Quarantine Diaries | Philippines : Life in Lockdown

Guest post by Liz from PiecesOfLiz

I vividly remember the day my government announced that Luzon was going to be put under lockdown or community quarantine as they put it. I was at the gym that Thursday night. I even went out with my friends from the gym for a drink at a nearby bar after.

The government said we were going to be in community quarantine for a month and I remember a feeling of sadness and fear from that announcement. I was sad because lockdowns meant the life I knew – going to the office, the gym, the mall, going out with friends and the mall – it was about to change.

Suddenly, the threat of COVID-19 became very serious from being a distant event happening in other countries like China and Italy.

We went on lockdown in March. We’re now in the middle of May which means I’ve been sheltering in place for two months now and counting.

How has life been since then?

The Philippines has one of the strictest lockdowns globally. The once busy streets and highway have become quiet because the public transportation has been suspended and curfew has been imposed. Suddenly there are no more people crowding the trains as they rush to get to work. People are only allowed to go out of their houses for essential runs like food and medicine. We’re also required to have a quarantine pass whenever we go out.

If you don’t want to go out, you can have food delivered to you instead from a number of options like Grab and Food Panda. The government has also been giving money to people through the social amelioration program to tide them over during the lockdown. The local government units from the different cities and provinces are also distributing relief goods to people – this is something families who have experienced natural disasters like typhoon, earthquake, volcano eruption or sometimes accidental disasters like home fires go through in the Philippines.

I took this photo of our street back in April when I went out to buy vitamins.

Pre-quarantine days, this street was packed with motorcycles, cabs and jeepneys. There would be kids playing outside their homes too.

You’re required to wear a face mask as well whenever you go out so I bought washable ones for my mom and I to wear. It’s cute right? I figured if you’re gonna wear a mask, might as well make it stylish since a mask is part of the new normal now. Not hard to find washable masks in different styles these days. Most fashion brands I know and like in the Philippines are already creating and selling face masks.

I used to spend plenty of time outside the house. Even on weekends, I hardly stay put inside the house since I go to the office, the gym or the mall whether with friends or by myself. Now, I just go out when I need to buy vitamins but even that’s limited now! If I can do it online, I usually opt to do so now – never mind the shipping fee.

This is from our garden. Before I start work or whenever I feel anxious, I come out here when the sun is out and I just take this view in. It helps to calm my anxious mind.

The Work Sitch

People have also been asked to work from home – if they can. Even BPO workers have been asked to work from home. But if your job can’t be brought home, then you’re out of a job. Maybe just temporarily while the enhanced quarantine is ongoing or completely out of a job because the company you’re working for has been forced to close because of the ongoing pandemic and no revenues are coming in.

I’m lucky to belong to the group who still has work and able to work from home. Actually, even before this pandemic, I had the option to work remotely from time to time. I even looked forward to those days when I could not report to the office. Now I’m working from home full time. It’s a good thing I have a somewhat strong Internet connection at home.

Just like how it is around the world, nowadays, meetings are no longer done face to face but virtually. Luckily, I haven’t experienced doing plenty of video calls – mostly just voice calls and chats over Viber and Dingtalk therefore I have not been suffering from Zoom fatigue.

During the first couple of weeks of working from home, I still had my alarm set to 7AM and I would still roll out of bed at 8AM. LOL. It was part of my new normal along with working out. Speaking of exercise…

Fitness and Health in Lockdown

Pre-quarantine, I spent a lot of days at the gym. I was even working with a personal trainer. Well, the gym has been closed for two months now too so that part of my life has gone out the window which also sucks because I really enjoyed going to the gym.

I made it a habit to still workout at home when we went on lockdown. I even watched what I ate. All because I didn’t want to gain weight and undo all the hard work I’ve ever put in the gym. But life on lockdown gets to you somehow. I would admit that I’m not working out as much or eating being as conscious with what I eat these days.

I still workout these days maybe not as often as before but it’s not completely out of the window and yes I try to watch what I eat still. The motivation has changed though. It’s no longer about weight loss.

My motivation is now simply because I know it’s important to stay healthy and to have a strong immune system if I’m to keep myself from getting sick and I don’t mean just of COVID-19.

I don’t have a home gym. I don’t even own one pair of dumb bells. So the workouts I do are all body weight types of workouts. But I thought I’d add a little fun to my exercise so I bought a jump rope. Luckily, delivery of non-essential items like this is now allowed by the government. It wasn’t back in March and April.

