We Are All Affected

We Are All Affected

COVID-19 disrupts our lives.

Vanessa Joy Domingo and Alfredo G. Evangelista | Assistant Editor

From students to small business owners to those in the health field and hospitality industries—just everyone—the CO-VID-19 has affected all of us regardless of our age, marital status, where we live, where we trace our roots from, and where we work.

Community events such as the 51st Barrio Fiesta were postponed (from May 22–23 to September 4–5). Meanwhile, Binhi at Ani Filipino Community Center is scrambling to replace lost revenues since it closed on March 16.

A month ago, since our last issue, we would have never imagined that …

• At least 14 of Maui’s hotels and resorts are shut down.
• By the end of March, nearly 11,000 had filed initial claims for unemployment benefits and more have filed in the weeks following, with many anecdotally unable to access an overloaded Labor Department UI system.
• Wearing a mask in public is the new norm.
• School campuses are empty and young minds across the island need internet access for learning.
• The number of tourists arriving into Hawai‘i daily have dwindled down to less than 200 compared to more than 30,000 the same time last year.

The following first-person accounts are just a sample of how we are all affected. We hope and pray the curve will soon be flattened but we know it will take longer—months and probably years—for our lives to return to normal.

Angeline Abapo of Lala’s Services LLC
“This global pandemic has impacted my business big time! As we all know Maui is a tourist destination in which my business relies so much with tourism which at the very beginning of this pandemic the tourism industry trickled down in terms of visitors coming in. Without tourism my cleaning services is greatly affected, all the condo units, vacation rentals including residential offices, most of the reservations were canceled and no bookings. GOD HELP US! Prayers make wonders.”

Robert Agapay
“My job role has been reduced a little. I used to be able to meet with contractors and other County employees but with COVID-19 and the Mayor’s policies, we try not to meet in person or stay six feet apart. COVID-19 has made me reflect on how much fun and freedom I had as a kid and teenager. Having barbecues at the beach with family and friends, being able to hang out at the local Chevron, parties, etc. I am thankful I was able to do all those things without having the threat of catching COVID-19. I’m more cautious about my parents due to them being older with health issues. I try to make sure they don’t go out as much and limit their interaction with others. I am still the same person but just a little cautious now, no hugs or cheek kisses!”

Miguel and Melen Agcolicol of Copy Services
“Our business slowed down by 20-percent since the rule was implemented. We lost walk-in customers and some customers put their building projects on hold. But most ongoing construction projects need our support for the printing of their construction plans and specifications. Luckily, it is tax season and that is what keeps us busy to service clients but only by appointment. We are grateful for our loyal customers who come and support us throughout this difficult time.”

Salvacion Agdinaoay of CAA Marketplace
“We have been impacted by COVID-19 in so many ways. First, the dine-in area is closed. We had to switch to a take out and pick up only. Delivery is available through Bite Squad. We are working on delivery service and plan to implement that next week. Second, our catering business has stopped because there are no gatherings at this time. Third, some of our partners that we deliver to have been affected because they are either shut down and some are affected by the tourism decline. Fourth, our employees who have kids at home are being challenged to balance that new normal. We have implemented safety precautions for those coming into the grocery store, where we saw an increase in sales for essential items like rice and soap. We are so thankful to all our customers for all their support and we are so proud of how the community is coming together to get through these trying times.”

Sheena Agtagma
“This virus has impacted me in so many ways, but there are three significant areas this year that it has changed. First of all, due to COVID-19, I am now one of the few that is considered an ‘essential worker’ being in the dental field. The thought of going to work potentially being infected by an invisible and deadly enemy absolutely scares me. I worry about my well being—about the fact that I could also infect my family at home. The second major impact COVID-19 has affected was the cancelling of my youngest son’s first birthday party. My other half and I were very excited to finally get our son’s party done. With the help of our party planner we were able to relieve our stress and make sure we got all we wanted to accomplish and make happen for this special occasion. From the food to the DJ, almost everything was coordinated and planned. However a month before the party we had to cancel everything in light of the growing danger that was to come. We still can throw our son a party but we are not sure how long or even if everything goes back to normal. Yes, COVID-19 has created a lot of changes but the third major change isn’t all that bad. Everyone at home is usually too busy at work or have their own personal activities but now we have a lot of time together which is making everyone a little bit happier. We have actual family dinners, we play card games, Jenga, and are learning new meals and desserts to cook. Yes, we are stuck at home but at least we have each other. Regardless of the danger that looms all around as long as we have the safety of our home, food in our bellies, and our happiness, that is all that matters.”

