Hello! It’s been quite a while since I’ve last written a column, about ten months to be exact. I’ve recently started a new job and it’s taken up a lot of my time. That’s why I was not able to write something here, since of course I had to prioritize keeping the lights on first.

We now live in a different world—a world where we work from our homes, use video conferencing apps to talk to colleagues, and where our outside movements are severely limited.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world to a screeching halt. Lockdowns, checkpoints, and quarantine passes have become the norm. We anxiously wait for the 4pm Health Department briefings if we’ve “flatten the curve” (this year’s buzzword, if you ask me). Public transport has stopped, and numerous events left and right have been postponed or canceled.

It’s a different world from the one we saw last year, and it’s likely going to stay that way until a vaccine for this disease becomes widely available.

 

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Events Conundrum

The pandemic has forced the postponement or cancellation of many high-profile events that would have been held from April to June.

Ozine got lucky that they were able to hold their Otaku Expo event in January, back when the virus was just being contained in China.

But how time flies. The virus has spread across different countries, including ours, with cases rising every day. After the country confirmed the first localized transmission, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered an NCR-only lockdown at first, then a Luzon-wide lockdown after the country was placed under a state of calamity.

 

Naturally, with the “enhanced community quarantine” in order, events that would have been held from April to June have been hit. Cosplay.ph’s Cosplay Carnival, which was supposed to be held from April 18 to 19 at SMX Convention Center Manila, has since been postponed to a future date.

 

Also affected by the pandemic is Ozine, which was to hold their “Mini” version of Ozine Fest on March 28-29 (which was within the lockdown period), but has decided to postpone the event as well. There is no word yet if their main Ozine Fest event scheduled for May would also be postponed.

 

The pandemic has also affected the country’s premier pop culture event, the 2020 Philippine Toys, Hobbies, and Collectibles Convention, better known as TOYCON, which was to hold their event in July at SMX Manila.

The Asian Comics, Toys and Hobbies Collective Inc., the organizers of the event, has decided to move the TOYCON 2020 to a later date, possibly in the fourth quarter of this year.

 

Arguably the biggest anime-related event to be affected by the pandemic is the second Philippine concert of Japanese all-girl rock band SCANDAL, which was supposed to be held in June at the New Frontier Theater in Quezon City.

The concert is one of the stops of their “Kiss from the Darkness” tour across Asia, but the band has decided to postpone their tour due to the spread of the virus.

The Philippine promoter of the concert, Primetrade Asia, Inc. (which also organizes The Best of Anime), announced the postponement on March 31. The organizer has yet to mention if they also plan to hold The Best of Anime this year.

Aside from our local events, several major events across the globe have been postponed or cancelled as well, such as the E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) and Comic Market 98.

The 2020 Comic-Con International: San Diego and Anime Expo 2020, both arguably the most popular pop-culture events in the west, has just announced that they will not push through this year, and will instead focus their efforts for 2021.

 

So, what’s next? 

Let’s be honest: even after the Luzon Lockdown ends on April 30—or possibly some other date—it will take a while for things to get back to normal, if ever.

We will be following strict physical distancing rules (it’s no longer called social distancing, by the way) for us to be able to control this pandemic. Large gatherings would probably still be prohibited until the situation normalizes not just in a few months, but perhaps in 2021 when a new vaccine is tested and produced.

With the current situation on hand, I am certain that event organizers are now trying to come up with several contingency measures, especially on how to enforce those physical distancing rules.

One possibility is for them to limit ticket-selling to a certain number, perhaps up to 5,000 guests, but this will no doubt be a gut punch to the events’ bottom line.

So how will they enforce physical distancing measures when the main selling point of these events is the interactivity and camaraderie among friends and guests?

It will certainly be tricky for organizers, but I am optimistic they will consider all measures that balance the enjoyment and safety of all event attendees.

 

Stay Safe, Pilipinas!

I hope everyone is safe and sound during this quarantine period. Please do practice physical distancing, especially when going to the market to buy essentials, and to wash your hands regularly.

Also, I want to thank all of our Frontliners: the healthcare workers risking their lives to treat COVID-19 patients, the police and military personnel manning the checkpoints and keeping us safe, the supermarket and restaurant employees who continue to serve our needs despite the risk, and of course, the men and women of the press who continue to report the news even in these perilous times.

Admittedly, I still feel a bit queasy about not only experiencing this worldwide crisis, but also reporting on it. But we will still be there, no matter what happens, to tell you the story and to give you facts that matter, whether about anime or pop-culture in the Philippines or the latest news about COVID-19.

But for now, until next time… Stay safe, Pilipinas!

 

Red Mendoza is the Chief Correspondent of Anime Pilipinas. He also works as a Desk Writer for the national broadsheet The Manila Times. You may follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

For comments and reactions regarding this opinion piece, you may send him an email at [email protected].


The views and opinions expressed by the writer do not necessarily reflect the views of Anime Pilipinas, its members, partners, and colleagues. If you have comments or reactions, please email at [email protected].