everything will go back to how they were before the pandemic. But we can take charge of the future by fashioning it in a way that allows us to live the way we want to and at the same time safe from the virus.