"Every battle I've faced pre-pandemic seemed to be easy-wins; but when the virus started to show its arsenal, the battle—although winnable—seemed to be a challenging one."

► The war isn't over yet, but I have my fortress and my safe haven.

► The foe seemed so hard to defeat; but then again, I needed to study its game and strategize a defense.

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▼ COVER PHOTO▼ YOUTUBE
EDMARATION
| 1 | [VIGAN] ► HARVESTING BANANAS IN MY RURAL DWELLING: WHEN I WAS STILL IN MANILA, I PURCHASED THEM. IN THE COUNTRYSIDE, I CAN HAVE MY BANANA SUPPLY FOR A MONTH FOR FREE. HAVE A GLIMPSE OF MY "RURAL LIFE" AS PART OF MY QUEST FOR SURVIVAL THROUGH THE VIDEO POSTED UNDER THE YOUTUBE TAB.

Dear Survivor Self,

Do you still remember me?

I've written so many dramatic posts on this blog, because my blog is a reflection of my personality: emotional, dramatic, vulnerable, and sentimental. This blog has been a memory vault of my past struggles, victories, and whirlwind of emotions. For this piece I'm writing now, I would like to highlight the little victories I gained during this hard time. That's a swift change of heart. With all the depressing news I hear everyday, I conditioned myself to wake-up everyday with a happy "count-your-blessings" survivor mindset. Here's my story, a highlight of my simple "rural life" in Ilocos in my quest for survival.

I was in Metro Manila when the CoVid-19 virus started to infect people in the Philippines. I was based in Manila since 2017 due to work commitment. Living in the big city changed my lifestyle and health-related habits. Prior to the pandemic, I've seen a doctor about 5 times since 2017. When I was still living in the province, the last hospitalization I remember was about 20 years ago—that was due to dehydration secondary to food poisoning.

With the intention to earn more money for my future and for my family back in the province, I made myself a superhuman—someone who could survive all the plot twists in this real-life movie I'm in—a true-to-life story where I play the role of "captain" of my own ship. I worked hard a lot that I forgot to safeguard my health.

Then the pandemic came. Thousands died. I realized that all of my earnings would turn futile if I would get the virus. Many have survived the virus, but my fear stems from the question of, "what if I'm one of those unlucky ones?" I've read news of people dying due to the virus. Some even went to the ICU, spent a million for expensive life-support system, only to die after spending all their money for their survival.

This phenomenon slapped me on the face, waking up to the reality that I've compromised my health a lot in exchange of money. With the stressful and unhealthy lifestyle I chose for my convenience, I realized I may have prepared my self to lose a future warfare—and it came: the CoVid-19 pandemic, the scary villain in this war for survival. I've started to lose one war arsenal due to wrong decision in life—that's downplaying my health and immune system by being workaholic.

Our survival for this trying time is a daily battle. Everyday is a subtle war. Everyday, we fight for our lives. Everyday is a daily quest for survival, whether we like it or not. Every battle I've faced pre-pandemic seemed to be easy-wins; but when the virus started to show its arsenal, the battle—although winnable—seemed to be a challenging one.

For this pandemic, I've used the metaphor of "war" to describe the events. I remember when I was in college, a professor of mine told me these words of wisdom: "If you enter a war, you should learn the strategy of your enemy for you to counter it, and eventually win the war."

Those words resonated well to me, since I've just faced this challenging war in the game of survival. So what's next? I've studied the strategy of my enemy (the virus). Its strategy is to destroy your mental health, attack your body physiologically, and eventually ruin a society (or a country, or humanity).

The foe seemed so hard to defeat; but then again, I need to study its game and strategize a defense. I studied the greatest weapons of this villain and I have to address its three powerful offenses in its arsenal: attack bodies with poor immune system, take away your survival tools, and fire shots in crowded areas. Being in this war, I have to create my defense by boosting my immune system, countering its effects on my survival, and avoiding the crowded city.

About 8 months of persistently fighting this war for my survival, I have to put my defense into reality. I escaped the war hotspot zone of Metro Manila to go back to my rural roots where most of the people are winning.

Although many jobs were lost, the people in my rural community are natural survivors. We may have lost our monthly salary to sustain our daily battles, but our cannons of hope and arsenal of ingenuity have made us survive the hardest wars that attempted to destroy our community.