May Anne Asuncion Alibin of Wailuku Seafood
“While many retail stores, bars and restaurants have closed down due to the COVID-19, our store remains open to continuously bring essential service to our community. Prior to the Mayor’s Stay Home/Work from Home order, our sales increased dramatically as people began to panic buy. However, since last week’s implementation of this order, we have seen a roller coaster effect on our sales. Our sales pattern has been unpredictable. There has been days where we were slow and some where we were busy. As this COVID-19 continues, we have been experiencing delays in servicing our orders. There are a lot of items especially from the Philippines that are unavailable because of the lock-down in the originating countries. Some of our distributors had to change hours or shutdown their operations with relatively short notifice to our store, due to health and safety reasons. Wailuku Seafood Center will try its best to meet our customers’ demands for these products. However, we ask for our customers’ cooperation and understanding during this unprecedented time.”

Fr. Jojo Alnas of Holy Rosary Church
“COVID-19 an invisible thing that sets a distance of every individual in order not to be hurt, suffer and destroyed. But an opportunity to be connected to an invisible God in order to be healed and be made whole. A minister’s life basically connects people and bridges the gap of life distances, especially between God and man, and fellow individuals. In this time of COVID-19, bridging the gap is done remotely, celebrating the Holy Mass privately but putting into mind the intention of the faithful and offering it to God, hoping that in His love and mercy He will answer our petitions and prayers.”

Lyn and Jesse Alpuro of All Pure Media
“From doing nightly shows three to four times a week, to nothing, it has greatly affected our business. In our industry, we rely on venues like restaurants and hotels where we have our shows. Ninety percent of our guests are tourists. Our shows on other islands and on the mainland have been canceled. Restaurants and hotels have closed. Those few who did come to Maui stayed where they were because of the fear of getting sick. All musicians on the island are not working. Many are doing social media concerts from their living room. It truly is a trying and uncertain time for all of us.”

Marrieta Bajuyo
“This Corona virus pandemic has affected me and my work in a big way. Personally, it has changed a lot of things and has limited the things that I am supposed to do as my part in our household. Just to mention one the grocery shopping, it’s now added to the burden my husband has to do on top of being the only one still working as he is our designated person to go out and run errands while we adhere to the stay at home mandate by the state. The restaurant that I worked in closed due to this pandemic and I am now without a job and waiting for the unemployment benefits. Even with the money coming from the unemployment benefits, our finances have still been severely impacted because it is only a small portion of what I would usually make in a week when I am still working. And we depend a lot of our day to day expenses and some of the bills we needed to pay through the gratuity that I make from my work. Hopefully this will be over soon so we won’t fall way behind on our bills which include utilities, rent, phone, insurance, etc.”

Mary Basig
“Coronavirus—the pandemic that has affected many lives, varying from unemployment to even death. I am very fortunate to be considered an essential worker and am now working from home however, that’s not the case for everyone in my family. My dad and my younger sister are also fortunate to still be able to work. My mom is a hotel worker and will be out of work for two months and my youngest sister is out of school and work until further notice. Even though we are still getting income within the household, it is still frustrating because we all still have bills to pay and who knows how long the ‘stay at home’ order will be in place. It is a very difficult time for everyone and all we can really do is abide by the rules and just have faith that we will overcome this pandemic”

Jhon Boy Bautista
As a bartender, COVID-19 has impacted me as it has everyone in the hotel industry. As the United States progressed in climbing numbers of positive cases, we practiced our cleanliness protocols as we always do, but as the virus made its way to Hawai‘i our hotel made the right decision to close down but with that happening meant we would all be laid off. As far as returning to work, we have an estimated return to work date which is hopefully in June. But as far as the virus goes, hopefully we will be in control of it sooner rather than later. The concerns I have with COVID-19 is the same as many. I worry about the frontline workers, the essential workers and the people behind the scenes. My mom is a housekeeper for the hospital and has been there for 20 plus years and now more than ever I worry. We can’t even see her right now because of the risk of exposure, although she takes it very seriously and sanitizes and cleans herself before she enters her home. If our community can just do as we are told and continue to social distance then we can get over this faster! Whether you believe the impacts of this virus or not, please just do as we are told. This is reality now, staying indoors, schooling our children with the help of our amazing teachers. This is the new normal. Maybe we can get over this and get back to our old normal! I am so grateful that I get to be home with my family at this time but I do worry. I had to watch my body for 14 days from the last day I worked because of the hotel exposure and I am thankful I made it since then without any symptoms. Having a daughter and a son that are asymptomatic makes my wife and I worry everyday.”

