The Long Road Home, part 1

I had always planned to return to Baguio after getting my master’s degree. Along with the looming expiration of our contract with our Pasig landlady, the COVID-19 pandemic put that plan on fast-forward.

Partly due to the change of status back and forth from GCQ to ECQ to MECQ in Metro Manila, there was an overwhelming amount of information online, some of which was incomplete or conflicting. This is why I decided to detail my experience on my blog.

If you’re using this as reference for your own return to your hometown, please keep in mind that the protocols in Pasig and Baguio for locally stranded individuals (LSIs) will not necessarily be exactly the same as those in other cities. Cities with high incidence of infection will naturally have stricter rules for leaving than others; cities with fewer infections will likely limit entry. If you’re unsure about the instructions you find online, reach out to your LGU or barangay hall via email or over the phone.

This blog will detail the “leaving Pasig” side. Wherever you’re coming from and wherever you’re going, there will be two separate processes for getting out of one city and getting into another. In my next blog, I’ll write about requesting entry to Baguio.

Travel within Metro Manila was and, as of writing this, is allowed. Previously, we had gone to Quezon City and Pasay without being asked to show a travel pass. However, if you plan to leave Metro Manila, you will probably need both a travel pass and a health certificate.

The first requirement you can apply for is a health certificate. Go to your local barangay hall to register – you’ll be asked to put your name, some personal information, and the details of your travel on a monitoring sheet (see above). The same sheet will be used to track your temperature and symptoms (if any) for two weeks. They might also visit you at home unannounced in this period to make sure that you’re staying in.

The barangay hall will do the actual monitoring. You will inform them via call or text every day of your temperature and any symptoms you have. If you don’t have a thermometer at home, buy or order one before beginning your quarantine period. It doesn’t have to be the gun type typically used in malls and airports. We used a digital thermometer which you can get online for under Php200.

After completing two weeks of quarantine – that is, on what would be the 15th day – you can return to the barangay hall to get your monitoring sheet back. Your monitoring sheet is not a health certificate. You will need your accomplished and signed monitoring sheet to get your health certificate and your travel pass from City Hall by going there in person or applying online.

If you’re applying online, email a clear picture or scan of your monitoring sheet to along with the following information:

  • Full name
  • Current address
  • Complete address of your destination
  • Reason for travel
  • Date of travel
  • Car to be used to travel

The subject line should read “Last Name, First Name – Destination” e.g. Meadows, Kim – Baguio. You will also need to attach a picture or scan of your ID. Government IDs are your safest bet, but in any case, the ID must have your full name and address, and the attachment should be in either .pdf or .jpeg format.

I got a reply with my documents attached in about 24 hours. If yours take longer than two to three days, you can send a follow-up email, call City Hall, or go there in person to ask for an update on your application. If you’re going in person, don’t forget to wear a face mask and face shield as you won’t be allowed to enter without them.

If you’re not an LSI, you may not need to fulfill the 14-day quarantine requirement. You can get medical clearance from a doctor of your choice and take a rapid test or swab test. Keep in mind that this is situational and will depend entirely on your doctor’s recommendation. After getting medical clearance, you can proceed to City Hall to get your Letter of Non-Inclusion to COVID. You will need to show both the letter and your medical certificate upon leaving Metro Manila.

Despite the muddled information online, getting my health certificate and travel pass from Pasig was relatively painless. As long as you’re careful to follow the rules and have all of your requirements ready, you should be able to claim yours without a hassle.

In my next blog, I’ll go into detail about gaining entrance to Baguio, the process of which started immediately after getting my requirements from Pasig.

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