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Unless you’re in an Amish community without television, radio or the World Wide Web, you’re probably aware of the current COVID-19 calamity that is sweeping across the planet.  I’m not going to give you the latest information on COVID-19. You’ll get the latest updates from reliable news organizations and not Facebook.  Today’s post simply deals with one foreigner’s perspective on the current health crisis. Therefore, I present today’s post: “American Expat’s Rundown on Philippines COVID-19 Crisis.”

image courtesy of pixabay

American Expat’s Rundown on Philippines COVID-19 Crisis

Above all, I’m not a doctor, shaman, Reiki healer, or witch doctor. In other words, I’m just an ordinary “Joe” who has lived in the Philippines for over ten years. I live a simple life. Hence, I’m a simple man.

I don’t have any medical knowledge. If I have any medical questions, such as my recent gall bladder removal surgery, I “Google” it. Doctors must hate the Internet. It makes all of us instant medical “experts.”

Because I’ve been writing about living in the Philippines for over ten years, it gives me a unique perspective about this Southeast Asian “paradise.” However, opinions are like butt orifices, everyone has one. Likewise, you too, could start your own blog and offer your own unique perspectives. A trained monkey can do it.

Monkey courtesy of pixabay

I should know.

The Iloilo City Lockdown

Seems like I already had this part of the story written a few days ago. Consequently, when my computer crashed, I lost the story I had already started. While my computer whiz, Panoy, was able to install a new hard drive we had purchased in nearby Iloilo City, I hadn’t stored that particular post on my flash drive.

Above all, it’s a good thing the computer crashed when it did. I had an inkling that Iloilo City might impose a lockdown very soon. In other words, if I didn’t purchase a new hard drive (which Panoy had told me I needed late last year) I would be screwed.

We didn’t have any problems at the Jordan Wharf in Guimaras this past Thursday, March 20, the island province we call home. Hence, while we went through the customary temperature check at the dock, the pump boats were operating and we made our way to Iloilo.

An Iloilo SWAT team greeted us as we arrived at Ortiz Wharf in Iloilo City. We made our way through another temperature gun checkpoint, and hopped on a jeepney. (Jeepneys, taxi cabs, tricycles, and pedicabs have now been shut down in Iloilo City.)

S&R Saved the Day

Frankly, while I knew the malls wouldn’t be allowed to open until 11 am, I was hoping S&R would already be opened when we arrived shortly after 9:00 am. My favorite greeter, Ram, was at the front entrance and warmly greeted me.

The parking lot was full of vehicles but the store wasn’t overly crowded and teeming with customers. Consequently, we were able to do our shopping and stock up on dog food for our eight puppies and some other necessary supplies.

Moreover, I wanted to be sure that we had enough stuff to get us by until the COVID-19 crisis was over. Most of the items we purchased at S&R are not available in Guimaras. While we can buy dog food in our island province, our pups are not fond of the dog food available. We have to buy the canines’ chow in 20-kilo bags and purchased two bags that day. One bag lasts about 11 days. We already had one full bag at home.

SM City is a Ghost Town

We had our supplies boxed up by “Jet Li” and “Alvin minus the Chipmunks” and left the boxes there while we went to SM City. I needed that new SSD, Solid State Drive, to repair my PC. Because my wife and I were both hungry, we decided we would eat lunch at SM City before going to the Octagon computer store to get my new SSD.

Meanwhile, while going through the obligatory temperature check at the SM City entrance, we had no idea that Iloilo City had had already implemented a lockdown. A few eateries were only open for take-out. After ordering a couple of pizzas from Yellow Cab, we went to Octagon only to discover that they were already closed.


Octagon to the Rescue

Thankfully, the owner let us in. I’ve been shopping there for years. She explained that the mall security wasn’t even going to allow them into their store that morning. However, security finally relented, and allowed the staff to start shutting down the store and turning off equipment.

However, she explained that she couldn’t sell me anything. Security was closely monitoring all the stores.  As a result, my computer could be out of action for weeks. Because of the owner’s great sense of customer service, she called about the other Octagon store in Iloilo located at Robinsons Mall, which was still operating, at least for the rest of the day.

The Robinsons’ Octagon had the drive in stock. I thanked the helpful owner and after picking up our pizzas, we headed over to Robinsons via a taxi. I purchased the drive and we ate our pizza at the Food Court. We went back to S&R, picked up our merchandise and headed over to Ortiz Wharf in Iloilo.

Heavy Police Presence at Ortiz

In contrast to earlier in the morning where there were only a few police officers on hands, Ortiz Wharf in Iloilo City was now packed with dozens of law enforcement personnel all dressed in camouflage uniforms.

Despite having been back and forth from Guimaras to Iloilo several times in the past few weeks, no one had told us before that we needed a barangay certificate to go back into Guimaras. After my wife filled out some paperwork, we were finally able to have our porter load one of the pump boats with our supplies and we made our way back home.

The Lockdown Continues

Iloilo City and Guimaras, along with Luzon, and many other provinces in the Philippines are now in a virtual lockdown. Curfews have been implemented nationwide.  We will not be traveling anywhere in the next few weeks other than limited runs to the nearby markets about 10 minutes away.

I hope that the COVID-19 crisis will be over in a few weeks or less, but with only 12 people per one million being tested in the Philippines, it’s hard to say how many cases are actually present here.

Therefore, we’re going to stay safe and remain at home as much as possible.

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