EARLY morning, we walked leisurely to the beach to see if there were mangalat on the shore. On our way we saw other folks half-running towards the beach, little pails swinging empty. Everyone was in a haste. Thick clouds were hiding the sun so the breeze appeared colder at around 7:00 a.m.  We saw more on the shore with just a lone woman on the water where waves break.  

I missed Reanne and her family. They did not show up. Either they still had enough mangalat from yesterday or her Lola-Nanay has heard that there is not much to catch today.  The waves are not very tame today and people are not so optimistic of any endowments from the sea. 

My big brother Jim says if the waves are noisy, we may not set for the shore. By the way, I really needed to escalate my walking regimen, adding up to 10 meters each day. So mangalat, or no mangalat, we shall walk daily for as long as it is possible. 

Usual farm chores included planting 31 new lemon grass and around 15 new cassavas. In the late afternoon when I was about to call it a day, three new katuray seedlings came from our Nanay Nena’s neighbors. There was a little papait that came with katuray. While at it, I also transplanted portulaca,  mayana, and oregano. These are fast disappearing in our plots due to the long dry spell. It rained only once since January and many small plants have dried up. 

I also fixed the cassava rows, digging ditches to delineate each row, topping the mulch with topsoil. Water will collect on these ditches, and there will be dissolved organic matter to top the rows anew. Also, dry leaves from the trees will fall on the plots and ditches so that these will gather as new mulch. Tamad farming system is this simple. No dig, no watering, no weeding. Just keep on topping layer by layer, lasagna-look-alike. 

By the way, recuperating from that terrible flu-like ailment called COVID-19, I can still do farming if my method is Tamad Farmer style. 

When it was time to feed the poultry, it was time to rest. At last. The chicks and ducklings were so noisy that instead of me calling them to eat, it was them who called my attention. It keeps amazing me how these little creatures would know it was time to feed them. They also know when to go to their nests. Tamad Farmer that I am, I do not bother driving them to their nests. 

Well, it has been 14 days in isolation and seven days more spent on observing how I am progressing. For all of 21 days, I was out-of-town only once when I had to attend my cousin’s funeral services. I had two groups of visitors on a Monday, and my family visits us almost daily. Only a little casual talk to keep my neighbors abreast with our plight. Besides that, there are no other close encounters with people other than our household. 

Only one day of these 21 days was spent in bed. The rest were like normal days, especially in the early morning.  Afternoons were lazy hours and bedtime starts at around 7:00 p.m. after acupuncture and moxibustion. 

There was no special diet, but my normal fare of vegetables, soupy dishes of fresh fish, occasional native chicken, and lots of ginger in all our meals, be it on tea, broth, or salads. Lemon Grass has become an essential ingredient too.  I consumed more fruits in the last 21 days than any given time before. I did not crave, but it helped to maintain a big appetite to eat more. 

Teas with anything at all would make my day.  There was no other time when I tried everything in my tea. Everyone was suggesting this and that and I obliged. So I tried ginger and turmeric with lemon grass. Malunggay, guyabano, bignay, oregano, lemon grass. Orange and lemon rinds, ginger, lemon grass. Guava leaves, aratiles tops, mulberry. Blue ternate. What else? I realized that anything at all may be ingested as tea. These provided me with essential vitamins and minerals. It makes sense how an Ilocano pediatrician once prescribed vitamin sabaw to my then two-year old daughter. His sabaw consisted of malunggay, kalkalunay, kangkong, saluyot and sabunganay. He inserted inihaw to get the acronym MyKKISS. 

Bath water had to be hot, not just warm. I stopped having hot herb bath that day when I had to plunge into a knee-deep sea to gather mangalat

Mucolytic effervescence and lozenges made the coughing days more bearable. I also took some mucolytic capsules but I enjoyed taking the effervescence and toyed with lozenges. I started taking a calcium supplement because I do not enjoy drinking milk.  Other than these, the meds bottles are intact. 

Making the 21 days as normal as possible, my stay in the garden helped a lot. My isolation hut in the middle of a prairie garden provided a lot of fresh air, however dusty at daytime because the place is sandwiched by two main detour roads and is at the flying route of small aircraft. The heightened alert levels helped when vehicles were not as mobile as in normal pre-pandemic times.  

The Happy Scion, an integrated farm, provided all the leaves I needed for tea. It is also my source of fresh vegetables, malunggay leaves and pods, blue terante with wild ampalaya. Wild passion tops and fruits, mulberry that I gobbled down straight from the twigs and gooseberries come handy.

These 21 days may not be enough. Some say that COVID-19 syndrome may stay longer. I will issue updates as need arises. In the meantime let us keep in touch and let everyone know that we will see to it that no one gets the virus from us.