• And the best quarantine award goes to…

    She kites in the morning, have the beach all to herself, have drinks after sunset, and does it all again the next day.

    Joanne Cabigon spent her quarantine in Boracay

    Many of us, if given a chance, would love to be quarantined elsewhere.

    Businesswoman Joanne Cabigon, 34, had a business flight to Paris on March 13, but it was cancelled because the President declared lockdown. She decided on a whim to purchase a flight to Boracay, taking the next flight out of the airport. Five months later, due to the difficulty of coming back to the city or her hometown of Tacloban in Leyte, as well as the rising cases in Manila, she’s still there.

    “I wake up before 8 a.m., do my devotions, have breakfast, and if there’s no wind for kiting, I work out, have lunch, do my errands, wait for sunset and have drinks with friends, have dinner, and be in bed by 10:30 p.m.,” she says, describing her typical day on the famous island that has not had a Covid-19 case in a long time. 

    Is Boracay as perfect as everyone stuck inside their homes imagine it to be? “Yes,” she says. “It’s the perfect place to get stuck. I love the beach and ocean so much I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.” Especially during the first few months of the pandemic when Western Visayas was closed to tourists, she would have entire stretches of time where she would be alone on the white sands of Boracay, a true luxury very few can claim to have experienced.

    Rates in Boracay during quarantine are dirt-cheap, she says. Because there are no tourists, accommodation rates are slashed by 50 percent or lower, and you can rent a very nice apartment for an entire month for just P10,000. Food isn’t hard to come by, either.  It really is paradise, no matter your budget.

    But her Boracay lockdown experience hasn’t been without its downside. “I have two dogs I left in Manila, and I really thought that the lockdown wouldn’t go on for so long, so I had to hire someone to take care of them,” she says. Her business also suffered, which caused her anxiety. 

    “I couldn’t complete my work because all of my documents are in Manila office,” she adds. “I didn’t get to bring any because I didn’t expect it to drag on this long.” 

    No matter how beautiful the island, she’s had to grapple with anxiety, too. “There are days my anxiety is off the roof because I’m used to working all the time,” she says. “Especially on days when watersports weren’t allowed and I couldn’t do anything but watch the sea, I’d sometimes go crazy. I also miss everyone and it would be impossible to go see them.” 

    She still doesn’t know when she’s going to be stuck in Manila, but when she does leave Boracay, it will be for her hometown of Tacloban, in December, with hope when flights have regularized. Used to her very busy life, she’s learned to take this pause and enjoy it, despite her worries. “I’m learning how to relax and enjoy my forced retirement, as I call it,” Joanne says. “My daily conversations with God have kept me sane.”

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