“Unang araw na nalaman ko na may COVID-19 case sa Ruby Princess, kung saan isa sa crew ang aking anak, nakaramdam ako ng sobrang pag-aalala, hindi ko mapigil ang aking luha. Panay dasal at pagmamakaawa sa Diyos na huwag mahawahan ang aking anak at ang kanyang mga kasama, na sana ay gumaling na ang mga nagkaroon sa kanila.”

Mhel’s first child and only daughter works in one of the largest cruise ships in the world, the Ruby Princess. It was early March when four passengers of the ship tested positive for the coronavirus.

“Everyday, we often communicate ng aking anak, panay kumusta ko sa kanya at ang sagot nya palagi ‘okay ako Mommy, kayo ba diyan, okay ba kayo? baka wala kayong pambili ng pang-stock na pagkain. Kailangan marami, pati gamot mo, baka magtagal ang lockdown, magpapadala ako, mamili ka na po.’ Kahit anong pilit sa kanya na huwag magpadala dahil sabi ko mas mahirap na wala syang savings dun dahil nasa malayo sya, hindi ko pa rin sya napigilan, kami pa rin ang iniisip nya.”

Out of the blue, their video calls turned into shorter voice calls. Arianne would reason the intermittent wi-fi signal on the ship. Mhel had no idea that her unica hija on the other line has started showing symptoms of Covid-19.

In her post after recovering, Arianne revealed that she got milder symptoms, “I was coughing and having a runny nose, but worst of all is losing my senses of smell and taste for a week or more and not being able to sing properly because I felt shortness of breath at times.”

In the same post is where only Mhel learned about what happened.

“Muntik na akong mag collapse, panay iyak ko. Kahit magaling na, bilang magulang masakit sa akin yun. Saka kung anu ano pumapasok sa isip ko, kahit sabihin pa na dapat maging positibo pero, naisip ko nun pano kung malala, pano kung may nangyaring di maganda sa anak ko. Saka awang awa ako kasi nung time na nagsa-suffer sya, wala man lang ako para palakasin ang loob nya.”

On April 25, Arianne arrived in the Philippines and went straight to a self-quarantine facility for returning OFWs in Tagaytay City. Does this finally make her feel at ease?

“Hindi pa rin. Pag nakauwi na dito saka pa lang ako mapapalagay.”

On how this crisis changed them Mhel said, “Mas lalo pa kaming naging malapit sa Panginoong Diyos.” To which Arianne sings “And I will call upon Your name, and keep my eyes above the waves, when oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace… for I am Yours and You are mine.”

(The two were finally reunited on Mother’s Day.)

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