Issue of July 5, 2020
Mt. Province
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Coping with the pandemic
Stella Maria L. de Guia
How is the world coping with the pandemic? There are a million stories to tell. Some people have taken the opportunity to learn and survive the quarantine and lockdowns. Some people use it as a venue to air grievances and protests. And some have discovered new ways of learning, bartering, teaching, and of helping others.

A pensive Maricar Docyogen of Bookends, home to the Pasakalyegroup of artists,while  waiting for a ride in the rain  sitting on her newly acquired - bartered stool.

I have chosen four Baguio residents to share their stories: a Bookshop owner, a mother-mentor, a performer and youth leader and a vlogger. Let’s read their stories and learn there is more to life than being in quarantine and lockdown. Life can be happy and healthy while staying at home or helping others. Discovering one’s potential is one way to win in this pandemic

The good news is, the World health Organization has produced a new story book to help children from six to 11 years cope with Covid-19 in collaboration with about 50 organizations worldwide. It deals with a fantasy creature called “Ario” and explains how children can manage their emotions during difficult situations with a fast-changing social norm called “new normal.”

Let us start with Maricar Docyogen and a nurse by profession. She is the owner-proprietor of Bookends, home to the Pasakalye group of artists, and now during the pandemic a “bartering hole” for donated art, creatives and paintings to help other artists. This concept of “art for-a-cause” started about three years ago to help an indigent patient undergo a kidney transplant. Then progressed to “Sketch Mo, Buhay Ko,” to help other dialysis patients headed by the late journalist Ramon Dacawi.

Maricar Docyogen holding the donated painting of Sam Bautista, bartered with one sack of rice from Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda and received by local art master Roland Bay-an with illustrator Tor Sagud.

Donated art works are being exchanged for goods; or a painting for a sack of rice and groceries or any pantawid buhay contribution like art materials, canvass, paint or carpentry tools. Local art master Roland Bay-an, a “shy-mango” Igorot artist is a strong supporter. He bartered or traded about 20 of his works (supposed to be part of an exhibit prior the pandemic) for his family’s needs and to help fellow Pasakalye members and indigent artists.

“I bartered my own collection. Eventually, other artists joined in like Sam Bautista, Alex Musni, Jordan Mangosan, Art Lozano, Resty Lopez and even young Pasakalye teens who made signages from scrap wood, “ says Docyogen.

“To me, this is humanity being restored. I felt that the creative sector not only have talents and skills but also compassionate to help. They used their works to help out. I said to myself, I do not regret being a conduit because the creative sector is so selfless,” she added.

Docyogen continued: “Barter has always been an acceptable way amongst artists. But during this pandemic, it gained more attention and support from a lot of people. It paved way for the local community to be more aware of the presence of creativity in the city. There were more pieces that went to private homes during this past 2 months than in any given year. And it made a lot of Artists survive the effect of the pandemic. Did the artists get shortchanged? No, because they knew they gained new appreciative friends while their basic needs were also met.”

Next, is Leia Fidelis Castro-Margate. She used to be the assistant publisher of the Baguio Midland Courier, now a mother of two: Amihan, seven years old, and Tala, 5, and a University of the Philippines lecturer. I asked her how she was coping with home schooling her kids during this time of pandemic. Castro and lawyer husband Karl converted her brother’s room into a study room to set the mood and routine.

University of the Philippines Baguio mentor Leia Fidelis Castro Margate’s children Amihan and Tala while home schooling.

“Initially we just wanted to set a routine for the girls so they’re not watching TV the whole day. We also needed a routine for Amihan so as not to undo her therapy. They know naman na how to keep themselves busy. Tala makes puppets and houses for her toys using tissue rolls and boxes. Now, they are enrolled in online enhancement classes in English. Just to test viability of online schooling. Nae-enjoy naman po sila.”

The couple take turns teaching the kids. A mutual parenting effort in between work and teaching. She finds it more challenging though compared to teaching college students, especially with Math and Filipino. When done with academic duties, she does other life skills like: gardening, laundry, baking, cooking, doing dishes, even carpentry which she considers very important.

“We move lessons all over the house,” explains Casto.

A good hint from a home-schooling mom. Remember the attention span of your kids.

Jesse Reuben Bestre , an active member of the Toastmaster Club-OSCAR, youth leader  and former member of the STAGE Theater Company  in one of his YouTube channel’s  online learning.

