With people fearing the presence of COVID-19 in their locality, a lot are not happy when the government launched the Hatid Probinsya program to bring back overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and locally stranded individuals (LSIs) to their respective provinces.
There is now a stigma against returning OFWs and LSIs, with people assuming that they all have COVID-19!
Knowing the discrimination that he would face upon his arrival, the family of a returning OFW decided to print a huge tarpaulin to hang at their gate, announcing that he tested negative for COVID-19. They made sure to hang this on the gate because a lot of people knew that he came from abroad.
Raffy Salazar, hospitality industry employee, lost his job in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) due to the pandemic. Just like many OFWs, it took him more than 2 weeks after arriving in Manila to finally get back to his hometown in Ormoc City.
“I had my first swab test when we landed at NAIA last June 20 and after the swab test we were immediately transferred to a quarantine facility somewhere in Makati,” Raffy explained.
“We stayed there for four days because I had to wait for the results, which turned out negative. I was then transferred to Ormoc City on June 24. Again, they conducted a rapid test, which thankfully resulted as non-reactive and we were housed in Ormoc City Ligtas Covid Center—a facility prepared by Mayor Richard Gomez for returnees.”
But that was not the end of the series of tests. To make sure they are alright before finally returning home, another test was conducted.
“After seven days, I got my second covid test that again. It was thankfully negative, but we had to stay there for another seven days to complete my fourteen-day quarantine. I would like to thank DOH Bureau of Quarantine, Philippine Coast Guard, OWWA, and LGU Ormoc for bringing me home safe and sound!” Raffy added.
Though he went through all those tests and had completed the mandatory quarantine period, his family knew that people would still talk and might discriminate Raffy just because he’s a returning OFW. So, they printed a 4 x 8 feet tarpaulin that congratulates him for his negative COVID-19 test result.
“It was my family’s idea. They said they put it up for two reasons: One, to cheer me up because the pandemic took its toll on OFWs who lost their jobs in the middle of a crisis to send out good vibes, and two—discrimination has been sort of an epidemic itself, especially here in our city where our LGU and the community sacrificed a lot to keep Ormoc Covid free for months until the Hatid Probinsya program began,” Raffy said.
“Of course, the local residents were naturally alarmed, some even enraged. I do not blame them at all. That is why my goofy sisters thought: What better way to declare that I am not a threat than a 4×8-foot assurance?”
It was rather hilarious but also timely. Netizens were also amused but some said this gave them an idea to also do something similar for returning family members.
As for their neighbors? Well, they’re also quite amused.
“My neighbors who are equally silly thankfully found it funny. Tarpaulins are usually paraded on our gates when one graduates but who would’ve thought we’ve come to this?” he said.
What do you think of his tarpaulin?