My Rural Covid19 Experience

By: Mart Louis Fernando

It’s been 892 days since the Philippines officially declared war against the COVID19 Pandemic. I was in Baguio when I experienced the confusing acronyms ECQ, GCQ, MECQ, GCQ+, etc. I couldn’t figure out why we can’t have a metric like on how we do it for typhoons or earthquakes. Probably a rant too late.

My wife’s work required a lot of travelling and as the dedicated family driver, houseband, and WFH employee you become part of the experience. In 2021, we travelled and passed around multiple cities and provinces. Highly urbanized cities happen to have strict checkpoints, documents checking, and strict facemask policy. Completely opposite to the rural areas where everything seems to be normal with just a random person in facemask. By 2022, international travel was a bit better as long as you are fully vaccinated that which allowed us the opportunity to visit 4 African countries and 1 in the middle east. A funny thought and Share Ko Lang, we were the only nation that required faceshields with no proven scientific basis lol. In africa, only the airports were the only place facemask was required people are generally more afraid of EBOLA, HIVAIDS, Typhoid Fever or Yellow Fever. In the middle east, it is somewhat similar to Baguio or any major Philippine city. After numerous rapid antigen tests and RT-PCR tests all of which came negative.

I was never really afraid of acquiring the virus, coming from a health care background as well as an understanding of how vaccines work. I became somewhat complacent when I came back to the Philippines a few months ago. My wife was assigned this time to a small rural fishing municipality somewhere in Pangasinan. There were very limited retail outlets and you have to travel to the next town to get grocery or travel an hour as an alternative.

It started with headache and fever for us, up until our sinus started to swell and cough was hard to ignore. After a few days our fever got worst reaching 40 degrees randomly throughout the day and the simple cold virus probably on steroids as it plagued our nose and throat. As we could no longer tolerate the symptoms we decided to force ourselves into the Emergency Room of the nearby town as ours only had rural health unit. As hospital protocol dictates we got a rapid test which turned out positive. It was not a surprise on our part considering we manifested multiple symptoms. We were ready to be confined only to find out that we can’t be admitted, we have to travel at least an hour just to be admitted. We also have to take our chances if there are any available beds. Internet signal was low and fluctuating electricity amplified the challenge.

We then decided to just come home, purchase a bunch of medications the doctor ordered and a few ready to eat meals to survive the next couple of days. Our initial reaction was that we will be contacted by the LGU and be monitored daily so as not to further spread the virus. I guess what we expected doesn’t have to be the reality.

During the bout while experiencing a cocktail of symptoms and a high dose of meds in the bloodstream. You start thinking, what if we got the virus without the vaccine protection? What if our symptoms required hospital care? What do we do when we don’t have the money to purchase the things we need? If we were in a NO WORK NO PAY situation what do we do?

Living in Baguio where you have 6 hospitals and multiple clinics to choose from, easy to get information on ambulance services, multiple on demand delivery apps to choose from, easy to contact errand services and medical teleconferencing can also be an option. Living just a few weeks into the rural area and experiencing covid first hand, we tend to overlook the privilege we use to get and enjoy.

Right now, all we could do is hope that the next generation of Filipinos will be able to have equal access to healthcare services no matter where you live. Relevant information in a single database available digitally with no fluctuations and struggles to mobile data wherever you are.

Baguio may not be perfect but I sure miss being there right now.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessary reflect When In Baguio Inc.

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