“We find that a change in location, seat, setup also gets the girls excited to work on their books. We bought new desks so they would be more comfortable. We also bought them tablets from Amazon where they get limited screen time if they want to play with it. May timer and lock yung tablets, which says “you’re all done for today” once their time is up. We also have reward mechanisms for them too. They work on Khan Academy Kids (learning app) or watch YouTube kids. They do get plenty of TV time after we’re done with school. Madami din naman silang natutunan”

I am amazed at Castro’s methodology of teaching. She says, “Another aspect we are really proud of now is conducting the virtual physical therapy for Amihan. So we fixed the living room to accommodate her therapy exercises using existing toys and things we have in the house. Teletherapy for kids. Grateful din kasi may ganung program ang A Child’s DREAM. Added to all these mechanisms is dad Karl’s showing them videos of the things that interest them. For example, they see dinosaurs or rockets in the cartoons they watch, then they start asking questions. So, we take those learning opportunities and supplement more. Kung may related books kami dito we show them too.

“Lately, may fascination sa Australia si Tala. Amihan likes building blocks naman.”

Coming in third is YouTuber Jesse Reuben Bestre.

Bestre is a youth leader, involved with the youth ministry and a member of non-government organization Toastmasters Club OSCAR. He is also a good singer and used to be a member of STAGE Theatre Company Group. His instructional YouTube channel is very helpful especially to senior citizens.

“I have been wanting to make YouTube videos in the past but fear has been stopping me. Two or three weeks ago, I realized that this pandemic is the best time to start a YouTube channel. Mainly, because a lot of people are on the internet now, so I might as well take advantage” says Bestre.

“This is also a good opportunity to be more productive. I want to teach and be a good influencer. I believe YouTube is a good avenue. At present, I am also learning a lot from what I’m doing and I wished I started sooner. But it is never too late. This pandemic has opened my eyes, Just as I teach, I continue to learn good content, video editing, and others,” he added.

Last in our personalities is budding vlogger Mark Hamada.

Handsome couple Mark and Asia Hamada. Mark is now a vlogger helping small industries to market their products.

Hamada started blogging when a friend bought ube pandesal from Bistro Lokal. He was requested to pick up an order that was placed thru the phone. The order was followed by more orders for the family because it tasted so good.

“I took a video of the bread using my phone and uploaded it on Facebook and my vlogging started from there. Some of my videos now has 2,000 plus views and counting. I get calls left and right now from different restaurants and bakeries to endorse their products. There are a lot of people ordering from them now. I actually just finished shooting NORA’s ice cream last night and will upload it later,” Hamada said.

Opportunities in COVID-19 times
Nonette Bennett
The challenges of 2020 will be felt in all aspects of life for the next year.

There has been no other time in the past when the uncertainty of the future was magnified. Creating and reinventing means to earn a living is of utmost urgency or taking the opportunities for providing the needs of the day are the new orders of the Covid-19 times.

RCBaguio South President Debbie Pulido transplanted seedlings.

The Rotary Club of Baguio North led by President Maylene Lopez and the board of directors have joined the international launch of the new Rotary Year 2020- 2021 with kick off activities with the theme, “Rotary Opens Opportunities,” on July 1.

RCBN directors presented the seedlings ready for transfer to the joint urban garden for food production.

The urban garden inspired by District 3790 governor Jesus Sama was the focus for the year. The backyard gardens will provide food for the families and the opportunity to share the produce with other neighbors or families. With the new normal of staying at home, many individuals have found gardening as a productive activity for food or enjoyment. The RCBN will engage in a joint greenhouse project to produce vegetables and herbs to raise funds for other programs of the club.

RC La Trinidad President Jett Dumpayan led the sweet potato planting.

The opportunity to keep workers safe while working came with sharing 500 face masks. The washable masks were given to service workers in restaurants, gasoline stations, store helpers, street sweepers, security guards, media, and non-health frontline personnel who must buy their own face masks. This service was for disease prevention during the modified general community quarantine days as businesses slowly reopen.

Gasoline station attendants and guard received washable face masks from RCBN President-elect Ed Sanchez.

The opportunity to serve 110 underprivileged children a fried chicken meal after more than three months of quarantine was also accomplished. The children from 70 families at Dontogan barangay were beneficiaries of the Breakfast feeding for Learning, Inc. organized by Pacita Panaguiton and the mothers of the children. The children were fed lunch daily during school days until the quarantine suspended classes on March 16. According to Panaguiton, it was the first time for many of the children to eat the popular chicken joy meal.

RCBaguio North President Maylene Lopez gave a child from Dontogan his first chicken joy meal.

Other rotary clubs in Baguio and La Trinidad also made their presence felt on July 1 in the delivery of a biological testing machine by RC Metro Baguio led by President Jerry Chan andpersonal protective equipment to checkpoint frontliners, blankets and wheelchairs to medical facilities by the RC Baguio Sunrise led by Cecile Apostol. The clubs continue the century-old motto, “Service Above Self”, in the activities conducted for the community.

RCBaguio President Alma Teresa Mendalla showed a fruit tree as a backyard plant.

These are only a few of the opportunities that will extend long after Covid-19 challenges.

RC Baguio Sunrise donated wheelchairs to the Cancer Institute of Baguio City.


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