As a rural dweller, I realized that this is a strong defense itself. The villain virus has taken our jobs in the city, but it will never defeat the greatest fortress we have in our rural community—that is our ingenuity. My monthly pay checks in the big crowded city was an easy victim/casualty of the war, but my inherent daily survival skills I learned in my province was a strong weapon—powerful enough that it is CoVid-19 resistant.

EDMARATION
| 2 | [VIGAN] ► FLEXING MY SAFE HAVEN IN THE COUNTRYSIDE OF LOWLAND ILOCOS.
Part of our survival is to sustain our daily needs. With my survival skills being dormant for years, I re-activated them as defense for this global pandemic and recession. I was confident that my weapons of ingenuity would help me survive this. In terms of our daily fuel for survival (food to eat), the rural community where I live could sustain life.

For the longest time, I've never visited our river in our barrio until this pandemic came. With our ingenuity of traditional fishing through "mud pools" in the river, we can catch dozens of mudfish and tilapia for our alternative protein needs, shrimps, and even unlimited supply of "kangkong" for our daily fiber needs in our diet.

EDMARATION
| 3 | [VIGAN] ► THIS WAS A GREAT CATCH USING TRADITIONAL FISHING TECHNIQUE!.
EDMARATION
| 4 | [VIGAN] ► DON'T JUST DEMAND FOR FISH. TO SURVIVE THIS PANDEMIC, LEARN HOW TO CATCH FISH. IN MY COUNTRYSIDE DWELLING, I EMPLOYED A TRADITIONAL FISHING TECHNIQUE TO GATHER THE FISH FROM THIS RIVERSIDE MUD POOL.
Our backyard is also blessed with bananas, cassava, papaya tree, and other vegetables suitable for our green-leafy rural Ilocano diet.

By re-activating our ingenuity and utilizing the resources in my community, the battle was an easy win for our survival. Not everyone is living in a rural community that is equipped naturally with survival resources and skills, so I consider myself lucky.

EDMARATION
| 5 | [VIGAN] ► OUR BANANA SHRUB/TREE IS BEARING FRUITS!
EDMARATION
| 6 | [VIGAN] ► OUR VEGETABLE GARDEN WAS ESSENTIAL FOR OUR SURVIVAL THIS TRYING TIME.
EDMARATION
| 7 | [VIGAN] ► WE COOKED THE EGGPLANT THIS WAY
FOR OUR ILOCANO DISH CALLED "POQUI-POQUI.".
The second defense is to boost my immune system. Pivoting to my old traditional rural life was actually a redirection to my "healthier" life. I've started to eat organic food again and working "manually" was equivalent to my gym work-out in the big city. The fresh air in my province was also therapeutic. The calmness and beauty of my countryside life were instant mental health therapies.