Kayla Marie Galinato Brown, RN
“The virus has not affected my job in ways that I wouldn’t be able to work. But it has affected me in the sense that I am now risking my current health to help others in the community who may or may not have it. We have to be more cautious on how to protect ourselves and the community from this virus. It made me reflect on my loved ones a lot. It’s a scary situation, I may lose them or they may lose me to this virus. Every day is a new day and you just don’t know what to expect. I never know what I’m going to walk into. I have family that I haven’t seen in awhile because I’m scared that I might already be a carrier and I don’t want to expose them and risk losing them. I take it day by day, appreciate my family, appreciate everyone that is in my life. Being grateful for the staff that I work with. Being grateful that in the midst of this chaos, people are still willing to risk their lives to help save others. There has been a lot of changes in policies here at the hospital. To protect those in healthcare and help in reduction of possible exposures to the community, we have implemented a ‘no visitors policy’ and every patient must get masked prior to entering the emergency department. They have now also allowed staff to use their own homemade masks. There has also been more utilization of walkie talkies when in isolation rooms so that we can communicate to those outside if we need anything in the rooms. We try to cluster care and it helps that we have walkie talkies to communicate anything else that we may need to reduce the overuse of PPEs (personal protective equipment). I’m concerned about the increase in exposure due to the community’s non-compliance with social distancing and self-quarantining. With that, I believe there will be an increase in loss of jobs, increase in bankruptcy, loss of businesses, people not being able to support their family, people losing their homes. A lot of this will create a rise in behavioral issues if it has not already. The community can help by being compliant with recommendations, being patient, being cautious. Hand wash hand wash hand wash! Be courteous and cover your coughs and sneezes followed by hand washing. Wear a mask. Stay up to date with new recommendations because this changes every day.”

Elizabeth Buenafe and Mila Crisologo of Four Sisters Catering
“As of March 10 until April 30th, some of our wedding catering schedules were postponed until next year while some got cancelled due to the rules of no socializing more than 10 people and social distancing. We lost lots of business that could add up to $50,000-plus. Although we have a busy schedule for May and June, caterings for both months are still up in the air. We really got hit a lot!”

Randy Cruz of Randy’s Catering
“The County stopped large gatherings and our business is catering. So all of our business was canceled. In March, seven caterings were canceled—covering over a thousand people while in April at least eight were canceled. I am applying for the SBA assistance and I hope we will be approved. I approached my business loan banker at American Savings Bank and he was helpful. Hopefully, this virus will not further delay the permits for us to complete the renovation of Paukūkalo store. If this continues for three months, many businesses will fail because we have to pay rent. Our faith in God has given us hope to continue. In Matthew 24:7, this was forecast and this is the time to repent our sins. God said you cannot serve both God and money. This is a wake up call to everyone that humans cannot do anything without God. God is in control of everything so we need to repent. This pandemic disease is the work of Satan and God will lead us out of the darkness and into the light.”

Zyra Delacruz
“As a college student, I didn’t know the corona virus would affect me, my life, my schooling, and my future career. This virus put my life on pause and not knowing what will happen next—tomorrow, the next day, and the day after that. I am currently in my last semester of college at University of Nevada, Las Vegas majoring in Hospitality Management. But unfortunately I am back in Hawai‘i and doing virtual schooling. Online classes are hard especially with the time difference and being away from school limits me from resources that the school offers. This does not feel normal at all. My graduation ceremony was scheduled for May but due to the virus, they have postponed it to end of summer or fall or who knows, it could never happen. After graduation, I had my whole life planned out. I wasn’t planning to move back to Hawai‘i this soon. My post graduation job offer was also canceled because of the pandemic. With the hotel industry going down during this time, I am afraid that there might not be any jobs for me after this pandemic blows off. When this lock down is over, there will still be a fear to travel. If business remains slow and hotels have low occupancy, then people will still be getting laid off and fighting for their job. There’s no room for us graduates to step into the industry. I pray and hope that this pandemic will go away soon so things will eventually get better. As a Graduating Senior, this pandemic is taking a toll on me because it took an experience of a life time away from me and with that said, my career has been put on hold.”

