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What I learned about my house after one month of ECQ

By Johannes L. Chua and Angela Casco

Ah summer! The time to explore new destinations, discover new adventures, and taste new cuisines. But summer of 2020 will probably go down as one of the most memorable as people finally got to discover a “new” destination—their houses. If, before, it was just a place to sleep and relax in, the house is now where everything is done, from rest to work, entertainment, adventure, dining, and even “travel.”

A high-school friend, Nathaniel Te, who always posts about trips to Paris, New York, and Sydney in the summer got to learn something new about his house when he tried to “discover” how to clean his room’s air-conditioner unit.

“It is so hard to clean an air-con!” he said in an online post. “You have to know the parts so you can assemble it back again. I thought it was as easy as cleaning a microwave oven.”

This is also the same with Vince Pornelos, a motoring writer. “You learn a lot of lessons when you clean a split-type air-conditioning unit. It teaches you perseverance, precision, hard work, and patience. And it is incredibly satisfying. Most important, it teaches you that the P1,200 cleaning fee charged by aircon professionals is truly worth it.”

With regards to appliances, Red Rivera, who works for a creative agency, said the quarantine made her realize how important it is to “care and maintain appliances well.”

“Four days after the lockdown, our refrigerator stopped working—there was no ice forming in the freezer and the bottom part was just blowing stale wind,” she said. “There are no home repair services these days, so I really regret delaying its repair when it showed ‘fever’ symptoms early this year.”

With more time comes the opportunity to know your house, especially for those who have recently bought or moved to it. You get to know more of its “intimate” spaces—the dim corners, the hidden shelves, the cracks on the walls, the uneven angles of the flooring, etc. There may be some disappointments, but there are also pleasant surprises.

“We were shocked to find out that our second floor was already infested with termites. We found a colony as big as a basketball,” said Teresita Lim, who lived in that house in Malabon for more than two decades. “We only noticed during the quarantine that when we walk on the second floor, there are portions on the floor that are ‘soft.’ We found out that the second level’s support was partly made of wood.”

Jim Angeles, a sales agent for a hardware store, was delighted to find a spare room in the garage that he could convert into a game room.

“It was filled with boxes, old stuff, and a ‘decaying’ motorcycle.  After we cleaned the area, it was a large room that we didn’t notice before. Now, with some minor repairs and renovation, I can convert this area into my own game room,” Jim said.

We asked more friends what they learned about their houses (or sometimes, about themselves and their families) after one month of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). Here are their answers.

“Even with a spacious house, I realize that I spend most of my waking hours in only a few rooms. Over the past few years, I have seen the kitchen and dining area slowly become the center of our homes, but today, the home office has probably overtaken all of them. I have been trying to imagine what a home office can be – combining the comfort of a home and the efficiency of an office without the sterile look associated with the latter. I think that is now the challenge of every home designer.”—Kenneth Cobonpue, designer
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Kenneth Cobonpue

“I’ve been living alone in Makati before the ECQ. When I returned home, I learned that staying in my room by myself is not as comforting anymore. That’s why I’ve been spending time in our yard with my dog or with my sisters who work from home as well.

Had it not been for this time, I wouldn’t have noticed that we already have the fruit-bearing plants I have been eyeing even before the quarantine.”—Ria Camille Rivera, wealth portfolio manager

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Ria Camille Rivera

“I’m not an outdoors type of person, but somehow this lockdown has made me yearn to be with nature and spend more time outdoors. I’ve been hanging out a lot in our garden and backyard to get my daily dose of fresh air and sunlight.

We have an avocado tree in our backyard, and only when the lockdown happened that I realized how fortunate we were for having enough space to grow a fruit-bearing tree, and for having an outdoor space I can be comfortable in.”—Claudine Medina, interior designer

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Claudine Medina

“I realized that I can feed my children with healthy food. It also pays to invest in a really good washing machine.”—Raine Lorenzo, online writer

“This quarantine has made all of us at home learn and do chores for ourselves. This seems pretty trivial in the grand scheme of things, but this ECQ has made us more responsible in different ways.” —Meynard Robles, account executive

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Meynard Robles

“For most, being inside a space we have become so familiar with for years—or for the majority of our lives—may seem ‘redundant.’ The time I spent confined with my family in our shared, two-bedroom apartment, however, I found to be strangely enlightening.

I realized during this crisis that we tend to get caught up in what’s happening outside of our homes, but what we should give more emphasis is on the connections we have with the people we care about.” —Jasper Valdez, media writer

“I learned to appreciate the simple joys of cleaning and reorganizing. I also realized I have to be more mindful about the things I buy, so it won’t end up as clutter.” —Kath Elefante, writer

“We moved into our home a year ago. We loved it then, and even more now. It’s a very simple house, but every night since the ECQ, my nine-year-old daughter prays, ‘Thank you Lord for our perfect home.’ I’ve realized that all we need is our loved ones beside us, safe and protected.” —Alexine Parreno, online storyteller

“At the onset of this quarantine, I was fearful and frustrated because many of my plans are no longer feasible. I felt stuck. The situation has taught me that I don’t need to always be in control and I just have to trust a higher power.

I got to appreciate a well-stocked kitchen, too. For as long as there is food and every member of the family is healthy, we’ll be okay.” —Kelly Austria, public relations consultant

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Kelly Austria

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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