It has been well over a month since the call for quarantine was implemented in Metro Manila by the Philippine government. In that one month, the lifestyle of almost everyone (even all over the world) changed without a doubt. For some, staying at home during the quarantine means not being able to work and earn. On the other hand, because of the nature of their jobs, some people are more in demand than before.
There are more varying stories from our correspondents. We just want to share what other people have been doing and how they are handling this pandemic. We are all in this together.
I have worked as a psychologist for almost a decade now but because the hospital I work for was converted into a COVID-19 Referral Center, we were asked to train as Safety Officers. My task is to make sure that doctors, nurses, and other allied medical health workers properly don and doff their personal protective equipment so they’ll be safe while treating patients who tested positive with the virus.
I am required to stay for seven consecutive days in the hospital to do my tasks, then take the mandatory fourteen days of self-quarantine before going back on duty again. My new work setup feels like a battlefield, like I’m heading in the wrong direction. Even though it’s daunting and difficult, and family and friends shake their heads with the gentlest of intentions, I know that the only thing more unbearable than going the wrong way is staying still.
Louie, work-at-home dad
I’ve been working from home for years now, so the stay at home thing was easy to adapt to. But as a dad with a 7-year old kid, the challenge at home was to find ways to keep him busy since school is officially closed and he’s not allowed to play outside with other kids.
To keep him preoccupied, I assign him home chores so he can develop a routine and let him watch some shows on YouTube or Netflix every now and then. Kids, just like adults, also need a good balance of productivity and entertainment to help them cope in this situation.
Elwin, Grab operator
Sunod-sunod ang deliveries ko ngayon simula ng quarantine. Busy kaya okay, hindi ko masyado naiisip mga problema ko. Yung iba mababait din, namimigay ng pagkain kasama sa order para sa aming mga drivers.
Ang mahirap lang minsan kapag nag cancel ng order, pero okay lang kasi may refund naman ang Grab para sa mga riders, medyo matagal nga lang minsan. Tapos pag uwi ko sa bahay masaya ako kasi naghihintay ang pamilya ko sa iuuwi ko na kita o pagkain.
Ever since quarantine began, deliveries have been non-stop for me. It made me really busy and that’s okay because it makes me forget about my problems. Other customers have been kind and gave Grab drivers food along with their orders.
What’s sometimes difficult is when they cancel their orders after we purchased them. But it’s okay because Grab refunds us of the amount anyway, we just don’t get it right away sometimes. And once I get home I’m happy because I see my family as they wait for my daily earnings or the food I’m bringing.
Ken, business development head
I am Ken and I am the Business Development External Head of Providence Hospital. I am serving patients, assisting them, and addressing their needs even before the COVID-19 pandemic started. It’s a different set up at work now because our hospital patient census decreased and I don’t need to attend to our patients for the meantime due to the quarantine.
I thought of something that could help our frontline because I am not used to just standing around and doing nothing. I volunteered to do a pick-up and drop-off service using my own car to our Providence Hospital frontline everyday. I volunteered because I know they need help and they want to continue working not just for their families but to also serve our patients. I felt the heart of our unsung heroes and I never hesitated to become a hero for them in return. Service with a heart! This is who we are and who I am.
Nicole, pregnant mother
I gave birth to our baby almost two weeks into the lockdown. When it was time to go to the hospital, it was 2AM on March 25th, but thankfully the trip from Quezon City to Bonifacio Global City (my doctor was only operating in one hospital as a precaution against the virus) required passing only one checkpoint.
The biggest effect of the quarantine for us that day was that my husband couldn’t be in the room with me during labor, delivery, or recovery, in keeping with the hospital’s new policies during the quarantine. This, being our first baby, was disappointing that the experience we envisioned – having him hold my hand during the delivery and cut the cord when the baby came out – wouldn’t come to life. In fact, he first saw our baby in pictures my doctor had sent him on Viber, and four hours had passed before he even saw him in person.
To minimize the time we were exposed to the virus in the hospital, we spent only one night there as advised by my doctor and recovered at home. Ultimately, we’re glad the hospital was strict with their precautions and we’re safe at home spending the rest of the lockdown with a healthy baby.
Erica, grocery clerk
Nung nag simula yung quarantine, sobrang daming tao ang pumupunta dito para mag grocery. Yung iba nag panic buying at bumili na ng madami para mag stock sa bahay. Nakakapagod dahil tuloy tuloy ang trabaho at madalas overtime kami dahil kailangan pa ng mga cashier.
Tapos ngayon na bawal ang mga tricycle at dyip, wala kaming masakyan. May van na provided para sa mga workers dito pero dahil sa sobrang daming dinadaanan, nagiging late lahat ng sumasakay doon kaya naglalakad nalang ako simula sa bahay papunta dito. Yung iba gumamit ng sariling bike para lang makapasok sa trabaho na hindi late.
