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Here’s a recent announcement posted on the Philippine Department of Health, DOH, Facebook page: “Spraying and misting with disinfectants does more harm than good, and the DOH recommends avoiding this practice.” Hence, spraying vs COVID-19 should be discontinued.

Spraying Creates Additional Health Hazards

There is no evidence to support that spraying of surfaces or large scale misting of areas, indoor or outdoor with disinfecting agents, kills the virus.

To kill the virus, objects and surfaces have to be wiped directly with 0.5% sodium hypochlorite/ bleach solution (1:10 solution.)

Furthermore, spraying or misting creates additional health concerns as it can:
1. Cause pathogens to be dispersed further during spraying
2. Result in skin irritation and inhalation of chemicals
3. Cause environmental pollution

The DOH is following up on advice from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the University of the Philippines, National Poison Management and Control Center. Frankly, I was wondering how effective this spraying process was in the first place.

The Battery Mission

The battery in our Ford Ranger died after five years. While on a recent trip to Iloilo City to purchase a new battery, there were no jeepneys or taxis operating. After arriving at Parola Wharf in Iloilo, with my barangay-issued quarantine pass from Guimaras, I looked around, trying to find some public transportation.

I decided to start walking, facemask in place, though my destination, Manuel Battery & Auto Supply on Quezon Street, which was thankfully open, was located about kilometers away. Google Maps said it was only about a 32-minute walk from Parola. However, I didn’t think to print out a map for directions.

The scorching sun was quickly draining my energy. Furthermore, I didn’t have my water bottle with me. In addition, since only one quarantine pass can be issued per household, I was running this errand solo.

No Public Transportation in Sight

Consequently, after about 30 minutes of walking through a nearby barangay where most of the people were not wearing masks, I saw a policeman nearby. (Facemasks are supposed to be mandatory in Iloilo.)  I asked the constable if there was any public transportation available. He replied “yes” and pointed to a Ceres bus that was approaching a nearby intersection.

I thanked the officer and walked over to the intersection but the bus wasn’t going to Delgado. SM Delgado was only three minutes from the battery outlet (if Google Maps was correct.)

Hence, I waited for another bus. Another one arrived shortly. I approached the driver and asked him if he was going to pass Delgado Street. He was. I hopped in.

Spraying vs COVID-19 Should be discontinued

We reached the Freedom Grandstand area after several minutes. The bus stopped. All the passengers got off. I asked the conductor how much the fare was. While we were a long way from Delgado, I thought we were going to transfer to another bus.

The conductor replied that I didn’t have to pay now. Furthermore, as everyone exited the bus, a team of disinfectant specialists approached the bus and began spraying the outside.

Photo courtesy of the Daily Guardian Iloilo (Arnold Almacen/CMO)

After the spraying, we boarded the bus again and sat on seats covered with a fine layer of mist that had made its way through the open windows. The bus moved on. A few more minutes went by. Soon the conductor pointed out the Delgado intersection for me. The bus stopped and I paid my 10-peso fare, 20¢.

My asawa and our niece Michelle were back in Guimaras hoping to pick up some supplies from one of the local grocery stores. However, a few items on our list weren’t available. Therefore, my spouse sent me a text message asking me to pick up a few items, wheat bread, “fresh” milk, and corn flakes.

A long line of people waited outside the Delgado SM Supermarket. Being a senior citizen, I made my way to the front of the line and politely excused myself, explaining I was a senior.

The security guard checked my temperature with a thermal scanner and allowed me in. I quickly gathered the items needed but in my haste, forgot to purchase any water.

Making My Way to Manuel Battery

Because I had already looked at the battery outlet’s location on Google Maps, I wasn’t too concerned about finding it. It was only supposed to be a three-minute walk from SM Delgado and was located on Quezon Street via Valeria. I quickly located Valeria, which is in front of SM Delgado and starting walking, two grocery bags in hand.

However, again, I didn’t bother to print out a map and soon found myself walking down Valeria without Manuel Battery in sight. Suddenly, my phone rang. It was my asawa. She was wondering if I had found the battery shop yet. I advised her I hadn’t. In fact, I was hot and thirsty.

My spouse asked if I had passed Quezon Street yet. By now, I realized I had probably already passed it up. She advised me to go to StatLab since it was located on Quezon. I gathered myself. Took a breath. Doubled back to StatLab, where I had recently gotten some medical tests done for my gall bladder removal surgery.

On the Threshold of Heat Stroke

The heat was oppressive. I made my way to StatLab and continued walking down Quezon. Consequently, at this point, I believe I was on the edge of heat stroke. I was getting confused and had to stop.

Finally, I doubled back to the intersection near SM Delgado and crossed the street in the opposite direction of where I had been, and there, on the left, was Manuel Battery. Google Maps was correct. The shop was only about a three-minute walk from SM Delgado.

