I was working as a Marketing Officer in a big transport company in Davao when I read a job posting on social media from my former agent. He posted that he urgently needs a singer in a resort in the Maldives. I became interested since I have worked before in the Maldives twice as a singer in two different resorts. I immediately messaged my former agent and asked about the details of the job. The job looked pretty good and since he already personally knew me, he offered the job to me. I said to him to give me time to think since I already have a permanent job in a company. He said he has no time to wait because it is an urgent job hiring. So after more than a week of thinking I said to myself I have to risk it and grab this opportunity. I messaged my former agent that I will take the singing job in the Maldives. So, after a few negotiations with the salary, he processed my work documents and sent me the work visa and plane ticket. I flew to the Maldives via Singapore on March 29, 2019, and arrived in the Maldives on the next day, March 30. I started singing at Cocoon Resort Maldives on April 1, 2019.
Fast forward this year, 2020 a global crisis has struck because of the COVID-19. It was in the second week of January 2020 that my agent informed me that my singing contract in Cocoon Resort Maldives will end on the last day of February 2020. I told him that my one year contract will finish in March this year not February. He admitted he was mistaken and confirmed that my contract will end on the last day of March. The next day, I immediately began updating my curriculum vitae and cover letter. Then every day I searched and applied for jobs online. My target was a job in other Maldives resorts. But I have no luck and as weeks went by I did not have any success so I tried applying for jobs in Male City, Hulhumale, and other countries as well. I also asked for help from some of my friends in the Maldives. Some companies interviewed me personally in their offices. I also got some interviews online through Skype and phone interviews as well. Finally, I found a job in Male in the third week of February. They asked me when I can start then I told them I can join them in the first week of April after I finished my contract with Cocoon Resort. When the Coronavirus problem started to affect the Maldives, my agent asked me to continue working till March until the situation is back to normal to which I agreed.
The Covid-19 pandemic started to worsen in the second week of March greatly affecting the tourism industry in the Maldives. There was a travel ban with some countries. Flights in and out of the country have been limited. Cocoon Resort advises the staff to take a 3 months voluntary leave. During their voluntary leave, they will be paid only 50% of their monthly salary with no service charge. On the third week of March, Maldives has closed its international airport because of the global crisis.
Because there were no more guest arrivals, Cocoon Resort released a memo that the resort will temporarily be closed starting April 1 until May 31, 2020, urging the staff to take a voluntary leave. On March 31, the resort bid their farewell to the last guests that stayed on the island. Maldives government has advised the resorts that employees can only leave the resort 14 days after the last guest has left the resort. Cocoon Resort cannot send its foreign staff to their home countries because flights have been canceled and there was a travel ban in the Maldives and many countries as well.
On April 1, 2020, there is no more work on the island. The only thing to do is sleeping, eating, playing games like billiard and badminton, watching movies, and going online on social media. Life has become monotonous and boring doing the same things over and over again. To ease the boredom of everybody, the management has created some activities for the staff like swimming at the pool and fishing. There was also a staff party conducted at the guest bar with DJ music and some beer. Staffs were happy and many were dancing. The management has allowed the staff to swim at the beach in the morning starting from 10 o’clock till 7 p.m.
I find it an opportunity to learn as much as I can for new skills and improve my existing skills. I studied online and take online training. I read books and listen to audio books. I write blogs, make a YouTube channel, edit videos, and create logos. I enjoyed the outdoors a lot. I take advantage of outdoor activities like swimming at the beach and fishing. I also play badminton, billiard and table tennis. Time is precious that is why I don’t want to waste this very precious time that I have.
On April 12, 2020, Sunday the first batch of Maldivian staff was sent to their residential islands. The next day, April 13, Monday the second batch of Maldivian staff was also sent to their islands. The foreign staffs remaining in the resort including Sri Lankans, Indians, Nepalese, Filipinos, and Bangladeshi people are still waiting for flights to be available to their respective countries.
I messaged the company who hired me regarding any update about my employment with them but they still cannot give me any information. I hope and pray that they will process my working visa before Cocoon Resort will ask me to leave the island.
On June 5, 2020, I was still at Cocoon Resort Maldives waiting for my flight back to the Philippines. I have enlisted my name at the Philippine Consulate of Maldives for the second repatriation flight but there is still no announcement if there will be a second repatriation flight.
Being on the island for a very long time makes me miss the city life so badly. I miss going to the malls, shopping, dining in restaurants, talking to friends, and listening to live music in bars. To keep my sanity, I focus on things that I am thankful for like the beautiful beach, the fresh air, the beautiful flowers and plants around me, and the luxury of time to play and sleep.