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Alba Iulia
Monday, September 21, 2020

Hotel quarantine after arrival in the Philippines: expectation vs reality

The week-long quarantine experience of a Filipino who returned home to the Philippines during COVID-19

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Michael Gabriel Angel has shared his long journey from Australia on 27 May, which showed the step by step processes on arrival in the Philippines. Since then, he has received his COVID-19 test result and was able to make his way home to Valenzuela City. Michael shares his quarantine experience in Metro Manila for others who may be planning to return home to the Philippines during the coronavirus pandemic.

Michael Gabriel Angel shares his experience while in hotel quarantine at GoHotel, North Edsa

Expectation vs reality

I was expecting that the result of my swab test will only take me 3 days to wait. I prayed really hard and kept myself optimistic. But as I reached my 5th to 7th day of stay, I started to bang my head and see my room as a cell. I was feeling very bored and frustrated, or maybe, I was just being impatient.

Let me share with you my quarantine experience at the hotel while waiting for the test results.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only. Everything written here is all based on my personal experience and intended to update and help others get a look of what awaits overseas Filipinos like me as soon as they arrive here in the Philippines.

I chose GoHotel at North EDSA in Quezon City, as it was the cheapest accredited hotel option on the list for about Php. 1,500/night. Familiarity and location wise, it is a very convenient place for me as it is the nearest from my home.

Checking in at Gohotel North Edsa – Before I went into my designated room, the front desk receptionist asked a few questions and handed me a form to be filled out.

Checking in – It was around 2:30 AM. As instructed at the airport, I paid the minimum amount of stay which is for three nights (Php. 1,500 x 3 = Php. 4,500), which then I was told to pay per night if I need to extend my stay until the test results arrive. The receptionist at that time deferred payments via debit or credit card. They prefer cash payments or via BPI bank transfer. Luckily, I had extra cash in my pocket good for a 3-day stay!

Note:I don’t know if the payment method is the same at other hotels. But, it is best to keep with you an extra pocket money of Philippine currency before arriving.

My hotel room was somehow cozy and comfortable to stay at.

Day 1 – Despite being the cheapest hotel option, there was an AC, TV, WiFi, telephone, and a small table. However, I wasn’t feeling that well because I was extremely tired from my yesterday’s trip from the airport. I had a headache and I couldn’t sleep well. There were random thoughts on my head of worries and fear of acquiring COVID at the airport. I even thought whether the last person who used my hotel room was even positive of the virus.

The first day was really costly. I was oriented not to go out of the quarantine facility and I tried to avoid going out of my hotel room. Hence, I needed to make individual food orders in a day via Grab food app. There’s a lot of fast food chain options to choose from but I find that most of them needs a minimum order of 500 pesos. Please take note that the amount and conditions may vary depending on the location or in the mobile application.

Day 2 – I woke up still not feeling well. It might be due to insufficient sleep and I’m adjusting with the weather. I just felt better after eating my breakfast. I ran out of water since the hotel only provided me 3 small bottled water in my room. So instead of requesting from the hotel, I bought 6 litres of drinking water via Grab delivery and it costed me 214 pesos (just to let you know how much a single item could cost.)

Hotel essentials such as soap, shampoo, towels, tissue paper were available. However, it is best to bring with you your own toiletries.

Day 3 – From time to time, I’ve been checking updates on the PCG’s Facebook page. I even sent them a private message to follow up the results on my batch. However, they have no response. I was also struggling on my internet connection as hotel WiFi became weak, so I couldn’t properly check and access the online master list. I asked help from my relatives to do the checking for me.

How to check negative COVID-19 Test results on PCG’s updated Master list?

First, you have to go search Philippine Coast Guard Facebook Page (as seen below)

Second, scroll down and look for the updated master list of negative RT-PCR result. The image should look like this (see photo below). Then on the description box, there’s a link to click that will direct you to Google drive.

Third, you can now find your name here. In order to find your name faster, you can click the three dots on the upper right side to give you the “find” option.

Since my name has not appeared on the list yet, I have to pay for an extension of one day. I didn’t have enough cash so I paid through BPI mobile bank transfer.

Day 4 – I did my best not to spend much as I am running out of funds already. I’ve ordered my breakfast and I tried to save some portion for my lunch. For dinner, I ate some of my supposed to be “pasalubongs” or gifts that are food items.

Day 5 – As I thought that my spending on food was too much, I requested my family to send me home-cooked food instead. I haven’t thought of this at first but I found out that it could save me a lot. Good thing that my family lives in Metro Manila. I opted home-cooked food delivered via Grab which only costed 144 pesos for the delivery (amount varies depending on the location).

My family sent me packed food and snacks which were already good for two days.

Day 6 – My name still didn’t appear on the master list. I’ve learned from an OFW that she was about to leave her hotel and it only took her 4 days until her negative test results came out.

I’m starting to see my room as a cell. I felt so bored and frustrated.

It was my 6th day and I was wondering what’s taking so long for my test results to come out. I’ve learned that the turn around time of results are very inconsistent. According to her, she knew someone who’s still on a quarantine facility for already 2 weeks. She also mentioned that other people were unable to take a swab test because of insufficient number of testing kits available. So, I felt a bit lucky and thankful that I haven’t had to experience that which may even prolong my stay on a quarantine facility.

On this day as well, the front desk told me that there will be an increase of 100 pesos for the succeeding days of extension starting tomorrow (From 1,500 pesos, it would be 1,600 pesos per night from tomorrow). I’m feeling more hopeless now.

Day 7 – Finally! I saw my name on the master list. It was 9:37 AM when they posted it on their page. I called the hotel front desk immediately to inform them and they asked me to send them a print screen showing my name on the master list. I have to email it to them for verification purposes.

Afterwards, I called them back to follow up and they told me that I was good to go, so I packed up my things immediately.

Going home from the hotel

I booked a Grab car for my journey home. Good thing, travel restrictions has been lifted and we are currently under GCQ (General Community Quarantine).

The front desk only reminded me to visit the DOH-BOQ or Bureau of Quarantine page where I can download my Quarantine Certificate.

As per coordination with the Local Government Unit (LGU) in Valenzuela City, according to them, the certificate has to be presented to a doctor in an Alert center as soon as it’s available online.

(Note: Kindly coordinate with your respective local government units what protocols are being observed. In my case, I was notified by my relatives that REPORTING is mandatory on our LGU who are returning from abroad). By the way, here’s the link to the DOH-BOQ Verification: https://www.quarantinecertificate.com/

(At this moment, my quarantine certificate is still on process. So I have to wait for it and once received, I’ll proceed to my LGU for reporting)

Meanwhile, when I reached the front desk to check out, I saw an old man asking the receptionist about the swab test. As I overheard their conversation, he flew from US and he was complaining that they had been staying at the hotel for 2 days now and yet they haven’t been tested yet because of insufficient testing kits.

My experience may not be the best basis because as I’ve mentioned earlier, turn around time for others vary. I knew others have their own different versions of stories to tell. Some were lucky to get their results in as early as 3 days. Maybe 5 to 7 days is the normal waiting time. I’ve heard others staying for 2 weeks and even some the worst of 3 months already.

Prepare in case the waiting time goes beyond your expectation. I hope that this information gave you an idea on what could possibly happen once you start your quarantine stay.

I wish you all the best in safety and health. Good luck and keep safe everyone! I’m now at home at last.

READ: New processes on arrival in the Philippines – here’s what overseas Filipinos need to expect

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