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Hope and Resilience

This is the first time for most of us to deal with a global pandemic that has changed our perception of the world.

 

Nobody thought the time will come when we should keep a distance from one another, even from our family members, to avoid the spread of this disease.

 

Amid this new era, I still believe every cloud has a silver lining.  As the government implements community lockdowns and home quarantines to contain the spread of the disease, I see people stepping up to help others. People in the frontlines sacrifice their health to honor their duties and serve. Many companies disregard profits and contribute money to national efforts aimed at flattening the curve of infection. The government is releasing billions in funds to support around 18 million low-income households for two months.

 

Several established companies donated food, disinfectants and transportation to frontliners. Others distributed food packs to poor communities, where the source of livelihood was suddenly cut. And there are those that provided shelter and food to hospital staff so they can continue to serve others.

 

These good deeds remind us that life is more important than anything else, including wealth, power and fame.  This disease does not discriminate between the rich and the poor. Even the most powerful nations feel helpless against the pandemic.  This means our best hope is our faith in God who knows everything.

 

Although we are advised to maintain distance from one another, Filipinos still are united in prayer. The new situation has taught us that safety is more vital than personal convenience. It has strengthened our faith and love for one another. It has brought us back to the safety of our homes.

 

It is too early to estimate the costs of the pandemic on the economy at this point, as the situation continues to evolve every day. This is why it is important to heed the government’s order to stay at home to stop the spread of the disease. Social distancing has suddenly become a buzzword and may continue to be a crucial strategy for several more weeks, if not months, to come.

 

I hope that the passage into law of the “Bayanihan Act” will prevent the further transmission of Covid-19 through “effective education, detection, protection and treatment.” This is possible by establishing more quarantine centers, temporary medical facilities and medical relief and aid distribution centers.

 

Some economists now believe a global recession is inevitable this year, and maybe more serious than the ones we saw during the 1997 Asian financial crisis or the 2008 global economic crisis. Amid these challenges, I believe the resilience of the Filipino people will prevail.

 

We came out much stronger from the 1997 Asian financial crisis and the 2008 global economic crisis. Even during the current Luzon-wide enhanced quarantine period, household spending remains strong, as the government ensures the continuous flow of commodities to meet the needs of families. Among the industries that continue to thrive in this period are pharmaceutical, food and telecommunication. The situation has accelerated the adoption of online jobs and work-at-home arrangements. And there are reports that air quality in Metro Manila has dramatically improved in the absence of congested road traffic.

 

While our gross domestic product may grow slower in the first quarter and the second quarter, it will eventually bounce back as the pandemic dissipates. What is important is that we should not lose hope and be prepared to cope with the challenges ahead. It is also time to reassess the capability of our country to handle future crises. We need to be more equipped and ready. We need to invest more in health care, manufacturing and housing sectors so that every Filipino family will feel safe, secure and convenient in their homes in case of another outbreak. For many businesses, these challenges should serve as opportunities for expansion.

 

The National Economic and Development Authority said once the spread of the disease is contained and it becomes safe to resume operations, an economic recovery plan should be quickly established.

 

While the situation is far from being resolved, I believe that giving up is not an option. We as a nation have survived more serious crises before, and we will emerge stronger from this one.

 

We have also learned to become kinder, which is another silver lining in this situation. It has revived our bayanihan culture as many Filipinos turned into volunteers to give this country hope.