Being negative and proud
Emil Amok!

Being negative and proud

/ 10:56 AM December 28, 2021
A used coronavirus disease (COVID-19) rapid test with negative result is pictured during pandemic lockdown, in Berlin, Germany, March 31, 2021. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/File Photo

A used coronavirus disease (COVID-19) rapid test with negative result is pictured during pandemic lockdown, in Berlin, Germany, March 31, 2021. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/File Photo

I’m in a negative mood to end 2021, and I hope I stay that way forever. At least, on all my Covid tests.

Have you been able to get your hands on any of the so-called rapid antigen tests? They’re not as rapidly available when you need one. The 500,000 free ones promised by the government probably won’t be around until next month. And that makes it hard to answer the basic question everyone needs to know if you’re going to be socially engaged. The question? “Are you infected with the virus?”


If you have symptoms, a test is likely to be about 90-93 percent accurate, according to reports. Good enough to know when to stay away from you, and vice versa.

The tests have been somewhat of an afterthought. But now people are realizing tests are something everyone needs. Especially the un-vaccinated. They’re the ones ending up in the hospital.  If you’re not morally responsible enough to get vaccinated and boosted, then at least test.

A test trumps a vaccine card. Only a test gives us the data right now on just how sick and infectious you really are.

So, for Christmas,  I was negative. Like my blood type, the aspirational B-Negative.

I still didn’t want to hang out or be with even small crowds of people.

I am so negative when it comes to this virus, I’m doing all I can to stay “not positive,” perhaps thinking I can fool Omicron grammatically by avoiding being “not not negative.”


By the way, you know it’s pronounced “Awe-mee-kron,” from the Greek, right. Not “Oh-Mee-Kron.”

This is what being isolated doing internet talk shows in a closet does to you.

I don’t like to get sick. And as they say, I am in the age group with the highest death rates. Of course, I’m on the young side of the demo. But why tempt fate?


So I listen to all the South Asian American medical talking heads on TV and try to be conservative for once. I stay in. I canceled plans for Christmas and New Year’s. I even told my family to stay away.

Of course, I would like to see and be with you all.

But I’m not tired or fatigued by living with the virus and its variants. My mother lived in Japanese-occupied Manila during WWII. Others have lived in or are refugees from war-torn societies. I just acknowledge this aspect of war.

Dr. Anthony Fauci agrees with me.

“We just got to hang in there,” Fauci said on CNN before Christmas. “We can’t give up. We’re at a war.”

He’s game for the analogy. “It’s sort of like in the beginning of World War II  when we were losing all the battles, and we were getting pushed back on the Pacific front and on the Europe front. If we had said, “Oh my goodness, we’re all fatigued, let’s give up, that would not have been a good thing.”

He has a point, no?

“We are at war with a formidable enemy, and we’re going to win the war because we’re better than the virus.”

Yes, a virus needs a host, and we have AirBnb.  Still, we don’t all have the smarts enough to make the right choices. And that’s why we need the pep talk.

And if you’re un-vaccinated, what are you doing in this war without the best weapons? You have a Second Amendment right to get armed—- in your arms. Roll up those sleeves, show off your big guns and jab up. Get with the program.

Even the No. 1 pusher of the “Big Lie” is vaccinated.

Time for us all to work together to fight this. It’s been nearly two years. 815,000 Americans have died. Time to get serious about this war.


Omicron determined I would stay away from family gatherings this season for public health reasons.

But the family mental health lesson for the season comes from the Urtula family, Filipino Americans from New Jersey. It is the family of Alex Urtula, the late Boston College student goaded into committing suicide after 18 months of dating, and getting more than 10,000 text messages from his girlfriend, Inyoung You in 2019.

The texts were brutal and controlling. Just words? Prosecutors said You’s messages  were “unrelenting abuse” that resulted in emotional and psychological damage.

“You repeatedly told the victim that he should kill himself or die and waged a campaign of abuse that stripped the victim of his free will,” said District Attorney Rachael Rollins in the Boston Globe. Eventually Alex Urtula did kill himself by leaping from the roof of a parking garage hours before he was to graduate from Boston College in May 2019. The fingers were all pointing to Inyoung You.

How would your family deal with it all?

I know when my cousin was murdered in 2014, I was driven to seek justice to avenge his death.

But I was not mindful then. Not like the Urtulas.

On the Thursday before Christmas, the Urtulas and the prosecutors worked out an arrangement so that You would be offered a plea deal.

Instead of potentially facing 20 years in prison had their been a trial, You pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and accepted her role in Alex Urtula’s death. In other words, Urtula’s death was unlawful but not intentional. You got a 2 1/2 year suspended sentence and 10 years’ probation. Merry Christmas.

But the Urtula’s got something they wanted too. They were spared the pain of a trial.

“We bear no feelings of anger or reprisal,” the family said in a statement. “We believe that time will take us through in the moments we mourn and celebrate his life.”

That is a statement of love that sets an example that we all could strive for. It is the positive out of the negative—the plea deal as a holiday lesson of forgiveness. If only we could get pass the feelings of fear, and move readily toward love.

The Urtulas have shown the way.

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. He writes a column for the North American bureau. See his podcasts livestreamed on YouTube and Twitter @emilamok, 2pm Pacific, M-F. See more at

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TAGS: Covid Omicron variant, COVID-19, Mental Health, vaccination
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