Before the quarantine

Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 14 2020 12:18 AM

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to sweep through Metro Manila, the government imposed a “community quarantine” on the capital region in a bid to contain the virus.

After the quarantine was announced, some people who work in the NCR took their chances and went to their homes in the provinces via public transportation.

One of those is Hermie Lugo.

An LPG delivery man by trade, Lugo heeded his employer’s advice to take his family back home to Tuguegarao to keep them safe from the virus. 

“Biglaan lang ang gastos, tumawag sa akin ’yung boss ko, kailangan ko na daw iuwi ang pamilya ko para ma safety mo ang bata.”

(We didn’t plan for this. My boss called me up to tell me I need to take my family home where my kid will be safe.)

A quick look at their packed belongings — a washing machine, clothes, and toys for their daughter Hannah Rhea — shows they are ready for an extended stay in the province. Lugo says the family feels safer in his hometown than in crowded Manila. They believe they are less likely to catch the virus, which has so far claimed five lives in the country. 

He adds: “Kung sakaling magtagal pa ang lockdown ang family ko ay iiwan ko du’n sa Tuguegarao at ako na lang magtatrabaho dito sa Maynila.”

(If the lockdown drags on, I’d rather let my family stay in Tuguegarao while I work in Manila.)

As his wife lines up to buy tickets, Lugo plays with Hannah Rhea while waiting with hundreds of other passengers to leave Manila and hopefully steer clear of the COVID-19 outbreak that has affected so many others around the world. 

Hundreds of passengers flock to a bus terminal in Sampaloc, as they try their luck leaving Metro Manila on Friday before the community quarantine is imposed. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Among them is Hermie Lugo and his family, who are heading to Tuguegarao. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Hermie’s daughter, Hannah Rhea, plays with another passenger as they wait at the station. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

The Lugos are surrounded by their belongings. The items, which include a washing machine and a mattress, they plan to bring suggest they are looking to stay in the province for an extended time. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

To keep his daughter, who is less than 2 years old occupied, Hermie carries her and plays with her as they wait for his wife to buy tickets. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Hermie gently places Hannah Rhea on one of their packages before the expected 11-hour trip to their hometown. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Hermie says he is prepared to leave his family in Tuguegarao if the community quarantine in Manila takes longer than expected. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News