Just when we thought that mandatory antigen and PCR tests were enough, some of our clients had to amp up the safety more by creating ‘bubbles’ and requiring anyone entering those bubbles to isolate in a hotel for at least week. As recent studies have shown, even the fully vaccinated can cause breakthrough infections and transmissions. It seems that the only way to rule out that there won’t be any false negatives among anyone from the whole crew, is to have a week’s worth of quarantine.
The whole world isn’t and wont ever be the same for a very long time as new variants turn up and the need to adjust and keep up with vaccine formulations and boosters is key.
Jay and I certainly found it difficult to say yes to the then proposed 10-day isolation for a photo shoot of a TV program, since this will one way or another affect our other bookings that may fall during the said quarantine period. On top of our shoot schedules that have thankfully picked up during the past few months, personal obligations to family and the like demand our physical presence. Since my schedule was more flexible, I said yes. Another hurdle was finding an assistant who would be available to be away from their family for that long period. Luckily, I found Jojo who made sure that things were okay with his household so he can isolate with me. Not only did I have to make sure that I had all the equipment as well as essentials for my stay, I had to prepare myself mentally since I’d be inside the room for a total of eight days. While the thought of being in isolation could be quite agonizing for some, I thought that as long as I had a comfy bed and fast wifi, I’d be good. And it turned out to be not a bad experience at all thanks to a bunch of creature comforts. Hey, I’m a creative! I’ve shot in cramped and unimaginable spaces to get the best angle, We’re known to McGyver ourselves out of any situation. More than a week in a good enough hotel shouldn’t be so bad!
After packing all of my gear, enough pambahay, toiletries, plus a ton of snacks, check-in day finally arrives. But even before going to the hotel, Jojo and I were required to take an antigen test first. Only after a negative result would we be then allowed to check in. Just before half an hour passed, we were given the go signal. Both negative, phew! And yet, we still had to maintain our social distance all throughout just in case our antigen results were a false negative or if we eventually develop symptoms so as an added measure, it was imperative to book separate rooms. We were lucky to stay in one of the newer budget 2 star hotels at the Tomas Morato area since quarantine hotels can get fully booked quite fast due to returning and travelling OFWs. All the protocols were explained and enforced at the point of check in. We were escorted to our rooms only to be allowed out again after seven days to take an RT-PCR test the day before the schedules pictorial.
I was pleasantly surprised by the cleanliness and coziness of the room. It was quite spacious room with an equally spacious bath. The aircon was strong yet silent. Meals were provided and I couldn’t complain since it was lutong bahay. It wasn’t bad and I might have even gained a couple of pounds.
Jojo, my assistant who happens to be diabetic (don’t forget your meds!) needed some special food items. Thankfully we were allowed to shop for groceries online provided they were non-contact cashless transactions. The hotel happily obliged to bring our orders right outside our doors where tables for each room can be found. This is where our breakfast, lunch and dinner would be left so we can bring it inside the rooms ourselves.
Here are the creature comforts I brought to make the stay a little more bearable.
- Hot Water Pot and mug- there was no hot water pot in the room so I brought one that fit in my maleta. Very useful for 3-in-1 coffee, cup noodles, yaki soba, cup soup etc.
- Your favorite snacks – I brought enough to fill up a small sari-sari store to last me a whole week. These are great to have while rediscovering the joys of cable TV that comes free with your room.
- Utensils – the plastic utensils they provided couldn’t cut through the ulam that was provided.
- Yoga Mat – Halfway through your quarantine, your body will start to miss some movement or exercise. Or is it just guilt? Lol.
- Books – or e-books depending on your preference
- I-pad/phone with downloaded movies – when internet becomes spotty, it’s good to have some backup entertainment.
- Laptop – for gaming! Or other meetings/work you need to catch up on.
- Speakers – for whenever you need your trusty playlists to keep you sane
- Moisturizer – especially when you have airconditioning all day with no fan.
With all these add-ons that I had to bring myself and which amazingly fit in a small maleta, the seven days amazingly became a breeze. All in all, it could be an interesting experience. It can also be a chance to introspect, to work on some backlogs and to have time for yourself.