Special note: We’ve been posting every day for two weeks. Now what? Well, we might as well continue in some form, documenting what is going on here in the Philippines with our travel – and mom. We have nothing else to do. It’s a record for us… a way to inform our families… and a look at how the coronavirus is being handled in a developing nation. It may not be every day; we intend to post some other more ‘regular’ Earth Vagabonds material, too. But for now, as things change daily, we’ll keep posting about it.
Supply run in the Philippines
Our quarantine period is over! We’ve waited for two weeks to be able to leave the grounds of this beach resort in Malay, on Panay Island in the Philippines. And now we can — a little.
Absolute quarantine (because we are foreigners) has given way to “Community Enhanced Quarantine.” What that means is basically EVERYONE living here is ordered to stay at home – except for one named person per household.
The named person is only permitted to to leave home during non-curfew hours, from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., while carrying a government-issued ‘quarantine pass’, secondary identification, wearing a mask, and practicing social distancing.
I am the ‘named person’ in our household. So off I went today on a supply run in the Philippines during a pandemic. We needed money and groceries.
For the first time since we arrived at the HangOut Beach Resort on March 16, I walked down the street, through the neighborhood, outside the cement block wall that surrounds our place.
Not that big a deal, really. But nice to be ‘free’. It was a gorgeous day. Clear blue sky, blazing sunshine, strong gusty warm breezes, temps in the mid-80s Fahrenheit.
Around my neck, in a clear plastic cell phone holder, I had my quarantine pass and a paper copy of my passport (pictured above). My face mask (first used in polluted Bangkok a year ago) in place.
Getting to Caticlan
The walk from our beachfront rental property to the main road takes only a couple minutes. On the way I passed a tethered goat, a few loose roosters, and a whole grove of coconut trees.
As I approached the end of our small side road, I could see a canvas shelter and two security guards at the intersection with the main coastal road. I’m told they are there to keep anyone who doesn’t live in our neighborhood out – and to assist those who do live here.
They appeared surprised to see me. But obviously, I had just come from the neighborhood they are guarding and I have the proper ‘quarantine pass’. We chatted for a few minutes and one of the guards agreed to take me into town for money and foodstuffs.
We hopped onto a tricycle (motorcycle and sidecar), common to all of the Philippines, and proceeded to make the five kilometer drive into Caticlan – a port (and airport) that serves the popular tourist island of Boracay, less than a mile offshore.
It was at the Caticlan port that we were denied Boracay ferry boarding two weeks ago. And within an hour of that, we were put under quarantine after checking into our small resort.
As we approached the edge of town, there was a larger tent with a handful of security and government personnel stopping vehicles and checking quarantine passes. Everyone wore a mask and stayed five or six feet away as I flashed my pass from the rear tricycle seat. In a moment we were waved through.
First time in Caticlan
The road from our resort to this point had been mostly empty. I think I only saw one other car and a couple tricycles and motors scooters during the 10-minute ride. Now, coming into town, the same: minimal vehicular traffic. A few pedestrians. Some dogs.
Actually, I don’t really know what ‘normal’ traffic or commerce even looks like in Caticlan because we were barely there on our day of arrival. But given the many blocks of storefronts and businesses in this port town, I would surely expect things to be more busy than I witnessed today.
Interestingly, it seemed like about half the businesses were open – though without customers. I noted a second-hand clothing store with racks on the sidewalk, several cafe’s obviously open, and the busiest place in town was the money remittance/pawn shop.
The port area itself was mostly deserted. Boracay has been closed for two weeks. Only residents with proper identification can access the island. Further, a doctor at a clinic on Boracay was confirmed to have the COVID-19 virus, his workplace closed, more quarantines imposed there. There looks to be very little personal transiting taking place now, but semi trucks to supply the island were lined up at the ferry dock.
Thankfully, the ATM at the port was working and I was able to withdraw monies. We owe for food and drink consumed last week at our resort, as well as the remaining half of our first month’s rent. The tricycle guard waited while I withdrew cash. We then headed for the town market.
Shopping on supply run in the Philippines
At the outdoor marketplace a rope fence and been erected and entry and exit lanes set up. Quarantine passes are checked as you enter. There is a hand washing station too, but I wasn’t required to use it.
With the tricycle guard waiting, I quickly stopped at a few vending stalls selling vegetables and grocery items: tuna, peanut butter, spaghetti, snack foods. One store required hand washing before entering, another had the whole front covered with a clear plastic drape – with holes cut to pass money and goods in and out. I also picked up raw chicken and pork chops at the fresh foods area which was mostly empty at the 2:00 p.m. hour.
Back on the tricycle, we stopped at the Mercury drug store – a national chain – on the way back towards our resort for some personal care items.
Finally, as we left town heading home, I grabbed a whole barbecue chicken ($4.50) at a storefront place with three cooked birds for sale and no customers in sight.
When I arrived back at our place, I was surprised at how much stuff I had purchased.
We totaled up the different bills: about 6,000 pesos ($120)! Seems high. Was the math right? Maybe I got the tourist price?
Admittedly, I was rushing and prices are not marked clearly. My tricycle guy was waiting. I pile the stuff on the counter then pay the total. No problem. These are very small businesses with their marketplace largely shut down. An extra $20 or $30 is nothing.
Plus, everybody was nice and friendly to me throughout my excursion… a tourist, a foreigner, amidst a foreign disease outbreak. A couple places I was asked where I was staying.
One shopkeeper asked me not to take photos. Not everyone was wearing masks. I did not see any other obvious Caucasians/tourists.
So we are stocked with toilet paper and cookies and pasta and meats and more. One real bummer; there is an alcohol ban in effect. I found out when asking for beer. Part of the emergency health crisis rules – no sales. No beer!!! Thankfully, I still have some at the resort. But, c’mon, Philippines. Beer is ESSENTIAL! San Miguel is medicine!
Allowed to go to the beach
Finally, while I was shopping, Ellen and mom were at our beach. (Social distancing practiced.) Today is the first time we were able to set foot on it. Decent local beach. A mix of sand and stones, many fishing boats.
Ellen took a mid-day swim and said it was great; refreshing water, sandy bottom, small waves. We all went back down to watch the sun set right on the water. Fantastic!
Life is now!
Thanks for reading “Supply run in the Philippines during a pandemic.”
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