I recently received a YouTube comment asking how I was dealing with the extended Philippines and not losing my mind. Specifically, ‘George Will’ asked:
“Yo Ned. Another American vlogger in the Philippines went back to the US a few weeks ago. He said he just couldn’t take the lockdown anymore. He wasn’t a whimpy guy (he was on the cover of Soldier of Fortune) and I followed him for a long time. How bad is the lockdown and what you doing to not go crazy?”
Fair enough question and one that I actually replied to by way of doing an entire Livestream on the Subject – Watcha Doing to Not Go Crazy in These Crazy Times?
Most news outlets have noted that the Philippines has the both the longest and most repressive quarantine in world. As of this date, July 19, 2020, things are not looking good (to put it mildly). Twenty-two major hospitals in the NCR (Manila area) have posted that they cannot take any more COVID patients, quarantine strictures have increased and ‘security forces’ (military and police) now have the authority to go house-to-house in search of sick residents. Add in the limited medical capacity of the Philippines in general and the density of its urban areas, and this is all more than a little worrying. Especially given that I have wife who is eight months pregnant and a new born just around the corner…
Dumaguete City is now under a modified form of General Quarantine. We are still ordered to use the ‘easy pass’ system which allows folks to publically meander about three days a week. People over 60 years of age and those under 21 are supposed to remain indoors, but this is haphazardly enforced. As for number of infections here, who really knows? We had zero cases a few months back, but once they started letting in ‘LSI’s’ from other islands (Locally Stranded Individuals – returning OFW’s or residents of Negros) our infection numbers started increasing. The government now reports around 35 infected but given limited testing capacity and the fact that they are allowing most LSI’s to quarantine in their homes, I am not trusting those numbers. It’s probably much higher than that.
As for the American vlogger who returned to the States, I learned during my Livestream that it was Mark from Overstay Road on YouTube. He is also former military (someone mentioned in the stream that he was a fellow paratrooper) and he actually was on the cover of Solider of Fortune magazine. After five years in the Army, one of the things I was thankful for (other than the Montgomery GI Bill) was learning how to deal with confinement and boredom. Two deployments in Central America doing 3 day on/4 day off OP duty pretty much inured me to tedium. Shit, at least here I have hot showers, fiber optic internet, aircon and a PS4. During deployments, all I kept dreaming about was showers – and they didn’t even need to be hot.
Gotta keep things in perspective.
As for what I am doing to stay busy, here’s a quick rundown:
Structuring my day has been VERY important during these last four months of quarantine. If I don’t stay disciplined, chaos reigns and my already questionable mental health declines even further. Call it ‘messy bed, messy head’ syndrome – if I don’t stay up on things, I get frazzled. So, here are some of the things I have been doing to avoid losing my proverbial shit:
WORK: I get up early – usually around 3:30 AM. I put on some coffee, fire up the computer and get to work. I prefer working in the early morning hours for a couple of reasons: It’s cooler, quieter and if I have to call my US employer, they are usually still in the office. If I stay focused (and drink enough coffee), I am usually done around 9:30 AM or so.
CHORES: Chi is having a rough pregnancy, so I have taken on most the chores around the house. While sweeping, mopping, raking, mowing and the like, I am listening to podcasts (noted below). I also cycle in work-out sets in order to maintain some modicum of fitness. Finishing up the chores with interspersed workouts usually takes a little over an hour.
ERRANDS: After chores/workout, I take a shower and cobble together a shopping list. If it is our assigned day to go out, I then motor off downtown groceries and other sundries. Tuesdays are the Daro Produce market for veggies and fruits. Toss in random stuff like chasing paperwork, visa renewals, doctor appoitments and the like, and it can take a couple of hours. Returning from errand runs usually requires shower of the day number two to wash off the dust, grime and sweat. Following that, it’s time for…
SIESTA! It’s a real thing in the Philippines and one that this porenyer fully endorses given the heat and humidity of a typical tropical day. Not too long ago, nearly all businesses and government offices used to shut down for an hour and a half for ‘noon break.’ Indeed, some businesses (I am looking at you Uymatio) still do.
I LOVE siesta. After shower number two, I turn on the aircon, dim the lights and chill with my Kindle e-reader, jumping back into whatever I was reading. With the aircon humming and the dim lights, it is usually only a matter of time before my Kindle starts dropping down on my nose. Tossed on the nightstand, I then slide into the simple luxury of an afternoon nap. Once that critical mission is accomplished, its time for…
LUNCH: I have been trying to maintain my intermittent fasting routine, so lunch is usually at 2 PM. Chichay will make sandwiches and we will kick back in the air-conditioned office to watch an episode of whatever Netflix series we have been watching.
LATE AFTERNOON: Pretty open. Usually a mix of work, organizing paperwork and computer files, occasional forays to the beach with the dog and grinding out some content for websites or YouTube. Recently, it’s been more of the former and less of the latter.
DINNER: Before getting married, I didn’t even know if Chichay was a good cook or not – that’s how much we used to go out to eat. Not too far into the lockdown, I was pleasantly surprised to see that she was indeed quite the little chef. As a result, part of the quarantine for yours truly has consisted of gaining weight, even with a good number of days of intermittent fasting. Getting “fluffy” is fine with Chichay as she actually prefers my plumper self. I also think part of the problem is those red bags of scrumptious peanut butter Nips (M&M clones) which top off a 600 calories per bag. Soooo lami kayo!!!!
EVENINGS: Chichay usually works at night and I laze around the office/entertainment man cave watching TV shows, gaming or playing guitar. If I am feeling particularly productive, I can do all three at once. Around 8 or 9 PM, I start getting a little sleepy and it’s time to wrap things up and restart the cycle yet again.
Oh, will the excitement ever end??!!
I have been devouring Neil Gaiman’s fiction as of late on my Kindle. I read his Sandman graphic novels thirty years ago and am now absolutely loving American Gods, Neverwhere and all the rest. For Podcasts, I am digging Office Girls with Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsday, Jim Cornette’s Drive Through and re-listening to all of Benjamin Walker’s Theory of Everything episodes. Chi and I are also burning through Breaking Bad (I think we are on season four), and I also enjoyed The Politician with Ben Platt. And I am chomping on the bit for season five of The Expanse to come out. Hell, I just might re-watch that with Chichay after we are done with the misadventures of Walter and Jesse…
Finally and as a quick aside, I have been doing my best to stay away from social media. Especially as an American, it has turned into a total shit show. I won’t get into all the reasons but just….no.
As for leaving the Philippines, I am hoping to visit my folks next year. Any plans to go back to the United States for a quick tour now hinge on my new family in the Philippines. Chichay is due in a month, so a lot of time and energy is going to be focused on her and baby Zoey.Because – as you soon learn in the Philippines – family is everything.
What are you doing not to totally lose your marbles during this extended lock down? Leave what’s been working for you down in the comment sections – I could always use more inspiration.
Until next time, puppies, rainbows and unicorns for all.