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Facing COVID


by Kaloy Manlupig

April 2:​

I was rudely awakened from my afternoon nap by an alarmingly bad coughing fit so I decided to isolate myself at the guesthouse. I asked everyone in the house to wear facemasks and observe distancing.

I took a shot of a green liquid extracted from kalabo herb which is fortunately abundant in our garden.

It was my first time to use one of the two rooms reserved for guests, and told myself I should have tried sleeping here long ago.

Before going to bed, I had a “garden dinner” by my lonesome.

Indeed, it is scary to think of the possibility of having been infected by COVID-19.

I began to imagine possible scenarios in my mind. Do I already have the virus? Am I going to die?

“Garden dinner” by my lonesome.

April 3:

After a long listless night, I was up by 4am. I was planning to walk the dogs by 5am but Spike was already excited (or impatient) so I walked him first even before 5. The early morning breeze  and the sweet smell of the plants were so refreshing as I kept on convincing myself that I would be fine.

Had a painit (pre-breakfast?) of two sandwiches and a mug of hot milk-choco while observing the early morning joggers and exercisers at the park across the house.

Body temperature check: 35.1 degrees. Blood pressure check: 124/75. All good! But intermittent coughing continues.

Greeted Balong who slept at the sala without me and woke up relatively late at past 7am. He usually rises at 5am.

Spent the rest of the morning observing BMFI colleagues set up the system for the virtual 1st Quarter Assessment and Planning this coming Monday.

Had a full lunch of rice, pancit, mongo and humba, topped with kalabo syrup and pineapple juice. I noticed that I have been unusually hungry since I moved to the guesthouse. Maybe this is because there is a difference between having ready access to food and having limited or no access at all. Since I could not enter the main house (having isolated myself), I feel challenged for food. Thus the craving. Those rallyists who were violently dispersed must be so hungry. Their’s is real deprivation.

Spent the early part of the afternoon waiting for the dry run of the 1QAP to begin. A fun and enjoyable Zoom meeting with BMFI colleagues completed the rest of my afternoon.

Read a post on the chatroom of a newly-formed group where Balay Mindanaw is a member, the Covid19 Action Network. A portion caught my attention.

It says: “Gov’t sees peak infection arrive by April 14, seeing approx 23k infections. 19% will need hospitalization, 5% will need ICU, 2% will expire. We now have 300K testing kits, enough to cover 120k people.”

So government’s worst case scenario foresees a total death toll of “only” 460?

Went to bed early after another garden dinner of rice, humba and pancit, followed by a shot of kalabo syrup. I think I am now beginning to appreciate, not just tolerate, its taste.

"Feels like fish inside an aquarium" -April 4

April 4:

Awakened by the alarm clock at exactly 5am. Praised and thanked God for a long restfull sleep. Walked the four dogs one at a time.

Body temp check: 35.8 Blood Pressure check: 133/80 slightly elevated but still OK I think. Intermittent coughing continues.

Went through some facebook posts. Reminded myself again of what Ed dela Torre wrote:

“I was incensed by the petty arrogance of those in power, but did not want to waste my diminished emotional energies on them.”

Posted this on facebook: “Sharing, Caring, Healing

Not Naming, Blaming, Shaming, Killing”

After allowing myself to be bathed in the morning sun for about half an hour, and doing light physical exercises, I had a garden breakfast of rice, boiled egg, hotdogs and mongo soup and banana, washed down with hot chocomilk followed by lemon grass brew.

Plenty of time for reflection, discernment , prayer. I examined what I could contribute as we face this crisis. I told myself that I will try to:

1. Ensure safety, good health, and welfare of everyone
2. Provide accurate information. Call spade a spade without being alarmist
3. Anticipate worst case scenarios and introduce proactive measures to ensure each staff personal and institutional good health
4. Mobilize, manage resources
5. Cheerleading. Nurture individual and organizational morale
6. Empower. Encourage initiatives. Initiate participatory planning, lead in participatory implementation
7. Just do it. Leading by doing. Show that it can be done.

The rest of the day was uneventful, having spent most of it in bed.

The April 4 Sunset


On April 13, exactly a month after the suspension of all Balay Mindanaw field activities, and after a going through a deep personal and collective discernment, I wrote the following:



Internal Advisory No.3

13 April 2020



We have begun implementing some interventions to provide assistance to our partner communities and groups as part of our COVID-19 Response. In view of this development, we are revising our policy on field activities of staff.



1. Instead of total suspension of field activities, we are now allowing calibrated and selective field activities related to COVID-19 Response subject to the following conditions:


1.1 Appropriate preparation and protection especially the wearing of appropriate PPEs such as face masks , face shields, gloves

  1. 1.2 Only staff with no health issues are allowed

  2. 1.3 Strict Observance of Physical Distancing

  3. 1.4 No Mass Gathering (involving more than 10 persons)

  5. 2. Staff travels related to COVID-19 Response are allowed subject to existing government regulations, and the appropriate protective and safety measures. The use of public transportation is not allowed.

  7. 3. All staff and volunteers who are planning to get involved in COVID-19 Response are advised to undergo proper medical check up, and secure the appropriate medical clearance.

  9. For your guidance.

  11. We Refuse to be Victims. We Choose to be Resources.