How Filipinos are coping with COVID-19 effects
Over a Cup of Tea
Heidi M. Pascual
Publisher & Editor
2006 Journalist of the year
for the State of Wisconsin
As of this writing, thousands of people worldwide have died of COVID-19, the pandemic that continues to threaten
mankind. I do not want to put anymore statistics here that could sow more fear to an already scared world. Suffice it
to say that this virus is changing the lives of people and societies everywhere, threatening a global economic
depression, and making us realize that all people are equal, that there is need to connect to a Supreme Being in
search for hope of survival, and that we should now focus on helping each other, regardless of who or where we

The Philippines has not been immune from the ill effects of COVID-19. In fact, while the increase in death statistics
is minimal in comparison to that of other countries, particularly the US and those in Europe, there remains the
threat of more cases considering the lack of testing kits and the inability of hospitals to handle and accommodate

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As in many other countries trying to save as many lives as possible, the Philippines has imposed stringent rules to avoid further spread of the
virus. Metro Manila, for example, is on Extreme Community Quarantine (ECQ) or total lockdown, just like some other local government units found
with a few positive COVID-19 patients. ECQ areas prohibit the residents to go out of their homes, but allow only one adult per household to
purchase necessary food supplies and /or medicines during specific times/days in a week at certain places where food and meds are available.
Every household in every barangay or barrio has been issued a Quarantine Pass or ID for the purpose. Public transportation (air, land, and sea)
has been suspended, and only private or privately-hired vehicles on land are allowed, with only one passenger per vehicle. International travel
has been severely affected, as foreigners are banned to enter the country and those still here are allowed to leave. Only transport of food
supplies and other basic necessities are allowed to help keep people’s basic needs met. Social distancing of about a meter in every purchasing
place is strictly implemented, and social gatherings are strictly banned. Only these places are allowed to open: hospitals and clinics, wet
markets, supermarkets and groceries, pharmacies, banks and money remittance centers. Schools and all business establishments not
included in the priority list are closed, keeping almost all activities anywhere at a stand still.
The Philippine government’s actions to combat COVID-19 have so
far helped avoid the spread of this contagion quickly. But still, the
pandemic has created a lot of stress, especially to people who are
daily wage earners and the majority of Filipinos who are at or
below poverty level. To assist the Filipino families cope with this
dire situation, local governments (barangay, municipality/city, and
province) have been distributing food items for every household,
consisting of rice, noodles, and cans of sardines. Private, wealthy
companies are doing their share by donating, manufacturing, or
producing important items to keep people alive and well. Churches
have likewise been active in this regard, personally distributing
goods and gift certificates to their parishioners in their own homes.

Amid all the negative effects of the pandemic, however, one very
important positive result is happening. With the quarantine
imposed on all residents, families have now more time for
bonding. Since there is no school, no office, no mall, no party, no
park/concert/travel,etc., families are being kept together at home for
a long time. They do things together, such as cleaning and
disinfecting their homes, playing games, watching TV, listening to
music, eating on the family’s dining table at the same time, and
many more.

Another very positive effect of being quarantined is: many friends
are connecting online via Facebook and Messenger. What else to
do but chat and write about things happening to each other’s life
everyday! Posts of meals cooked for breakfast, lunch or dinner
pepper FB pages, as if cooking has become one of the most
important thing done for the day!

But what is most apparent, significant, and beautiful is the fact that
Filipinos are all joined in prayer everyday. All forms of modern
communication technology are full of prayers, images of spirituality,
messages from the Pope, quotations from the Bible and other
saints, as well as personal pleas to God for mercy. The Philippines
stands out as the only Christian nation in Southeast Asia; thus,
most Filipinos practice this belief mainly through their local
churches and organizations of the faithful. With the present
situation and the strict rules on home confinement and social
distancing, however, churches are using FB live streaming to reach
their members in their homes. Many churches likewise do daily
gospel reflections or messages via live streaming or video
recordings posted on FB or emails. Filipinos are joining people
from other countries in prayer, because the fight against this
pandemic is a fight of mankind.

Here are some photos from my province of Laguna, a few miles
south of Metro Manila. I am proud to be part of this community of
people who have a strong faith in God. This all shall pass and God
will bless all of us In His Time.