Despite imposing one of the strictest and longest lockdowns in Southeast Asia, it’s disheartening to note that my country, the Philippines, has now surpassed 200,000 cases of COVID-19 as of this moment.
Since Metro Manila initiated a lockdown in March, I have diligently adhered to the government and health experts’ advice to stay home. Fortunately, my company swiftly transitioned to a full work-from-home operation, a practice we’d already implemented the previous year.
Six months of staying at home has been an eye-opening experience for many of us. We’ve discovered hidden talents, and some have ventured into entrepreneurship. However, dealing with an invisible enemy like the coronavirus is both scary and disconcerting.
Adapting to the new normal can be quite overwhelming, and for me, it has been depressing. This is one of the reasons I decided to deactivate my Facebook account to change my perspective on things.
Care for your Mental Health
Prioritizing mental health is crucial, and we must never neglect it. This is why I made the decision to return to my hometown in Quezon Province to spend time with my parents and family. However, this decision came with its challenges due to ongoing travel restrictions.
In order to move from one town to another, obtaining a Travel Pass is essential, and one of the prerequisites for it is securing a Health Certification from the local Brgy. Health Center.
There are two ways to obtain this Health Certification: first, quarantine for 14 days, or second, provide a Covid-19 Swab Test Certificate with a negative result.
COVID-19 SWAB TESTING FOR FREE.
Obtaining a Covid-19 Swab Test can be costly, with prices ranging from P4,000 to P12,000, as per the information I found online.
After reaching out to several laboratories and hospitals, I gathered the following details:
- The Philippine Red Cross (Private, per schedule) – P4,000
- The Medical City (Private, per schedule via Ambulatory or Drive-Thru) – P6,000
- Detoxicare Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory (Private, Home Service, per schedule) – P8,000
Initially, I had planned to get my swab test done at The Medical City, but I later learned about FREE Swab Testing being conducted at the Mall of Asia Arena. This mass testing initiative was a collaboration between the PNP, DOH, Philippine Red Cross, and the MOA Arena.
I underwent my Swab Test on Aug. 28 (Friday) around 3 PM and received the results on Aug. 30, approximately at 10 AM.
Watch my Vlog on my #JourNYI to the FREE Swab Test
GUIDE IN AVAILING THE FREE SWAB TEST IN MOA ARENA.
As I mentioned in my vlog, the MOA Arena has been transformed into a massive swab testing facility by the government for Covid-19. Initially, this facility was primarily used for LGU’s and returning OFW’s, but now it’s OPEN TO THE PUBLIC for FREE.
You can go there as a walk-in, but due to the high demand for free swab testing, it’s advisable to register online and receive the code via text from the Red Cross.
Here’s how I did it:
1. REGISTER ONLINE – I found this registration link in a Facebook group that was forwarded to me. It worked for me, so it should work for you too. Register here: Fill out the Google form with your accurate personal information, a working mobile number (as Red Cross will text you the “CODE”), and a working email (where you’ll receive your test result). If you have a Philhealth number, enter it; if not, that’s okay. The form also asks for the “LGU” that sponsored you. Select your preferred “LGU” from the drop-down menu. If it’s not listed, choose “MAKATI CITY” (which I selected). Then click “SUBMIT,” and you’ll be registered.
2. CODE – Wait for the CODE to be sent to the mobile number you provided. You’ll receive a text message from “RED CROSS” containing your name and the Code. I registered on Aug. 25 (Tuesday) and received the text from Red Cross on Aug. 27 (Thursday) around 8 PM.
3. GO TO MOA ARENA – Once you receive the text message from the Red Cross, you can head to MOA Arena at your convenience. Make sure to bring a government-issued ID. There’s no specified schedule in the text, so you can go anytime between Monday and Friday, from 9 AM to 5 PM. However, it’s recommended to arrive early to avoid long queues, as it’s a first-come, first-served basis. Remember that you must have the provided code; they won’t perform the swab test without it. This code is your unique identifier in the Red Cross automated system, ensuring a smooth process. Also, don’t forget to wear a face mask, face shield, and bring your alcohol.
4. LINE UP – When you arrive, approach the police officers to ensure you’re in the correct line. They’ll request your code; show it to them, and they’ll direct you to the appropriate queue. While waiting, jot down your full name, mobile number, email address, and the code on a piece of paper. Make sure to have your ID on hand. Wait until you enter a tent with a disinfecting spray. I started queuing around 1:10 PM and entered the tent at approximately 3:10 PM. Note that taking pictures is prohibited in this area.
4. WAITING AREA – Once you’re inside the tent with misting, you’ll be guided to sit in rows of 14 persons each, forming a waiting area. This area is actually inside MOA Arena’s premises, near the entrance leading to the main concert area where the swab testing is conducted. It’s quite chilly in this waiting area, so bringing a jacket is a good idea. Eating and drinking aren’t allowed; any bottled water will be confiscated before entering the area, so it’s best to pack it in your bag. While seated, ensure you have your paper with the code and personal information ready, along with your ID. I spent about 5-8 minutes in the waiting area until a policewoman called my column to enter the “Concert Area” of MOA Arena where the swab testing takes place.
5. PATIENT INFO RETRIEVAL – Another waiting area, the “Patient Info Retrieval” section, is inside the MOA Arena’s “concert area.” There, you’ll find chairs to sit and wait for your turn. Frontliners behind glass windows will assist you. This is where you provide your ID and the paper with your personal information and code. After verification, the frontliner will issue stickers with barcodes and tracking numbers. You can also photograph the Red Cross poster for tracking your swab test result. Behind this booth, you’ll find the swabbing stations. Upon receiving the stickers, you’ll be directed to the specific booth for your swab test. I handed over my ID and Code at around 3:52 PM and then proceeded to the swabbing area.
6. FINALLY, SWAB TESTING – At the booth, the assigned medical frontliner will request your ID, verify your name and birthday, and place a sticker on your ID, which serves as a tracking code you can use on the Red Cross website. My swabbing started around 3:54 PM. The medical frontliner collected specimens from my throat and both nostrils, a process that took less than 4 minutes. After the swab test, you can head home.
7. THE RESULT – I was tested on August 28 (Friday) and received the result on August 30 (Sunday). I received a text from the Red Cross around 9 AM, stating that the result was available in my email. It took less than 48 hours for the result to be processed, and I was pleasantly surprised to receive it on a Sunday. This quick turnaround is a testament to the dedication of our frontliners who work even on weekends. Thankfully, my result came back NEGATIVE. Thank God.
I would like to personally express my gratitude to all the frontliners, both medical professionals and police officials at MOA Arena. Caring for thousands of people daily can be exhausting, but they are putting in 100% effort and even risking their health to combat COVID-19. Salute to all of you. Thanks also to the Department of Health (DOH), Philippine National Police (PNP), MOA Arena, and the Philippine Red Cross for providing this mega swabbing facility for the Filipino people.
For updates, please like and follow the official Facebook page of the PNP Medical Reserve Force