Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Filipinos #CopingWithCovid - New Zealand: Jay Montilla & Monika Tawngdee

On June 7, 2020, New Zealand declared it had eliminated Coronavirus. Its last new case was in May and New Zealand hospitals have no Covid-19 cases (as of June 9, 2020).  Lead by Prime Minister Jacinda Arden, the country implemented strict quarantine, travel restrictions and widespread testing. Here are the interviews of two Filipinos (my nephew and niece, in fact) who live in New Zealand, Jay Montilla and Monika Tawngdee. The interviews were done on May 29, 2020.  ~ Cecilia Brainard 


I live in Wellington, New Zealand where we are currently at Alert Level 2. I live alone but do see other people on a daily basis, and as prescribed by the government guidelines. We all have to practice social distancing: 2 meters in public and in retail stores, like supermarkets and clothes shops; 1 meter in most other places such as workplaces, cafes, restaurants, and gyms.

Due to travel restrictions under Alert Levels 4 and 3, movement between suburbs was restricted, thus limiting any additional income. However people who were receiving unemployment, disability, and retirement benefits were granted a winter heating allowance as well as an increase on all benefits.

I go out on a daily basis for exercise as well as to see friends. Even under Alert Levels 4 and 3, the government encourage everyone to go out and get exercise as long as they observe the 2-meter rule. I wear a face mask when I have to go to places where there are crowds in confined areas. I do my own grocery shopping and to limit my exposure to people, I make it a point to go to the supermarket shortly after it opens in the morning. I do not order take-out food, nor do I do online shopping as it is easier to walk to the supermarket or dairy.

My normal is routine is this: After breakfast, I feel the dogs and wild birds and answer emails and message. I catch up with the news both local and international. I chat with friends and family from other time zones. I check the neighborhood and community news groups to see if anyone needs help or assistance. I then take a 2 to 3 hour walk with the dogs and catch up with neighbors. Around 12:30 pm, I have a light lunch, followed by 2 plus hours doing on-line courses. I also check up on friends and family in other time zones especially those in countries which are under stricter conditions than those over here. I spend some time practicing guitar before feeding my dogs their dinner. I cook dinner, watch some TV and movies, then I read and sleep.

I don’t worry about the future; I don’t believe in worrying about things I can’t change nor predict. I do not have anxiety, nightmares, nor bad dreams.

I miss visiting friends who live outside of Wellington and look forward to being able to drive to some of the smaller towns around New Zealand.

To survive this pandemic, don’t panic, have faith that the people in government are doing the best they can and are giving advice based on knowledge available. Most importantly, we are all part of a team of 5 million and we all need to work together.

Okay, the above is probably only applicable to New Zealand. We’re probably the only country in the world where our heroes are the Prime Minister and the Director General of Health!

The daily updates from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield have kept the nation up to date on progress as well reminding everyone what needs to be done and how we all have to work as a team. It is important that the citizens of any nation have faith in their leaders, and those leaders be as honest and forthcoming as possible.


I live in Wellington, New Zealand, with my husband and two children. We are in partial lockdown called Level 2 in New Zealand, meaning: No international travel. All businesses can open to customers if they can do it safely. Tertiary education facilities, schools, and early learning centres will be open for all ages. We can travel between regions. Initially, gatherings like weddings, religious ceremonies, and social gatherings can have up to ten people. You can safely connect and socialize with close friends and family, in groups of no more than 100. You can visit local cafes, restaurants, bars, and pubs to have a meal. 

So, yes, I see other people as long as we follow the government guidelines: small controlled gatherings, physical distancing, strict hygiene standards.

The pandemic did not affect me financially.

I go out for regular walks and can now see our friends and relatives. Sunday was the first time we were able to travel to see my mother-in-law. We hadn’t seen her since the full lockdown end of March.

At Level 2 we can work from the office, although many of my colleagues continue to work from home for the time being. I work from home from Monday through Friday,  9 to 6. If the weather is good, I take a walk during my lunchbreak. I do not wear a mask as we maintain social distancing. My husband and son both enjoy doing the grocery shopping. During full lockdown, we used “Hello Fresh” to deliver our weekly meals.

As my job security has not been affected, I have not been stressed, although at the beginning of the lockdown, we were all in a state of flux. I try not to worry too much about the future. It’s very difficult to predict what is going to happen.

I miss planning ahead my overseas trips. Who knows when it will be safe to travel to the Philippines? I also miss my watercolor classes. They are still on hold. My Zumba classes are still not back to their normal schedule with only two classes available per week. It will be nice to have my routine back to normal.

My tips for surviving this pandemic are to be kind to others and yourself. Be prepared, not scared. Be prepared by building positive reserves, like your health (mental and physical) and also financial reserves.

Read also:
Coronavirus: The Beginning, by Cecilia Brainard
How Filipinos Are Coping With Covid, Part One (Cecilia Brainard, Positively Filipino)
How Filipinos Are Coping With Covid, Part Two (C. Brainard, PF
How Filipinos Are Coping With Covid-19, Part Three (C.Brainard, PF)

Covid-19: An Encounter with a Bee During Quarantine

Interviews follow:
Lia Feraren, Germany
Teresa Concepcion, Canada
 Ofelia Gelvezon Tequi, France
Reine Marie Bonnie Melvin, France
New Zealand: Jay Montilla & Monika Tawngdee
Linda Ty-Casper, Massachusetts, USA
Barbara Ann Jacala, San Diego, CAUSA
Brian Ascalon Roley, Ohio, USA
Elizabeth Ann Besa-Quirino, USA
Interview of Cecilia Brainard by 95.9 Star FM Bacolod (DJ Billie), USA

Interviews of Filipino Americans #CopingWithCovid

Live Interview of #CebuLitFest Producer Hendri Go by Cecilia Brainard

All of the above links are part of the Philippine Covid Archive of Filipinas Heritage Library.

tags: #coronavirus #covid19 #covid #Filipinos #copingwithcovid #Paris #France #Europe #FilipinoFrench #FrenchFilipino #FilipinoAmerican #Bacolod #Philippines #FilipinosinNewZealand

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