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The pandemic: The hateful season 3 and what’s ahead in 2022

By LISA GUERRERO NAKPIL, The Philippine STAR Published Jan 09, 2022 5:00 am

The Pandemic — now in its hateful third season — is the series we all wished was cancelled last December. Instead, and like a twisted rerun of Squid Game, it’s returned with its highest number of participants ever worldwide.

Poblacion Girl’ is the new ‘Alabang Boys’

Worst of all, the 2022 version introduced a host of loathsome characters, including someone dubbed by the TikTok community as “Poblacion Girl.” She and her cohort, “Masahe Girl,” are the “lite” edition of the “Alabang Boys,” a group of college brats purportedly turned drug lords from that exclusive subdivision in the south.

Suitably for the pandemic, the highest crime these days is not moving Ecstasy or coke but jumping mandatory quarantines — and then bragging about it at a party. (This just in: “Poblacion Girl” was revealed as just another gate-crashing “friend of a friend” at an otherwise private family dinner. She apparently joined the picture-taking uninvited.)

Get ready for more cautionary tales about the so-called rich behaving badly this year. Pinoys do so love these fascinating plots, which would be better served up at the Manila Film Festival next December.

In 2022, it will be not just plants but us who will be living like hothouse blooms: Spending even more time indoors with a need to be well-hydrated, while surviving on the UV rays from ring-lights for Zoom calls.

Here are more life and leisure trends predicted for the coming year:

Living like a house plant

Indoor plants had their moment in 2021 as the word “plantita” made it into our vocabulary and demand outpaced supply. Due to the incessant clamor for more vegetation, it was said that the Thailand jungles had literally run out, pushing plant price tags to astronomical heights.

The monstera, once the holy grail of indoor plants, has come back to earthling prices.

That’s all come down with a thud as the costs of monsteras and yuccas, once considered the “holy grails” of living room greenery, have flooded the market and turned up marked down on bargain-buying app Shopee.

In 2022, it will be not just plants but us who will be living like hothouse blooms: Spending even more time indoors with a need to be well-hydrated, while surviving on the UV rays from ring-lights for Zoom calls.

Training like Thor…

It may have taken us two whole years to figure it out, but finally, says licensed strength and conditioning coach Kale Alvarez of Kineticore Philippines, there’s no substitute for the “Three Pillars” of good health. These are right exercise, balanced diet and enough sleep — or everything you need to fight Delta and Omicron including building up one’s lungs against this respiratory disease.

Looking towards 2022, there are two preferred ways to get that optimum amount of exercise to build up your immune system: the first is to work out at home and the second is to venture outdoors in a “non-contact” sport. Forget basketball just now, the once and future favorite Filipino sport; the current mood is for biking.

At-home exercise apps will remain popular, thanks to Chris Hemsworth.

Home gyms and YouTube athletes are the top pair of exercise points with treadmills and stationary bikes being snapped up as soon as they are stocked, according to sports equipment stores.

Celebrity-driven exercise modeled after Chris Hemsworth’s training “Centr” app have popped up in the Philippines. Diet Coach-to-the-Olympians Jeaneth Aro specializes in the necessary “nutritionally dense” meals necessary to get you through yet another lockdown.

…But drinking like the rock

Having said that about biking, cruising the Marilaque (short for Marikina-Rizal-Laguna-Quezon) Highway to the Sierra Madre mountains was the thing for weekend athletes. However, when the IATF turned down alert levels last November, the once jampacked route was deserted in the blink of an eye as once-earnest bikers traded in their pedals for a night out with the boys. (No doubt bringing us full circle to Poblacion.)

Thanks to 287 million Instagram followers, The Rock's Teremana is the fastest-growing tequila in the world

2022 will be also be the year of alcohol born on Instagram, as The Rock’s “Teremana Tequila” was named the fastest-growing tequila “in the history of all spirits,” easily nudging out Breaking Bad’s “Dos Hombres” mezcal and even George Clooney’s “Casamigos.” (It’s no wonder, considering The Rock has 287 million followers on the app.)

In the Philippines, an explosion of Filipino spirits has taken root as the gen pop struggles to soothe their mental health in the pandemic. One intoxicating example is the genteel Luisita Oro “single estate” rum (available on and S&R outlets) that packs a wallop, from, yep, the legendary Cojuangco stronghold, Hacienda Luisita.

Paracetamol is the new toilet paper

A drugstore security guard holds up the list of unavailable tabs.

Alcohol and corned beef aren’t the only things on the hoarder’s list: at the start of 2022, paracetamol became the new toilet paper as all of its iterations promptly ran out of stock everywhere. (Antibiotics of coughs had at one point reached zero inventory levels at the end of last year — ditto all the meds that have off-label uses as COVID-19 treatments, to the dismay of specialist doctors in the country.

Bento boxes over buffets

Cochinillo, the only headline-grabbing food in 2021, will not stage a comeback in 2022.

There won’t be any particular foods that will grab the news — unlike the ube pandesals and sushi bakes of the last two years. And apart from the Christmas cochinillo scandal, featuring P17,000 rubbery roast pigs, there won’t be many headline-grabbing meals even if eaten al fresco. No surprise here, bento boxes (or single-portion servings) will still rule over buffets.

People aren’t ready to live in their sweats

Heiress Ivy Love Getty and her entourage in silk PJs for brunch before her wedding

Despite the lure of wearing garterized pants and waistless shifts 24/7, women are still yearning for a little glamor. The solution may be in wearing pajama tops, which can pass for corporate wear in a Zoom meeting. (Just add a push-up bra and pearls.) It’s a trend set by fossil-fuel heiress Ivy Jean Getty who outfitted her entire entourage (including Queen’s Gambit star Anya Taylor-Joy) in designer PJs for the morning brunch before her wedding. (You can check out versions that won’t need a billionairess’ bank account by Tonichi Nocom at SM Women boutiques.)

Richard Mille and the art of mindfulness

There will continue to be pockets of vicarious, larger-than-life living exemplified by the lovable antics of Small Laude in her hugely successful vlog “It’s a Small World.” This zany socialite lives a life laced with Hermès, Baccarat, and frilly outfits straight out of that other online sensation, Emily in Paris.

2022 will be the year of living vicariously with Small Laude’s vlog. 

Thus, the question is: Will the Richard Mille watch edge out the Rolex as the ultimate timepiece of 2022? If it were up to the NBA superstars who created the feeding-frenzy for this mega-buck watch, it probably would.

But there’s another trend from the NBA that may be worth pursuing this year: the art of mindfulness interestingly introduced by the first Filipino to break into this big league.

Erwin Valencia, training and conditioning coach for the New York Knicks, was a protégé for Phil Jackson who helped create such athletic marvels as Michael Jordan. It was Valencia, working under his aegis, who pioneered a program for the American team that included breath work, intention-setting and meditation, making it the first- ever meditation program in the NBA.

Coach Erwin Valencia pioneered mindfulness training in the NBA.

As new variants crash larger waves of disappointment around us, the art of mindfulness — and slowing stress down without all that booze — may very well be the trend to keep close to heart in 2022.