EL NIDO, Palawan – Two pairs of foreign tourists who decided to stay in this town amidst the COVID-19 enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) have been vlogging their experiences on Youtube, giving their viewers all over the world a pick of what it is like to be stuck in a place many would describe as a paradise.
Canadian couple Anna and Trevor Delaney arrived in El Nido on March 14. They vlog through their Youtube channel, “Delightful Travellers”, telling their followers that health and safety concerns were the primary reasons why they chose to stay in El Nido instead of taking a mercy flight out.
The high cost of repatriation flights arranged by their home country was also what made them decide to wait for the ECQ to be lifted and for airline companies to resume operations.
“We’re really concerned about the danger of going through multiple airports and airplanes to get home. Not just that but also the potential of flights being canceled and then getting stuck in a random airport where we may not be allowed to enter the country because of its restrictions,” said the Delaneys.
“Canada did offer some repatriation flights [along with Philippine Airlines] but they were so expensive [it would have cost us CAD$7,000 (P251,836.90) to get to our home city,” they added.
The pair said that they feel much safer in El Nido due to its relative isolation and because there have been no confirmed COVID-19 cases in the municipality.
Another pair, Chris Danson, 31, and Carolina Pereira, 29, are an English-Brazilian and Brazilian couple who vlog through their Youtube channel, “Jumping Places”.
They have also been El Nido since March 14. They chose to stay in El Nido knowing that there was good infrastructure for tourists and because their flight to Portugal scheduled on March 26th was canceled.
“We were unable to go to Portugal as they had closed their borders for non-citizens and they also had way more COVID-19 cases than the Philippines as Europe was not looking good at the time. Carol’s family lives in Brazil but at the time Brazil had way more cases and deaths than the Philippines and still does so it didn’t feel right to leave a safer place in the moment with fewer cases,” they said.
They also did not want to risk being stranded in airports and sleeping there, as it might increase their chances of getting infected. High prices of airfare were another factor.
When asked about how they were able to sustain themselves, the Delaney couple owns a website design company and through advertising on Youtube. Discounted rates for their accommodations also help cut costs. Danson and Pereira also earn through Youtube.
“Thankfully these two income streams help pay for our time here. Things are also heavily discounted. We could never afford to stay here this long at regular El Nido prices,” said the Delaney couple.
Both pairs still find plenty of things to do during the quarantine. Vlogging takes up most of their time, aside from doing household chores and watching TV.
“We work for ourselves, so a lot of our day is spent getting work done,” said the Delaney couple. “When we’re not working, we’re watching tv shows and movies, reading books and enjoying the amazing view.”
“We are currently finding it ok in quarantine. Obviously, we were bored like everybody else, but we have been doing a few things to keep us busy. We have been trying to cook different foods that we are not familiar with which has been fun and have recently started to try and cook local Filipino food,” said Danson and Pereira.
“We’ve been really impressed with how quickly the Philippines reacted pretty much as soon as the virus entered the country. Lockdowns took place immediately and measures to keep people socially isolated in one place have been strict (which is a good thing). We’re really appreciative that the entire country and El Nido have taken things very seriously from the beginning,” said the Delaneys.
They also said that the municipality and the local government unit (LGU) has been helpful and attentive to their various concerns.
Danson and Pereira admitted that at first, they were upset when the local government unit (LGU) released Executive Order 20-049, which requires all tourists to be accompanied by a staff from their hotel when in public. However, a new EO was released last April 14, removing the requirement and allowing the tourists to go out as long as they have quarantine passes.
“Since that rule changed, we have found it great overall. As we mentioned earlier everyone is still pretty upbeat and friendly (as Filipinos usually are) and things feel calm here which is very important during this hectic moment for the world,” they said.
“We’ll do exactly the same thing as we’re doing now. Staying isolated, sticking to our daily routine, and making more YouTube videos about our experience,” said the Delaney couple when asked what their plans were if the quarantine is to be extended. “We do hope that if there continue to be no cases of COVID-19 in El Nido, that at some point things will get a bit less strict and maybe some things might open up internally.”
“So far we have no plans to leave even with the quarantine extensions as we are comfortable here and Brazil is not in a good situation and is not an easy country to travel to from here at the moment,” said Danson and Pereira.
“If the quarantine continues into June/July then we will probably have to rethink as we will want to see family more at that point but hopefully this will be over before then,” they added.