Photo via Unsplash/Priscilla du Preez

It has been more than a year since the pandemic began and while the rest of the world is celebrating mask-free rules and reopening tourism, the Philippines still has a lot of catching up to do. Even worse, some cities and provinces are experiencing their own outbreaks for the first time, prompting local governments to bring back the dreaded ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) and MECQ (modified ECQ) classifications.

Last June 1, Puerto Princesa City was placed under MECQ due to continuing surge in COVID-19 cases. While sheltering in place and work from home are proven to be the best way to avoid catching the virus, this means, yet again, the need to rely on delivery services.

Here, we compiled a list of things that have been giving us some semblance of sanity. These range from providing us the absolute necessities to satisfying our impulsive comfort spending.

Delivery apps and services – There’s no denying that 2020 was the year of our kuya and ate riders. A year later, that still rings true, as more delivery companies are popping up to accommodate even the tiniest of errands. Our favorites, Excellcom Delivery and HappyApp, have been there during our darkest times (turns out we were just hungry). Need to send something to a municipality but can’t leave home? Let Excellcom Delivery – Call, Order & Drop take care of it. Short on groceries? HappyApp now offers a “Shop” feature on the app where you can buy goods from Samgy Korean Mart and Sweet As You Fruit Store.

Gym workouts and Zumba classes – One would think among those hard hit by the quarantine restrictions are the gyms and Zumba classes. Not for Sam Bacaltos, a certified personal trainer based in the city, who has stuck to his gig holding sessions over Zoom.

“Online workout has become indispensable and timely in this quarantined existence when outdoor activities are discouraged and even prohibited in Covid hotspots as in the case of Puerto Princesa City right now,” Bacaltos, a fitness professional, said.

Sam holds his workout training sessions on live cam, in varied times of the day depending on his clients some of whom live on different time zones.

“I get the chance to greet participants in three different times of the day- goodmorning, good afternoon and good evening like in my Tue-Thur 6pm classes where one HS batchmate attends from Florida USA (6am) while another joins from Tuscany, Italy,” he added.

Personal trainer Sam Bacaltos holding one of his regular online workouts.

Online palengke services – For those who prefer fresh fruits and vegetables, buying in bulk can be more expensive if bought from a supermarket.  Buying directly from growers and farmers also cuts costs and benefits them greatly. We’ve been frequenting the Palawan DA MPC Coop, Jackie’s Online Palengke, and Choice Cut Meat Store Palawan to buy fresh seafood, poultry, vegetables, and meat. They deliver the items door-to-door. 

Seafoods, poultry and meat products, fresh veggies are sold by the Palawan DA MPC Coop.

People nowadays prefer purchasing their home meat supplies online simply because they don’t need to go physically to the supermarket or public markets. Cut Choice Meat Store in Puerto Princesa delivers fresh meat at your doorsteps.

Drugstore phone-in services – This is a literal lifesaver if you are sick, living with a sick or elderly person, or have comorbidities. We have been getting our pharmaceutical needs from Mercury Drug, where they currently have to pick up services for medicines and their other store items. Ordering can be done by phone by calling your preferred Mercury Drug store in the city. Arrange pick-up or get your order at your most convenient time.

SM Puerto Princesa group chat – If you haven’t heard of this one yet, you better start asking around because the group chat is available only on Facebook Messenger. It’s a brilliant way for the mall to sell items on sale direct to their customers by sharing photos in the group chat. Items range from packed treats, groceries, and makeup, and can be delivered to your home for a fee. Take note: “mine” responsibly.

Online seller friends and relatives – Some of our great secondhand clothing finds or delicious baked treats weren’t discovered by combing through the city. Rather, we discovered them on our friends’ and relatives’ live selling gimmicks. Live sellers are a dime a dozen especially on Facebook, so show them some live by copping some bedsheets and pillowcases. Just one purchase goes a long way for an online seller.

The current norm brought about by COVID-19 has affected businesses a lot. However, it has also opened a lot of opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs who wish to earn and meet the evolving demands of residents of the city.

How about you, what has been keeping you afloat during these uncertain times?