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Day 49 RMO: 5 ways life has changed in the last month

5 days into May and 49 days since the Restricted Movement Order (RMO) began on 18 March. Last week, 29 April, was the first time I left the house after more than a month (since 27 March) because of work responsibilities.

What’s changed in the last month? Here’s a glaring few:

1 Roadblocks

Queue because of a roadblock that is still a long distance away…

The RMO is now in Phase 4 (29 April to 12 May), which sees more stringent movement controls at each phase since Phase 1 (18 March – 31 March), Phase 2 (1 April to 14 April) and Phase 3 (15 April to 28 April). In Phase 1 and 2, there wasn’t any roadblocks around my usual travel route to work or to get groceries but that changed as Phase 3 brought more roadblock stations, thus when I went out last week, I had to queue for almost an hour at one of them.

2 Queues

Queueing at roadblocks is one thing. And then there is queueing to go inside banks/ supermarkets / you-name-it. The queue is because of the limit of the number of people who can be inside a particular space at any particular time. There are also limited number of hours certain banks / shops are open, thus people queue to utilise their services / buy their products when they are open.

3 Lines on the floor

When there are queues, there are lines of the floor 1 metre/6 feet apart. This is to guide people to queue at a safe social distance away from each other. So you can expect to find these lines at entrances, payment counters, service counters etc. When I see these lines, I tend to question whether they are really necessary. I mean, suuurely by now, people know they should keep a safe distance away from others right? Well, apparently, SOME people really do need these lines as guides – the person in queue behind me before the lines began was standing less than the required distance away. *facepalm* Next time I go out and stand in queues, I may just bring an umbrella and hold it horizontally tucked under my arm pointing backwards – so people don’t come any closer than the safe umbrella distance apart at least.

4 Masks and Hand Sanitisers

This really happened to me, no joke!

Nowadays, it is essential to leave the house with Masks and Hand Sanitisers with you. Some places will not even let you in if you do not use a mask. Hand sanitisers are also provided for customers’ use in banks / shops, although for peace of mind, it’s best to have your own. And use it generously.

Covering your nose and mouth using mask is a necessary precaution to reduce the possibility of getting or spreading (unknowingly as some people have it but are asymptomatic i.e. do not have the symptoms) of COVID-19. But covering yourself from head to toe in full-body costumes as if it were a Hazmat suit however, that is just vanity. Sometimes I wonder if they even work. It would depend, I guess, on what material is covering your nose and mouth and/if microorganisms like the COVID-19 virus can pass through them or not. Simply vanity.

5 Germaphobia

Germaphobia (sometimes spelt germophobia) is a term used by psychologists to describe a pathological fear of germs, bacteria, microbes, contamination and infection. (Definition from here.)

With the constant reminders and importance given lately to hand-washing, covering your nose and mouth when sneezing/coughing and general cleanliness, it is no wonder that people have somewhat become germaphobes albeit at a milder stage. I know I have!

Immediately hitting the showers after coming back home from “the outside world” and washing the clothes that you had just worn (even if it was only worn for an hour outside). Letting stuff from outside (like the groceries you just bought) be exposed to the sun for a bit as a way of “sterilizing” it, or if that is not possible, wiping them down with soap and water (and I have heard some use sanitisers or even bleach). Letting your car sit out in the hot sun to kill any germs that may be in/on it. These type of things.

Famous germaphobe fictional TV characters that immediately come to mind are Adrian Monk of “Monk” and Sheldon Cooper of “The Big Bang Theory”.

Adrian Monk
Sheldon Cooper

It’s funny how their germaphobic tendencies and actions (among others) was part of why these characters came off as hilarious. But now, it seems they were right (to some extent) all along eh? Not so funny when you realise you are becoming a germaphobe (even if only slightly) yourself huh?

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Waktu Tuhan (God’s Timing)

During this time of pandemic and social distancing, everything in our life has had to adjust. Our work, our projects, our personal lives and our faith has had to adapt to new ways of doing things. With Masses being streamed online and even Choir is now a virtual project, it was only a matter of time when we (like so many other Christians all over the world) took our Worship online as well.

