She says she experienced a multitude of symptoms, including body pain, festering sore throat, ear and eye aches.
Katrina Ponce Enrile went to China in December of 2019, just when the virus that would take over the world was in full swing there.
“I went to a local mall with my hosts and it was packed with people you could hardly move,” she shares. “When I went back to my hotel room, I kinda felt off and I just decided to stay in my room.”
Not many have heard of COVID at that time, especially outside of China. According to a Lancet medical journal, symptoms were first observed on December 1, 2019. The World Health Organization (WHO) China Country Office, however, was informed on December 31, 2019.
The next day, the film producer left for Manila and she says that she developed a high fever that same evening. She says that the then had chills, body aches, sore throat, and painful coughing.
“So I knew I had the flu. I took the regular medicines for the flu and cough as prescribed to me by my doctor. I had that for about a week,” Ponce Enrile, the daughter of former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and Christina Castañer, says. “But I was in bed and didn’t feel like eating.”
She then heard about this “mysterious” virus going around China and she says that she had all the same symptoms. “But I couldn’t get tested since it was unheard of anywhere else in the world at that time,” Ponce Enrile says, explaining that her doctor treated that first experience as an upper respiratory infection.
“But I have no doubt that I got COVID because of the subsequent bouts I had which had similar symptoms and effects,” she says. “My hair started to fall already by then but I thought it was just one of those things.” [Editor’s Note: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not include hair loss in its list for common COVID symptoms.]
When news about COVID started to gain even more traction in early January last year, Ponce Enrile says she immediately set in place protocols at her home and office.
She remembers the SARS scare of the early 2000s, and dreaded that this would be the same scenario. “Everyone was laughing at me because they said what I set up was an overkill!” she says.
“I also said we needed to plan ‘just in case’ we weren’t going to have access to the office so we were all prepared,” she says. “I also started ordering food stuff for my home and the whole compound and I thought maybe good for four months.”
After the Philippine government imposed Enhanced Community Quarantine in Luzon on March 16, 2020, Ponce Enrile was obviously reluctant to go out. “As a matter of fact the whole of 2020, I only went out 10 times, and five of those days were spent in Boracay last December,” she says.
When the restrictions eased by June, however, she relented to having her hair and makeup done, adding she wanted to help the industry and feel some sense of normalcy.
“I let my makeup artist and hairstylist come,” Ponce Enrile says. “Anyway, I had no mask. I had my makeup and hair done and that’s was it.”
That evening, she says that her throat started to hurt, and she immediately locked herself in the room. Four days later, her hairstylist told her that he couldn’t taste anything. Four days later, he tested positive for COVID.
“All along I treated myself as if I was COVID positive, too, but I did things differently then,” she says, adding that in this recurrence she wanted to go as natural as possible.
“I used essential oils to treat myself, I did steam inhalations thrice a day and kept Gatling with warm water and salt, I also sprayed silver colloidal on my throat as often as I could! Then had myself tested and no more COVID. I stayed in isolation for 21 days to be sure!”
This time around, Ponce Enrile says that she had no fever, but her sore throat festered. She says she also had sores on the gums and an ear ache. [Editor’s note: ear aches, and gum sores are not listed in CDC’s list of common COVID symptoms.]
Ponce Enrile claims that the third time she got infected was last October.
“I only went to Tagaytay at this point. And no, I was very strict about not really going out. Although I had very few friends come to my house and mostly one-on-one,” she shares. “I don’t know how I got it but this time I had more symptoms, fever, sore throat, loss of taste and sores in my gums again.”
She describes as being more severe, and she says that they lasted much longer, for around 10 days.
“I now took paracetamol, and an antibiotic bit still did what I did previously, and did breathing exercises,” she says. “I just basically listened to my body and took things real slow. I just noticed that I tore easily! Even just walking on the treadmill was very hard to do.”
Ponce Enrile says she, again, got infected recently. But she says that the symptoms she experienced where quite different.
“It started as just an itchy throat not a sore throat and my left eye was aching, my left ear was aching and I was clogged up my left nostril,” she explains. “I started having this dry throat that makes you want to clear your throat all the time.” She says she had no fever, sore throat, nor cough, but she did have a bit of phlegm. After testing positive, Ponce Enrile claims that she immediately took Ivermectin.
Ivermectin has been a point of debate in recent weeks, with clamor for its use flooding social media. Many health and regulatory organizations around the world—from WHO to the Food and Drug Administration of the Philippines to the Department of Health—all advising heavily against its wide purchase and application and limiting its use in clinical trials. Even Merck, the drug’s manufacturer, warns against this.
“We can debate all we want but having had the chance to take it and seeing how it has affected me in a positive way, I am all for it being used by anyone to treat Covid-19,” she points out. “We allow chemotherapy to exist and we know what that does to the bodies of the patients that go through it doesn’t that kill good as well as bad cells? Yet, it’s approved for use. There are so many drugs that are out there being marketed and used to treat other diseases that bring harm to us humans yet it is allowed.”
Ponce Enrile says she took the drug for five days straight. She says she partnered it with Quercetin, Vitamin C 3000, Vitamin D3 5000, Zinc, Magnesium Citrate, and Vitamin B Complex. She also says sprayed her throat and gargled with betadine solution.
“At night time I took Melatonin 5 to 20 mgs. I also took Herbycin for my throat and cough. 15 ml every 4 hrs. until my symptoms disappeared,” she says. “I drank 1.5 liters water every day and I got used to doing so. I’ve been eating well. This time, I never lost my sense of smell nor taste.”
Faith and sharing
How does one deal with being infected by the virus? “First and foremost—pray! And thank the Lord for the life He has given you,” Ponce Enrile advises. “And help others with the knowledge you have received from your experience.”
She says we all need to be there for each other as this is not a time to be greedy. It is a time to share, care, and help.
“I say have no fear for the Lord Our God is always with you. However, being sensible please wear your masks and stay safe distances apart and follow the rules,” Ponce Enrile recommends. “And then leave everything else to the Lord.”