Don’t be fooled—keep your distance | Inquirer
Emil Amok!

Don’t be fooled—keep your distance

I’m happy today. I was able to go to the store, masked up, gloved up, and bought some bananas. Doesn’t take much to keep me happy.

Oh, there was the non-dairy Cherry Garcia, and all the fresh vegetables I could grab. I’m a vegan. I eat the s—t out of my vegetables. Vegetarian Pinakbet!

It was a  good haul for the monthly shopping trip. Monthly. I’m staying home as long as I can.

I just didn’t like the remark I got from the grocery clerk. I told the young lady the one good thing about buying a lot of groceries at once is that no one wants to get behind you in the checkout line. Instant Social Distancing! To which she replied, “Frankly I think it’s all B.S.”

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Was it my camouflage baseball cap that made her think I was some “Re-Open or Die!” protester? Actually it’s camo for solidarity with the animals hiding from stupid hunters.

It took all my reserve to hold in my amokness. She was on the register after all and in control of the tally. Instead, I prayed silently for her soul from behind the newly installed face shield.

Is it all B.S.? Is that your attitude?


Ask the Filipino nurses who have paid a price fighting the virus around the country, especially in New York City. Ask the numbers guys who are saying we can have 100,000 deaths a day before too long.

The virus is a stalker. And those of you who are desperate to get back to life before covid are walking into the trap. This is not the flu. This is not a bad cold. This is life and death.

You want to risk death for a good time at the beach? The park? The mall?


Don’t be a lemming walking into the virus. Protect yourself and others. That’s the only way to effectively fight this. It’s not over yet.

Covid Americans

In 2020, we’re all practically Covid Americans caught in a crisis that could last two years and infect up to 70 percent of America, according to media reports.

That’s why the key guest on my APA Heritage Month special of Emil Amok’s Takeout, is the person I’ve dubbed one of the country’s “Most Essential Asian Americans.”

Not many are more essential than a Filipino nurse in a nursing shortage smack dab in the middle of the world’s hottest Covid hotspot.

I’ve talked to Nurse Gem Scorp in my previous columns, when he first fought the virus; then contracted the virus and tested positive; then when he quarantined and went back to work after 14 days. Now he’s back to work and what he’s seeing isn’t normal.

“They have a new worry,” Scorp, a nurse at New York City’s Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, told me on my Emil Amok’s Takeout. “This virus we thought was only a respiratory problem, now is most likely a neuro issue.”

He talked about doctors seeing emergency situations where the virus pushes up against the brain causing patients eyes to pop out.

“The virus wasn’t acting like this before,” he said. “Maybe this is why they say the second wave could be worse than the first.”

As we held our midday conversation, more than two dozen states were letting up shelter at home orders. And where the restrictions weren’t being loosened up, protesters in my state, California, were demanding to be allowed back into society freely.

But knowing what Scorp has observed in New York, and without better testing so we know who has been exposed or not, no one seems to have a handle on the virus.

Giving up public health isolation and returning to normal appears more like giving up before the battle is over.

Scorp knows the battle isn’t over. Not at the hospital, nor in the subway on his ride home.

After fighting the virus, Scorp describes the fallout of Donald Trump’s use of the phrase “Chinese Virus.” Scorp’s been told by fellow subway riders, “Go back to China.”

He’s from the Philippines. He’s a naturalized American citizen. Asian Pacific American Heritage Month never came at a more critical time to create what the month is supposed to do best. Instill a dose of awareness, understanding, empathy.

Hear more of my conversation with Scorp around 49 minutes in the video, and around 52 minutes in the audio podcast of Emil Amok’s Takeout. Also listen to our Takeout for insights from these other guests:

Corky Lee, New York photographer and activist, talks about NYC’s Chinatown and the Guardian Angels.

Prof. Daniel Phil Gonzales, Asian American Studies Professor at San Francisco State.

Phil Tajitsu Nash, Lawyer, Asian American Studies Professor at U. Maryland, and AALDEF board member.

Monyee Chau, Seattle artist/activist, who combatted anti-Asian stickers posted in her home town by answering with her own art–posters displaying Asian American unity against hate.

Christopher Castro, Filipino American National Historical Society Museum, Stockton, CA

Happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month!

Use the fast forward buttons on audio and video of Emil Amok’s Takeout. Not available on the virus or lockdown, unfortunately. Remember, we’re in this thing together.

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. He writes a column for the North American Bureau of Twitter @emilamok  Find him on Apple podcasts.

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TAGS: anti-Asian hate, civil rights, coronavirus, pandemic, social distancing
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