Filipinos often find a sliver of hope amid the tragedy unfolding in our lives. We live in a country beset with natural disasters such as earthquakes or super typhoons, or man-made disasters like water shortage, energy crisis or traffic nightmare. This has made us resilient that it’s not unusual for us to remain steadfast in our work abroad as Filipino migrant workers. Many of us are willing to do jobs locals are unable or unwilling to take, and we remain committed to it even when civil wars or natural calamities stand in the way.
As we are in the midst of a coronavirus crisis, most OFWs have managed to stay strong. Some of us got stranded at airports and underwent a series of health checks, but managed to reach home to the comfort and warmth of our family’s presence. For those of us who remain in our workplaces, or confined in self-isolation, we’ll always find time to interact with our families. The crisis has often become a catalyst for innovation, and the Filipino’s resourcefulness has often been on full display.
For OFWs now with families
Whether you are a seafarer scheduled to board a tanker or cruise ship or a domestic worker bound to start your work abroad but stuck at home due to travel and movement restrictions, the current circumstance could be interpreted either in a doomsday scenario or golden opportunity to bond better with the family.
In the past, we could easily slip past our homes and take families for granted to do things like watch movies, go to a cockfight or just hang out at the shopping mall. But like utopian movies that depict contagion or viral outbreak, it’s the new normal to stay at home. Stepping out requires proper excuse and freedom of movement appears worse than martial law. Self-isolation, quarantine, or to an extreme degree, a lockdown is not what everyone wants but is a necessary measure. So while staying at home sounds boring, it doesn’t have to be.
1. Prepare meals together
Mom can prepare the ingredients, dad can prepare the utensils and cookware, children help in washing and learn basic techniques in cutting. Food prepared together tastes better. It could include discovering what’s available to cook in the fridge or canned goods to cook before they expire.
2. Fix broken items
Sew clothes, shine an old pair of shoes, drain clogged pipes, or clean the aircon filter. These are things that often get taken for granted when we had the freedom to go out and about.
3. Arrange the wardrobe
Instead of going for five of your most favorite dresses, you might be surprised to find old gems hidden under a mass pile of clothing.
4. Do general cleaning
Your house may be regularly cleaned, but not cleaned deep enough to explore hidden corners, unreachable nooks, and simply spending more time on every nook and cranny. After all, this should be part of the healthy lifestyle we do besides wearing masks, washing hands properly and practicing social distancing.
5. Play games together
Scrabble, monopoly, sungka or deck of cards, these are classic family bonding games. Not to mention games that can be played with each one’s mobile devices.
6. Share family history
Research your family tree together and see how far can you go.
7. Teach a new skill to a fellow family member.
Dad can teach guitar or carpentry. Mum can teach cooking, braiding hair or sewing. Kids can teach their parents how to use technology or social media etiquette so future interactions won’t be as awkward as before.
8. Gather unused items
Clothes that don’t fit, shoes that went out of favor, or flower vases or picture frames replaced with more fancy versions are best candidates for decluttering and are better donated to charity or peddled online at Facebook Marketplace.
9. Get fit together
Yoga, push-ups or rely on what that instructor on TV tells you, staying indoors doesn’t have to adopt a sedentary inactive life.
10. Remember memories through family photos.
Bring out old family photos and relive great memories together.
11. Write thank you cards
Each family member can write a thank you note to a friend or old teacher and mail them.
For OFWs living far from families
Technology has made it possible for overseas Filipinos that it’s not even necessary to pay to make calls like earlier OFWs use phone cards or incurring long-distance telephone charges to ease homesickness. With better internet infrastructure, we can do Facetime, group video chat or share photos in real-time.
12. Do Zoom interactions
Zoom calls aren’t just limited to conversations. It can also be used to gather the family to pray the rosary, play games like Kahoot (a quiz game), or do a live jamming with one member playing the guitar or piano.
13. Sing along with Smule!
Like a virtual videoke, the family can pair off and sing together or record each member’s personal favorite.
14. Watch a movie together
Using Netflix Party, each family member can follow the same movie together even with a different device. Note that since watching TV is a common practice before the self-isolation era, it’s not included in the list above.
15. Play games online.
Word games, card games, chess or group challenges, such games are abundant online and can be played via mobile phone apps.
As of writing, there is no vaccine for Covid-19 and staying home and practicing good hygiene habits are the most effective ways to prevent its spread. Staying home in isolation can easily sound boring, but let’s also be thankful that such a situation provides the opportunity for us to spend more quality time with the ones closest to us, even if we are far away from them.