Words of Connection from IPTI Alumna, Charmaine Mae

I must admit that going to Manila gives a bit of a scare. But I was more overwhelmed by the joy and excitement to be with our partner barangays and fellow CSOs immersed in the work and service in the communities of Marawi City. It was a celebration!
In heading back home from Manila, with so many deliverables still need to be done and accomplished, our team proceeded to Marawi and delivered supplies for the Social Enterprises. Then more trips to Marawi for more meetings and community work.
Fast forward, body aches are all over. Headaches. Dizziness. All these were not recognized until Friday. Colds begin, occasional coughing, body aches still, super tired but carrying on, and then comes fast breathing. We came home from the office and along the way, I and Toto discussed how I am feeling. Early in the morning I already blurted out that I am thinking of doing the Self Quarantine. What also prompted me were two of our friends and partners already submitted themselves as they have shown some symptoms. I consulted family and colleagues and then it happened so fast. “Ma’am, you are advised to have a self-quarantine inside a room in your house. Advise everyone in the family to wash hands regularly, and wear masks even at home. Ikaw pud maam. Sige lang maam imonitor ra ka namo man. Nalista na ka.” 
Fast forward again, inside the room I monitor my self, temperature, symptoms, regular listing of intake of liquids, food, vitamins, milk, tea… everything that I take in. I also developed a daily ritual of little movements, baths, journaling, origami, washing of cloths, cleaning the room, sunbathing, diffusing, and oiling up. In between are work-related, getting updates from colleagues and partners, connecting with fellows who are in quarantine, and connecting with family on messenger to deliver “daily health report”, and facebooking. I also studied Essential Oils and Emotions (Thanks Arlene for the material).
I am busy inside, even if the first five days were spent lying on the bed after bath, sleeping, staring at the ceiling, listening to all the sounds from all over. My five senses were so sensitive, as well as the sixth. There nights I wake to the smell of at flowers, smoke, food, dogs, rats, herbs, and hear whispers of the neighbors, footsteps, and more. I asked my self, am I hallucinating, imagining, or really “sensing”. Maybe the isolation has something to do with it. When I was feeling ok, and I told myself this is just stress and no big deal, but again I remind myself this is a must.
Communicating with Toto and Migo was either through text, calls, or “shouting” behind the windows and door. Funny. I envy them for having nightly Netflixing and movie nights, bonding with the furries and felines… communicating with Mama and siblings through calls and messenger sharing of pictures, thoughts, silly jokes and all. Communicating with colleagues through messenger chat and we were busy bees…
I am thankful for friends, church members who offered healing prayers, pranic healing, veggies, teas, food for me and the family. I am thankful for my BHERTs support Ate Lavern for daily checking. I am thankful to my colleagues who understood me and supported me. 
All in all, I was very productive inside the room for 14 days. I should say I learned many things and realized a lot.
I would like to share four points.
1. Home Quarantine is a must. This is an opportune time to know our bodies and our health better. Physical, Psychological, Emotional health. Consciousness is a way of learning how to stay healthy and how to take care of ourselves. If you have watched “Lucy”, it is something like that, listening to every cell that we have inside. It further helps us protect our families and communities from being infected – covid 19 or not. We said before, “ok lang trankaso ra ni” but yes we still spread the Corona Virus. 
2. Connectivity is important for support and keeping my sanity intact. We need our family, friends, colleagues at this time. The support from prayers, food, referrals is so important to lessen the worry. I kept myself informed yet it gives me cold jitters inside. The stories you read and listen are the realities we all have but I tell myself never to be consumed by it. Something can still be done and can be shared to help many people. I reconnected with some old friends. So thank you.
3. Mass Testing is a must, Isolation is done with care, and COVID stigma be lessened with clear support and information.  Many may have submitted themselves as PUMs and PUIs and underwent quarantine, which is not an assurance of being COVID free. There are asymptomatic yet infectious. Mass tests immediately also helps in immediately isolating people who have the virus and be given proper care. Lastly, when you let people report their whereabouts and have themselves listed, the shame and fear are felt. It may not be for those concerned, but for the families who have not felt the urgency of treatment, it may be COVID or not. 
4. Care and protection, psychosocial support be done in many creative ways.  We know many people will not share their travel history or engagement due to the stigma of it.  We need to let people know what care means to many. It is a struggle, really, knowing what might progress. Also, we do not know how people are taking all these. I am happy to have people with whom I talk with, ka chikahan, ka tsismisan. Almost always, in a pandemic or disaster, mental health and psychosocial support are missed out. 
Sorry for this long post, but just some thoughts and feelings that have to be shared. I fear more deaths. I wish to celebrate more life extended.
For now, I am back to work full circle but still staying home. I wish everyone to STAY HOME for it is our responsibility to take care of ourselves, our families, our communities, and the world.
Charmaine Mae “Xx”
IPTI Alumna Impact 2019 Award
Mindanao, Philippines