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Because of the coronavirus and the ensuing quarantines around the planet, the country I now call home presents unique challenges. “Surviving Philippines’ COVID-19 Lockdowns” is today’s opinion piece, ladies and germs.

Surviving Philippines’ COVID-19 Lockdowns

Above all, surviving Philippines’ COVID-19 lockdowns are much harder if you don’t have a job. My sister-in-law, Alida, knows this. Closed for weeks is her private school in Guimaras. The school also employs two of our nieces, Shaina and Michelle.

The Philippine Department of Education recently announced that the 2020-2021 would begin this August 24. The school year usually starts in June for elementary school pupils. Alida and her family are taking a major financial hit.

A niece in Metro Manila, April, Michelle’s twin sister, has also been jobless. April is an accountant.

April and Michelle from their SM Dept Store & Savemore days

Foreigners Stuck in the Philippines

If you’re a foreigner in the Philippines and have managed to have a business, your operation might not be open now.

If a business involves providing food, healthcare, or if it dispenses legal drugs, like a pharmacy, you still might be in operation.  Furthermore, if you are a moron selling shabu (meth) or weed (not legal in the Philippines) you’re going to have more to worry about than COVID-19.

In addition, if you’re an expat in the Philippines without a pension or business, you’ve probably been in financial straits before the lockdowns.

While we have a few foreigners in Guimaras that plan to return to their home country, everyone is stuck in the Philippines for now. Travel to nearby provinces and Manila is still prohibited. Once international flights open up again, however, the expatriates will be able to leave. Most of the expats leaving are only going to the States for a short visit.

Peace and Quiet Still Rules in Guimaras

Meanwhile, I’m still enjoying the relative peace and quiet. As mentioned in previous posts, no fiestas are allowed. A ban on fiestas means no loud music playing. I’m enjoying that aspect of the lockdowns.

While we haven’t been shopping in nearby Iloilo City, we’re getting by. Because we can’t shop at one of our favorite stores, S&R, I’m missing my White Castle Cheeseburger sliders. Wheat bread has been scarce in Guimaras. However, we do have our health. We’re not suffering from the lockdown but we have been trying to help our relatives and neighbors.

Lolo is Feeding his Dead Nephew

My father-in-law is doing his part. Lolo (Grandpa) resides in a nipa hut behind our house. He’s afflicted with Alzheimer’s. Lolo didn’t eat most of his lunch yesterday. My wife showed me his plate. Lolo’s explanation for why he didn’t eat his jackfruit and pork? He’s saving it for a nephew.

Problem is the nephew has been dead for years.

The Healer in Guimaras

Lolo, right, visits the local healer

Passing the Time with “Justin Wise”

Thankfully, I’ve been enjoying my lockdown with a copy of Paul Toplis’ entertaining novel, Justin Wise. I highly recommend it. It only costs $2.99 and is a great read.

Get your copy today at Amazon.

Cignal satellite, our television program provider, has been extending their channel blowout throughout the quarantine period. I’m especially fond of “The Gong Show with Mike Meyers” which the Comedy Central channel is showing. “The Goldberg’s,” also airing on Comedy Central, is another favorite.

I’ve also resumed my “sexy pool boy” duties. While I’m not able to go full force yet, due to my gall bladder surgery, I was still out scrubbing the pool yesterday for a couple of hours. 

The pool hasn’t officially opened yet as we need more water to fill the pool. We’ve attempted to reach our bulk water supplier several times without much success. Consequently, we’ll probably wait for the rainy season to fill up the swimming hole. However, the water level isn’t nearly as low as last year that brought much of the Philippines drought conditions.

Eight Pampered Pups

Meanwhile, our eight spoiled canines have had to eat some different dog chow. Their favorite dog food is “Good Boy.” We purchase 20-kilo bags of the stuff from Ace Hardware for 1,169 pesos, about 23 USD. However, since there is no Ace Hardware in Guimaras, the pups have had to eat Pedigree chow.

Pedigree is available from a local outlet in Guimaras. In contrast, it costs twice as much as the “Good Boy” brand that our dogs prefer.

I’ve been passing the time by doing some artwork. While I started drawing at about the age of seven, I haven’t done any sketches for years. In high school back in Central Illinois, we had an art program instituted in my junior and senior years.

Thankfully, we had an excellent art teacher, Mr. William Taylor, who was fresh out of college at the time. I managed to win honors as the best art student in our school for my Art I and Art II classes in my junior and senior years. Mr. Taylor helped me survive my high school years.

I don’t do “photo realistic” sketches. The late Jack “King” Kirby, the artist for Captain American, Fantastic Four, and a ton of other comic books, has been a huge influence on my work. Vincent Van Gogh is my favorite classical artist. Here’s a look at a couple of drawings I did back in the Nineties.

Dengue Fever Season Returns

However, in the Philippines, the coronavirus is not our only concern. On August 6 of last year, the DOH declared a national dengue epidemic. The health department’s epidemiology unit reported more than 402,694 dengue cases from January 1 to November 16.  In addition, more than 1,705 Filipinos died from dengue fever in 2019.

Thus far, as of May 6, 2020, here are the latest COVID-19 statistics from the Philippine Department of Health. Thus far, the Philippines reports 7,639 COVID-19 cases and 637 confirmed deaths. Of course, mosquitoes transmit dengue fever. Humans transmit COVID-19, although China, where the virus originated, and the World Health Organization, initially denied this.

Here’s a handy reminder on how to keep dengue fever at bay courtesy of the Iloilo City government Facebook page. With the rainy season approaching, it is best not to forget how deadly dengue fever can also be.

Surviving Philippines’ COVID-19 Lockdowns

We’re more fortunate than many of the millions of people across the Philippines and the planet. Our home is paid off. Our truck is paid off. We have no credit cards, hence, no credit card bills.  In addition, we have a steady source of guaranteed income. That said, we hope that everyone will be able to return to their jobs soon. Our favorite restaurants in Guimaras are still closed. Businesses all over the globe are shuttered.

We pray for all of those afflicted with the coronavirus and all those suffering the economic consequences of the prolonged lockdowns. We hope a return to some state of “normalcy” is on the horizon very soon.

As the great Red Green used to say, “Keep your stick on the ice! We’re all in this together.”

God Bless and take care.

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