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Essay readers in Australia

Anthology of women’s stories on COVID-19

By Evelyn A. Opilas

Sydneysiders and Theresians are among those who shared COVID-19 experiences in a first-ever collection of essays I compiled and edited, providing a glimpse into how they faced the unexpected turn in their circumstances.

Contributors to the book Filipina collection of COVID-19 Essays, edited by E. Opilas

Entitled ‘A Filipina Collection of COVID-19 Essays’ lauched 27 March 2021,

the anthology consists of narratives from 29 women leaders from the Philippines, Timor-Leste, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia during the early months of the 2020 pandemic.

The contributors to the compilation are:

Australia – Maria Imelda Argel, Erlinda Caramancion, Lutgarda Porciuncula  Espiritu, Maria Victoria Ayap Flores, Rose Guevara, Michelle Manodon, Josefina Cervantes Musa, Rachel Opilas Oberes, Yvonne Agullana Opilas, Roslyn Montesclaros Rajasingam, Linda Geronimo Santos, Norma Carnay Vargas, Dorothy Ann del Villar and myself;

The Philippines – Erlinda Belgica Alabanza, Maydelene Agustin Ancheta, Elizabeth Panlilio Aquino, Maria Teresa Arcenas, Myrna Torio Elcano, Eleanor Nelle White, Maria Victoria Ledonio Yao;

Timor-Leste – Esther Owen Fernandez Garana;

United Kingdom – Susan Tuvera Agullana, Susie Orden Cornell, Angelina Orden;

United States – Fe Villanueva Nolasco, Aurora Saulo, Maripaz Nespral Shaw, Daisy Villanueva Soriano

Eleven of us share St. Theresa’s College, Manila or Quezon City, as part of our formative years, eight with whom I celebrated the Emerald Jubilee of our High School Class 1966 during STCQC’s first Virtual Homecoming 30 January 2021 – Erlinda Alabanza, Elizabeth Aquino, Maria Teresa Arcenas, Fe Nolasco, Maripaz Shaw, Aurora Saulo, Eleanor White, Maria Victoria Yao.

(Three of us received the prestigious STCQC Alumnae Association’s Teresa’s Achievement Award during the Virtual Homecoming – Dr Aurora A Saulo for Science & Medicine, Maria Teresa L Arcenas for Justice & Peace, Evelyn A Opilas for Media. Batchmate Lourdes Catacutan de Mesa also received the award for Parish/Community Service. Four of the nine 2021 TAA awardees belonged to our HS’66 batch.)

Professor Emerita Dr Saulo of the University of Hawaii at Manoa provided the centrepiece to the anthology with her insightful perspective on COVID-19 infection rates and public health.

“Isolation is the same measure recommended for those who are sick with other contagious illness,” Dr Saulo aptly pointed out.

Readers would find a mix of loving, humorous, reflective, inspiring chronicles, with most of the writers finishing their stories in an apparent Filipino trademark – trust, faith, reliance on an Almighty God, and among Catholics, His Blessed Mother, steadfast in their gratitude and in their hope for better tomorrows.

These amazing women accepted, adapted, adjusted to the changes that the unknown, unwelcome, infectious virus imposed, including the dicta of regular hand washing, social distancing, self-isolation, and use of face masks.

While most lamented the closure of places of worship, they welcomed Masses, prayer groups, Bible studies into their homes through live streaming platforms. Technology became a great tool for religious observances, for connecting with family, relatives, friends, for studying, for working.

They shared their stories openly, aware that beyond their shores, other Filipina women have their own memorable, valuable, insightful reflections of COVID-19.

For further information on, and availability of, ‘A Filipina Collection of COVID-19 Essays’, contact

Opilas, Evelyn A. ed. (2021). A Filipina Collection of COVID-19 Essays. Wetherill Park NSW: Bright Print Group.   – ends