Jun 19, 2024

Jim Agapito with mom Yolanda. Photo from artist's social media.

Jim Agapito is a familiar name in the art scene of Winnipeg.

The Canadian Fillipino is into film, doing documentaries, music videos, and short films.

Speaking about music, he’s the lead singer in Agapito, a Winnipeg punk band named after him.

Among his various preoccupations is his work as a film technician for the Department of English, Theatre, Film and Media at the University of Manitoba.

Agapito is also an avid boxer.

Writing in a March 19, 2020 piece for the CBC, Agapito shared his experience of being separated from his family because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My entire family is in the Philippines,” Agapito said. 

His parents, brother, and grandmother are in Jaen, a town in Nueva Ecija province, where they have been staying since December 2019 to visit relatives.

“Then a very personal bomb dropped. On March 15, the president of the Philippines quarantined Metro Manila,” Agapito wrote.

That quarantine announcement “flipped a switch inside me”, he said. 

“In an instant, I went from calm and reasoned to nervous and distraught. My anxiety also spiked, knowing I am supposed to self-isolate and social distance from my very supportive network of friends,” Agapito wrote.

He eventually got word that his parents and grandmother are flying back to Canada.

“Relief was mixed with panic,” Agapito wrote. My grandma is 96, my mother is 68 and my father is 73. All the stories I have read about the coronavirus say the elderly are the hardest hit. Having my family inside a confined airplane, for a lengthy international flight, loaded with strangers, many of who could possibly be carrying the virus, terrified me.”

Meanwhile, his brother managed to get out of the Philippines.

Then on March 16, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte put the entire island of Luzon, where Manila and Nueva Ecija are located, on lockdown.

There will be no flights in and out of the Philippines. His parents and grandmother are stuck.

In a video call, Agapito was informed by his parents that their travel agent will “try to book a flight for them in mid-April, after the travel ban is lifted”.

“I know I am not alone,” Agapito wrote. “There are many other families around the world separated like ours.”

As Agapito noted, his experience is shared by other families separated from each other because of the pandemic.

“Every day brings new information, new fears, and intermittent relief. I have been up, and I have been down,” he said.

While his family is nearly 12,000 kilometres away from Winnipeg, Agapito said that he shouldn't panic. 

“They, like the rest of us, will make it through if we just focus on the light.”

For Agapito’s complete piece: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/opinion-calm-coronavirus-family-philippines-1.5503417

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