“Maybe he felt like he had no one to turn to (Marahil ay pakiramdam niya na wala siyang malalapitan).”
This was how journalist Aris Ilagan described the situation of a long-time friend who isolated himself in his own car after finding out that he had COVID-19 and later died.
Ilagan’s friend, whose name was withheld, was found inside his car which was parked beside a building within Camp Crame premises on Saturday, March 27.
In an interview with the Manila Bulletin, Ilagan said he first knew of his friend’s condition on March 26, when he talked with him over the phone.
“After he admitted he’s stricken with COVID-19, I tried several times to ask his condition but he was avoiding the issue,” Ilagan said.
“But I can sense he was not in a good state of health because he was catching his breath while talking,” he added.
Ilagan said he tried to ask his friend where he was at the time of the phone call but the latter didn’t disclose his location, but said: “Wag mo akong intindihin pards, okay lang ako. (Don’t worry about me, I’m okay).”
The following day, Ilagan said he received a text from his friend asking him for a “load” which he sent in an instant.
“I texted back, asking him how he is, he did not answer back,” he said.
On March 29, Ilagan received news from a common friend that his long-time pal had already passed away due to COVID.
Ilagan said his friend was already in critical condition when he was found inside his car.
“Nakita kasi yun Toyota Fortuner niya nakaparada at umaandar ang makina (They saw that his Toyota Fortuner’s engine was on). So they [either the office mates or camp security] became suspicious kaya kinatok nila (that’s why they knocked),” he said.
Ilagan’s friend was pulled out from his vehicle and was immediately brought to a hospital. However, he died the next day, March 28.
In his farewell letter to his friend published in Top Bikes PH, Ilagan said the vehicle of his friend was full of essential goods such as food and drinking water.
“Isang indikasyon na pinaghandaan niya ang kanyang pananatili sa loob ng sasakyan upang magpalipas ng oras at marahil sa pag-asang bubuti ang kanyang kalagayan. (It’s an indication that he was prepared to isolate himself in his car until he starts feeling better),” Ilagan wrote
Ilagan said his friend might’ve known that hospitals were already full that’s why he no longer attempted to go.
In his letter, Ilagan also mentioned that his friend probably didn’t want to go home because he didn’t want to infect his family.
When asked if he has an idea of how his friend contracted COVID, Ilagan said his friend probably got it through his work.
“He was always going around as a consultant for government officials. Pero hula ko lang yan. hindi ako sigurado. (But that’s only my guess. I’m not sure). COVID is everywhere,” he said.
‘Remembering a long-time pal’
Ilagan said he and his late friend have known each other since 1990. The two have bonded together over work, scuba diving, and shooting competitions.
Ilagan said his friend was a “gym buff” and was fond of “working out.”
The journalist said he didn’t want to write a piece about his friend’s death, but decided to share it with the public to warn them that the threat of COVID-19 is real.
“ We have to think well during critical times. We must not forget to pray, too. The COVID-19 pandemic is a clear message from God. Kaya dapat magising na tayo (We should wake up),” he said.
Ilagan also advised people who may have been in a similar situation to “know how to handle friends in such a terrible situation.”
“Hindi na umaasa ang mga COVID victims sa gobyerno…Kaya sa mga kaibigan sila humihingi ng tulong (COVID victims are no longer relying on the government…that’s why they are asking for help from their friends). We are not prepared for this,” he said.