Dante Domingo
“It’s been a lot busier within the last month because people are ordering essential items online versus going to the store. As a UPS driver, I do feel concerned about touching packages, and the risks that it brings. We wear masks and gloves at work, which are supplied by our employer. We try our best to stay six feet away from other people when we deliver packages. I’m always washing my hands now and now I’m a firm believer of how people should not come to work at all if they are sick. I was sick a few weeks ago and it put it into perspective how the virus can spread if people are still going to work even if they are not well. I was scared, thinking that I might have gotten the virus. After doing some research, I was reassured that what I had wasn’t COVID-19 because it didn’t match up with my symptoms.”

Ed Garcia
“In a matter of weeks, coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed how students are educated around the world. As educators, we had to change our lecture-based approach to teaching our students. Our school chose to go online learning tools (such as reading, math, science, social studies, even for subjects such as physical education materials via Google Classroom). As staff members, we have been meeting through WebEx to communicate plans for the students. In my opinion, first and foremost, the community needs to help in keeping others safe and feeling secured. We can do that by helping the community in practicing kindness. During tense times it can be really hard to see the good in people but being kind can help bring it to the surface. Most grocery store employees, delivery folks, police and medical professionals are slammed and exhausted. They’re out there, dealing with the public during a really chaotic time. Showing them a little patience and kindness can make a world of difference, so do your best to be kind.”

Jamie Garcia
“I’m very grateful to still have my job but feel that we should have been given an opportunity to work from home like other Departments. We’ve become very busy trying to keep the community away from our parks and facilities. It hasn’t affected our office as everyone still reports to work. Our office is closed to the public, we are provided with PPE, we keep our 6-foot distance between each other and have more frequent cleaning and sanitizing. My concerns are that people continue to not follow the stay home order and go out even when it’s not necessary causing more risk and exposure to us ‘the essential worker.’ I’m afraid everyday to leave my house for work, risking getting sick and bringing it to my healthy vulnerable family. Please stay home! If you have to get something, just one person from your household should go, pick up what you need and go home! Stay home and enjoy your family! It has made me more germaphobic and very cautious to what/who’s around me, it has given me more assurance that being a homebody isn’t bad at all, and has made me realize that with all our family activities, meetings, appointments we forget to enjoy the little things and the times where we can just relax and not worry about stuff coming up and always being on the go. It’s been really nice to just go to work then come home to enjoy family time.”

Sheena Garo
“The COVID-19 outbreak has definitely brought stress and unexpected changes to my life. It is also scary when a college student has to be put through a situation where they may possibly have to quarantine alone and away from their family. It is stressful because I have never been through a situation that has basically put my life and dreams on pause and I have no control over it. During this difficult time, my program had to suspend all face-to-face interactions. Most local hospitals have closed their doors to students for the safety of our community. Although I agree with their decision, I am also sad because most of our learning and growing as future health professionals takes place in the hospitals, where we are able to witness real life challenges that healthcare workers face on a daily basis.”

Christine Gumpal, RN of CNA Hawaii Institute, LLC
“This pandemic that ravages our world today including our country and even our very own County of Maui has brought chaos and wreaked havoc on the different spectrum of our lives. Our anxieties were heightened and we have asked ourselves ‘Am I going to be the next carrier?’ We have become suspicious of our neighbors and prefer to be alone with my family members. Social distancing and hand washing almost turn into compulsion. Our business of healthcare training for nurse assistant and phlebotomy training program was placed on hold to mitigate the spread of corona virus in our County. We are all in this together—our own family, business sector, church and different agencies. I would be remiss if I do not give an affirmation to our healthcare workers in the frontline containing this pandemic. I honestly do not know when this scourge will end but I am hopeful because ‘nothing worthwhile comes easy.’”

