Saturday, June 6, 2020

Filipinos #CopingWithCovid -- Ofelia Gelvezon Tequi, France

Marc and Ofelia Tequi

The following is part of my series, Filipinos Coping with Covid.
Ofelia Gelvezon Tequi was born in Iloilo and has lived with her husband Marc in France for many years. Ofelia is a modern and comptemporary artist as well as a printmaker.
Responding to my interview questions, Ofelia describes life for her and her husband Marc in Limeuil, France, during the time of coronavirus. This was written on May 28, 2020.~ Cecilia Brainard

Life in Limeuil, France during Covid 19
By Ofelia Gelvezon Tequi

Dear Cecilia,

Marc and I are both in our seventies.  He started his education in the classic path - Latin, Greek, history but switched to banking when he realised he couldn't raise a family well on a teacher's pay.  This was still the time when banks welcomed people who had training outside of business schools.  We met in Manila as he was sent to UP as a "coopérant".  The Cooperation being the French program of sending young men to teach/cooperate abroad based on their educational background instead of doing their obligatory military service.  I was also teaching Humanities, Art History and Printmaking in the UP.  But he was my teacher at the Alliance Française where I was already in the fourth and last year.

I was born in Guimbal, Iloilo where the original inhabitants' family names start with the first letter of their town. This is true of many Iloilo towns.

My Papa was with the military so we moved a lot according to his assignments: Cebu, Lucena but when he was assigned in Pampanga, my parents decided that we stay put in Manila for our education.  I went briefly to Maryknoll, high school was STC Manila and my mother insisted we all go to UP.  Except for one sister who stayed in Maryknoll earning her the loyalty medal as she was there from kindergarten to college.  I studied later on to the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome and got a Rockefeller scholarship to go to Pratt Institute in New York. Went back to Manila and while teaching in UP also pursued a parallel art career as a printmaker and painter.

When Marc opted for an early retirement, he decided we move to this village in the Périgord where we had bought a summer home.  A page of new adventures followed.

We have been living in this small rural village, Limeuil, of 353 inhabitants after having lived over 30 years in Paris and more than 6 years combined in Hong Kong and Hanoi.

We arrived from our annual vacation in the Philippines last March 6, 2020, and a week later France was in confinement (lockdown) due to the Covid-19 virus.

My husband Marc and I now have been living in Limeuil since 2005 and the confinement didn't really weigh on us.

We have a huge garden, still partly jungle, which in early spring called for a lot of time and effort from us for the sowing, the planting, the weeding, the building of dry stone walls on the slopes etc.

The village is one of the 152 (more or less) that have been designated the most beautiful villages in France so we are used to having a lot of tourists wander around the medieval streets.  Except for the few masked neighbours who would wave from us down in the garden, the streets are now empty of visitors.

Marc has regular bridge tournaments in the surrounding villages but because the players are mainly those in the "endangered" bracket, the French Bridge Federation has cancelled all the tournaments nationwide. Marc has however gone to a site for online bridge tournaments where he can also earn points to maintain his standing in the Federation. Unfortunately he is not a gardener but Marc hates overgrown and uncontrolled weeds and brush so his attention is now directed to garden maintenance and control.

He was also the only person authorized to go weekly to throw the trash on his way to the supermarket to get our basic necessities. Otherwise shopping would be online even if the delivery wait takes a bit more time.

My yoga class in the next village has just recently resumed as well as my ceramics class on Mondays.  Aside from these two classes my day starts with the garden in the morning.  I had been sowing flower seeds, maintaining the Japanese maples, spraying the roses, minding the boxwood against the pyrale catterpillars and weeding.  Somehow this last task I have always compared to Sisyphus who wasn't rolling a rock uphill but was weeding his garden. As the Spanish say "mala hierba nunca muere"! We pause for lunch, have a deserved siesta and back to the garden in the afternoon.  Dinner is usually light and healthy cheeses, salad.

Marc may watch a movie or a documentary on TV as we didn't think of getting Netflix.  Then he settles down with his genealogy researches online, or reads a book or does crosswords.  Since I have subscribed to Metopera on Demand, I watch an opera after dinner.  We both sleep normally after the day's physical efforts and are thankful we are not confined in a big city but we have all this space around us which is especially inspiring with spring's awakening.

What we miss most are our three kids and their families.  Thank heavens for technology as there are many video calls, photo exchanges, text messages including the ten grandchildren. We also miss the lovely dinners with friends in their homes or in the region's many gastronomic restaurants.  I miss the visits of extraordinary gardens with my group of Garden Girls.  And the operas transmitted live from New York.  This last activity applies more to me as Marc thinks opera is an acquired taste, like he's never really understood what the fuss is all about truffles!

This may not be typical of Pinoy life in France but I hope it can fill any gap.

Staying safe and healthy,


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

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