We’re experiencing the second emergency in less than three months. First, Taal volcano erupted, now Manila is under lockdown due to the Coronavirus. What a start to the year.
Schools will be closed for at least a month. People are forced to work from home. The army is guarding the city borders. There is a curfew between 8 pm and 5 am. The measures are severe, but haven’t come as a great surprise to us. The Filipino government is used to dealing with crises – earthquakes, typhoons, volcanic eruptions – and we know it prioritises the safety of its citizens.
Luckily there hasn’t been any panic buying – shops still have toilet paper and hand sanitiser in stock. After just one day, the checkout queues were pretty much back to normal. At the moment, I still see many kids are playing outside, cycling and running around, having one or both parents with them.
I guess that’s one of the positives of life during lockdown: it brings families closer. All of us have to stay at home and are therefore – like it or not – spending a lot more time together. While my husband still manages to work from home, he’s much more involved in our day-to-day life. He’s spending more time with the kids, and more time helping me around the house. Cooking together and family workouts have become part of our new routine.
In the face of this crisis, we want to keep a positive attitude and carry on as best as we can. It’s not easy: we are far from home and stuck together under the same roof 24/7 for at least a month. We’re relying on each other to get us through this. Strong family bonds are important when you live abroad, especially when you face an emergency like COVID-19.
A column by Sekar Nareswari
Sekar Nareswari is an expat partner from Indonesia who lives in the Philippines with her Dutch husband and sons. She previously lived in the Netherlands. She writes regular columns for Global Connection.
Photo: Sekar during a family workout at home