When quarantine began, waves of people flocked the grocery. Some were panic buying and bought a lot to stock at home. It’s been tiring since work has been continuous for us and most of the time we extend our shifts when extra manpower is needed.
Plus now that operation of public transportation has been halted, we couldn’t get a ride to work. The company provides a van for its workers but since it goes to numerous pick-up points, everyone gets to work late so I’d rather just walk from my place until here. Some have resorted to using their own bikes just so they don’t arrive late at work.
Bills payment was my biggest problem since I didn’t know where to settle our monthly bills. It was just recently that we saw a payment center inside a nearby mall. It was the only thing open inside apart from the grocery store.
Apart from online modes of payment, I guess it’s best to ask people in their communities to find out what has been made available for them in terms of getting resources and settling financial dues. We thought all along that we cannot pay our bills until the quarantine is lifted.
Marvin, remote worker
I was already accustomed to working from home so the quarantine hasn’t broken my routine that much. What has been difficult, however, is dealing with my increasingly forgetful dad. He constantly forgets about the lockdown and insists on going out. It’s become tiresome to remind him every day.
While a few of the trips are necessary — specifically those for grocery shopping and buying medicine — his insistence on leisure drives has become troublesome for both my mom and myself. After seeing that man with the mental health problems get shot by authorities in broad daylight, we’re being more careful than ever.
Chito, car enthusiast
Shortly after the announcement of ECQ, I gassed up to keep the car’s tank from rusting (so says an article I’ve read about storing your car for a long period of time). Since I haven’t been driving lately, the needle on my fuel level gauge remains on the “F”. There has recently been an oil price rollback but I cannot take advantage of that. What’s the use of low gas price when the car’s all filled up and nowhere to go, LOL.
Winslow, business owner
As a restaurant and bar owner, we are working on two major factors for Tittos Latin BBQ & Brew to gain customer confidence during this pandemic. Right now our team is addressing health and sanitation. We understand that every business now is a health business and we have to take care and make sure that our customers are safe and healthy. This goes with our employees as well.
We try to do contactless payments as much as possible, proper wearing of masks for all our staff, and social distancing for our pick-up customers and riders. We are also putting our efforts at complete UV sanitation and thorough cleaning of the whole place everyday.
Our restaurant is also bolstering its delivery and pick-up process. As a result, we have partnered with top third-party delivery services to ensure that we will be capable of servicing our patrons from the comforts of their homes. As a business, we want to be a part of the solution and make sure that our patrons are safe at home.
The journey of becoming a doctor was a long and hard one. It required a lot of sacrifice, sleepless nights, long duties (24-48 hours sometimes longer), but the hardest was not being able to spend time with family. Despite these challenges, I persevered, because being a doctor for me was more than an occupation, it was a calling.
They say experience is the best teacher. And with the five years of medical school and five years of practice, I have indeed learned a whole lot. However, no amount of training could have prepared us for what’s happening now. As we entered a new year, so did this novel disease — the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). This pandemic revealed how unprepared we were, not only in the health sectors, but the country as a whole. Being at the frontline, I witnessed this first hand. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities, like dialysis centers, where I work had little to no personal protective equipment (PPEs).
This crisis also showed people’s true colors, like employers who will not provide the said PPEs because it was expensive, or consider giving hazard pay despite the increased risk their employees are put in. Even the government failed to recognize the huge risk medical practitioners were put in when they called for volunteers for a COVID-19 positive center in exchange for a compensation of PhP 500 per day (US$ 10/day).
Health Care facilities were overwhelmed, medical staff were overworked. There are times that I felt our employers saw us as expendable. What’s worse, is some people even discriminated against us and avoided us like the plague. The saddest part was living away from my family. It’s hard enough knowing you’re putting yourself in harm’s way everyday, but to have no support group to come home to was tough. But I did this to protect them, and it’s another sacrifice we must make as a medical frontline.
On the bright side, it wasn’t all bad. We found help in the form of people whose hearts were touched by God. Churches started to raise funds to acquire PPEs to distribute them to centers that needed them. There were also restaurants that would send food as a show of gratitude. Some petroleum companies gave us discounts, and sometimes free gas. And there would be individuals who would make an effort to see if we needed any basic necessities.
As I reflect on the weeks that have passed, I just want to thank God, for keeping me and my family safe, and for all the blessings He continues to give. I’m thankful that I’m still alive and I hope that I will continue to be His instrument in saving people’s lives.
Note: If you feel like sharing your own stories and experiences during this quarantine, feel free to reach out to us to be featured for our next special.