This is our group’s (FIAT Bintulu) cover of a worship song by NDC Worship called “Waktu Tuhan” (God’s Timing).

Lyrics in Bahasa (and translation in English) below.

Do subscribe to FIAT Bintulu youtube channel for updates on upcoming projects!

Waktu Tuhan (Cover) by FIAT Bintulu feat. Rev. Fr. Sylvester Ngau Juk
Waktu Tuhan (Cover) by FIAT Bintulu

WAKTU TUHAN

Bila Kau ijinkan sesuatu terjadi
Ku percaya semua untuk kebaikanku
Bila nanti telah tiba waktuMu
Ku percaya kuasaMu
Memulihkan hidupku

Waktu Tuhan pasti yang terbaik
Walau kadang tak mudah di mengerti
Lewati cobaan, ku tetap percaya
Waktu Tuhan pasti yang terbaik

GOD’S TIMING

When You allow for anything to happen
I trust that it is all for my goodness
Then when it comes for Your time
I believe Your power
Will bring healing to my life

God’s Timing is always perfect
Even though it is not easy to be understood
Through all the trials, I will still believe
God’s Timing is always perfect

Do subscribe to FIAT Bintulu youtube channel for updates on upcoming projects!

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Day 37 RMO: Virtual Choir Project

Before COVID-19 and the Restricted Movement Order (RMO) started on 18 March, one of the activities I was involved in is that I am in the choir for our Sunset Mass on Saturdays. Of course, with Mass now only being live streamed online (with very minimum number of persons actually physically present at the Mass), there isn’t any choir for the Mass.

However, last week, our Diocese started this Virtual Choir Project where we could contribute towards the Mass in a more “present” way. The mechanics was simple enough and me and some Choir friends were super excited about it.

We would each record ourselves (voice only) singing while listening to an audio recording over our earphones/headsets. Our recording is then uploaded onto Google Drive and then someone would combine ALL the individual recordings into one audio file that would be then used during the live Mass.

How simple and awesome is that, huh?

This was some of us who uploaded for last weekend’s Mass:

Opening Hymn for Mass in Bahasa
Offertory Hymn for Mass in Bahasa
Final Hymn for Mass in English

I uploaded 2 recordings for the Opening and Offertory Hymns for the Mass in Bahasa and 1 for the Final Hymn for the Mass in English. You can click the link on the Mass to re-watch the Mass and listen to how the hymns sounded when all the voice recordings have been combined. It was, in effect, as if a Choir WAS present at the Mass.

Given the situation we are in, I just want to say KUDOS to whoever came up with the idea of the Virtual Choir Project! Thank You for allowing us who cannot be present physically at Mass to be even more “present” at the Mass (aside from joining the live stream Masses from our homes).

Thursday nights used to be Choir Practice night. Now, Thursday nights are spent doing Choir Recordings.

An example of how we adapt to times such as this.

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Day 35 RMO: Cooking Gas Home Delivery

So it’s been more than a month now since the Restricted Movement Order (RMO) began on 18 March. And 3 weeks since I last left the house on 27 March. (Yes, I am keeping track.)

Anyhow, so last night, I decided to steam a cake. It was something I had been thinking of doing for a while now, but was afraid that my cooking gas would run out on me since it hadn’t been replaced at all since I got it many months ago. (Prior to RMO, I don’t really use it so much since I don’t cook as often then.)

Well, almost 20 minutes into the 1 hour steaming time, the gas ran out.

Thankfully, I was able to finish “steaming” the cake in the oven after that!

Milo Cake – steamed and bake-ish. LOL!

I got a few contacts from some friends on where to get cooking gas delivery last night. One I contacted at 9am and asked for my address at 9.40am. An hour later, 10.40am, no gas and no reply when I asked if confirmed sending so I contacted another number. 11.40am, this one replied and confirmed (so I cancelled the first one).

Gas Delivery

Delivery took less than an hour. Price was RM30 (they take the empy canister away and give you a full one) and if you buy new canister (ie not take away and replace) it’s around RM160.

