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By faith, God’s grace and laswa

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  • Mansilingan village secretary fell sick along with his wife and three children
  • Former Board Member Dino Yulo and wife, Rosalie, were among the first to send help, the former employee of Yulo says
  • Laswa cooked by Batok’s mom usually made of jute leaves, okra, and squash

The thermometer told him something was wrong.

It read 39.5C on 18 August days after he had been going around the village of Mansilingan, one of the largest barangays in Bacolod City.

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He had been through rough times since the quarantines started – from tending to the emergency needs of more than 40,000 residents to being crisis manager of their amelioration grants to just about anything village chief Rodolfo Pico needs.

They had just crested the uphill climb over alleged corruption in the SAP distribution after the complaints were dismissed.

Then Edward Meneses’ fight to survive began.

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Aside from the high temperature of more than 39 (the health department says 37.8 is a positive indicator), there were the constant trips to the toilet.

Edward Meneses (center on white tshirt).
Edward Meneses (center on white tshirt).

Almost every five minutes.

“I felt I was about to die,” Edward narrates to DNX about the first few days from. 18 August when the COVID symptoms kicked in.

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Then he lost his appetite.

Even for water.

“I just threw it up,” he says.

And the cough came.

After an online consultation with his physician, Hazel Delfin, Edward was told that he had to go to the hospital if he would be having asthma attacks.

Which luckily never came.

His wife and three children, aged between 13 and 22, were already positive.

They home quarantined.

“We imposed a lockdown on our home,” the former street parliamentarian, now 48, adds.

They hunkered down, divided the house into separate and living quarters.

Fortunately, Edward or Batok’s mother never caught the virus.

“She took care of us” but strictly observing health protocols like wearing a mask and distancing herself from the sick.

They took the doctor-recommended supplements religiously and Edward even found time to jog when the symptoms subsided on the fourth day.

“I just jogged around our dining table and even did zumba.”

Eating was a solitary affair.

“We took turns, we cannot eat together, the first time in so many years,” Batok says about mealtimes.

It was a price they had to pay.

Laswa, a poor man’s vegetable broth became staple fare. The sick kids who used to run away from it “had to eat it to help their bodies heal.”


But the help of friends, both rich and poor made a difference.

“It helps to know that even under isolation, people think of you, worry about you,” Batok says.

Among the first who sent help were lawyer Dino Yulo, Edward’s former employer.

Yulo and his wife, Rosalie, sent a sack of rice and checked on Batok regularly.

Vendor friends gave them vegetables for the laswa, a friend from abroad sent vitamins.

And Batok prayed.

Like he had never done before.

“I was not attending Mass for a long time already though I still believed in a God,” he confesses.

All told, it was faith, God’s grace, family unity and laswa that made Batok and his family survive.

When his temperature was taken on the fourth day, it was around 37C.

And Batok got the feeling everything would be alright.

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Julius D. Mariveles
Julius D. Mariveles
An amateur cook who has a mean version of humba, the author has recently tried to make mole negra, the Mexican sauce he learned by watching shows of master chef Rick Bayless. A journalist since 19, he has worked in the newsrooms of radio, local papers, and Manila-based news organizations. A stroke survivor, he now serves as executive editor of DNX.
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