Filipino Catholics here in Taiwan were happy when the Archbishop of Taipei, John Hung Shan-Chuan announced last week that Masses will resume in churches. There are strict rules, however, on social distancing and disinfection, aside from wearing face masks and being tested through thermal scanners before entry to the places of worship.
Even if there was never any lockdown imposed in Taiwan, the archdiocese as early as mid-February suspended the celebration of masses in order to prevent possible spread of the disease, considering that even asymptomatic persons could be sources of contagion.
What is considered “Little Manila” where St. Christopher’s Church is located, known to OFWs and the Filipino community here as “Won-Won” (the name of a building similar to Lucky Plaza in Singapore), brims with life weekends, as our “kababayans” attend masses said in Pilipino.
For the last three months, even the carinderias and hole-in-the-wall Filipino restaurants had to close down when the archdiocese stopped assemblies such as Sunday mass. Business was down to almost zero, and we all missed the sinigang, adobo, lechon kawali, daing na bangus , pancit palabok, menudo, and other samples of Pinoy cuisine available in the “Won-Won” environs of Zhongshan district.
Otherwise, day-to-day life in Taiwan has been quite normal, for citizens and foreigners like us alike, although the obligatory face masks, thermal scanners, and physical distancing measures were strictly followed.
Even movie theaters are back to life, but with social distancing. Imagine movie dates where couples cannot sit beside each other.
The COVID-19 curve in Taiwan has long flattened, with 440 cases hardly increasing for the last three weeks, and just seven deaths. All these because government acted quickly and efficiently, and with utmost transparency.
And people followed rules. This is discipline coupled with good governance, and a strong sense of community, of nationhood.