Yes, prices are cheaper if you buy direct at shop/Petronas supplier, but I rather pay extra at the convenience of not having to go out/cari heavy canisters. Plus, this way they install it for me too!

So here’s the contact should you require cooking gas delivery services:

BINTULU area only

The first that I contacted (and cancelled cos no confirmation) called me around the same time my new cooking gas canister was successfully installed. Well sorry dude, you should’ve read your messages. Maaaybe will give their service a try next time if they confirm properly.

In the meantime, off to cook lunch! Because I have gas and I can!

(Finding simple joys during the RMO period.)

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Holy Week & Easter during RMO period

Christians all over the world, specifically Catholics, just celebrated the Easter Triduum over the weekend.

When the Restricted Movement Order (RMO) was extended the first time from 31 March until 14 April, I was crushed because it meant we would not be able to celebrate this important time in our faith together as a community of brothers and sisters in Christ.

This is to document how COVID-19 has affected our celebration of faith, apart from the fact that we could not go to church for Masses but only joined via live streaming. This is also to serve as a future reminder that we should appreciate the richness of the Sacrements and not take our faith for granted again…

And so the Triduum began on Maundy Thursday. On this night, we remember the Last Supper and Jesus’s washing the feet of his apostles. Due to COVID-19, and the importance of social distancing, the foot washing part was not done. (Although some families do opt to do the foot washing among family members that live together during the RMO.) After the mass, holy hour/adoration of the Blessed Sacrement was also done via live streaming.

On Good Friday, the last Friday of Lent, the last Station of the Cross was done via live stream and at the service where we remember the death of Jesus on the cross, the veneration of the cross is not done, except individually in our respective homes with our own crosses, while following the live stream.

On Saturday night, the grandest celebration of the Easter Vigil, when Christ rose from death, churches worldwide were empty and we can only participate via the live stream mass. The night that is rich with symbols of fire, water and light… could only be celebrated to the best of our abilities in our own homes.

To conform my surroundings to how it would be celebrated if we were in Church, I switched off all the lights at home where I was streaming the mass and lighted my candle after the Easter Candle was lighted, followed by the Exsultet.

Save for a dim yellow light from another part of the house, I listened to the seven Old Testament readings attentively and thanked God for the opportunity to listen to ALL of them instead of selected ones only (as is the norm at other times, especially if there were many people to be baptized).

When the Alleluia was intoned and the church bells rung, followed by the Gloria and the altar was set up, I switched on all the lights and also my altar light. It was a great reminder that Christ is our Light and He has risen! Of course, there was no baptism due to the current situation, but we had the blessing and sprinkling of the Holy Water and renewal of our baptismal promise. On my end, I signed myself with Holy Water and lit my candle for the renewal.

Alas, that was the best I was able to replicate since I did not have incense at home… and I have not received Holy Communion since the RMO began almost a month ago. But in faith, we believe that Christ is present with us and we make the Spiritual Act of Communion prayer during the Sacrament of the Eucharist every time we join the live stream masses.

Given the circumstances we are in now, I cannot be thankful enough for the graces to be found while joining the live stream masses, provided one truly participates in it as opposed to just “watching” it like you would any other video. One good that has come out of this is that I have committed the Spiritual Act of Communion prayer to memory by practice. Another is, I was able to join daily masses ever since the RMO as my “commute” to the altar was literally a few steps away. But the best thing that I have found during this period is, without a doubt, the closest thing to having Padre Pio’s gift of bilocation! Just with a few clicks, I can opt to go anywhere in the world for Mass – LIVE!

And that was how I celebrated Maundy Thursday in Kuching, Good Friday in KL and Easter Vigil in Brunei. On Easter Sunday, I joined the live stream mass of my local parish in Bintulu.

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! CHRIST is Risen! HE has conquered Death! HE will conquer this pandemic.

Here’s to a JOYFUL EASTER SEASON!!! – in spite of the RMO being extended for another 2 weeks from today (15 April) until 28 April.