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Aussie officer family in lockdown in the Philippines

Aussie officer family in lockdown in the Philippines

Aussie officer family in lockdown in the Philippines

18 March 2020

Majors Rod and Debbie Serojales and their children, Shaella and Amaya, inside their unit in Manila, where they have been in mandatory quarantine for more than a week.

By Debbie Serojales

Metro Manila is a city that covers 600km² and has a population of more than 12.9 million. Due to COVID-19, over a week ago we were placed in quarantine, schools were suspended for a week with limitations on movement. This was restrictive but manageable. 

Everything changed this week when the Philippines president increased this to ‘Enhanced Quarantine’ to cover the entire mainland of Luzon, which is nearly 110,000km² and has a population of 49 million.

All shopping centres are now closed until 12 April (except supermarkets, chemists and hardware stores). People are not allowed to go outside their house. There is no more public transport and only one person from a family can leave to purchase goods at the supermarket. We don’t have a car so we will need to walk and carry our groceries home. For those who have a private vehicle it can be used to buy goods, but that will be limited.

My husband Rod and I serve here in the Philippines with our two daughters – Shaella (9) and Amaya (7). Initially, the quarantine felt like a holiday for them, but the longer we stay in our small apartment above territorial headquarters the less exciting it’s becoming. We have enough food for a time. We were blessed by a family in Australia who unexpectedly sent us a monetary gift, which helped us to stock some extra items.

The girls continue their studies online, with teachers sending through constant work and assignments. We are also working from home and, as I write, Rod is online with members of the Board of Trustees to discuss and plan, while I continue with projects and consider options as public relations secretary in connecting to the community without being outside!

I’ll admit to an initial feeling of anxiety last night when we were informed that all foreigners had 72 hours to leave the country before the airports closed to outbound international and domestic flights. I felt trapped, worried that if things were to get worse there is no way to leave. Yet, I am reminded that God called us to this place, although our ministry and opportunities may look different at the moment, he is with us on this journey.

We know the situation of our country people – poverty is rife anyway, so with no work, there is no money for food. My concern is not for our needs but for those who struggle every day and could not plan and prepare.

Please pray for the Filipino people, that they will receive their daily provisions and that the local authorities will have the means to help them in these uncertain days. In desperate times people will do all they can to provide for their families. Please pray for safety and calm.


  1. barbara bithell
    barbara bithell

    My love, thoughts and prayers are with you all at this worrying time. My wonderful memories of my time with the beautiful Philippino people especially the children are so very precious. God Bless and keep you.

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