Gilda Ravago lives alone. Her late husband passed away last year following a stroke in 2018. Her children live away from her, together with their families. Her only companion is Yoli, her helper, as well as a young cat and a Chow Chow. Her home in Paranaque is silent, save for the wind and the occasional passing vehicle, tires crunching across the asphalt outside.

She claims not to be lonely. A busy woman, she maintains many hobbies; In her backyard she maintains a garden, making fertilizer out of discarded egg shells, while in the kitchen she experiments with old recipes. With her free time, she stitches face masks for those who can’t afford to buy their own, photographs of her children and her grandchildren and her late husband always near. She presses her hand against his picture, telling him of her days. The clock in her dining room ticks loudly in the quiet.

The jangling of beads. Out of her pants pocket she pulls out a rosary, one of several she keeps around her house. She claims never to be away from it. She keeps in her memory the mass schedules of a church in Quiapo, of the Manila Cathedral, of the Diocese of Cubao. Twice a day she hears mass, her iPad set in front of her altar.

This is her routine. Day in and day out, every day since the middle of March, she hears mass by her altar, rosary in hand. She minds her garden. She makes masks for the needy. She speaks to her late husband, the pain of his loss still heavy — but in his face and in the face of her God, she finds comfort.

“I am not afraid. I am ready,” she says in a voice that’s clear and steady.

Environmentalist, culture conservationist, essayist. Development studies graduate. A collector of stories.