The once-novel idea of a permanent holiday has now suddenly become a very viable option, but Andi Eigenmann has an important reminder for those who wants to move to the islands.
Metro Manila is overpopulated so when COVID-19 happened, transmission within the metro was fast and unavoidable. Many ran for the proverbial hills, where provincial rest houses and vacation homes became the primary living spaces in the new normal. For those fortunate to keep their jobs and work remotely, they found themselves with the odd opportunity to use the beach or the countryside as their Zoom backdrop. As picturesque as all of this sound, uprooting oneself and a family is a life-changing move. That’s why there’s no better person to ask then “happy islanders” Andi Eigenmann and her family on the reality of choosing this kind of life.
The actress whose been a permanent resident of Siargao shares that one has to be mentally, emotionally and physically prepared to be able to leave the city. “The idea of island life can be so great but in reality, it’s not all sunshine and fun. It’s still real life and even I admittedly, took time to adjust to this life at the start.” With no confirmed cases, Siargao has been able to return to the more quiet and simple days of lesser crowds.
However, many have also lost their means of living because of the decrease in tourism. “While some have gone back to fishing and farming, I know that a lot are still struggling,” she says. The most important note that she touches on is that whether you’re vacationing or considering this kind of move, respect to the locals and to the island is a must. “Others would come here and stay for a couple of days have to fun and relax, but they don’t realize that this place is a home to others. Many often forgotten to take care of it like they would their own homes. The island is small, and without being mindful of our actions towards the environment, we will continue to face problems that may permanently affect this precious paradise.”
Eigenmann also tells us her experience of staying in Metro Manila during the pandemic to prepare for the arrival of her second child with partner Philmar Alipayo. “To be honest, it was quite a struggle for us to be in Manila. From having just adjusted to life here on the island, we had to go back to the city where kids are not allowed to go anywhere, not even on nature trips or a park, just for a little bit of vitamin D which was hard for us because we are used to being outdoors.”
Now they’re back to Siargao with newborn son Koa, and despite the brownouts, slow Wi-Fi and amongst other things that also come with the reality of island life, Eigenmann says that there’s no other place she would want to raise her family. “I spent my pregnancy worrying and having fears about our future. But being on an island that provides us the means to stay healthy, and with a community that is just so warm, loving and helpful, it’s been making things better for me.”
It’s an understatement to say that the pandemic has forever changed the way we live but as we were stripped off our sense of normalcy, we now cherish the places and freedom that we easily took for granted.
So, wherever you might be in the fight or flight reaction scale, it’s quite understandable that one will succumb to flight mode as we live through this pandemic. With this said, stay socially and environmentally responsible, travel safe and use the fresh air to enter a zoom meeting in a much more positive state.