April 09, 2020 - Thursday
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Davao City, Philippines


March 25, 2020 - Wednesday 4:03 AM by Jimmy Laking

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At the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy in San Narciso, Zambales where he is quarantined with his student-cadets, karate instructor Dennis Mangatam has installed a makiwara under the shade of a tree.

The makiwara (??) is a padded striking post used as a training tool for punching and kicking in traditional karate.

Here, during the enhanced community quarantine period, the 65-year-old karate instructor who moves with the agility of a much younger man has been showing to his students how to punch and how to kick with the padded post as target.

Mangatam is believed to be among more than a hundred Filipino Shotokan karate practitioners who were awarded their black belts by the late Kunio Sasaki, credited for introducing traditional karate in the Philippines under the aegis of the Japan Karate Association.

“We do this as part of our training and to keep us from harm arising from the COVID-19 threat,” he shared on Facebook.

Closer to home in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur, Ryan Kim I. Pescadera, the deputy manager of the National Anti-Poverty Commission for Mindanao operations, is never without sight of his 640-square meter garden.

With his one year and eight-month daughter, Ryan tends to his plants full-time during the quarantine period.

He has reason to take the quarantine period seriously. In that town alone, local authorities counted at least 54 individuals as PUIs or persons under investigation for possible coronavirus infection.

Lenient implementation at the grassroots during the early days of the quarantine period is generally believed to be the reason behind the spike in the number of PUIs.

With his daughter in tow, Pescadera is now spending more and more time in his garden.

His crops include chickpeas, sweet potato (camote), upo, squash, patola, ampalaya, eggplant, string beans, pechay, and a variety of herbs. Out of curiosity, he planted a corner to sayote and is looking forward to being rewarded for his efforts.

Mangatam and Pescadera are spending the quarantine period under ideal circumstances. Not everybody has a gym or a garden to manage under this most trying period in contemporary history.

But elsewhere, it seems people still do not appreciate what social distancing is all about.

You still see a lot of unnecessary movement by people in public places.

What they do not realize is that social distancing is the only defense against the threat of the virus. The less contact with people, the less chances for the virus to find a host. Without a host to latch, it is believed to die a natural death. Hence, the need for a 30-day quarantine to neutralize it.

By the way, the World Health Organization said social distancing should be taken to mean “far apart physically, but not socially.”

Dr. Maria Van Kerhove underscored the need to keep physical distance from people to prevent the transfer of the virus.

“But it doesn’t mean that socially we have to disconnect from our loved ones, from our family,” she explained.

Van Kerkhove is head of WHO’s emerging diseases unit. She is the technical lead in efforts to combat COVID-19.

She said technology can still help in connecting people remotely to each other.

“So find ways to do that, find ways through the internet and through different social media to remain connected because your mental health going through this is just as important as your physical health,” she said.

If not find a gym or tend a garden.