A garden planter with three sets of breasts in a private backyard in Aklan Province, Philippines.

Serenity Garden, travel pass & Kalibo COVID-19 cases

We made a trip to Kalibo for essential reasons, amid the new worries about the Delta variant of the coronavirus on Panay Island.

Kalibo COVID cases appear to be increasing. It’s the capital of Aklan Province, a two-hour bus ride from us, or about 90 minutes in a commuter van.

Serenity Garden

My primary purpose for Kalibo trips is visit two friends to help maintain my spiritual condition. For more than a year, we’ve met at least once a week in the lovely ‘Serenity Garden’ in the backyard of one friend to enjoy a brief break from the crazy world.

God has a sense of humor. I get to meet with like-minded, English-speaking spiritual fellows in this part of the world – in a pandemic, in a developing nation, no less. The garden art is iconic – and ironic – to me: a planter with three sets of breasts.

My sober friend has had that garden art for years – long before I showed up in 2020.

As a sober woman who’s had a double mastectomy, I chose to take it as a sign that I’m in the right place. I mean, what are the chances??

I used to visit my few friends in the Serenity Garden every Monday. Then, travel limitations were mandated because of rising COVID cases throughout the province. Theo asked me not to go to Kalibo every week.

Since late May, I have only made it to Kalibo three times to keep sane. And I don’t know how much longer any trip to Kalibo will be an option.

Travel pass to Kalibo

To go to Kalibo, you need to get a travel pass.

Step one, I go to the Motag Barangay Hall, state my essential reason for travel. If granted, the pass is signed by an official. It includes the reason for my travel, the date of travel and the date of issue.

Step two, I go get a photocopy of the original pass, which has an embossed seal.

Step three, I take both copies to Malay Municipality Hall – more commonly called the Mayor’s Office. There, my pass gets final approval.

There are several barangays (neighborhoods) in Malay, so it’s usually crowded. People sit outside as their travel passes are hoisted up to the third floor by a pulley system, pictured below.

If there is a question, the request comes back down for an answer (pictured above).

If there still is a question, you can go up to the third floor and speak with someone. I had to do that on my first visit during the new lockdown rules. But the Malay worker understood my request once I explained it a bit, and she was kind.

Malay keeps the photocopy for records of who’s going where when and for what. I take the embossed copy.

On the most recent Kalibo trip, there was an essential shopping need for items not found in Malay.

That’s why Theo went this week. We split up and got supplies from some ongoing Ati projects. While I was in the Serenity Garden, Theo secured supplies for a separate project he’s working on for a friend.

Kalibo COVID-19 cases

The latest figures I can find for COVID-19 cases in Kalibo are a week old as of this writing. The Provincial Health Office – which communicates information on its Facebook page, not its own website – puts the number of active cases at 217 as of July 13.

Tap the image to enlarge.

It might be revealing when the new case numbers are released, in light of the recent news about the Delta variant’s local transmission just outside Aklan.

I don’t ever report ‘rumor’ on this blog, because of swift and severe punishment by the national government. I’m only a visitor here, anyway, and sometimes rumors aren’t true. Sometimes, they are.

For example, when Boracay’s suicide rate dramatically increased following the tourism bust, there was no official word about it, so I didn’t report it here… until the feds acknowledged it.

About a month ago, there was one media report that doctors warned about an imminent collapse of the health care system in Aklan. The alarming report was by the Philippine Daily Inquirer – and was found nowhere else.

Philippine government updates

All of that said, I now turn to the ‘official’ narrative. Here’s a roundup of virus-related things the national government’s ‘news agency’ has released as it relates to our region:

  • The national government is sending only 15,000 J&J jabs to Aklan. Priority groups A2 (senior citizens) and A3 (government workers) will get those American-made, emergency-use shots, even though they were donated to this country by our taxes, which, of course, we pay. (So we continue to wait our turn… in a dreadfully slow vaccination rollout that includes mostly shots not always accepted by other countries, like Sinovac.)
  • Iloilo City, the largest on Panay Island, activated a new border control around the city. There is no official word on if a recent surge in the city is related to the Delta variant.
  • Once a week, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte records a message he calls “Talk to the People.” In his latest address, he covered the possibility for further movement restrictions as a result of local transmissions of the Delta variant to the coronavirus.

As always, be grateful and humble, happy trails & more serenity.

Life is Now.

Thanks for reading, “Serenity Garden, Kalibo travel pass & COVID-19 cases.”


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