Mi Casa Es Su Casa with Ms. Ainah Dimasacat
As coronavirus cases continue to rise, it can be difficult to hold out hope for life outdoors to return any time soon. The sudden change to quarantine has forced us all to adjust to a whole new lifestyle. Some of us may have discovered new hobbies, have begun to work towards our goals in life, and have even begun to improve what we lack. It shows that despite the limitations presented to us, we still managed to work our way around it.
In this second edition of Mi Casa Es Su Casa, we’ve invited one of Enderun’s professors and one of our lovely guests on the SHS Podcast: Enderun Unmuted, Ms. Ainah Dimasacat, to share her experience and how she had adapted to the said changes posed by the pandemic as a teacher and graduate student at home.
Ink: How have you been?
Ainah: We used to say “Kumusta” as a way to greet someone or to start a casual conversation, but now I realized that this has become one of the hardest questions to answer. Compared to last year, I can say that I feel better now.
Ink: With the new normal that we are currently experiencing, what changes have you made in your house layout?
Ainah: I was living alone in Las Pinas City before COVID-19 happened. When the national government declared the ECQ last March 2020, I immediately went to my boyfriend’s condo in Manila. We got stuck together, and since community quarantine has been extended, we had to come up with ways on how to make his small space conducive for online teaching. We stayed there for seven months, then transferred to his family’s condo in Cubao when ECQ was changed into GCQ. We now have a bigger space where we can put up our own working stations.
Ink: Do you have an interesting collection in your house?
Ainah: I don’t have any collections but since the start of pandemic, I’ve bought some physical books as additions to e-book titles that I’ve been wanting to read.
Ink: How is your work set up? Do you isolate yourself from your family while working? How did this kind of set up affect your time with your family
Ainah: Fortunately, I didn’t and still haven’t experienced any problem living with my boyfriend this whole quarantine while also working and studying from home. He knows my class schedule and we’ve come up with a system of taking turns in doing household chores. And since we’ve been apart from our families who are in our province, we make sure to call them everyday. Working and studying from home is a new and different experience and it was not easy at first. I hated it. However, I’ve also learned to embrace this change. Gradually, I’ve acknowledged the advantages of this kind of set-up.
Ink: If there’s one thing that you would change or renovate in which part of the house would it be and why?
Ainah: Like I said earlier, my boyfriend and I now live in their family’s condo unit so I don’t have any say about renovations. But he plans to change some parts of it when we have the time and enough resources for it. I agree that he should change the paint color, go for window blinds instead of curtains, and build more storage since we have a lot of stuff yet not enough space to keep them. We will both benefit from it since he’s a hobbyist (Gundam model kits) and me as a teacher and graduate student who literally has a lot of school supplies.
Ink: Do you have a daily routine or do you like to spice things up?
Ainah: Working and studying from home has pushed me to create a daily routine. At first, I would just imitate whatever my favorite Youtuber has been preaching on her channel, but I realized that I should come up with my own. A daily routine based on my professional responsibilities and personal interests. As part of my goal to be more mindful, committed, and consistent this year, I incorporate small systems to my daily routine to build a habit. Upon waking up 1 hour or 30 mins before my 8:00am homeroom session, I would drink a half-filled 22 oz. water tumbler and immediately take a bath. I make sure to complete my 4-step skin care routine as I prepare for the day. Before logging in on our Zoom room, I would read my daily Bible reflections and only when I’m holding our homeroom session can I open my social media account (Youtube only because I deleted my Facebook and Instagram apps on my devices). It is only during lunch break that I get to talk with my partner, while we’re eating and watching a Netflix series. When I’m done with all my synchronous classes and asynchronous tasks, I take a short rest because I still have to tutor at 4pm-6pm. After that, I will work out for 30-45mins, take a shower, call my mama, and work again until 9:30pm. If it’s not hectic, I would reward myself by watching one episode of a Korean drama. And as I prepare to call it a day, I would wind down for 30mins by reading my book of the month and avoiding grabbing my phone again. My partner and I would talk for 10-20mins, doing “kumustahan” on how our day went then have ourselves ready to sleep.
Ink: Did you pick up any hobbies this quarantine?
Ainah: I’m not sure if it’s a hobby but I was able to go back to the habit of reading in 2020. I was able to finish 23 titles last year, in which 5 were physical books, 5 audiobooks, and 13 e-books. However, it was from January to August only because I became too busy in graduate school starting September. To compensate for missed chances of learning and/or being entertained by books, I resorted to listening to local podcasts and watching a lot of Korean dramas. This year, I make sure to read a book per month (either personal development or fiction titles). I’m also starting to have an interest (influenced by my partner) in building Gundam model kits (the cute ones only though).
Ink: How has the quarantine period been like for you and your family?
Ainah: It was not that hard but it’s challenging. I’m fortunate enough to still have a stable job and side hustles that could support myself and my family despite the pandemic, but still challenging because until now, I don’t know when I can go back to our province. It’s been 15 months already since I last saw my mama. My sister and I are both living and working in Metro Manila and our mama is living alone in our province. Before COVID-19 happened, we would go home when there’s an occasion, a long weekend, and holidays. And my mama would come to Manila to celebrate her birthday with us in November. Unfortunately, the pandemic happened and it’s too risky to travel. If only our province (which is an island) had a stable internet connection and electricity service, I would rather stay there to be with my mama while working from home. The current situation left me with no choice but to stay here in the Metro, away from my mother, so I can continue working and earning for us.
Ink: Who would you love to have as a houseguest?
>Ainah: I’ve always imagined myself to be a hostess, even for once in my life, like Monica in the F.R.I.E.N.D.S series. I want to cook and prepare food and drinks for our friends. When the time comes that I could afford my own place, I would like to have my close friends come over for an overnight of kwentuhan, inuman, drinking game, and movie marathon.
Ink: What is the most used room in the house?
Ainah: The most used room in our current house is our living area. This is where we have put up our own working stations, just across the dining area and a small sofa bed. As a teacher and a graduate student, I don’t have any choice but to stay here when I hold my synchronous classes, and when I’m doing my teacher and student responsibilities. I make sure that this is the only place in our house where I will work and study. Bedroom is for resting; the sofa bed is for Netflix and relaxing.
Ink: What is one thing that you learned about yourself while under quarantine?
Ainah: I learned to accept me, to embrace me. Because of the year-long quarantine, I’ve come to know myself better. I rediscovered my flaws, faced my insecurities, and acknowledged my strengths and weaknesses. I realized that it’s okay not to be okay. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us in different aspects of our lives. I believe that it is not selfish to take care of ourselves first, because we cannot give what we do not have. However, I also believe that while we are taking care of ourselves, we can also stay informed and aware of what is happening around us. We should not let confinement hinder us from caring for others, especially those who are less fortunate than us; those who are victims of authorities’ lack of accountability. I hope that we continue to discover and learn to better ourselves so that when we finally feel that we are capable enough, we could use the best of our ability to help our kababayans.
Ms. Ainah Dimasacat’s story and learnings through this pandemic are truly inspiring , and we hope that you can take something from her experiences and how she’s adjusted to the new normal.
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