Plight of Foreign Student in the Philippines in the midst of Corona Virus Lockdown

“My advise to my fellow foreign students is to follow the protocols imposed by the Philippine Government and stay safe” -Agostinha Soares Amaral

The Corona Virus has affected almost every aspect of society worldwide especially here in the Philippines. The academe is not exempted in this pandemic that is why we took the liberty of getting the stand of foreign students currently studying here in the country.

In this regard we asked simple questions on how the pandemic has greatly affect their lives and how they are coping with their situation away from home.

Since we are covering the sciences and agriculture sector, we were able to interview a scholar from the South East Asian Center for Graduate Studies and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) based in the University of the Philippines in Los Banos Laguna.

We get to interview Agostinha Soares Amaral or Nona to her fellow students from Timor Leste who’s taking up her Master’s Degree Major in Animal Science and Minor in Community Development.

She has been studying at UPLB since August of 2019 up to June of 2021. We asked her how she felt during this trying times here in the country stuck in the Corona Virus pandemic, she says obviously it felt bad on her part and she quite felt homesick.

She’s married and her husband is in the United Kingdom while she is here in the country and their family, particularly her son is in Timor Leste.

She misses her family quite badly that it somehow affect her studies, sometimes she was unable to focus on her assignments since almost everyone she says are at home and here in the country she’s on her own.

What holds her together is her faith in God and a fervent hope that COVID-19 will be over soon and everything will be back to normal.

We asked of her usual routine and were she stays also how many of them (foreign students) are in their class and she replied like everyone else she do cooking, washing clothes, cleaning her room and preparing her school requirements.

Sometimes she do jogging around UPLB. She’s finishing her requirement before June of 2020 while the next semester will be on August to December of 2020.

Foreign students in her class include her from Timor Leste, another from Myanmar, from Vietnam and another from Sri Lanka, her answer to our previous question. Tomorrow June 1, 2020 will commence the end of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) going to General Community Quarantine (GCQ)so we asked her if she would like to return for a while to Timor Leste to visit her son but she said she would like to finish her studies first before returning to Timor Leste.

Amidst the threat of the pandemic, still students like Agostinha Soares Amaral who’s patriotic enough to study abroad and get back to her country to share her knowledge for the progress of their infant nation. Timor Leste was just founded May 20, 2002 and was formerly a part of Indonesia.///Mj Balaguer, +639053611058, maryjaneolvina@gmail.com

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A ‘Healthypreneur’ turns his restaurant into Community Kitchen for frontliners

Volunteerism is a priceless act that no amount of money or property can pay off. As the Luzon-wide Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) was implemented due to the COVID-19 threat, thousands of volunteers stood up to back frontliners while they are fighting to protect the masses from this pandemic. Thus, let us turn the pages of the books to look at stories of a different set of heroes.

A volunteer’s vegan restaurant turns into a Community Kitchen

Mr. Elmer Macalingay and staff are among the thousand brave and passionate volunteers who were not threatened by COVID-19. He owns the Health 101 Restoreant in Baguio City and Health 100 in La Trinidad, which he converted into a Community Kitchen to cater healthy foods for the frontliners since the implementation of the Luzon-wide ECQ.

Through Mr. Macalingay’s leadership, the Community Kitchen has initiated a call for a donations drive for vegetables and other food supplies. From the donations, his team has been preparing and delivering free lunch to more than 300 frontliners in La Trinidad, Benguet for 51 days.

The Community Kitchen has signed off on May 15, when ECQ in Benguet has finally been lifted and classified as one of the areas to undergo General Community Quarantine (GCQ) until May 31, 2020.

The rise of a ‘healthypreneur’

One cannot wonder why Mr. Macalingay is so eager in helping frontliners during their war on to COVID-19 as he has been one of the health and nutrition advocates in the Cordillera region. This advocacy has driven him into establishing vegetarian stores and restaurants.

Health 100 Restoreant is a vegan restaurant and health products store that was established in 2009. It is a single proprietorship company owned by Mr. Elmer Macalingay, who associated the name of the restaurant to the numeral 100 with longevity. Further, from the words rest, resto, restore, store and ant, a “Restoreant” was established so that one could rest, get a homey atmosphere; and one’s health could be restored with their simple and natural foods. There are also healthy processed products being sold in the store like vegetarian meats, organic vegetables, and teas. One could see the owner and his staff working busy and happy like ants, the firm’s model.
Moreover, the firms’ baked products being served was outsourced from a home-based baker. Eventually, it started with a locally fabricated small oven positioned in one of the corners of the restaurant’s kitchen. It first introduced cinnamon followed by banana bread. The hand-mixed cinnamon was selling like hotcakes and that prompted them to upgrade their oven to a two- decker oven (8-trays). This also encouraged them to transfer to a wider space to enable them to expand their product lines. From breads, they added bars and soon cakes.
As the firm continues to grow, Mr. Macalingay did not think twice to ask assistance from DOST- CAR’s Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) in 2014 in order to upgrade its equipment and increase productivity. This inspired the firm to further upgrade its production process and upgrade its equipment through 2nd phase of SETUP assistance in 2019.

Empowered with S&T, the new Health 100

Through the SETUP assistance and determination of the firm to improve its business, he has innovated additional product lines from nine (9) to 61 kinds of assorted baked products. They also employed four (4) additional workers for the Bakeshop and generate additional 4 market outlets within Baguio City and La Trinidad Benguet. The firm also improved in terms of administration, production and, production lay-out, materials management, market strategy and finance strategy through the DOST’s MPEX program conducted in 2015.

Mr. Macalingay’s efforts in promoting healthy lifestyle through his business ideas has been recognized by several government agencies. For one, he has been awarded as the Benguet’s Best SETUP Adoptor in 2019. He also continues to serve as resource speaker in activities for MSMEs in the region and beyond.