Obey safety protocols and stay home


The furor over the seemingly selfish antics of the now-infamous “Poblacion Girl,” Gwyneth Chua, refuses to die down. Not only on social media but in the Department of Tourism (DOT), Philippine National Police (PNP), Local government units (LGU)s, and the Department of Health (DOH) circles whose rules she casually disregarded by skipping quarantine, partying, and going home.

To me, it seems a selfish, bratty act on her part since she contaminated several of her party mates and who knows how many others. Perhaps daddy and mommy can take care of the medical bills of the unsuspecting victims of her caper but what about the still unknown victims in the Poblacion (nightclub area in Makati) bar and resto she went to that night? By the way, someone from that Poblacion group claimed she was not even invited to that party and that she merely showed up with her boyfriend. Doesn’t matter, really.

Berjaya hotel where the young lady was supposed to have been quarantined for five days, as was the mandate for arrivals from abroad, has humbly apologized for their shortcomings but as of press time, their accreditation as a qualified quarantine hotel has been suspended. They have since changed their tune, demanding why they should be suspended. DOT has no legal basis for their actions, Berjaya insists. What about their guests and the ones who have paid for their stays, the hotel asks.

For those who want to know what a qualified quarantine hotel is, it’s an accredited facility where new arrivals are booked, as chosen by the visitors or returning residents, for the mandatory five-day quarantine period. These travelers get tested on arrival at the airport and receive their results before leaving their hotel. They are also ferried to their hotel by hotel-provided vehicles. No visitors are allowed during that period.

Guests are also restricted from going out of the premises for whatever reason at any time during their quarantine. They can book a suite or an ordinary room and order their meals only from the establishment. That is how strict the rules are. My daughter and her husband booked themselves at Discovery Primea in Makati after arriving from Spain and it was a rather pleasant learning experience for them.  

Should violators be charged? Should the hotel be charged? Definitely. Both parties should be fined! How many commercial establishments suffered from the spread of COVID-19 courtesy of the careless Ms. Chua? By the way, she is a Miriam College and De La Salle University graduate. Ouch for my alma mater and DLSU.

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In the meantime, staying home is the best prescription for keeping COVID and its newer, fiercer variants away from yourself and your family.

Yeah, yeah... Easier said than done, although if you are already a super senior and have strict (but caring) children, chances are you have been “ordered” homebound since this pandemic started. Right?

After a long while with occasional carefully planned trysts with other seniors in “safe places,” you get used to staying home... Honestly. Once you give up the oppressed and suppressed mood, you get to enjoy the peace of mind that you are safe from all the viruses, germs, and bacteria you can get from strangers or even well-meaning friends and relatives.

There are two essentials in our home-based lives that help take away our stresses.

One, there are video meetings, or chicahans too, via the technological miracle that can bring people safely “together.” I still have to ask my son how to open a link to join the virtual gatherings I have been attending, but now I know how to unmute or be heard, and press another button to be seen! I can now also leave a meeting without bothering my son.

Disney Connor Tipton Siytangco

Second, I am one of the lucky seniors who have a toddler living with them. Young children are stressbusters and energizers for seniors. Once in a while, they can be tiresome but you can always give them back to their moms or nannies, right? I have my four-year-old Disney who is a whiz on his iPad, his parents’ phone, and mine sometimes. My little nerd and acrobat. ‘Nuff said.... I am blessed.  

It’s level 3 again in the National Capital Region (NCR) and yes, we should stay home, read a book, watch movies on TV or online, and attend masses via live stream. This last soothes my stresses too, especially if the homilies are inspiring like that of Bishop Ambo David of the Caloocan diocese, Fr. Jerry Orbos of the SVD, and other priests like Fr. Ferdinand Santos of Manaoag.

What I dislike though are the ads that interrupt the streaming of live and recorded masses. Truly, they bring back my stress levels until I can blot them out!