BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Cherry (not her real name) is among the more than 400 Filipino crewmembers of a cruise ship that had one of the highest COVID infection rates in the world.
After it docked in San Francisco, California in the United States, Cherry was among those sent back to the Philippines.
Cherry told DNX she and the other Filipinos were quarantined in a hotel in Metro Manila with food delivered to their rooms three times a day.
“All expenses were paid for by the company,” she said.
She had already tested negative for COVID and had completed the 14-day quarantine period.
She underwent another one-week quarantine after being tested negative.
Cherry was the one who initiated a group chat on Facebook to gather Negrenses who have been stranded in Manila after it President Duterte placed it under a lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID19.
In just more than 24 hours, Cherry had gathered at least 200 people, Negrenses and Bacolenos, who have been stranded in the big city.
Cherry said she and the other remaining Filipinos in the hotel are lucky they have a company that supports them.
Other Negrenses are not.
Most she know are cadets, seamen who were waiting to board commercial ships already but have been overtaken by the COVID quarantine measures.
“They don’t have food, live in cramped conditions and are running out of money,” Cherry said.
Others are families who have relocated to Manila and don’t have enough resources and now want to come home.
Cherry said she, and the other Negrenses, look forward to coming home amid the crisis.
She is thankful city officials have responded to their appeal for help.