MALAY, Aklan, Philippines — COVID-19 cases have risen each week in this part of Aklan Province and so the governor’s executive order severely limiting residents travel has been extended another two weeks.
Malay lockdown 2021 extended — & enhanced (!) — but only for locals
Officials claim there is no ‘Malay lockdown’ but based on where I can and can’t go without a “travel pass” — I call this a lockdown.
Malay Municipality covers the northern tip of Panay Island, in Aklan Province. Boracay Island is part of the municipality.
And now, as part of the extended order, local people in Malay are not allowed to swim on Boracay.
The above picture was taken before Boracay recently opened back up to tourists from the National Capital Region (Manila). I have enjoyed the island’s pristine beauty once a week, at least, for many months without tourists. (For new readers, where we temporarily rent an apartment is pictured in the distance on the above photo.)
I was glad to see tourists back in recent weeks, because as I’ve explained before, people are desperate for income. There were more suicides on Boracay than COVID deaths in Malay — by a lot.
I even started a new swimming workout with my new prescription goggles (a great bargain for less than $4 on Shoppee – the Philippine version of Amazon).
Since I am not a typical tourist and I rent on the mainland, that makes me a pseudo-resident. And that means no swimming on Boracay for me.
But you know what sucks more? Being a kid in this pandemic in this part of the world.
No birthday parties allowed in Malay lockdown 2021
Kids don’t really understand why they can’t hug Tita Ellen, why tita (like an aunt) can’t throw a once-a-week party with food and games and prizes like she wants to.
All I could do today, on my young friend Jannaira’s 10th birthday, was deliver a birthday cake for her and her family to enjoy, along with a bag filled with small gifts and candy.
I never went into the family’s home. I stayed at their front gate with my face mask and face shield on the entire time.
My readers should know Jannaira is a clever, beautiful girl. She was one of the first Balusbos kids I met on the beach after lockdown 2020. I didn’t know it when I wrote a blog entry in May 2020, but Jannaira was the brave young girl who took me to meet Wilson when I couldn’t find him. (Wilson was one of the first local people to show me kindness.)
Happy birthday, Jannaira!
Tourists fly in during ‘Malay lockdown 2021’
Tourists who fly into Caticlan airport on the mainland need to show a negative COVID test before they are allowed to enter Boracay. The idea is that tourists are expecting a ‘COVID-free’ environment, and locals, who don’t get tested, shouldn’t be allowed to cross the bay.
The problem with this, as I have explained before, is some tourists forge their negative results. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte told police to arrest people who fake their tests. But the damage is already done.
COVID came to Boracay, likely through tourists, over the Christmas season. Local transmission is still reported in each of the barangays, or neighborhoods, on the island. And workers still go back and forth from the mainland to Boracay.
Thus, the governor ordered a ‘modified general community quarantine’ – aka MGCQ with heightened travel restrictions. The restrictions are only for locals. That’s why they say it’s not really a lockdown. Since I am restricted, along with the majority of native Filipinos, I say it’s a lockdown.
We are at the bottom of the list for receiving a vaccine. Also, we do not want the Chinese vaccines and at the moment, and that is the bulk of vaccination in this country.
As world travelers, we hope to resume our lives at some point. Since some countries still do not recognize the Chinese jabs, they wouldn’t do us any good anyway. (Although the World Health Organization recognizes them now.)
According to the Reuters vaccination tracker, the Philippines has given enough doses to vaccinate 3.7 percent of its population as of June 20, 2021.
It will be a long, long time before this country reaches herd immunity.
It’s the dire economic fallout that drives the decision to let domestic tourists fly into Boracay, and keep locals away… “temporarily.”
Last note: there are 13 confirmed cases of the Delta variant in the Philippines. But I cannot find where the cases were. Twelve people have recovered already, per the Department of Health, and one is hospitalized.
If Delta spreads here as it’s doing everywhere else… I honestly hate to think about what might happen.
Thanks for reading, “Malay lockdown 2021 extended & enhanced for locals.”