Joey Macadangdang of Joey’s Kitchen
As a small business owner, it’s been tough on us. We had no choice but to close Joey’s Kitchen in Whaler’s Village in Kā‘anapali because there was no traffic to sustain a take out only operation. It was sad because we were prepared to celebrate our fifth year anniversary. It’s difficult because we are still responsible to pay for rent, CAM, and the other charges from the shopping center. Thanks to our loyal customers, we are able to keep Joey’s Kitchen in Nāpili open although it is for take out only, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 4 to 8 p.m. Meanwhile, the construction for Maca Dang Dang is on hold. We’re hoping and praying for God’s continued grace and blessings that this pandemic will end sooner rather than later.”

Arnold Magbual of Four Sisters Bakery
“We are still open. Business has slowed down a bit but not by much. We put in a line six feet apart to comply with the CDC recommendations. We added a sneeze guard across the counter and we put a note by the door that we’re allowing two customers at a time. We marked the floor where the customers are supposed to stand. We ask the customers to place their payment on a tray and we give them their change on the same tray. Instead of giving them the product directly, we also place the product on a tray. After that, we sanitize the tray. To do our part and to support our community, in the next few weeks, we plan to share our baked goods with front-line employees with their ID’s.”

Rowena Mariano of Asian Mart
“We are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. We have our hot food items as well as our frozen products, fresh vegetables and groceries. Our rice supply is still good. We get about 30 bags of the 50 lbs. each week. We’re happy we can still service our loyal customers.”

Em Escopete Mennel of Cupie’s
“Cupie’s will remain open but we are car hopping like the old days. You pull up to the parking space and friendly cashiers will be right with you taking your order using our portable devices. And the food will be brought to your car as well. You don’t have to get out from the car. On the left of the parking lot are odd numbers; on the middle are even numbers; on the right against the walls are phone orders. We also accept Door Dash and Bite squad. We’re doing this to help our local community and at the same time I am thinking about our employees who also have bills to pay. We have our regular menu except our specials are limited. Our hours of operation have changed. We are open Sunday thru Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. So far we are quite busy. God bless and be safe.”

Renie Menor
“COVID 19 is new to everybody. Nobody knew how destructive this virus was until we have seen the results of people dying by the hundreds everyday. Since we got hit with this virus and lock down was ordered, business has been slow (sales wise) but we are still consistent in servicing our family. I’ve been more cautious and more careful on things I touch and people I encounter everyday. Sometimes, I try to avoid watching the news because it’s so depressing to see the number of people die everyday because of COVID 19. At work they cut our working days to four days only now. On the other hand, it taught me how to use virtual presentation, so I can still work and help families via Skype or Zoom without worrying about social distancing. My personal life has changed as we pray more now as a family instead of individually.”

Monica Natividad, RN, CNOR, RNFA
“It is a blessing for me to be working in the Operating Room at Maui Memorial Medical Center. I have been employed there for almost 23 years now. I was the first Filipina RN to be sent to New Mexico in 2005 to become an RN First Assistant (RNFA). The hospital sent three certified RNs in the OR at that time to assist surgeons as needed. It was the first time that the hospital was utilizing RNs to assist instead of a retired surgeon, fellow surgeon, or Physician Assistant (PA). The COVID 19 global pandemic crisis has affected each one of us in different ways. The use of PPE (personal protective equipment) is vital in caring for patients undergoing surgeries. Fortunately, I have not assisted in any surgical procedure for a patient with confirmed COVID 19, nor for a patient who can be a possible carrier of the virus. Since this pandemic crisis happened, I learned to become more conscientious of what I do in the OR daily to conserve our PPE supplies due to its shortage. Social distancing has prevented me from being able to hug, kiss and see my twenty one month old grandson. It is emotionally and psychologically disturbing for me to work in the hospital setting during this crisis knowing that I am putting myself and my family in danger each time I take care of patients who can possibly be COVID carriers. Family and friends are very supportive especially my husband, Jorge Natividad, and my son, Ryan Jeremy Natividad and my daughter, Ria Lei Marie Natividad, during this overwhelming crisis. I am looking forward to the time when this pandemic will stop, enabling everyone to go back to their normal daily activities. Stop the COVID community spread. Do your part by washing your hands frequently and practicing social distancing.”