OOTDs and Beauty Regimen

I used to love dressing up for work. I even rocked high heels and I wore make up. But I’m just home these days. No friends or crushes to see. You know how women post on social media about saying goodbye to wearing bras these days because they too are working from home? Well I’ve said goodbye to eye brow makeup. LOL. That’s why I say I’m lucky I don’t have to do video calls. I don’t feel like prettying up these days.

The most I can do in the beauty department is pamper my skin and so I bought myself a lot of sheet masks.

I have however been mulling over dressing up even a little bit, wear bit of makeup and then take OOTD to post on social media. I thought I’d do it like how the women at Cupcakes and Cashmere, a favourite lifestyle blog of mine, are doing. Who knows? For now, that’s just an idea I’m toying with. Not something I’ve already decided to do.

What I Do to Unwind

I video chat with my friends from time to time on weekends (that’s the only time I bother to put brow makeup on at least). But mostly, I spend my days watching movies on Netflix (check out my latest recommendations), playing games and reading books. Books! I have a lot of unread books on my shelf from those book sale events I attended in the past. Here are just some of my latest reads.

How I Am and My Family Doing

Physically, I am okay. And so is my family. Thank God for that! My mom keeps a regular stock of fruits at home – mostly bananas and oranges while I ensure we have vitamins. Emotionally? I guess I would say I am still somewhat in disbelief. I never thought I’d experience a pandemic in my lifetime. I’ve heard of it happening of course. But actually be living through it?

Unbelievable.

Everyday I check the news. I read about what’s happening especially about the vaccine updates. I hope and I pray that we find a vaccine to fight off this deadly respiratory disease. I am also in disbelief that we’ve had to go on lockdown and sometimes I feel frustrated, sad, and downright exhausted!

Sometimes, I even feel hopeless about the situation and I don’t just mean about COVID-19. I’m talking about living through a pandemic with the kind of government we have. I wish to go out. I miss going out to go wherever like the mall and the gym.

But even if the enhanced community quarantine is lifted, I’m scared about the idea of going out. Without mass testing happening, how can I tell who is sick or not?

I don’t want to catch the virus. Or worse – be this asymptomatic carrier who unknowingly spreads it to others like my family. Mentally? I have my good days and I have my bad days. The good days are when I feel okay and stable, going about my daily routine. But then there are the bad days. I’ve never considered myself to be such an anxious person until this pandemic! It doesn’t help that I live in a house that’s so open to people – even with the quarantine in place, my mom and my uncle have friends visiting them.

Sometimes, it’s our neighbours and I have to keep reminding them to keep their distance. I get so alarmed when I hear someone seemingly coughing these days! It’s even harder to fall asleep these days. I tell myself to be in
bed by 11PM the latest but my brain is too wide awake! So that’s why I’ve said goodbye to setting alarms. I let myself sleep these days because I need to get enough sleep.

It was actually worse the first two months in lockdown. After I return home from going to the nearby pharmacy or convenience store, I get so paranoid that I might have caught the virus. Every single ache I feel in my body, every single sneeze, every single numbness I feel in my limbs, I think “am I sick with COVID-19”?

My mind has calmed a bit down since then. One shouldn’t attract such negative thoughts! And I know I am going to do everything I can in my control to not catch the virus.

The lockdown in most parts of the country has been moved to a general community quarantine status. It means there’s public transportation allowed again. More non-essential businesses can be opened too
including the mall. Not Metro Manila though where I live. COVID-19 cases here are still rising! But we’ve been put under modified enhanced community quarantine. We call this Season 4 of ECQ. It’s different but the same. It means some non-essential businesses are allowed to open again. But no public transportation still.

Since some of my friends are going back to the office, their companies must provide them with a shuttle to get to work. If not, they can either drive to work (for those with cars), bike to work or even walk to work (this is unfortunate for those whose work are far from where they live). I feel only a little bit of comfort from the new status. Mass testing is really the only one that will make me feel secured!

I know the virus may be here for the long haul without a vaccine or cure available just yet but I am hopeful that I can have a life outside again, cautious still but a life not on lockdown and hopefully a life where I don’t have to keep guessing who is sick and isn’t sick.


About the author

Liz is 34 yrs old, residing in Metro Manila, Philippines and loves being a city girl! She likes to read, watch movies and series and enjoys writing hence she keep a blog as a creative outlet. You can check out her blog at PiecesofLiz. You can also find her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!


Quarantine Diaries is a blog series where bloggers from different countries share their quarantine stories to narrate their experiences and remind us that we all are in it together.

