Former beauty queen Katarina Rodriguez has gotten the hang of island life in Siargao.
The 28-year-old former Miss World Philippines titleholder has been stuck on the island since March, when the country started implementing the coronavirus pandemic protocols.
Katarina said she's grateful the island hasn't had a COVID-19 case the whole time she has been living there.
She said, "One thing I always tell people is everybody who's been in Siargao since lockdown in March, parang nasa bubble kami.
"Like we're in this snow globe away from the pandemic kasi wala pa kaming case dito. So they've been very strict.
"And it's really odd to see someone wearing a face shield. And even if it's a protocol to wear masks, we don't wear masks all the time.
"Only parang yung last week pa lang because they finally opened the island...
"I think we're just super blessed to not have been affected so much by the pandemic."
And so, now, Katarina considers Siargao her home away from home, expressing, "I really love it. If I didn't have to go back to Manila for work, I wouldn't go back talaga.
"I would really stay here. Siyempre naman, I love the beach, so ayun... "
Asked how she has adjusted to provincial life, Katarina told PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) it's been wonderful but a bit challenging.
She said, "Sa province usually you wake up early. Minsan gumigising ako ng mga 3:30 a.m. 'tapos minsan natutulog ako mga 8 p.m. I'm like knocked out already,
"So I have to say that's the biggest adjustment. The sleeping pattern is weird. And wala, parang super chill lang.
"Compared to Manila where it's so fast-paced and we're always doing something and we're always busy.
"Ngayon naman parang, 'What do I do today? Should I go for a walk? Should I surf?' So more of that."
At the same time, Katarina also said that she has been worried about her family in Manila.
She explained that others who have been stranded on the island feel the same way; they're all anxious about how their loved ones in other places have been coping with the pandemic.
Katarina said, "Of course we feel pa, especially, like being on social media and online, I feel the anxiety of what's going on with my family in the city or my friends and family abroad.
"So it's still there and because we don't feel it directly, parang may ibang anxiety kami.
"Parang, 'Okay, ano ba yung nangyayari sa Manila?' So, there's still like this guessing game. Yung mga 'new normal,' hindi pa 'normal' sa amin."
PEP.ph interviewed Katrina online last Saturday, December 5, 2020.
KATARINA RECOMMENDS BEST CHILL SPOTS IN SIARGAO
Now that the local government has fully opened Siargao to local tourists, PEP,ph asked Katarina about the interesting places she has discovered while living on the island.
She said her favorite hangout is Kaimana Siargao, a restaurant and resort in General Luna.
Raving about the place, the model/host said, "There's this restaurant that opened right before the pandemic and it's called Kaimana.
"So everybody who's planning to come to Siargao, please write this down. I go there like once a week.
"Their food is so good. If ever like I need to lose weight for whatever reason, I just try to stop myself from going there."
Continuing, Katarina enumerated the dishes on Kaimana's menu.
She told PEP.ph, "Their food is like Meditteranean comfort food like humus.
"These rolls na parang lumpia pero it's not lumpia. There's like spinach and cheese in one of the rolls.
"They have really good burgers. I miss like super masarap na burgers, but I have to say they have one of the best burgers I've tried.
"And if you like carrot cake, they have one of the best carrot cakes that I've ever tried."
The roll she described is called Spanakopita, which is priced at PHP150.
The restaurant's home-made Cheddar Cheeseburger is priced at PHP350 and is available only on Thursdays.
And their best-seller, the carrot cake, is priced at PHP200.
Katarina's other favorite place is Alma Siargao, a Spanish-themed restaurant that opened last September.
She said, "There's a new Spanish restaurant called Alma by the boulevard so you can check that out also."
For those craving for healthy dishes, Katarina has recommended the Beach Baby Café in Genetal Luna, which is known for its smoothie bowls.
Katarina said, "If you're vegan or vegetarian, Beach Baby Cafe in General Luna is another place to go to.
"Very picturesque, very Instagrammable. I go there once a week as well."