She is happy that trail parks, where she takes Baltie on strolls, and the beach are open in HK.
How Belle is enjoying the best of Hong Kong
RAZZLE-DAZA - Pat-P Daza (The Philippine Star) - June 1, 2020 - 12:00am

What will the “new normal” be like after the lifting of the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ)? What lifestyle changes will we have to embrace to survive this pandemic? The virus is still out there, ready to latch on to innocent victims. Unfortunately, we cannot be on lockdown forever or until a vaccine is invented. For the sake of our economy and for workers who need to earn, businesses have started to slowly reopen.

When the Philippines was on lockdown, my niece Isabelle “Belle” Daza opted to stay in Hong Kong, where her husband Adrien Semblat is the vice president of Adidas and Reebok in Hong Kong and Macau. After all, Hong Kong has posted only 1,066 COVID-19 cases, with 1,033 recoveries and four deaths as of May 26.

Belle narrated that when she and her son Baltie arrived in Hong Kong on March 16, they were given tags (similar to those given at concerts) that are monitored by an app that you download on your smartphone for contact tracing purposes. For two weeks, Belle and her son were under “house arrest.” If they violated the self-quarantine, the tags would have alerted authorities and they would have been penalized.

Belle is happy in Hong Kong, where life is 90 percent back to normal, according to her. Shops, restaurants, bars, gyms and the MTR are open. Wearing a mask is mandatory, and temperature checks are conducted whenever someone enters an establishment and there is no curfew. At restaurants, tables are one to two meters apart, while in the gym, only eight people at a time are allowed to work out. When they are done, the gym is closed momentarily for disinfecting before the next set of clients is allowed in.

Shops are open although there are no longer queues outside stores selling the high-end brands. Before the pandemic, Chinese tourists would line up outside the stores of Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Prada, etc., lapping up the goods of these luxury brands. But since Hong Kong closed the border to tourists from mainland China, these lines have disappeared. Sadly, many of the shops have closed down, too. Not only because of the pandemic but also the continuous rallies which started last year and are still ongoing while Hong Kong is protesting against plans to allow extradition to mainland China.

When the Philippines was on lockdown, my niece Isabelle ‘Belle’ Daza with son Baltie opted to stay in Hong Kong, where her husband Adrien Semblat is VP of Adidas and Reebok in HK and Macau.

As someone who loves the outdoors, Belle is happy that the beach and trail parks in Hong Kong are open. She takes Baltie on daily strolls, while weekends are for family trips to the beach. Aside from being a full-time wife and mother in Hong Kong, she also helps an NGO called Empower-U that tracks and shuts down abusive and illegal manpower agencies that exploit our OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) kababayan.

She also manages her Frank Milkbar business remotely with daily calls. Belle also recently created an animated story titled Tralala the Tiger on her YouTube channel and IG account (@isabelledaza). It helped explain the pandemic to her toddler in English and Tagalog. She also regularly keeps in touch with family and friends in Manila, and is ready to come home to begin work on a new teleserye as soon as it’s greenlit for taping.

But for now, Belle is enjoying the best of Hong Kong while I’m left to wonder when those of us in the Philippines can once again enjoy life’s simple pleasures.

ISABELLE DAZA MECQ
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