Candy sees pandemic struggles with glass-half-full perspective

Candy Pangilinan (right) with son Quentin

A year since the pandemic lockdown was imposed and with more COVID-19-positive cases than ever, actress Candy Pangilinan is convinced that Filipinos are now suffering from “compliance fatigue.”

“Pinoys are now asking, ‘Ito na naman ba?’ But what can we do? Other countries are going through the same thing, as well,” Candy told Inquirer Entertainment in an exclusive Zoom chat.

“People say this is already the second wave. I’m convinced that this pandemic will last for more than two years. We should all reflect: ‘Will this be our way of life from now on? Is this how we want the next generation to live their lives?’ Of course, we don’t,” Candy pointed out. “We have to do something about this. We have to learn to take care of each other, not just ourselves.”

The actress added: “’Di na pwede ‘yong ‘indifference acting.’ We can’t say, ‘Bahala kayo! Basta OK ang pamilya ko.’ If we’re told not to go out, then please, don’t go out. It’s probably because we lacked concern for others that we’re experiencing this.” This is also why Candy said her daily prayer these days no longer concerns just her family and close friends. She explained, “Lately, it’s not just my family that I’m praying for, but my whole barangay. I realized that if my neighbor gets sick, my family could also get infected. After a while, I started praying for the whole country. A little while after that, the whole world.”

Candy said she is thankful that, unlike some people, she didn’t experience anxiety attacks or depression. “I guess it’s because I was kept busy thinking about what my son could do at home during the lockdown that I didn’t experience any mental health problem,” she pointed out.

Activities to fill the gaps

Candy’s 17-year-old son, Quentin, was diagnosed with autism when he was just over a year old.

“It’s especially hard for children like Quentin not to be able to go out. They’re stuck at home, so you really have to fill up their schedules or else the lack of things to do will trigger tantrums, even meltdowns,” she said. “Before the pandemic, our life had been well-planned. We’re so used to knowing what our schedules were from Monday to Friday. All of a sudden, we had to either cancel activities or reschedule them.”

Candy said she had to think of activities to fill the gaps in Quentin’s schedule, “which I think also did me well. I had no time to be depressed. When I’m at home, I no longer have time for myself because Quentin is always by my side. I used to have time to spend with friends, or have my ‘me’ time. Now, I can’t even stay in the bathroom longer because Quentin would be by the door, yelling, ‘Mom, come on!’”

As for the greatest lesson she has learned from our collective pandemic experience, Candy said: “For a time, I kept thinking, ‘Sayang! Ito pa naman ang plano.’ After a while, I realized that because I kept hanging on to plans that didn’t push through, I was already forgetting that I should just be grateful I’m alive right now.”

Top priority

Candy said her priority was to make Quentin understand what’s currently happening. “I explained it to him the simplest way I could. I said, ‘There’s a virus. It’s dangerous. If you get infected, patay. Maybe you’re healthy so you can manage, but Nini (Candy’s mom and Quentin’s grandmother) is old and she can die.’” Is it harder to take care of kids who, like Quentin, have special needs while in a pandemic? “Before this happened, Quentin used to have one-on-one, face-to-face sessions with his therapist. Now, he does everything online. Ang hirap! I had to buy a swivel chair for him for when he gets fidgety. He had to go through a lot of adjustments. I understand him perfectly. I also have a hard time focusing when a webinar gets too long. I would doze off, sometimes. What more for kids like him?”

Quentin has had several meltdowns at the start of the lockdown, his mom admitted. “We did Zumba together. We hosted a whole-day party with everyone in the house. I got forced to buy a treadmill,” Candy recalled. “Because of him, I learned to be more creative. We’ve developed a bond that’s more special because we’re always together. He wants to be beside me all the time,” said Candy.

A lot of work done

Despite being preoccupied with Quentin, Candy still managed to get a lot of work done as an artist. She was in the cast of the recently concluded series “Bilangin ang Bituin sa Langit.” She also shot several digital films for Viva Entertainment, and wrote two screenplays after attending a workshop by screenwriter Ricky Lee.

“I actually enjoy working in the new normal,” Candy declared. “It’s time- and energy-efficient for actors, and cost-efficient for producers. You’re all in one place. You have a specific schedule to follow. You are all expected to know your lines before arriving on the set, so that means you finish more scenes in a day. Everybody does well while on his toes.”

The advantage for her as an actor, Candy said, was that: “I get to start a project already knowing what would happen to my character. Unlike before when I would often ask, ‘Will I die soon in this show? For how long will I be doing comedy here?’ Now, I know what is expected of me. I’m actually in favor of lock-in sets. Kaya naman pala,” she observed. INQ

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