The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is now a global health emergency, with 73,335 cases and 1,873 deaths around the world. Three of these cases are in the Philippines, the country where the first death outside China was recorded earlier this month.
Many Filipinos live in fear of contracting the virus and have started to deal with the situation in their own ways. Just like this guy, who didn't let the outbreak ruin the month's Valentine's festivities. Instead, he used it as a chance to jazz up a basic gift.
Twenty-two-year-old vlogger Rigel Thomas Morre from Cebu City dropped the boring flower bouquet in exchange for ones with virus prevention essentials.
"I want you guys to be safe and healthy and virus-free!" he captioned a photo of his creation on January 30.
The bouquet included supplies such as face masks, soap, alcohol, and hand sanitiser, tied together with some flowers. It cost him PHP600 (US$11.85) to put together.
It had all the elements of a viral post — weird, silly, relevant — so it was no surprise that the Facebook post made its rounds online. It now has about 1,400 reactions, 5,300 shares, and 243 comments.
“I love you forever,” one commenter even said.
It drew so much attention that Morre decided to give away bouquets to five lucky women. He personally delivered them ahead of Valentine’s Day on February 4.
VICE caught up with Morre to find out what inspired the anti-coronavirus bouquet.
VICE: So your photos have gone viral! Can you tell us more about what you did?
Rigel: So one day, I was bored and had nothing to do and since there's a virus outbreak here in the Philippines, and Valentine's Day was coming up, I decided to go into the practical side gift-giving. I made an anti-coronavirus bouquet.
How did you come up with the idea?
People were panic-buying here in the Philippines. Masks were running out and it was hard to buy even ethyl alcohol because it was already sold out in most stores. I just wanted to spread awareness in my unique, comical way.
Knowing that it's practical especially here in our country, I just bought a random bouquet and just placed bottles of ethyl alcohol, N95 and surgical masks, and anti-bacterial soaps.
Have people asked you to make anti-coronavirus bouquets for their partners too?
Yes, they have! A lot. They thought I was selling the anti-coronavirus bouquet but I was not. I was just trying to spread good vibes and awareness about the virus here in our country.
How did the five women react when they received the bouquet?
They felt really happy and I can see that they genuinely wanted to win. I'm glad I did a giveaway. That made me happy too!
How do you feel about it going viral?
It's overwhelming, up to now. I got featured on national television and I thought that was it!
What type of reactions are you receiving from people?
People found my post funny and they loved it! What I liked and did not expect at all is that my post (I think) made a new business trend here in our country. Flower shop owners were selling their own versions of an anti-coronavirus bouquet. That was something I did not expect at all. Overall, the response was very good!
Seems like you’re an expert at big romantic gestures — any tips for relationship noobs?
In my case, I have a girlfriend and when we go on dates, we just like eating out. She likes flowers too, but she prefers having quality time together and eating cheap meals rather than receiving expensive gifts.
I think the lesson here is, ask your partner what they really want and if they are not sure what they want, figure out their Love Language. You can gauge it from there.
Interview has been edited for length and clarity.