Teresita Noble of Noble Travel
“We closed our offices on March 23. All those passengers that have been issued tickets, their money is with the airlines and we will assist them to get refunds or travel vouchers. Once the close order is lifted, they can contact us for assistance. I know everybody is trying to call but we’re restricted from going to our office. Please be patient and we hope that everybody will be okay. Thank you for your past support and we look forward to serving you again very soon.
I applied for the Pay check Protection Program through my bank, Central Pacific Bank, who sent me the paperwork. It was easy to fill out and I encourage all employers to apply and take advantage of the program.”

Rose Anne Rafael
“Recently, Maui’s economy and occupations were severely affected by the coronavirus. I am one of those whose occupation and education got affected by the COVID-19. The pandemic has forcibly temporarily closed my job and altered my education by switching to an online school. Currently not having a job for a while has affected me financially. As a working student, I have personal finances that I am obligated to pay such as credit cards and phone bills. Despite the crisis that I have been facing, I have tried to apply for unemployment and I am waiting for their response. The pandemic also affected my Mom who used to work at Aston Whalers in Kā‘anapali. After spring break, University of Hawai‘i Maui College decided to switch to online classes until the end of the semester. Personally, doing online classes is not the best way for me to learn because I don’t do well with making the time to sit in front of the computer to do my assignments. I often get distracted and I have to be more alert in finishing due dates of assigned works. I believe that all of us have been affected by COVID 19, whether in a little or larger reason. Although, as a community, we could help one another to stop the spread by complying with the stay at home order, practicing social distancing, wearing a mask in public, and often washing our hands properly. Together, we can stop this virus and bring our Island of Maui back to its alive, vibrant, healthy, and economically friendly community.”

JR Regalado
“In the month of March, I was temporarily laid off from my full-time job. It was a sad moment for me as it was my first time being laid off. These past few weeks like many citizens in Maui who were laid off, I felt the frustration applying for unemployment online. With the high volume, it was hard to get in and it took me several attempts just to get in and apply. It was my very first time filing and I’ve been asking friends, co-workers for assistance and our Human Resources for guidance on how it works. I just found out the other day my cousin also got laid off and is now filing unemployment as well. I fear if this virus continues in the long term and citizens and tourists don’t comply with local or state government rules, it will be hard for many of us to get by doing our daily routines and flattening the curve. My hopes like everyone is we all pray that we will get through this together. We need the community to help each other out especially our front liners and first responders—let’s give them the love and support. My advice if anyone has a friend, family member or knows anyone working in the medical fields, please send them a message to thank them for their service and helping our community be safe. Being laid off from my full-time job, I’ve been staying at home mostly. I only leave the house for essential items that are needed at home. I also have my part-time job which I work only one day a week to help my financial needs. I have also been watching the news daily for updates on what is happening across the state and around the world.”

Cheryl and Mike Rock of Mele Ukulele
As is the case with so many small businesses on Maui, Mele Ukulele is very much affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We shut down our retail stores in response to the call for closure of non essential businesses, shelter in place, etc. thereby displacing our 10-employee work force, halting sales and income we need to address our overhead expenses of rent, salaries, insurances, utilities, etc. While we deal with the financial difficulties and economic challenges and uncertainties, we choose to stay positive, hopeful and prayerful that this pandemic will end soon. We focus our attention and efforts in doing what we can to help mitigate the spread and flatten the curve. We would like to salute and express our heartfelt mahalo nui loa to all the doctors, nurses and frontliners who are working tirelessly and selflessly to protect us. Be well and stay safe. Aloha.”

