I'm stuck in India and I met another Filipina traveler who was asking help at a Filipino Traveler's community in social media to get the Philippine embassy's attention. Instead of getting support, she was bashed and was told that she deserves to be in this situation.
Let me clarify that a lot of us stuck here are long term travelers. She has been in India around the same time as I was, 5 Feb. We didn't just fly here when the virus was spreading in India. We were in Laos when we first heard the news that it was just in China and we had to move to a different country because our visa was up. I also don't have a home anymore in the Philippines so we would just move from one country to another.
Back then, there were no travel warnings. A lot of us here plan to stay up to the allowable 90 days.
WHY DID WE NOT GO HOME?
When the news broke about Coronavirus in India, we were in Udaipur and there were still no travel warnings but we have decided to follow what people on other parts of the world were doing.
We STOPPED TRAVELING and stayed where we are. We did not fly back home because we were advised TO STAY WHERE WE ARE by the local authorities. I also think that was the most sensible thing to do as being on a plane or bus will be more risky. It's possible to self-isolate even as a traveler, we stayed inside our guesthouse, bought food from the guesthouse and only went outside to buy necessities. We thought we can wait it out here in India.
International flights were also already banned so staying where we are is the only option that time. There was short notice and no time to get to the nearest international airport.
WHY DO WE WANT TO GET OUT NOW?
However, things changed fast here without warning. In the middle of our self isolation we were woken up by the staff to be taken to a medical center for screening. All foreigners were taken there. Outside more and more people are shouting Corona at us (some shout China at me), some people are uncomfortable of our presence, the guesthouse staff would sometimes tell us not to eat on our 3rd floor balcony because the police might see us (our local hosts kept us safe and were great!). I heard other travelers getting kicked out, the girl I met was evicted from her hostel during self isolation 3x within a week! Even if you don't go out, neighbors will complain to the police that there's a foreigner which pressures the guesthouse to kick them out.
If it was only safe, we would happily wait it out in those places. But we all know that things are to escalate, and if you are a foreigner who is already being blamed, we don't know what can happen next.
Another factor that led to this is that we really can't plan at all. The government's decisions are fast without much warning, and that is what is needed in this situation. We are lucky that we were able to book a flight to Delhi because domestic flights were canceled the following day. The lockdown was fast and that is needed to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. In this situation, you really can't plan an exit. That is why other countries like Germany evacuated the thousands of German travelers stuck in India (this is not free, they pay eur 500 for the flight which will be paid later).
I'm not expecting the Philippine embassy in India to evacuate a total of less than 20 Filipino tourists stranded all over India. But we can't even get proper guidance. I contacted them previously and I was just told to get out of India, but there were no commercial international flights anymore. I sent them an email that is still unanswered. We personally went to the embassy but it was closed, no guards, other embassies are open or with guards. The duty number posted on the gate was not practically helpful. I was given a list of open hotels in Delhi but there was no way to get there due to the lockdown. It was scary, we heard that police hit people with stick on the street it was good that we're allowed to walk on the embassy area.
I was lucky that we were staying in a hotel with transport that has an emergency duty pass so I got to this hostel smoothly - it's a place where other foreigners are stranded and we were given assurance that they will not shutdown and they will not kick us out.The other Filipina girl can't get help from the PH embassy for transport, luckily, her travel companion is Argentinian and their embassy arranged a transport for them, they had to move because they got evicted from the hostel again!
The PH embassy only gave us a letter to show to police to allow some movement but that is not useful. You can only move if your vehicle has an official duty pass, it's usually the embassies who have those. Other embassies have those but the Philippine embassy in Delhi doesn't and they're nowhere to be found. I am not asking for a plane, I know that we are stuck here until the lockdown is over but we can't even get guidance and practical support like transport if we get kicked out from our hostel.
I am just happy to have a safe place now and that there are good people. Some locals are even sending donations to this hostel so there's free food sometimes. I met other Filipino tourists stranded here and we have a little group in FB chat.
UPDATE 5.59pm India Time
The embassy sent me a Whatsapp message with the attached open letter to stranded Filipinos from the ambassador (see last photo)
UPDATE 28 March 2020
We received some assistance from the PH embassy! However, we can't share more on social media as this is only possible because we're in Delhi. There are other Filipinos in other areas that are impossible to get to because of the lockdown.
I have a limited internet connection so I cannot upload my photos, you may view it here in my Facebook post.