UPLB students stranded in dorms, apartments amid class suspension due to Covid-19 threat

Amid the COVID-19 scare, hundreds of students of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) remain stranded in university and off-campus dormitories and apartments. 

In an interview, BS Development Communication student Jewel Cabrera said that she decided to stay in the campus to avoid acquiring the virus from overcrowded buses, terminals, and passengers coming from Metro Manila. 

“Natakot ako na kapag nagkahawaan sa biyahe, damay yung pamilyang uuwian ko. May kasama ako sa bahay na senior citizen, mga bata, may history ng hika. Ayoko i-risk yung health ko at ng mga taong makakasalamuha ko sa bahay at sa biyahe mismo.” 

(I am afraid of the possible transmission that may happen during the travel because my family might also get affected. We have a senior citizen and children with history of asthma at home. I don’t want to risk my health and the health of my family and other passengers.) 

“We don’t have a choice kasi kahit gusto namin makauwi nung time na wala pang lockdown, wala kaming means…kung may private vehicle sana, kahit papaano posibleng makauwi kami, kaso wala eh,” she added. 

(We don’t have a choice because although we want to go home before the lockdown, we don’t have the means…if only we have a private vehicle, there is a possible chance that we can go home, but there is none.) 

Class suspension

In light of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) declared in the entire Luzon, the Office of the Chancellor of UPLB announced on March 13 through Memorandum No. 046 the shift to online classes starting March 16 in UPLB and the UP Rural High School.

Later, the University of the Philippines (UP) System suspended physical and online classes, as well as other alternative learning activities, from March 17 until April 14 for the safety and welfare of the students.

Following the memorandum released by the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs, UPLB Chancellor Fernando Sanchez Jr. declared the suspension of all online classes and other related learning activities thru Memorandum No. 049.

Amid Covid-19 scare, there are UPLB students who stayed in their dormitories and apartments in Los Baños in fear that the classes may resume within the next few weeks as there are no further announcements made regarding the continuation of classes.

“Although some of my professors cancelled classes ahead of the memo, meron pa rin akong natitira na professors na talagang kailangan nila ng memo from the Chancellor to cancel classes. I was after my academics too so I was really hesitant to go home because my grades might suffer,” said Patricia Echano, a 4th Year BA Communication Arts student.

(Although some of my professors cancelled classes ahead of the memo, there are still remaining professors who need the memo from the Chancellor in order to cancel classes. I was after my academics too so I was really hesitant to go home because my grades might suffer.)

Echano also mentioned that she was concerned about the students who live in far-flung areas because others had to book their tickets ahead of time and some don’t have private cars.

According to Riezl Germaine Monteposo, a BS Development Communication Student, she immediately booked her flight on March 13, Friday although there are no class suspensions yet.

“Siyempre inisip ko pa na may exam pa pagka- next week and baka mag meet pa [sa klase]. Pero naisip ko rin na since it’s a public health emergency, dapat i-consider yun ng university. So I took my chances and umuwi na.”

(Of course I thought of the exams that will be held next week and maybe there will still be meetings in class. But I also thought that since it’s a public health emergence, it should be considered by the university. So I took my chances and went home.)

Monteposo added that it was Thursday evening when her mother called and encouraged her to go home due to early suspicions that there will be a lockdown in Metro Manila.

Assistance to students

Considering special circumstances, the management of the UPLB-based Men’s Dormitory has already allowed the use of cooking equipment despite regulation that cooking is strictly prohibited inside. Other dormitories, however, still prohibit the use of cooking equipment.

Students staying in UPLB dormitories are provided basic necessities by the university, through the University Housing Office, and through donations from various organizations, volunteers, and private donors. One of the beneficiaries is Rosemarie De Castro, a BS Development Communication student. According to de Castro, they were given food every meal since the implementation of ECQ and hygiene kits placed inside their dormitories.

Away from home, De Castro and Cabrera keep their family updated on their current situation. Internet connection is currently accessible inside the campus as their means to connect with their families. 

“Actually, sobrang sad ako. Gusto ko na talaga umuwi kasi miss ko na comfort ng parents ko. Buti na lang maraming support groups and may internet so makakatawag pa rin ako sa parents ko,” De Castro said. 

Online community for students under ECQ

Meanwhile, in an online community via Facebook group “Elbi Lockdown Diaries”, UPLB students affected by the Luzon-wide ECQ are able to post inquiries, grievances and updates, call for donations, and offer help amid the lockdown. 

Nearly 1,200 students who are part of the group answered in an online poll that they are still in Los Baños. Some stayed in their dormitories inside the campus while others remained in their dorms and apartments outside the University.

Currently at 5,000 members, Elbi Lockdown Diaries is a platform for public service announcements, inquiries about open stores or establishments in Los Baños, random things to do to pass time during a lockdown, food recipes, movie suggestions, playlist or song recommendations, and worthwhile reads.

