Two Minutes with Anna Manalo

Some of you may have had dealings with our amazing Researcher and Recruitment Administrator Anna Manalo who is based in the Philippines. I spent a couple of minutes with her asking some questions to get a better perspective on what life has been like living through the pandemic in her country.

AC: Can you tell us a bit about where you live Anna?

AM: We live in Lipa which is the southern part of the capital, Manila. It’s a very progressive city about an hour from the centre of the capital with a population of 400,000 people which is broken up into 79 barangays which are like suburbs. We’ve got all necessities available in our city.

AC: What has it been like living through the pandemic?

AM: A lot of offices and restaurants have closed, but new ones have opened up in their place. There has been a huge increase in demand for deliveries from shops and food businesses which has created a lot of jobs in this space. Many of the private and government offices that are still operating are working on reduced hours as are the shops in the malls. This has started to feel pretty normal now and people are used to it, but it’s not great for kids. They’re not able to go out as much as they would like and online schooling is hard for them. I feel sorry for the kids.

AC: What about the vaccination program?

AM: Local government has a Facebook page where they send out announcements relating to the city. Every day is a surprise. They’ll send out a message to 10 suburbs saying tomorrow you need to go and get vaccinated. But even if you are scheduled there is no guarantee you will get vaccinated on that day. It depends on how many vaccines they have available when you get there. I spent five hours waiting in a shopping mall carpark with thousands of people to get my Pfizer vaccination, but I was lucky to get it. Once you’ve had your shots you get a card to show you’ve been vaccinated and then certain shops will offer you a discount when you produce this card.

AC: There have been other challenges you’ve had to deal with in your region in the past couple of years.

AM: Yes, before the pandemic hit the active volcano is the middle of the lake nearby erupted in January 2020. There were a couple of tourists in the crater at the time who luckily made it out. There were huge amounts of smoke in the sky and ash was falling on the ground. This was followed by earthquakes as well. Fortunately our city stayed safe but we were wearing face masks before they were needed for COVID because of the smoke and ash in the air. We’ve also had what seems like an increased number of tropical storms and typhoons which I think might be because of global warming. 2020 and 2021 have definitely been interesting years.

AC: Absolutely, thanks so much for sharing all of this with us Anna. It’s been great to chat.