Kyle Helke

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Another Postcard From Manila

by Kyle Helke My wife and I are employed in Manila, the capital of the Philippines. This summer we took some time off to visit family back in the U.S. and Italy, where my wife is from, and enjoyed breathing fresh air, taking our young son to the playground, going out for ice cream – you know, all the normal things that humans do that we haven't been able to do over the past year because of the draconian restrictions imposed by the Philippine Government. It certainly was a breath of fresh air. Despite all of the madness going on in both the U.S. and Italy right now, I am still green with envy at the freedoms enjoyed by the people living in those places. It jarred my brain to meet people this summer who have never had to submit to (multiple) PCR tests. You can imagine our morale as we returned to Manila a few weeks ago (we are contractually bound by our job). Here in the Philippines, it's as if time stopped in April of last year. Still, you must wear both a face mask and shield when you leave your house. Still, children under 18 and senior citizens are technically not allowed to leave their houses (although this summer that loosened up a bit, but after two...

Postcard From the Philippines

By Kyle Helke In January of 2020 I took a job in Manila, Philippines, where I now live as an expat with my family. Originally we were supposed to relocate in July of last year, but when the so-called pandemic began the Philippines initiated a hard lockdown and closed its borders in March, which have remained so to foreigners ever since, save those with special permission. It took my employer four months of lobbying the immigration bureau before we were granted a special visa and allowed into the country in October.  We spent most of last year in flux between jobs and moving house again and again, a five month state of limbo waiting for my visa to come through. Having lived in both New York and Italy during this time, I thought I had seen it all when it came to lockdown absurdity, but the Philippines are on a whole different level. Upon arrival, you are subjected to a PCR test and then sent to a hotel to quarantine (both at your expense). When we arrived, you were able to leave the hotel and go home to do your mandatory two-week quarantine after receiving your negative test result, but now they don't even let you do that anymore; you have to remain at the hotel for the two-week duration. We were lucky...

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July 2024
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