The helpful staff at Manuel had one model of battery, a MotoLite, in stock for our Ford Ranger. It cost 7,700 pesos, 154 US dollars, and came with a 21-month warranty.

I picked up the battery. It was heavy. Since I wasn’t supposed to being lifting heavy weights after my gall bladder surgery, I was concerned. However, with no public transportation in sight, I had no choice but to “man up.” A nearby security guard actually escorted me about a block away and informed me a Ceres bus would eventually pass by. I thanked the guard and waited. At least I was in a shaded area.

The Agonizing Wait

Thirty minutes passed by. My wife called again. I informed her I was waiting for the bus. Several tricycles had already passed me by but none could travel to Parola Wharf where I could catch a pump boat back to Guimaras.

TricycleDriverWantsYourMoneyDave

I needed water and I hadn’t eaten any lunch. It was about 1:00 pm. Finally, a Ceres bus approached across the street! I quickly picked up my two grocery bags and the battery and walked over to the bus. However, the bus wasn’t going to Parola. As I made my way back to my shady spot across the street lugging my groceries and battery, my heart sank.

Another Ceres bus had gone by as I was crossing the intersection. I missed it. It could have been my ticket to Parola.

My Rescue Vehicle Arrives!

At that moment, I prayed that the Lord would send me a tricycle or pedicab that could take me to Parola. A few minutes later a pedicab appeared! A pedicab is operated by foot power. It has no motor.  Although I’ve lost 28 pounds since January, I’m still a big guy.  I asked the driver if he could take me to Parola. He could get me near Parola but was not allowed to take his pedicab in the terminal area.

“How much?” I inquired.

“It’s up to you, sir,” came the reply, which I’ve heard many times during my past ten years in the Philippines.

“No,” I replied, though in no position to negotiate, “it’s up to you. How much?”

“100 pesos, sir,” the driver said.

“I’ll give you two hundred,” I said, “let’s go.”

I was thankful for the ride and relieved. It was worth another 100 pesos, two bucks, to me. I’m sure the man has had a severe drop in revenue given the quarantine restrictions that have been in place.

Navigating through the City

As we navigated our way through the city streets of Iloilo City, the driver informed me that he had to be careful. The police had stopped him before and confiscated the chair he had in his pedicab. I told him that I didn’t want him to get into trouble. If he could get me close to City Mall, where the ticket office for Parola was located, I would be grateful.

DSC

The driver had, indeed, seen a significant drop in income, and had a wife and several children to support. I said it was disappointing to hear that the lockdown in Iloilo City wouldn’t end until April 30 now. I knew many people were out of work.

As we rounded a corner and approached City Mall and Parola, a squadron of other pedicab drivers parked along the street shouting “Pulis, pulis!” The police were nearby.

city mall parola

“Go ahead and stop,” I said, “you’re close enough. I don’t want you to get arrested.” I paid the man and took my two bags and battery, struggling to make it to the Parola terminal office. After making it through three separate checkpoints and filling out some forms, I finally was able to board a pump boat to Guimaras. It took about 30 minutes for the boat to fill up with passengers.

There were plenty of tricycles waiting at the Jordan Wharf in Guimaras. The friendly driver agreed to stop at Namit Burger and Chooks to Go so I could pick up some food for our nieces and nephew that had been staying with us for a couple of weeks. As we approached the outskirts of San Miguel, Jordan, I saw a contingent of workers from DPWH, the Department of Public Works and Highways, along the road

I thought the crew was doing some road construction. They weren’t. The workers were stopping all vehicles and spraying them with bleach. Also, we were given hand sanitizer to disinfect our hands.

“Zonrox,” my trike driver marked.

“Yes, you’re right,” I replied. Zonrox is the name of a popular bleach used in the Philippines.

Finally on the Way Home

After making our food stops, I was finally on my way home. The next day our mechanic stopped by to install our truck battery and fixed our windshield wipers. He’s a mechanic at a local auto dealership in Iloilo City who has been out of work for weeks. The truck runs great now and we can make any essential food runs without worrying about our truck not starting.

I’m hoping the lockdown finally ends on April 30. We stocked up on basic supplies on our trip to Iloilo City last month. While we will run out of dog food for our eight canines a few days before the lockdown (hopefully) ends, the pups will have to chow down on rice and sardines until we’re allowed back in Iloilo City.  Our dogs don’t like the dog chow available in Guimaras.

Frankly, the trip to Iloilo City was hard on this old geezer. I’ll be glad when things return to some sense of normalcy. While regular readers of Philippines Plus know I’m an anti-social old goat, it will be good to trade some stories with my fellow expat friends on our island province. While the past few weeks haven’t been like the “prison” that Ellen claims to be in, I’m looking forward to the end of the quarantine.

How about you?

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