EDMARATION
| 8 | [VIGAN] ► THESE FIREWOODS WERE GATHERED BY US FOR COOKING.
EDMARATION
| 9 | [VIGAN] ► I'M LIVING A BASIC, SIMPLE LIFE IN RURAL ILOCOS. I'M PROUD OF MY SIMPLE LIFE. I'M PROUD OF MY SAFE HAVEN.
EDMARATION
| 10 | [VIGAN] ► WE CALL THIS "KATUDAY." WE PREPARED THIS AS SALAD..
EDMARATION
| 11 | [VIGAN] ► THIS IS MY YEAR-ROUND SUPPLY OF PAPAYA.
EDMARATION
| 12 | [VIGAN] ► CLIMBING A TREE WAS ESSENTIAL FOR MY SURVIVAL TRAINING THAT STARTED SINCE CHILDHOOD.
EDMARATION
| 13 | [VIGAN] ► MORINGA LEAVES ARE PRETTY BASIC IN ILOCOS. YOU NEED TO HAVE THIS IN YOUR BACKYARD. DURING CRISIS, JUST PICK A STEM; GET THE LEAVES, MIX IT WITH BAGOONG, AND YOU'LL HAVE A DAILY SUPPLY OF VITAMINS AND MINERALS FOR FREE.
EDMARATION
| 14 | [VIGAN] ► I DON'T HAVE TO PAY FOR LAUNDRY, MY MOM WOULD VOLUNTEER TO DO IT.
EDMARATION
| 15 | [VIGAN] ► NO VIRUS CAN STOP THE FISH TO REPRODUCE. ALL YOU NEED IS THE SURVIVAL SKILL TO CATCH THEM IN TIMES OF NEED OR CRISIS.
EDMARATION
| 16 | [VIGAN] ► TO SURVIVE A CRISIS THAT TOOK AWAY OUR LIVELIHOOD, WE MUST LEARN HOW TO EAT KANGKONG, LOL. HERE ARE MY TWO AUNTS HARVESTING A GREEN-LEAFY INGREDIENT FOR OUR NEXT MENU.
EDMARATION
| 17 | [VIGAN] ► HEALTHY, FRESH, AND ORGANIC FOOD OPTION DURING THE PANDEMIC.
EDMARATION
| 18 | [VIGAN] ► MY LIFE DURING THIS CHALLENGING TIME MAY NOT BE THE MOST CONVENIENT LIFE, BUT I'M PROUD OF MY SIMPLE LIFE.
EDMARATION
| 19 | [VIGAN] ► WE ARE A BIG FAMILY EQUIPPED WITH SKILLS TO SURVIVE WHEN LIFE GETS ROUGH. THE FACT THAT WE ARE NOT BOTHERED LIVING A "ROUGH" LIFE AND STILL FIND JOY IN IT IS ALREADY A SURVIVAL ESSENTIAL YOU WISH YOU HAVE. ­čść
EDMARATION
| 20 | [VIGAN] ► LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: FLEXING OUR COUNTRYSIDE COMMUNITY. THIS IS HOME TO RESILIENT SURVIVORS.
EDMARATION
| 21 | [VIGAN] ► MENTAL FORTITUDE IS A FOUNDATION FOR SURVIVAL. THIS RELAXING VIEW OF OUR COUNTRYSIDE COMMUNITY NOURISHES MY SOUL AND SPIRIT, BEARING HEALTHY FRUITS OF PEACE OF MIND.
EDMARATION
| 21 | [VIGAN] ► WITH BROKEN CHAIRS AND RECYCLED TABLE, REAL SURVIVORS CAN STILL PULL-OFF AN AL FRESCO SUNRISE-VIEW BREAKFAST.
When I was still in the big city thinking daily how to survive the war, I was stressed and seemed to lose the battle with empty hands. Now that I went back to my home in the countryside, I went back to basic with productive hands.

I couldn't believe that living simply was the greatest weapon I could ever use to defeat the enemy. The war isn't over yet, but I have my fortress and my safe haven. It may sound strange, but I survived this war by going back to the basic. I'm winning this battle daily by going back to my old, humble, and simple life.

This is my story of survival. In this pandemic that left millions of casualties, redeeming my simple and basic way of life was a survival victory that's so small yet so big. Real survivors celebrate their every victory; and finding my armour to shield my self from the effects of our battle against an unseen enemy, I call this a celebration. We will not allow the virus to cripple us mentally, economically, and physically. I am a survivor, because I should. Flex your weapon. Win this war.

Love,
Edmar | end |

EDMARATION
This story is an entry to ComCo Southeast Asia’s “Write to Ignite Blogging Project Season 2: Dear Survivor”. The initiative continues to respond to the need of our times, as every story comes a long way during this period of crisis. The initiative aims to pull and collate powerful stories from the Philippine blogging communities to inspire the nation to rise and move forward amidst the difficult situation.
The “Write to Ignite Blogging Project” Season 2 is made possible by ComCo Southeast Asia, with Eastern Communications and Jobstreet as co-presenters, with AirAsia and Xiaomi as major sponsors, and with Teleperformance as sponsor.
SPEAK YOUR HEART OUT. C'MON! DON'T BE SHY. I PROMISE TO REPLY EXCEPT FOR TROLLS.

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EDMAR GUQUIB

Born and Raised in Vigan, Philippines. Hardcore Ilocano. Genuine Bigue├▒o. Sucker of Long Land Trips. Loves the Highlands. Professional Nurse on Weekdays. Coffee Addict. Travel Blogger in Between. For sponsorship, advertising, event invites and collaborations email me at edmaration@gmail.com.

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