Pinoy sports personalities’ US experience

Bill Velasco - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Nobody is exempted from the effects and isolation brought about by the global COVID-19 pandemic. To highlight the seriousness of the situation, even Philippine sports personalities in North America are feeling the impact of government restrictions on movement and employment. 

In California, where 1985 PBA Most Valuable Player Ricardo Brown is now a high school principal, they are implementing what is called “Shelter in Place.”

“People can go around freely, but only essential businesses are open:  Costco, pharmacies, grocery stores, banks, and perhaps a few others,”  said Brown, based in Cerritos. “No lockdown or curfew.  Social distancing is very much in place everywhere, though.  Schools are being held online and we are closed to this program until May 5, but of course that could be extended if necessary.”

In San Francisco, non-essential businesses have been ordered to close, said 10-year PBA coliseum announcer Vince de Guzman, who was also the disc jockey “Vince St. Price” before he left the Philippines.

“I still go to work because our business is deemed as essential. Automotive industry,” said De Guzman, living in the Bay Area. “I don’t know how long it will be before they totally shut down everything.”

Over in the East Coast, conditions are quite severe, as places like New York are major outbreak sites. Former WWE wrestler and now doctor of chiropractic Don Moore opened two clinics in Coram, New York after spending a year in the Philippines treating the country’s top athletes.

“It’s getting pretty bad. I’m still open because my profession was deemed essential,” said Dr. Moore, who wrestled as Cable Jones in the WWE before opening a clinic in Quezon City almost a decade ago. “But it’s getting pretty wild out here with people not abiding by recommendations. I heard they are talking about temporarily revoking constitutional rights because people are not listening.”

The scenario is mirrored in nearby Jersey, where TheRing.com writer and former Rappler sports editor Ryan Songalia now resides with his wife and baby daughter. The Songalias are staying positive and counting their blessings.

“I’m trying to maintain the best I can,” Songalia told The STAR. “Luckily, our daughter has no concept of this stuff. She just wants to be picked up and played with. Wishing you and your family the best.”

“It’s a bear of a situation no matter what though. And New York, California, and the state of Washington are hardest hit with NYC being the epicenter,” said Brown. “So many people in small areas – social distancing is not easy.  That’s my concern with Manila, too.  So many people in small areas, not a lot of space to ‘distance.’”



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