Was really hoping I had a bed to sleep on for more than 1 night.
But my old friend Abdulrahman was shocked on the next day, as well as me.
For those following the vlog (v-log, lol) I thought I was “safe” for a few weeks. An angel – well David on Wechat, re-connected me with an old friend Abdulrahman who is also in Cebu – and he had a spare room in his longer term month to month lease here.
As we discussed in the last video – he welcomed me with open arms, picked me up at my current location, loaded up on more canned food, and entered his apartment complex. (That was Wednesday March 18)
What a difference a day makes
Slept well, got some work done – and in the afternoon on Thursday March 19, 2020 – we decide to venture out to get more canned food (and a can opener….his unit didn’t have one) as well as check out other things as the lockdown got more serious in Cebu.
Malls were starting to shut down but allowed us in, and we stocked up on more canned goods and I bought some of my Saturday “Cheat day” goodies as we are nearing the weekend.
All was good, can openers were sold out at the grocery stores, but found a shop that had it and picked it up.
Even left my video camera out of the picture, as I thought this would be a boring day and I could take a break from videos.
Well – I should have been recording
Taking the taxi back to re-enter his apartment complex – felt like fort knox. About 4 security guards asking me who I am, why am I entering the building, and that his apartment unit only has 1 person registered.
Somehow we got in the day before with no problem.
Today, nothing worked. Calling landlord, calling management, etc etc. Nothing would work.
They didn’t even want to let me back in to pack my things. They wanted Abdulrahman to go in to his unit and pack my stuff and I wait in the parking lot.
Finally, he was able to let them allow me back into the unit to pack my own things. (It would have been a mess, as I had literally just “un-packed” all my things in the spare bedroom).
The security escorted us back to his unit and waited at the apartment door for me to pack.
Abdulrahman learned how to use my video camera and recorded me as I packed.
6pm on a Thursday evening. We didn’t even had a chance to enjoy that canned chili together we had purchased. I explained how awesome it was and we stocked up on it.
Like a refugee on a run
Now, I don’t have many personal items, but I walked out with 3 huge bags of canned goods and nuts. Loaded it up in the same taxi we entered with – and just said to drive near where I thought Josh lived (in Lapu Lapu).
Abdulrahman felt guilty, he said, because he was the one that suggested we go outside together. If I had stayed hidden in the apartment I may have been able to stay.
Come on, this is not his fault at all.
Would I need to be a hidden refugee in his apartment for the next month, hoping security wouldn’t sniff me out and throw me on the street sooner?
All I can say is – I feel like some kind of criminal or some kind of refugee – someone on the run and with doors closing and limited options.
Where to go now?
In previous videos I mentioned the US Consulate and the Department of Tourism. They told me there were military planes going from Cebu to Manila or Clark. Those never worked out. The DOT (department of tourism) told me there are Philippines Airlines flights to Manila today and tomorrow – but when I go on the website it says sold out. They say to go to a travel agent to book it. Where is a travel agent? I’m in the backseat of a taxi with 3 huge loads of canned goods in the trunk and no idea where I am.
So I think I must go to Josh’s place. He offered his spare room for me but we didn’t connect earlier as he wakes up in the evening as he works USA time shift. Not having his address, I didn’t know where to exactly go – just in the general neiborhood. This time I left plenty more Whatsapp messages and by 7pm the taxi driver said he cannot wait anymore and told me he has to go back to his wife and kids- his shift is over.
Unloading my canned goods on the curb, a security guard from the restaurant helps carry a bag or two for me into the restaurant.
Ghost town – restaurant has 1 customer hiding in the back.
Ordered a grilled chicken and a bottle of water.
Finally my mobile internet is working (connection simply wasn’t working) and the whatsapp and slack messages are going through.
LJ on the team sends a notice
At the same time David from Alpha Rock Capital sends a notice
Philippines is cancelling all visas for foreigners.
LJ is trying to help me reach the US consulate. Am I needing to fly out tonight? Will hotels even let me register?
Not able to wait for Josh anymore, it is past 7pm and I book a hotel walking distance from the restaurant.
The restaurant agrees to let me keep my bags of canned goods there and I can come for it later. Hopefully not one steals my canned chili….
There’s more like me
Walking to the hotel, I bump into more stranded travelers, but no time to talk to them – go to the reception and cross my fingers they will allow me to check in. Passport handed over, and I am handed my key – room 101, just down the hall. Happy I don’t need to carry my canned goods up flights of stairs, I walk down the hall and drop one bag.
Heading back to the lobby, I strike a conversation with the group of foreigners. Wish I could record but they are camera shy.
A german couple says they got the last flight out at 2am tonight to Germany. They have had cancellations and been stranded for days and are furious. Not allowing me to record that story.
But another nice guy – Mick – a New Zealander – is not camera shy – he says his home country just locked him out. His flight to New Zealand was cancelled as New Zealand government cancelled all inbound flights.
The German couple leave to their room to rest, and Mick offers to walk with me to the restaurant to help carry some of my canned goods. He also helps find a lost “leg” of my tripod on the road.
His Philippines visa expires tomorrow and he hopes he can extend it. He is planning to go back to his island where his girlfriend and him have a 3 room bed and breakfast on the beach – called Mick and Kay’s B and B. He offers me to join him for a special rate and he says the last ferry going there is 8:30am in the morning the next day.
Finally, a place for me
Josh gets back to me – he says he just wakes up later due to US schedule -and he has the room for me.
He says I shouldn’t have trouble getting in and out as he has a house in a subdivision so it isn’t as strict with entering and exiting. So he says just stay at the hotel I’m at tonight and I can go to his place in the morning before he goes to sleep.
Let’s see how it pans out – writing this the morning from the hotel room.
Now, check this video of the whole thing: