budget breakdown for march 2020

Lockdown 2021; COVID-19 in Motag, Malay, Aklan

We are on Lockdown 2021, though it’s not officially called a ‘lockdown’.

Our movements are limited. We need ‘permission’ to go outside our neighborhood (Barangay Motag), out of our municipality (Malay) in Aklan Province, and we can only get permission if our purpose is deemed ‘essential travel’.

What a bummer.

Lockdown 2021

No day trips to Kalibo (provincial capital), or to Boracay Island for me, apparently, even though it’s in the same municipality as where we currently rent an apartment.

But Boracay is open to domestic (Filipino) tourists. They fly in from other regions, including the National Capital Region, which includes Manila, which has been a hot COVID mess this year.

This is a great thing: local people so desperately need income.

The economic situation in this area is precarious. No one has had much income for 15 months.

There have been more suicides than COVID deaths. (Dozens of suicides; three recorded, official, COVID deaths in Malay.)

There are no American-sized stimulus checks in this part of the developing world.

But it irks me that some tourists fake their swab tests to get onto Boracay at a pandemic discount.

In the last week, 11 forged negative test results were caught. That’s what happened the last time Boracay opened up. And that’s when cases spiked- the first time.

COVID in Motag

The government is not calling this a ‘lockdown’, but I am.

When I need a pass to move outside a couple square miles, I feel like I’m caged into an area.

I’ve been free to travel around Aklan Province following all safety protocols for nearly a year.

Suddenly, I can’t, but tourists from Manila can. Doesn’t seem fair. But I do understand the logic – raise money, fast. People can’t hold on much longer.

Now, with the inevitable spread of the coronavirus, there is a positive case in Motag, and many more positive cases in other barangays in Malay. The neighborhoods with the greatest numbers of new cases are — wait for it — on Boracay!

I hope the family affected in Motag is going to be OK. While there is only one positive case, close contacts with that person are waiting their test results.

Tattletale hotlines

Better follow the new rules! Every barangay (neighborhood) has a tattletale hotline.

If you see people in a mass gathering, or drinking alcohol, or sneaking outside their barangay without an ‘essential travel’ pass, or going home past curfew, you are encouraged to call and report violators.

There are notices posted all over Facebook (that’s how many local government units communicate with people here), and some printed signs are on the neighborhood sari saris (small, family-run convenience stores).

Good thing I don’t violate the rules.

And things could certainly be worse… like during Lockdown 2020, when only Theo could leave the rental apartment for a few weeks.

For now, I can ride my bike for exercise anywhere in Malay. And I have been swimming for exercise on the Motag beach.

Click the image below to enlarge the ‘simplified’ version of the Executive Order that’s not officially called a “lockdown.” (Incidentally, the original order is a bit confusing for the uninitiated and then some. Read the original here.)

Passport to … somewhere else?

I have to pick up our passports at the immigration office on Boracay next week. I left them there several days ago to process our visas to remain in the Philippines another two months.

I’m sure I will be allowed to visit Boracay to get our passports. If that’s not essential travel, what is?

Besides, Theo has already needed a pass to drop his off. (He went a day later than me. His ‘hall pass’ is pictured below, click to enlarge.)

I have been grateful for my once-a-week trips to Boracay and Kalibo for my health-related reasons– which are essential travel for me. Because I meet with another alcoholic in each place, you could even call my travel reasons humanitarian.

No idea if I’ll be granted a pass for one-on-one meetings with fellow alcoholics, however. It’s not like it’s a mass gathering, we most definitely are NOT drinking, and it helps my health. Alcoholism is a disease, after all.

If our ability to travel in Aklan is taken away for any longer than two weeks, it might be time to buy an exit visa and finally move on from here.

To where? There are options for us – even in this ‘new normal’ – with lower heat and humidity, no mosquitoes, no typhoons, washing machines, and internet that works like we’re in the 21st Century.

Vaccines are in short supply. We are at the bottom of the list. For travel reasons, we cannot take the Chinese versions since those are not accepted by some countries.

In a few days from this writing, we will start Month #16 here in Motag.

That is a long, long, long-ass time for a traveler like me.

Thanks for reading “Lockdown 2021; COVID-19 in Motag, Malay, Aklan.”

This is the story of how we got ‘stuck’ in Motag.

This is the story of how Theo’s mom Diane stayed with us for the first seven months of the pandemic, and then went home.

Related: Filipino ways to stay upbeat during the pandemic

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Feature piece! Our list of affordable places for Americans to retire around the world, based on our monthly living expenses.


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