A TESTIMONIO: Remembering March 9 2020, the last day of in-person classes in Metro Manila

A TESTIMONIO: Remembering March 9 2020, the last day of in-person classes in Metro Manila

(NOTE FROM TFS: Also referred to as “testimonial narrative,” the testimonio is a genre of creative non-fiction which features a first-person narration of socially significant experiences. This can also be categorized as a qualitative research method. Cuban writer Miguel Barnet is being credited as a pioneer of this genre.)

For teachers and students alike, particularly those in Metro Manila, will always remember 9 March 2020 as the last day of regular face-to-face classes in the region. In other words, for millions of Filipinos, life was never the same again after that.

During that weekend, everyone was already feeling uncertain because some city mayors have already announced class suspensions of up to one week. I naively argued against that then, because the Philippines only had six cases at that time. In fact, our school even had a dance night for senior high schools by 7 March 2020.

That Monday morning, Mayor Joy Belmonte confirmed the first COVID-19 case in Quezon City. Her announcement intensified speculations that classes would be suspended here, but she didn’t. Some colleagues shared fake news about a class suspension supposedly covering our city, and I had to correct them because no such information was given.Anyway, 9 March 2020 went on as usual for me. I even watched students have their research presentations! But I’ve been checking news updates from time to time – and relayed to my co-teachers as areas around Quezon City suspended classes one by one – Caloocan, Manila, Marikina, San Juan, even San Mateo, Rizal.

The students were dismissed around 6:30, but us teachers remained until our 7:00 PM official time. I joked to a friend that I can’t say “See you tomorrow!” because we don’t know what’s happening.

Later that night, President Rodrigo Duterte announced the suspension of classes in Metro Manila from March 10 to 14, 2020. Three days later, he said he will place the entire region under a lockdown by March 15 – an order he later revised to cover the entire Luzon.

As for classes, it was suspended until April 12. Just like that, school year 2019-2020 came to an unceremonious end. And until now, it remains a big question if and when face-to-face classes can resume the way it has been back in 9 March 2020.

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Mark Pere Madrona

The Filipino Scribe (TFS) is managed by Mark Pere Madrona, a multi-awarded writer and licensed professional teacher from the Philippines. Mr. Madrona earned his master’s degree in history from the University of the Philippines-Diliman last 2020. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in journalism cum laude from the same university back in 2010. His area of interests includes Philippine journalism, history, and politics as well as social media. Know more about him here: https://www.filipinoscribe.com/about/.

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