Philip Sabado of Sabado Art Studios
“My New Year’s Resolution was the same thing, every year. ‘I gotta paint.’ There were so many paintings that I wanted to begin as well as finish. When a commission came, they were pushed away until later. I spoke too soon as the world just weeks ago came to a screeching halt. Now I have all the time I need. On my last day at our studio in Wailuku, I packed the car with canvases and all my paints, oils and watercolors. They say we can make lemonade from lemons, and I saw my time was unfortunately in the midst of a global tragedy. I make some time for prayer daily and challenge myself to do at least a painting a day. Funny thing, they are all about my childhood home on Molokai in Maunaloa camp. Maybe revisiting my simple plantation life makes the hours pass quickly. I found a place upstairs where I play my Filipino music and before I know it is already dark, and time for dinner. My work on commissions can continue from home, as well. As far as the business goes, this will be a long way back to a new normal. We just opened our first Gallery, Sabado Gallery & Boutique in Wailea; our grand opening was in mid-November. It took over a year with permits and all the proper decor and signage to open our doors. It is an amazing place, and we were steadily building our clientele in the high-end world of Wailea. As an optimist I choose to see the light at the end of the tunnel and know that for the moment I remember my Moms words: ‘Family first.’ On a personal note we did have a family member pass away from the virus in the Philippines. Our son Erin’s wife’s, Kindra, Aunty Corazon, lived in Quezon City and hosted us for an entire month when we went to visit a couple of years ago. We are so devastated by this news. This terrible and challenging time has become personal for our family. Please keep the family in your prayers.”

Leonida Salaguinto of JMA Imports
“For now, we are still open but only from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. We’re exercising the six feet rule and our employees have their masks and gloves on. The supply of frozen food, groceries, and fresh vegetables are still ongoing. We’re busy because there’s no swap meet. We also have our religious statues and orchids. We pray this pandemic will end soon but in the meantime we are here to serve you.”

Michelle Santos
“I’m an essential worker for the County of Maui, so I’m at work five days a week and worked an evening shift to assist in the call center to answer questions from the community about the Mayor’s stay at home directive. My employment was not affected and the County Building is currently closed to the public. All areas are being cleaned three times more than normal. We are required to carry our ID in order to go to different floors in the building. The majority of documents are transmitted via email or fax. Meetings are done through video conference. I’m concerned people are not taking this seriously and are breaking the rules. The community needs to stay home and obey the directive. I now understand why other people were extra cautious with cleanliness before the virus. I’m grateful that I still have a job but sad that so many people are suffering. I don’t feel that I changed at all except that I’m blessed for having friends and family who have reached out to help my family.”

Elsa Agdinaoay Segal of Summit Financial Planners
“The biggest impact of the pandemic is closing the office temporarily and not being able to have face-to-face meetings with clients. Because our occupation is considered essential, we immediately transitioned to working remotely and adopted video conferencing. For clients who don’t have access to this, we are meeting with them outside their home with proper protection and following distancing guidelines per CDC. Also, I notice an increased interest in legacy and estate planning concerns. Due to the non discriminating and aggressive nature of this virus, people (younger than normal) are concerned about what may happen if they get sick or die prematurely. In my twelve years as a financial advisor, this is pretty unusual. Most people under 50 don’t like to think about this area of financial planning so soon. But I totally understand. This is a genuine concern for a lot people young and old. It can be worrisome to think about what’s going to happen to your life as you know if you don’t survive. I’m advising clients to just be prepared—as that is all we pretty much have control over.”

Limuel Soller
“The COVID-19 outbreak has brought disappointment for me and this situation has put me through the most difficult situation in my life. I am currently unemployed due to the temporary shutdown of my employer. It has tested my budgeting skills as I am struggling to provide food and groceries for my family and pay the bills on time. My classmates and I have to learn through online classes, which include all the hands-on activities. It is hard to gain true experience when everything is performed through looking at a screen.”

Leizl Tabon, CPA of Levin & Tabon, CPAs
“We’ve been through recessions before but nothing like what’s happening with COVID-19. With previous economic slowdowns, there would still be some people traveling here. However, with this pandemic, everything has come to a screeching halt. And to make matters worse, it is impacting all businesses not just tourist based ones. While these drastic measures are necessary, the ripple effect of this lock-down is going to have an effect on our small businesses for an undetermined amount of time. It is imperative for all levels of government to focus on providing small businesses with the assistance and resources they need to weather this storm. Without it, countless businesses will be forced to close their doors, further devastating our small island community.”

Lydia Torres
“I have to collect unemployment. My place of employment is closed until April 30. But at least I can stay home with my kids. It’s hard because we can’t see relatives and friends.”

