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My Quarantine experience…

I was at the UP Los Banos, attending a training on Eco-Tourism Planning and Development, when the news that President Duterte's ban on domestic travel and Enhanced Community Quarantine for Luzon was first broadcast.

We still had two days to finish the training, but the participants panicked after hearing the news that the travel ban will be effective March 15, 2020.

Participants of the training came from different provinces and were scheduled to return to different mines sites with flight schedules on the 16th and 17th of March, thus the panic.

Our flight back to Palawan was set for March 14, buzzer-beating the travel ban.

Coronavirus was all over the news, and seriously, if you have anxiety with all the Covid 19 updates happening during that time, you may opted to tune out the television news or log out of your Social Media app.

Since some airlines had already cancelled their scheduled domestic flights we worried about ours as well.

The coronavirus hit us by surprise, and consumed us within months. Nobody predicted that it would kill so many people that fast, force countries to go into lockdown, shut schools and public places and put our life on hold. It hit us and now it's everywhere. It made the whole world bleed, and is still spreading like wildfire.

It was thus inevitable that I, and my co-workers who also attended the same training, had to stay indoors upon our return to Puerto Princesa on March 14.

This was not only a policy of the National and Local Governments but also a proactive policy that was immediately implemented by Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Company (RTNMC), our employer.

In addition to complying with our company’s movement control order, we also had to observe a second 14-day self-quarantine after returning to Rio Tuba, our mining area in the town of Bataraza, Palawan.

The company designated quarantine homes for returning employees coming from outside the municipality or the province. I was lucky enough that the company-owned housing unit assigned to me (and my family) has a separate room ideal for isolation while separating or social distancing myself from my wife and sons. Later on I realized that it was even more difficult to see your wife and sons but be unable to kiss and hug them.

The idea itself of a 14-day Quarantine was very stressful. What was I going to do during those days? There was no TV in that room but, for the first time, the internet connection of Smart (Data) was very good in that area, thanks to God.

I could not do the Jamaica-Tik Tok craze, I could not play games with my sons, I could not even cook and I could not do some of my community works, which were really needed during this health crisis.

Positively, this was the time for me to read books, read the social media news; I got to rest, and even indulged in painting. It was through social media that I was made aware of how the world fought the virus while I stayed quarantined at home.

Some in my situation meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. I also realized that some people began to think differently. It made me thing that the covid-19 pandemic was also a blessing in disguise, maybe for me.

Some people healed, maybe not physically but emotionally and spiritually. And, in the absence of people living in heartless ways, the earth itself began to heal.

I did not feel alone during my self-quarantine days maybe because my family was just a bedroom-door away.

My Community Relations family was also very active in updating me, through our group chat, of our daily ComRel activities.

The RTN management was also very supportive and our RTNFI Hospital led by Dr. Bimbo was also very helpful by regularly checking our health status. Truly, they were front liners of this pandemic challenge.

After my Quarantine, or Isolation, I experienced mixed emotions, topped with a sense of relief. However, stereotypes are stereotypes… If you were isolated whether you had the illness or not, you may feel sadness or anger because friends and loved ones may have unfounded fears of contracting the disease from contact with you, even though you have been determined not to be contagious. This was the common experienced by quarantined employees.

Did I cheat during my isolation challenge? I have to admit… Yes. Several times, at mid-night, I peeked on my sons’ room and my wife (with PPE) and saw them soundly sleeping; each time I was always teary eyed.

Why? Paano nga kung ‘yun na ang huling tingin ko sa kanila… they will not visit me at the hospital even if they wanted to. They cannot even attend my funeral… worse we’ll not even say our “good byes”…

I’m glad that that’s over, and now I pray for everyone who has to go through the challenge of battling this pandemic, whether as a frontliner, as a family member of someone who is ill, or, worst of all, as someone fighting to survive.

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