Life in the Time of Corona

Travel, both domestic and international, is practically dead at this time. Countries are closing their borders. The lockdown in the Philippines, for instance, bars all inbound international flights, as well as domestic flights. This means that hotels, restaurants, airlines, travel agencies and other tourism-related activities must take a big gulp of financial oxygen and hold on until the lockdown, called enhanced community quarantine in the Philippines, is lifted. 

Stay home

Photo of courtesy of The Birdhouse resort in El Nido, Palawan, Kristy Natsin Go (check her Instagram account, @krist2216, for more photos).

We do not, should not, mind the home quarantine. It’s an agreed fact that social distancing measures, including the home quarantine, is critical to avoid the further spread of this highly contagious and deadly coronavirus. There is no cure for the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) and the development of a vaccine will take some time, according to the World Health Organization. The best thing we can do right now is to stay home. 

Stay at home. We cannot emphasize this enough. We’ve seen the messages from doctors and other medical frontliners — “we go to work for you, stay home for us.”

The now-familiar scenes all over the world is beautiful and, the same time, eerie. Beaches and resorts are empty. Traffic on highways is non-existent. Crowded malls and shopping centers are empty. Restaurants, once vibrant with happy chatter of patrons, are closed.  

Photo of Vertis North in Quezon City, empty after the lockdown, courtesy of Kian Arevir (check his Instagram account, @kianzoned, for more photos). According to Kian: “With positive perspective, every hardship seems minor… change the angle.”

Writing about travel-related topics at this time is challenging. There’s a fine line between being positive in featuring the natural beauty of the Philippines, and being insensitive to the hardships of some sectors of our society. It’s never our intention to cross that line. We hope that we haven’t crossed that line by writing this post.

We just want to feature the beauty of the Philippines. We just want to tell the world what’s beautiful about ‘Pinas.

Truth is, the natural beauty of the Philippines has been highlighted with the lockdown in practically the entire country (the Presidential lockdown declaration covers only the entire Luzon, but other areas have also declared their localized lockdown). The absence of tourists has allowed the local destinations to breathe. Yes, even the crowded cities.

This is the view of Makati City from the LKG Tower. Photo courtesy of Studio Makata (check its Instagram account, @studiomakata, for more photos). In the caption of this photo, Studio Makata says that: “Some sceneries can give you goosebumps. A view not everyone gets to see, something spectacular that is unforgetable. Looking down at the city below you, it makes you think how everyone needs to slow down once in a while just to appreciate life.”

The home quarantine doesn’t mean that we cannot go outside. In a limited capacity, we can still go out to buy basic necessities. Selected businesses are still open. We can still go out to smell the fresh air, even from the top of a Makati City skyscraper. If it was unthinkable, a few months ago, to use “fresh air” with “city,” it’s entirely possible to actually enjoy such combination during this lockdown.

In some other time, it must be delightful to stay at home and not work. But when it’s an enforced lockdown for weeks, our butts naturally begin to itch. We begin to reason out that if the goal is social or physical isolation, we can do exactly just that by going to the beautiful, yet isoldated, destinations in the Philippines. A star-lit evening, perhaps?

Star-lit night at Bagtik Peak View in San Carlos City, photo courtesy of Arian Jerome (check his Instagram account, @scapesbyarianjerome, for more photos). This photo was shot back in December 2019, before the lockdown.

Or how about getting caught up with the community quarantine while in the isolated island-province of Batanes? That would have been a happy accident.

Of course, we can’t go to Batanes at this time. There’s a lockdown in Luzon. Domestic air and sea travel, the only ways to get to Batanes, are suspended. There are checkpoints everywhere. Good for you if you actually live in Batanes. You can enjoy this paradise all to yourself.

The Hills of Batanes, an isolated island-province located at the northern tip of the Philippines. Photo courtesy of Maja Flores (check her Instagram account, @majflores, for more photos).

We will be coming up with features about the Philippines in this travel-free time. Your suggestions are most welcome. There must be a way to talk about the beauty of the Philippines despite the coronavirus-induced lockdown. This is something we can do instead of complaining about the home quarantine. It’s just a matter of time before we overcome this crisis. Hang on, kabayan. Stay home.

[Photos reproduced with permission (thanks). Tag your Philippine travel photos with #visitpinas so we can track it down. Photos will be featured in this blog’s photo of the day and in instagram/VisitPinas, facebook/VisitPinas, twitter/VisitPinas.]

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