Roseminic Ulep of Ride Assist of Maui, LLC and Foster Care Home Operator
“As a small business owner, this pandemic is really affecting everyone. In a very short amount of time, I can already see the difference especially with my transportation services. A lot of the regular trips are already cut down into half and that means less work for the workers, and less revenue for the company. If this will prolong, I won’t be able to survive and cover the expenses, it will force me to shut down my business. On the other hand, operating the care home is not as bad as the rest at the moment. I’m crossing my fingers that it will remain this way. I’m hoping that it will not lead to what I’m expecting which is the longer this COVID 19 is not under control, eventually HMOs will run out of funding and care givers will not be able to get reimbursement. The majority of the operators’ bread and butter is care giving and if we have mortgages or rents and other bills and will not get paid, I will not be able to afford to continue caring for the patients. How are we going to make it through this situation if ever we get to that point? Where will our patients go? What will the State do to help in this predicament to avoid re-homing the elderly and who will take them? At this time, there are so many what ifs because we are not certain what is going to happen. I cannot help but assume the unknown. It creates so much anxiety. As of right now, I am taking it day by day and not get ahead of myself and worrying about the nonsense. I try to think positive and stay healthy so I can continue to provide the care and services for our kūpuna. I hope and pray that we will get through this soon.”

Tante and Telly Urban of Tante’s Island Cuisine
“Telly and I are saddened as we had to close Tante’s Island Cuisine in Kahului because Maui Seaside told us we could not even open for take-out. In fact, if you drive by, you will see the entrance barracaded by vehicles and fencing. We are saddened because we had to lay off about twenty employees, who we consider as part of our family. We hope this pandemic will lessen soon so we can re-open and serve our loyal customers. Telly and I are also unable to travel to Maui right now to visit our Maui friends whom we miss very much. Please take care and be safe until we are able to see each other again.”

Joselito Yuzon of Johnstone Supply
“It is in utter disbelief that I am writing on what we can call a 360-degree turn in the lives of humankind. A turn that is happening so fast that caught millions unaware until they hit a brick wall. Although I will not discuss the unimaginable loss of lives brought by this pandemic COVID-19, this tragedy brought a ripple effect in the everyday life of all people. The unbelievable number of business closures was unprecedented as those categorized as non-essential were forced to close as required by law, e.g. dine-in restaurants, gyms, golf courses, spas, theaters, etc. The requirement to quarantine in-state and out-of-state travelers led to the cancellation of flights thereby causing the loss of business for hotels and lodging establishments leading to their closure. The chain reactions goes down the line. These business closures led to thousands of lost jobs causing anxiety and despair to employees and business owners. For our business, we supply wholesale refrigeration and air conditioning equipment, parts and controls to grocery stores, hospitals and residences is ‘lucky’ to be considered essential and is open for business. Lucky might be an understatement as we lost an unquantifiable number of customers like hotels, restaurants and home owners who lost their jobs and cancelled the air conditioning projects for their residences. The loss of sales will lead to reduced revenues and hopefully we will be able to sustain expenditures, stay in business and keep our employees in this time of uncertainty. Everyone is affected by the pandemic and we pray that this will end soon. We will continue to work and hope for the best for our business and for our family.”

Mahalo and Maraming Salamat Po to all those who shared. The Fil-Am Voice is very grateful to you and we are concerned about Maui’s future.

As we stay home, let’s look out for one another to make sure the Aloha spirit and the Bayanihan spirit are not forgotten.

Vanessa Joy Domingo is a graduate of Maui High School and is currently attending University of Hawai‘i Maui College. She is employed with Coldwell Banker – Wailea Village as a Realtor and was the 2018 Miss Maui Filipina. When she has free time, she loves to go fishing, go to the gym and practice aerial silks. She volunteers her time throughout the community with the Maui Filipino Community Council, Binhi at Ani, Read Aloud America, and Maui High School Foundation. Since working at home due to the coronavirus, she has been baking a lot more.

Alfredo G. Evangelista is a graduate of Maui High School (1976), the University of Southern California (1980), and the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law (1983). He is a sole practitioner at Law Offices of Alfredo Evangelista, A Limited Liability Law Company, concentrating in estate planning, business start-up and consultation, nonprofit corporations, and litigation. He has been practicing law for 36 years (since 1983) and returned home in 2010 to be with his family and to marry his high school sweetheart, the former Basilia Tumacder Idica. He misses the gatherings of family and friends to share food and beverage … and taking food photos to post on Instagram and Facebook. He is still optimistic the Los Angeles Lakers, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the USC Trojans, and the Las Vegas Raiders will win championships this year.