Editor’s Note: The following is based on a one-on-one interview with a father in Bacolod City whose son, a physician, had just recovered from COVID19.
Names and places, including the identity of a prominent COVID-positive personality from whom the interviewee’s son could have possibly contracted the virus have been withheld by DNX to protect the source and his son.
The patient tested positive days after the prominent personality went to the place he was working in.
He has since completed a 14-day quarantine. The results of his second swab test turned out negative.
The father has agreed to tell his story to DNX on condition that his identity, and that of his family be kept confidential.
BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – The phone was on loudspeaker on the coffee table.
Chris (not his real name) bent a bit to catch what the man on the other end was saying.
Beside Chris was his wife, her forehead creased, her almond-shaped eyes getting wide as she listened to the man calling from Manila, the country’s capital.
“Ma, positive ko (Ma, I’m positive),” the 30ish-sounding voice said.
He was not pregnant of course.
“At that moment, I felt like my son was telling us he had cancer; I felt like I was about to have a heart attack again,” Chris recounts to DNX, his voice faltering a bit.
Chris is in his early 70s, a survivor of four heart attacks and three strokes.
He describes himself as a survivor who grew up on the docks in a tough neighborhood here, became a waiter in his younger years, dabbled a bit in activism.
He is now a businessman who has taken his vocation “to spread the lessons of the Good Book seriously,” a vocation that has taken him to remote places in the country.
That son, the eldest among their three children, is a doctor, newly-minted who had just started his internship in a prestigious hospital in Manila before the lockdown started in the capital.
That phone call on a balmy afternoon when not even the slightest breeze was blowing came on the first week after the city was also placed on General Community Quarantine.
Chris was himself nursing a bad cough when the quarantine started.
He and his wife, Tess (not her real name) are both beyond 60, “immuno-compromised, ” as health authorities would call them, and more vulnerable to the virus.
Since the local quarantine started, Chris and his wife had been under a stricter self-imposed lockdown.
No going out. No visitors allowed.
Knowing their son was about to fight for his life in a faraway place, alone with little to absent social support was “hellish” to them, they having become a close-knit family in recent years.
His son was sent by the hospital management on home quarantine.
He was alone for at least two weeks.
Here, Chris and Tess can do nothing.
Except pray. Hope for the best. Talk to their son once in a while.
“We did not call him, he calls us; we knew he needed to rest to keep himself strong to fight the virus,” Chris recalls.
With a lockdown in place over the city and the metropolitan, all they could do was to wish their son well, say “we love you,” during their phone conversations.
And pray. And pray again.
Until the good news came just a few days ago when his son got the test results for his second swab back.
“It was nothing short of hell,” Chris says, recounting the anguish he felt, the desperation that took over him when his son fought for his life.
“We are close but not chummy close,” Chris says in describing his relationship with his son whom he says is “nerdy, serious.”
His son goes back to work again, braving, risking the odds from the frontlines.
For now, much as he would want to hug his son, Chris would have to wait.
But at least, the days of despair and the nights of anguish are over.