Journalism, coronavirus, and faith: A reporter’s story of surviving COVID

/ 06:00 PM September 30, 2020

Mark Fetalco reads his script as an anchor for a news program at the state-run People’s Television Network. (Photo courtesy of Mark Fetalco)

MANILA, Philippines — Mark Fetalco sat in silence in his room, waiting to hear the news that could either put his worries at rest, or trigger more anxiety in his mind.

That day, he was about to know the result of his swab test for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) through an online meeting with the contact tracing team of their company.


A few minutes later, he was told the result of his test, which immediately made tens of questions rush through his head.

“You tested positive.”


Fetalco had been used to witnessing “bad news” firsthand as a journalist, but this was undeniably the one that hit him the hardest.

Around a week after his last fieldwork on July 31, he started to have cough, then fever, then loss of smell. He has been working from home since his last physical coverage.

Suspecting he might have contracted the coronavirus, Mark went through a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction test on August 14, through the help of his employer, state-run People’s Television Network (PTV4). His test result was out three days after.

His family members who were with him in their house also showed symptoms of COVID-19 but fortunately, they all tested negative.

As a reporter who covers the beat in the health sector, Fetalco knew how different the dangers of this illness are compared to his previous coverages during disasters and calamities.

“Pero part na rin naman ng trabaho natin ‘yon as journalists. Naisip ko na lang, inilagay ako ni Lord dito para malaman ng tao ‘yung kailangan nila malaman about COVID-19, so nagpaka-selfless na rin talaga ako noon,” he said in an interview with

(But that is part of our jobs as journalists. I just thought that God put me in this place so that the people will know what they should know about COVID-19. So I just tried to be selfless that time.)


Mark Fetalco reporting live. (Screengrab from PTV4)

It wasn’t long when, like most COVID-19 patients, he started to ask this question: “Why me?”

But then, he realized no one is really exempted from being sickened by this invisible enemy.

And as he underwent isolation, fear and doubts tried to creep in.

“Parang mararamdaman mo talaga na nashe-shake ‘yung faith mo (It felt like my faith was being shaken),” Fetalco narrated.

Ironically, the more his faith was shaken, the more it became firm.

In fact, he said it was through this experience that his faith was “awakened” and he longed to lean more to God, whom he knew could give him strength during the hard times.

After all, he knew that his fight against COVID-19 is not his.

“‘Yung battle ko noon, battle ni God ‘yun, hindi sa akin. So siya ang bahala. Never naman natalo si God sa battle. Everytime na dumadaan tayo sa battle, pinapanalo niya,” he said.

(That battle was God’s and not mine. So he will take care of me. He never lost any battle. Everytime we go through battles, He always wins it.)

Mark Fetalco takes a selfie after undergoing a swab test at the SM Mall of Asia Arena last August 14. (Photo courtesy of Mark Fetalco)

Mark celebrated his 25th birthday on September 6, when he was still under quarantine. He received his negative test for COVID-19 on September 17.

When he has not healed yet from the illness, he found comfort from a bible verse, Isaiah 41:10, which he hopes would also reach other patients still suffering from COVID-19.

The New International Version of the verse reads:

“So do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”


For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: coronavirus Philippines, COVID fight, COVID-19, health crisis, Mark Fetalco, pandemic
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.

© Copyright 1997-2020 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.