By: Bob Boyer
Iam in Washington, D.C. for the 2021-2022 holidays this year and away from my office resources, and I am experiencing separation anxiety. But I am also excited to share my nephew’s insights on two of the currently dominant issues in the Philippines: COVID and POLITICS. I am indebted to my nephew John for obtaining these insights from his Filipino fiancee Mimi and sharing them with me in print recently. John in the US and Mimi in the Philippines are in daily ZOOM contact. I have edited John’s email epistle to me for length.
Mimi’s COVID Experience
“There was a period of time prior to getting the vaccine that Mimi felt ill and even reported losing her sense of taste. She was never tested, but suspects that she did have COVID for a while. She talks often about the cost of COVID tests and thinks they are ‘expensive’ in the Philippines. . . The prices there are a small fraction of what health care costs in the U.S. But as far as I can tell, there is no real health insurance like we have here.”
“Besides Mimi’s suspected encounter with COVID she has known several people that have been diagnosed with the disease. Some have been neighbors. This I find fascinating. Here in the U.S. I would never know if my neighbors were infected. But in the Philippines they talk amongst the neighbors. The laws currently are such that if a member of a household is confirmed to have COVID, then the entire house is on lockdown. No one is allowed to leave. As such, the neighbors will often chip-n and leave food or supplies outside the house for the household to get through the quarantine. Mimi has asked me on several occasions if I would support her buying extra food for neighbor families. Of course, I agreed.”
“Besides these neighbors, Mimi has also known several people that struggle with COVID. First was her nephew who was hospitalized. When he was at the hospital, there were no available rooms. He was kept in the back of a truck outside the hospital for much of his stay. He was on oxygen. He had water on his lungs and even a month after his encounter, he was still dependent on oxygen. Mimi commented on how alone he felt since no one was allowed to visit him. Mimi was contacting him every day during his stay. Here is another good point to note a difference between the Philippines and the U.S. In the U.S., we expect the nurses to care for a patient in the hospital and be there for them if they need anything. In the Philippines, it is expected that the patient will have a family member stay with them to care for their basic needs. This cannot be done with a COVID patient.”
“Mimi’s cousin who was 37 years old died from COVID. He had a fever for a week. He was scared to be hospitalized. I can only speculate that the fear comes from fear of being alone when they die. Or possibly the fear comes from some of the misinformation that is circulated. ut it is my own speculation.”
“Mimi mentioned that the wife of a classmate of her brother-in-law died. Additionally, the classmate of Mimi’s sister also died and the family was quarantined. Mimi also mentioned that a couple from the small town where she lives died from COVID.”
“It is interesting to me that Mimi is so aware of all these people that had COVID. It could be because Mimi is social and talks to others about so many personal subjects. . . . Or it could be part of the Philippine culture that they work together as a community.”
“This community awareness may play a part in how the Philippines has managed to keep the infection rate relatively low. But, I personally believe the strict enforcement of mask-wearing, social-distancing, quarantining and the compliance by the vast majority of Filipinos is the biggest factor. It seems that the majority of Filipinos seem to clearly see the virus as the enemy and not each other.”
Mimi on Politics
“Mimi has been talking about politics on occasion. She talks about the road expansion that is going on right outside her front door. While there are some inconveniences to her due to changes in the land she occupies, she largely sees the changes as a positive. The project is almost complete and Mimi attributes this to Duterte and his focus on getting things done and collecting taxes from those trying to avoid paying them. In addition Mimi likes to point out that Duterte has instituted the laws that are attempting to keep the Filipinos safe from COVID. They have clearly been more effective than the U.S. response to the virus.”
“Mimi has started discussing the upcoming election also. The field of current candidates does not seem to have a prospect that is as desirable as Duterte has been. Manny Pacquiao seems to be laughable to her. He may be a great boxer, but that does not make him a good politician. Many of Duterte’s supporters were hoping his daughter would run for president and continue his work. It seems she has opted to run for vice president. . . .”
“Mimi has spoken little of [BongBong] Marcos and how she does not believe that the Marcos family was as bad as the reputation seems to portray. . . . Besides these Marcos family members are different people.”
“Well, another long email. . . . Let me know if you have more questions.””
And so ends my nephew’s email. I am very grateful for “another long email”. And I echo his conclusion about more questions. You can find me at robert.boyer@ snc.edu.