Business owner Jefferson Catimbang braced himself as Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte made the big announcement. On 16 March, a month-long quarantine was declared in Luzon—the main island group in the country, which includes the capital, Manila—to quell rising Covid-19 cases.

With the order taking effect the very next day, Catimbang had a few hours to figure out how to mitigate the huge blow to his 800-square metre wellness centre. Called Tribu Babaylan, it consists of a 40-bed spa salon, a cafe and a buffet restaurant that can seat 250 diners.

A quick calculation showed the business, which employs 80 people, would incur roughly US$128,000 in losses if closed down for a month.


Jum Balea

Jum is a Manila-based reporter for The Ken, where she covers startups and business across Southeast Asia, with a focus on the Philippines. She previously was editor for Tech In Asia, and business editor for Philippine media companies Rappler and ABS-CBN.

View Full Profile

Sign up to our Southeast Asia edition to read this story instantly

To sign up, you’ll create an account that will give you access to a new free story published once a week and archive of previously published free stories from our Southeast Asia edition. You’ll also receive one email every morning from us introducing the day’s story.

If you’ve already signed up, just enter your email below or login using Facebook or Google.