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Pinoys ‘not dumb and they know’ why quarantine restrictions eased, says Maria Isabel Lopez

/ 12:30 AM July 03, 2020

Lopez visits mom shown inside a nursing home

Maria Isabel Lopez is one of those who believe that it’s still too early to allow the resumption of work in some industries, show biz included.

“It’s just that, these days, you either die from the virus or from hunger. It’s like we have no choice. The relief goods from the government can only go so far. Man doesn’t live on bread alone,” Isabel stressed in a recent video chat with Inquirer Entertainment. “We’re reopening [slowly after lockdown] not because the virus is already gone—Filipinos aren’t dumb. They know this. Out there, it’s the survival of the fittest.”

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She added: “But how will you be able to boost your immune system when all you eat are instant noodles and rice with sardines or corned beef? Ideally, you need food that are closest to the source, like green leafy vegetables—organic, if it can be helped. All we can do now is be very conscious of our hygiene. Also, if it’s not important to leave the home, then don’t go out anymore. For me, it’s not worth the risk.”

Isabel said she is grateful that job offers are still coming, even though producers know she is currently abroad. “If I don’t have other resources, baka kakapit na ko sa patalim—I’d go out to work despite the risk. But what’s good about our line of work is that we can always adapt the ‘feast or famine’ technique of saving money. It’s like a ‘feast’ when you’re doing multiple projects at the same time and are earning a lot. This is also the time when you save up to make sure you have enough resources during times of ‘famine,’ like today.”

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She explained further: “That’s a good technique that everybody, even regular employees—those who live from paycheck to paycheck—should adapt. These days, you should lie low from spending money. You don’t need much during a pandemic, anyway. What will you do with your Gucci bags or expensive makeup when you don’t have any social gatherings to go to?”

Maria Isabel Lopez (right) with husband Jonathan Melrod

Isabel is currently living in Sebastopol, California, with husband Jonathan Melrod. She had planned to fly back home in mid-March but opted to postpone the trip because both California and Manila went on lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Now that restrictions in Manila have loosened and I can already fly home, my predicament is this: I’d end up just being stuck at home because I’m a senior and am not allowed to go back to work just yet. Saan ko ilalagay sarili ko?”

On the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force guideline requiring residents with ages 60 and up to first secure travel passes before being allowed to go out, she said this is also one reason a lot of seniors are experiencing depression these days.

“They don’t have an outlet, so they become overly sensitive,” she pointed out. “I’m a senior but with an immune system of a 25-year-old. I may be 62, but I can confidently compete with anyone younger in terms of strength. I’ve always been health-conscious. I exercise not only for immunity, but also for vanity. These days, to further boost my immune system, I supplement my usual exercise routine with weight training, yoga and relaxation meditation.”

Her advice to other seniors: “Make sure you are able to release your bottled-up energy, otherwise you’ll go crazy. I’m surrounded by flowers here because gardening is one of my husband’s interests, so I do flower arrangements. I’m also a visual artist, so I spend time in my studio.”

Sadly, an art exhibit of some of Isabel’s works that was scheduled this June got canceled. “I’ll also have a one-woman show here in October, but it looks like that will be canceled, too. Even if you say economies are slowly opening up, it will take a while before we can fully recover.”

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