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The pandemic has certainly changed the course of our lives, especially our children’s. Kids who grew up carefree and unrestricted suddenly found themselves confused and lonely in isolation. Toddlers who had grown up only within the four walls of their homes, oblivious to people outside their family, were unprepared for a bigger, frenzied world of strangers.
Rockwell recognized all that, and has cautiously brought back normalcy to kids eager to get their young, active lives back.
Their return to Power Plant Mall was an emotional experience for all. Kids were running to Toys R Us, carrying plastic bags and toy packages bigger than them. Sitting in a barber’s chair and having their long overdue haircut at Cuts 4 Tots seemed like a ride in a theme park. Q Power Station and Cibo Bimbi restaurant were filled to the brim with happy, uproarious families. Easter was a blockbuster after two years of having no fun and games on-site. The curtains were up at Power Plant Cinema, ready to usher in excitable kiddie moviegoers.
Rockwell spoke with three mothers, all Power Plant habitués. These are their stories — how the mall-crazy kids coped with the pandemic, and how the mall has helped them behave like kids again.
Reese Fernandez-Ruiz (social entrepreneur and president of Rags2Riches, Inc.; her sons are Miguel, 5; and Rafa, 2)
The isolation of Miguel, who had already experienced the outside world, became quite concerning when we went out for a car ride during the lockdown. He exclaimed that he would add the kids he saw on the streets to his “new friends collection.”
Miguel has always been a social child. He loves talking to people and making friends with other kids. So you could imagine how we tried to explain what was going on and why he had to do all his activities at home.
So he did play a lot, and had all day to do it! Miguel is a curious kid and the home-teaching did him good insofar as seeing him develop his love for numbers. He can now do basic arithmetic mentally.
As a parent, I learned how to be even more patient with my sons. Our bond is stronger than ever now. And we communicate much better.
My kids’ energy is boundless, especially Miguel’s. When the lockdown was eased, the first things he did were go to the village playground and visit the mall. His other big wish then was to attend birthday parties.
Rissa Mananquil-Trillo (entrepreneur, author and UN women advocate)
Our home life, like many others, changed drastically. In a matter of weeks, we had to transform our home from simply being a place of rest and shared meals, to a space for school, work and play.
Naturally, we wanted to protect our daughters from pain and harm. But it was also our chance to shape them into kind and strong individuals, by just being truthful.
My husband Paolo and I had significant conversations with them about what we were dealing with, so they’d feel secure amidst the uncertainty. We talked about the brave frontliners who were earnestly trying to keep everyone safe. Now, Audra is even more bent on becoming a doctor.
The conversations, though difficult, brought our family much closer. Trust grew through openness about meaningful questions. In isolation, the two girls became a source of love and inspiration to each other.
When they first stepped out of isolation and walked into Power Plant Mall, it appeared like they were visiting a toy store for the first time. They had to have their favorite popcorn while watching a movie.
The pandemic did not rob them of their sense of wonder. Audra and Celestia continue to see the grandest moments in the smallest of things.
Jessica Tan-Gan – (Entrepreneur. Kids- Benjamin, Amina and Apollo)
My kids were very young during the start of the lockdown. My son was one year and eight months old, and my daughter was three months old. All they knew was life with us at home, with short trips here and there. But my kids, especially the boy, were close to their grandparents, and would frequently ask to see them. Grandparents and their apos have a special bond. But we could not risk the health of the seniors, the most vulnerable ones.
While we did our best to remain safe, we tried to go out when allowed, and do normal activities as much as we could. I’m lucky to have friends with the same mindset. We planned regular dates and trips within our circle. When on-and-off restrictions allowed kids to enter establishments, I’d bring my kids for mundane errands like going to the bank or supermarket. It was always a monumentally joyous event for them.
I was heavy with my third child when Alert Level 1 was declared. But we all immediately trooped to our favorite mall, lest things return to a restrictive alert level. They were visibly excited. Everything was new to them.
Toys R Us was their first stop. They spent three hours at the mall. They were wiped out when we got home.
The kids are doing great now. My son is excited about face-to-face schooling. They love being back in their grandparents’ arms.
All their kids are back in their safe and happy place — Power Plant Mall — like everyone else’s. It’s alive with kids’ joyous shrieks and laughter again. Oh, to be a kid again.
Editor’s Note: This article was provided by Rockwell.