96-year-old survives COVID

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BY CARLA P. GOMEZ

Jenmai, Felipe, Mildred and Melrose Joy Buntalilid, and Marciana de Asis (l-r).*

A 96-year-old Bacolod resident and three other members of her family were declared COVID-19 free yesterday.

Marciana de Asis, who, at 96, keeps an active life doing house chores and singing at the Bacolod Cosmopolitan Christian Church, suffered the least from the virus among the members of her family.

Her son-in-law, Felipe Buntalilid Jr., 75, a retired intelligence officer of the Philippine Army, succumbed to the virus on August 13.

After his death, Marciana, her daughter Mildred Buntalilid, and her grandchildren Jenmai and Melrose Joy, also tested positive for the virus.

Jenmai, who conducts the choir at the International Baptist Church of Manila, said, “We are not ashamed to share our story because this is our family’s testimony of God’s faithfulness.”

“We are COVID survivors by God’s amazing grace,” the Manila-based tenor, added.

“Our lola is probably the oldest COVID survivor in the Philippines,” he also said.

“Lola, surprisingly, at her age, only experienced one day diarrhea and a mild cough. When I told her she had the virus, she just said, ‘ahhhhh’ and then chilled,” Jenmai said.

“During our 14-day quarantine, she did her normal routine: feeding the dogs and doing her own laundry,” he said.

Jenmai said that on his birthday on August 3 his father, started to cough and had muscle pains.

He said on August 4 and 5, his father got better and no longer had fever but was still suffering from muscle pain and they though he was recovering.

Jenmai himself developed a fever, his sister had headaches and lost her sense of smell and taste, and their mother suffered from fatigue and loss of smell.

It was only his 96-year-old grandmother who was the least affected, he said.

On August 6 to 9, his father developed a dry cough, suffered from muscle pains and his fever returned. The doctors said it was pneumonia. “We still didn’t think of COVID though we had the symptoms staring in our face,” he said.

On August 10 to 12, he said, his father was responding well to the pneumonia medicines and he was not admitted because all hospitals in Bacolod were full.

Then on August 13, his father became weak and unresponsive and they rushed him to the hospital but he was gone, Jenmai said.

“He was gone before we reached the hospital but we still prayed that God would revive Him. It was papa’s time. The Lord called him,” he added.

He was cremated the next day because he had pneumonia, in keeping with the COVID 12-hour protocol.

His father was also swabbed after he passed away and the result came out positive on August 16, Jenmai said, so he and the rest of their family were swabbed for the virus.

Jenmai said they have no idea where his father, who was diabetic, was infected but “every morning, he would go to his favorite kapihan just outside the subdivision. He would also go out to buy vegetables.”

“COVID is real. It is not a joke,” Jenmai said, in stressing the need for everyone to follow health protocols and for seniors to stay safe.

On August 20, they learned that their entire family was COVID-19 positive. “The moment we found out our situation, we lifted our hands, told God to take control and let Him lead,” Jenmai said.

“God provided people to tell us he loves us and will protect us,” he said, pointing out that relatives and friends from church brought them fruits, groceries and essential needs while they were on home quarantine.

He also thanked all those who prayed for them, saying that because of all those who showed their love for them, they did not suffer from discrimination and stigma of being COVID-19 victims.*

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