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.

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