The ECQ is in place until midnight of April 13, 2020.

Under ECQ, only the following establishments are allowed to continue their transactions and business operations: 

  • Public markets
  • Supermarkets
  • Groceries 
  • Convenience stores
  • Hospitals
  • Medical clinics
  • Pharmacies and drug stores
  • Food preparation and delivery services
  • Water-refilling stations
  • Manufacturing and processing plants of basic food products and medicines
  • Banks
  • Money transfer services
  • Power, energy, water and telecommunications supplies and facilities

Financial aid, assistance, and donations

UPLB  together with UPLB Office of Student Affairs’ LINGAP Adopt-a-Dormer Program is appealing for donations and financial assistance for students residing in university and off-campus dorms currently stranded in their dormitories. 

Cash donations may be deposited to the following branches: 

  • Landbank-UPLB Branch: UPLB Foundation, Inc. (Account no. 1892-1003-29)
  • Banco de Oro-Olivarez Branch: UPLB Foundation, Inc. (Account no. 5100219751)
  • BPI (Current account)-Los Baños Branch: UPLB Centennial Fund (Account no. 0911-0139-83)

Donors may send a copy of the deposit slip to [email protected]ph for proper documentation and accounting.

Food donations may be dropped off at Men’s/Coed Residence Hall.

ADVISORY: Drop off points and schedule for in-kind donations for UPLB dormers. UPLB’s official Facebook page.

Serve the People Brigade UPLB also formed a special task force CURE (Community Unit Response) led by SAKBAYAN and its allied organizations in partnership with the UPLB University Student Council and Youth Advocates for Peace with Justice-UPLB. They are calling for donations in cash or in kind including N95 or surgical masks, vitamins, alcohols and sanitizers, soap, and food. 

For monetary donations, donors may deposit to the following accounts and send a copy of deposit slip at www.facebook.com/stpuplb/:

  • BPI: Charmaine Jay Paguyo Maranan, 0919233249
  • Landbank: Mariah Joy B. Dela Providencia, SA 1896-3523-73

According to their Facebook page, STPB Task Force Cure is coordinating with the Batong Malake Barangay Officials to coordinate donations and logistical efforts for the UPLB community. 

UPLB security and quarantine measures, emergency hotlines

UPLB through the UPF, posted in their Facebook page the quarantine measures effective from March 17 until further notice. 

  1. Curfew will be implemented from 8 pm to 5 am;
  2. PUJs and pedicabs are not allowed to enter the campus;
  3. Only vehicles of those residing in areas in campus are allowed to enter the campus, no passengers are allowed in vehicles, and passing through the campus is also prohibited;
  4. Motorcycle riders are not allowed to have a back rider;
  5. Late night transportation service for UPLB constituents is suspended;
  6. Loitering, jogging, and biking are not allowed; 
  7. All construction projects in campus are suspended;
  8. Only authorized personnel are allowed to carry out experimental projects;
  9. Only emergency life and death situations are expected from these measures. 

In case of emergency, you may call on local emergency numbers of important agencies in Los Baños posted by UPLB Community Affairs in their Facebook page: 

Fire and Safety

  • Los Baños Action Center – (049) 530-2818
  • LB Fire Station – (049) 536-7965
  • Batong Malake Fire Department – (049) 536-4349
  • IRRI Fire Brigade – (049) 536-2803 local 2222

Security

  • University Police Force – 536-2243
  • Batong Malake Brgy. Hall – 536-4993 or 530-2191
  • San Antonio Brgy. Hall – 544-8309
  • PNP Los Baños – 534-5631

Health 

  • University Health Service – 536-6238
  • HealthServ LB Medical Center – 536-4858 or 536-8501 (loc. 112)
  • Los Baños Doctors Hospital – 536-0100 or 536-4462
  • St. Jude Family Hospital – 536-1982

COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic. According to the website of World Health Organization, a pandemic is the worldwide spread of a new disease.

Laguna recorded its first COVID-19 case last March 15, as confirmed by Governor Ramil Hernandez’s Facebook post that a patient from Sta. Rosa tested positive. 

As of March 24, there are currently no confirmed COVID-19 cases in UPLB, per the UPLB Office of the Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs advisory.

In the country, there are now a total of 552 cases of Covid-19, 35 recoveries, and 20 fatalities are recorded as of March 24, according to the latest update from the Department of Health.

References: 

https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/729947/what-shops-will-remain-open/story/

https://www.rappler.com/nation/254561-laguna-confirms-first-coronavirus-infection-march-15-2020?fbclid=IwAR2WQXEBtyGSIqMjFgePPHTAWseYUBMt2bD6i9CLbkdN2oc1_5ma_Di_Y_k

https://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/frequently_asked_questions/pandemic/en/ 

https://www.facebook.com/OfficialDOHgov/

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