Updates: QR codes, Santa, Ati, life in the Philippines during a pandemic

Some updates to report as life in the Philippines during a pandemic stretches closer to the end of 2020.

First, let me say: congratulations to Theo on his five years of early retired budget travel! A lifelong dream realized. All of that hard work and many years of dedication paid off.

Tedly: even though your year #5 of super-duper slow (paused) travel was weird, you are more otherworldly without geographic changes.

Pandemic lockdowns and protocols, mom Diane’s extended stay, helping an indigenous tribe get electricity and egg-laying chickens in a rebuilt henhouse, lots and lots of help to various local people who are struggling without tourism income.

Weird, yes, but wonderful, also. The Earth Vagabonds saga continues!

Updates on life in the Philippines during a pandemic

QR code for Boracay

I have given up on the Boracay QR code. Perhaps we really do not need one as temporary residents renting an apartment on mainland Malay.

Theo applied for his QR code, and he got an immediate email response. The government worker told him to simply use his local ID. I have no idea why I didn’t get the same reply!?

So I’ve moved on. When we go to Boracay for our immigration appointment, if they ask me for a QR code, I’ll have to explain – again – all the trouble I’ve had.

Letter to Santa

Last year, a typhoon prevented Santa from reaching some homes in this part of the Philippines. Panay Island took a direct hit.

Most people around these parts were affected: damaged homes, businesses, downed electric lines for a month; the upper Ati village henhouse destroyed (that’s the one we rebuilt).

So, here is an excerpt from my letter to Santa. I sent it to the North Pole way back in September, to respectfully request if he could make an extra special effort this year.

Dear Santa …. we understand your reindeer couldn’t get your sleigh here last year because of the typhoon. Those were fierce winds!

Everyone hopes you can make a visit this year, because 2020 has been so difficult for so many families.

We Earth Vagabonds know so many local children in Malay, Aklan, Philippines how have been good all year long, despite unprecedented challenges their families faced …

We shall see if Santa can make a special visit. If anyone on Earth deserves to see Santa, it’s kids I’ve met in these parts.

Ati update

We continue to be Ati egg customers – and they taste great!

Each week or so, Theo carries down a tray of eggs from the upper village in Malay. The egg business seems to be going as good as can be expected, given the slim profit margin.

The chickens are well-cared for – they’re happy and healthy.

I see more Ati people on the beach than I did when we first arrived in March 2020. As the pandemic continues to cut into livelihoods, I can’t help but wonder how the Ati survive.

I have seen barefoot elderly women walking on the highway carrying freshly-picked coconuts. I’ve seen women hunting for crabs on the beach and nearby riverbanks. I’m often awake before dawn, and I see Ati women and children in the moonlight, heading to the beach to get into position – to start their protein hunt at the first, faintest light.

An Ati friend told me: Ati children don’t believe in Santa.

Naturally, I understand their hesitation to believe in goodness and kindness in others when every day is a struggle for everyone – Ati and Filipino alike. Of course, I mentioned all of this in my letter to Santa. We’ll see.

Stay tuned for more Ati news later this month.

Life in the Philippines

One entire year – and then some – of our early retirement has been spent in the Philippines. That still blows my mind. What started as a slow travel tour of this island nation has turned into a rhythm of daily life. A simple life. A good life.

I still cannot find my preferred underwear size or a flat bralette, and I’m still in need of an oncologist which means an eventual trip to Iloilo or Roxas. Those are the prices for living in a rural area on the edge of the sea on northern Panay Island during a pandemic.

To the north, Boracay Island. To the south, rice fields and Ati mountainous land.

Inside: a deepening comprehension that wherever on Earth I go — there I am.

Thanks for reading, “Updates: QR codes, Santa, Ati, life in the Philippines during a pandemic.”

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