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Comments

  1. Jessica Bautista

    I really enjoyed reading an insight into your life during this time, it’s especially more interesting that you’re in another country from myself and even better yet my family home country! I’ve read all the strict rules there, much more severe than in the UK at the moment.

    Wishing you and your loved ones safety!

    Jessica | http://www.jessicabautista.co.uk

    1. Liz

      Hi Jessica! Yes so many strict rules here in the Philippines. Hope you and your family are well despite what’s happening around us.

  2. Baby Boomer Super Saver

    I think we can all relate, Liz! This is a scary time and it is extra hard to cope when there is no clear end in sight. My husband & I are doing many of the same things you are to stay safe and keep others safe – staying home, practicing social distancing, wearing masks when we have to go out, etc. I have been trying to buy most of our non-perishable food and supplies online and we go to the grocery stores early in the morning or late at night to avoid the crowds. Although I’m grateful to be able to work from home, too, it’s challenging. I have to force myself to take breaks and go for a walk around the block. Otherwise, I don’t get any exercise! Stay safe out there!

    1. Liz

      My mom likes to walk around our street as well in the morning as her way of getting some sunshine and exercise. Stay safe as well!

  3. bournemouthgirl

    That street looks so peaceful. Thank you for sharing your experience during this strange time. It’s so interesting to see other people’s experiences from different countries!

    1. Liz

      It is peaceful to look at now that there aren’t any vehicles passing by or kids playing outside. Thank you for reading! And yes, it’s interesting to see what other people’s experiences are from different countries! I also like to read about how other people are doing during this time.

  4. Julianne

    It’s so interesting that even though we are on opposite ends of the world, our quarantine experience is quite similar! I know exactly what you mean about the stress of reopening. I am feeling that as well. Stay safe and take care of yourself! Sending love from Canada!

    1. Liz

      Hey Julianne! Thanks for taking the time to read. 🙂 Yep, we’re all going through a shared trauma thanks to this virus where we have to quarantine! Stay safe even when lockdown is lifted!

    1. Liz

      Heck yes! When I go out these days, it’s like a real treat to be able to look up at the sky, feel the sun on my face, get some air! I miss the days of being able to just go out to go wherever, you know? These days I don’t go any farther than the end of our street because I’m trying to be careful. Don’t want to catch the virus!

  5. Rebekka Kaur

    It was wonderful to take a peek at how people of Philippine are dealing with the lockdown! Thank you for sharing this ❤️

    1. Liz

      Thank you for reading, Rebekka. I appreciate it. I’m glad to be have been given an avenue to share what life in lockdown is like here in the Philippines.

  6. middleagefanclub

    It certainly sounds like a tough lockdown. In the UK we’ve been allowed out for family exercise once a day, as long as we stay close to home, so that’s eased any tensions a bit. We’ve also been doing the Joe Wicks workout via YouTube every day too.
    It’s still tough, but we’re managing to stay healthy and alleviating boredom!
    Hope you’re well. Stay safe!

    1. Liz

      It is a tough lockdown! Even tougher for those whose jobs can’t be brought home and those living in the slum areas. Those who are living in cramp spaces can’t just stay home for the entire duration because they need air! It can be very hot here in the summer. I’m lucky that my family and I can stay home and watch TV or Netflix which helps fight off boredom. Stay safe as well! Hopefully we all get through this soon enough!

  7. Chris - CJ Attractions Guide

    Hello from the UK! A great post to read, the restrictions sound very difficult to cope with, but there is light at the end of the tunnel, everybody is having ups and downs in this current situation but I am glad you are finding positives. Thanks for sharing! 😊

    1. Liz

      That’s true Chris.We’re going through a shared trauma where we have our ups and downs. I’m going to continue doing my best to stay positive given the situation of course though it can be a challenge sometimes. But you know I keep that in mind: there will be light at the end of the tunnel. 🙂 And yes, the restrictions are difficult to cope with! We’re doing our best though to comply because we want to do our part in not spreading the virus further.

  8. Chloe Chats

    Very interesting to read what it’s like for other countries! It is a scary time, I feel like the ‘new normal’ when lockdown is slowly relaxed is going to be very different to how it used to be. We’ve been in lockdown since mid March and I’m not too sure when I’ll be going back to my office to work, but I am looking forward to seeing everyone again!

    Chloe xx
    http://www.chloechats.com

    1. Liz Martin

      Yes, I think it’s going to be different. But I hope it will be for the better kind of different. I don’t know when we’re going back to the office as well but I too look forward to seeing everyone again.

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