Wenceslao: Covid in Camotes

·3 min read

The result of the swab test conducted by the staff of the Ricardo Maningo Memorial Hospital in San Francisco town in the Camotes group of islands on my relative who died recently turned out to be positive. Her daughter messaged us yesterday that they will soon be subjected to swab testing also. The next important step is to track down those who were in contact with him and isolate them. There is also a need to check the possible sources of the virus.

Possible superspreader events held in Camotes since last year should be looked into and those who attended these should be tracked down. As far as I can recall, Tudela town held a boat race and San Fran hosted a biking event. The Camotes group of islands has four towns located on three islands. San Fran is an island town and is connected by a land bridge to the other island where two towns—Poro and Tudela—are located. The town of Pilar is on the other island.

My relative, Jeremias, who died recently was a councilor of Barangay General in Tudela town. Which is why he was a participant in superspreader events in Tudela and in San Fran where he and his wife successfully put up a business. He had a daring personality. Even before the growth in tourism in Camotes, he saw the islands’ potential and quit his job in a firm selling motorcycles in the mainland to open his small business selling motorcycles to the residents of Camotes. Then things started to turn around there. His wife also started her own small business selling plastic products.

I could not forget their love story. My aunt and later her eldest daughter had mental problems. The family’s image got a hit. But love won in the end. Jeremias insisted on marrying the youngest daughter of my aunt, who passed away years ago. The marriage remained strong through the years. They were able to send their child to college. The older sister of his wife is now in the US after her daughter married an American citizen. The difficult days of my aunt’s children, who are now orphans, seem to be over.

They used to be my family when I vacationed in Tudela when I was younger. I used to join Jeremias’ brother-in-law, his wife’s older brother, in drinking sprees, going to fiestas and spending the little money that we had on benefit dances or “bayle.” It was because of them that I learned to love Tudela, the hometown of my father. I therefore spent less time in neighboring Poro, the hometown of my mother.

I have always been obsessed with the place’s growth after seeing my friends leave Tudela as they grew older in search of better lives for their families in Cebu City and elsewhere, like far-off Manila. My intention was partly selfish. I wanted to see them when I visited Camotes. But as the years passed, my visits became lonelier and lonelier.

I know how difficult it is to live in a group of islands where basic services, like in health, are minimal. That is why I worry for the townsfolk in the midst of this pandemic. They need all the attention they can get from the Provincial Government.

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