MANILA – Filipinos’ lifestyle has completely changed when the Covid-19 pandemic struck the country.
Far different from having the liberty of strolling around and enjoying the sights in different parts of the country, most of them have been forced to stay home since President Duterte imposed restrictive community quarantine lockdowns in the country in March last year.
Indeed the pandemic may have restricted Filipinos’ movement when it hit the country last year, but they did not let it steal their innate predisposition to being happy and optimistic.
Jazelle Ortega, a Cavite resident, looked at its brighter side, saying the one-year lockdown has allowed her to spend more time with her family, take care of herself, and have enough rest, things she was deprived of before the quarantine restrictions.
“For me, quarantine protocols have brought many advantages despite the pandemic we continue to face,” Ortega told the Philippines News Agency.
She said the lockdown does not only keep her safe from Covid-19 but also enables her to save more money since she could not go out of her residence to splurge.
“For breadwinners like me, the work-from-home setup has helped me a lot to spend less on commuting and food, which enabled me to have more time to take a rest and have enough sleep every day. I also have extra time to exercise,” she said.
Like Ortega, Pauleen Anne Sumagui found joy amidst the lockdown because she is able to have more quality time with her family.
“My family has been together and we are able to bond at home, unlike before when people were busy and had no time to talk to each other),” said Sumagui, a Grade 5 student at the Barasoain Memorial Integrated School in City of Malolos, Bulacan.
A female Chinese national from Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus, she was the Philippines’ first Covid-19 patient. She displayed no symptoms when she arrived in the Philippines on January 21 last year.
The detection of the first Covid-19 case in the country prompted Duterte to order a temporary ban on travelers from Wuhan City and the entire Hubei province in China on January 31, 2020.
On March 8, 2020, the President was compelled to place the entire Philippines under a state of public health emergency after the health department reported the first local transmission of Covid-19.
Four days later Duterte announced the imposition of a Metro Manila-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the most stringent community quarantine, to control the spread of Covid-19. He subsequently decided to implement ECQ in the entire island of Luzon.
The ECQ implementation required Filipinos to observe strict home quarantine, suspended public transportation, regulated eateries and essential services, and heightened police presence for the enforcement of quarantine protocols.
Ortega, who is currently in Denmark after participating in a cultural exchange program, also noted that government transactions have become faster and more convenient during the lockdown period. She recalled that it only took a short time to process all the requirements needed for her outbound travel amid the pandemic.
“There were only a few people inside government offices because you have to go there by appointment. It was also safe because there were only a few people there,” she noted.
On October 21 last year, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases lifted the ban on non-essential outbound travel of Filipinos.
Health protocols followed
Sangguniang Kabataan chairman Aerol John Cardenas of Barangay San Jose in Bulakan, Bulacan said the Covid-19 pandemic taught him to give importance to time management, his family, and the government’s health protocols.
I have learned how to value time and my family, and how to follow protocols imposed by LGUs, the PNP, and the government,” Cardenas said.
In May last year, Duterte decided to ease movement restrictions to reopen the Philippine economy, imposing for the first time the less restricted general community quarantine (GCQ) in some parts of the country. Despite the relaxation, Gemma Mabanta, a village worker in Bulakan, Bulacan, said she continues to follow the government’s public health protocols, such as the use of face masks and face shields, strict social distancing, and frequent hand washing to protect herself and her family against Covid-19.
“I have learned to value myself. I have realized that my loved ones are important to me. I have also learned to follow protocols),” Mabanta said. (PNA)