As I See It: COVID-19: The other side of the coin

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By Elpidio R. Estioko

Much has been said about the pandemic known as the corona virus (in short COVID – 19). My friend Romy Morales, a former Philippine journalist now residing in Barrow, Alaska, wrote in FB:  “… we are fighting an invisible enemy”  known only as a virus and it brought us increasing number of deaths and growing statistics of infected individuals all over the world! People are scared, they are afraid of the future and they are hoping the pandemic will be contained, if not eradicated, so our daily life will be restored and normalized.

My son, who is working as an essential employee, called us the other day and warned us not to leave the house because authorities are pulling over people who are on the streets or wandering around as a result of California Governor Gavin Newsom’s directive for Californians to stay home. “California’s 40 million residents should stay home indefinitely and venture outside only for essential jobs, errands and some exercise,” Gov. Newsom said Thursday. California is one of 17 states in the country as of this writing with more than 167 million Americans who were urged to stay home!

This is the face of the situation: increasing number of people affected every day, deaths from moment to moment, fear, anxiety, hope, fake news, misinformation, and uncertainty! Let’s look at the other side of the coin, a flip-flop of the situation: positive things we can derive from the pandemic.

With the lockdown, in-place shelter, social distancing, and not going out of our home unless extremely necessary, most of my friends are saying there’s a lot of good things that are happening in our life, if we only pause and count them. This is the lighter side of it for a more positive and optimistic view of the situation.

This is a chance for family bonding! Most Americans, including people around the world, didn’t have the chance to mingle with their family on a daily basis during ordinary times, especially those who have double or triple jobs to earn a living. Now they have the opportunity to be with their family… looking for each other’s back. They are facing the pandemic as a family; together they are fighting an invisible enemyand surviving with a positive note.

We strengthened our faith in God! Now everybody has a chance to pray as a family: “A family that prays together stays together,” so the saying goes. Due to present uncertainty caused by the pandemic, our Almighty God, as usual, is the final recourse for us to be able to survive and battle the worsening situation. We place our trust on Him!

My friends in Southern California, the East Coast and the Midwest said they have more time now to devote in their gardens which they have been neglecting in the past. They live in beautiful and plush houses that this time, their gardens will be able to enhance more the ambiance to their homes.

My kababayans in the Philippines said they now said they become more conscious of their health, eating healthy foods they derive from their backyards/farms which are abundant in the countryside. They also have time to reflect on things they need to do and amend their ways. Through Facebook, they exchange notes and important information concerning the virus and everybody is in touch with each other. They now have more time to use this medium of communication more than ever at a time of the isolation period brought about by the invisible enemy.

They also had the time to communicate on what things to do like enrolling in trade courses to be able to gain knowledge of practical lessons in life such as in manicuring, sewing, doing a haircut, pedicure, cosmetology, and even welding. These ideas came from my friends from The Global Urdanetanians (TGU) who most of the time is thinking of their kababayans in Urdaneta.TGU just finished their very productive partnership with TESDA making aware of the Urdanetanians to avail of the trade opportunities and enrolling them in various practical courses. This was of course in coordination with TESDA Cabinet Secretary Ret. Gen. Isidro “Sid” Lapena and TGU President Yvonne San Juan-Sera.

San Juan-Sera said that TGU subsequently approved corona virus assistance to Urdaneta residents “… in this time of need. We will impart $1 K from our fund. This money will be used to buy canned goods, pasta, or whatever the people need… ” but has to postpone the distribution because people who are distributing much needed assistance are getting sick of the virus too!

The City Council of Urdaneta and department heads, together with the police force and community volunteers, led by Mayor Parayno, are distributing sacks of rice as part of the city’s relief operation dubbed as Enhanced Community Quarantine (COVID-19), to families in their respective barangays. These operations were stopped momentarily confirming that his team has gotten the virus and the mayor is very much exposed to it.

This is the message of San Juan-Sera to the TGU members: “The Mayor, being one of the advisers of TGU, has responded that this is difficult time where he implements strict quarantine and lockdown to everyone, it becomes very difficult to break this regulation. Their distribution of rice was staggered because the people supporting are now getting sick.  Our Mayor has been in the frontline to support and provide for his people disregarding his own health. Our project to help fellow Urdanetanians is shelved for now until the right time comes. Please pray for them, the front liners in the medical field, Urdaneta city government, and the people. Thank you and God bless everyone.”

In the end, Morales said: “…When will this war be over, no one knows… What is important is for everyone to stay at home, going out only when it becomes too necessary… Continue observing proper hygiene especially of always washing hands thoughrougly. Cooperate with the government and of those involved in preventing the spread of the disease and combating the same as well. This way we can protect ourselves and eventually win the war with this invisible enemy.”

(ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and a multi-awarded journalist here in the US. For feedback, comments… please email the author at estiokoelpidio@gmail.com)

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