An Open Letter to Filipinos in the Time of COVID-19

Thursday, September 24, 2020
An Open Letter to Filipinos in the Time of COVID

Seven months have passed.

Still in 2020, we yearn for some good things and events to happen. Everything that happened in the earlier months would easily wind up in a list of tragic and painful experiences. We still have another four months to see what this year has in store for us. We ask ourselves, how long will these tragedies last? When will this end?

Few months before we started 2020, we were busy finishing a bunch of tasks, attending parties and other social occasions, and performing our responsibilities in our work or in school. More importantly, we breathe in the air without the slightest worry, and enjoy the simple pleasures of life without any consequences to our health.

Suddenly, the world was overwhelmed by a disease that would leave its footprints in history. And the world was never the same again.

Filipinos’ lives changed abruptly. Our daily tasks were hampered by a series of lockdowns and community quarantines. Face masks and face shields became necessities, and social distancing became a must. These and more rules were carried out in a matter of weeks that stretched into months. Sounds simple? Unfortunately, it entails grave changes in the lives of many.

How can a pandemic steal our freedom? How can Covid-19 cripple the country and the rest of the world?

We started living in between paranoia, and battling against the illness, while juggling our commitments to keep ourselves afloat, and afford basic needs to survive. The number of lives that the pandemic claimed continued to increase, many businesses closed, many people starved, and frontliners ended up leaving their work, or worse, dying while in service. The pandemic sowed fear, anxiety, and exhaustion that led to the deterioration of mental health in many, and worsening of the living conditions of thousands of Filipinos.

Now, we feel the loss of strangers from their families and friends who died because of the pandemic. We may not know them, but we extend our sincerest condolences and sympathy. And while our economy continues to decline, we do simple gestures that promote local businesses, and foster their development.

It was almost unbearable to wake up in the morning, hearing the same news every day, bothered by the number of unemployed workers who struggle with what was left of them because companies have shut down and can no longer sustain their livelihood. On top of that, we are frustrated by the incompetence of the officials who have lost track of their priorities and responsibilities, and have turned a blind eye to the suffering of all, if not many, regular civilians.

We wish we could just put an end into everything. Perhaps, wake up from a nightmarish slumber and go back to our old normal state where we left our lives before the pandemic even began. But this, my friend, is a rude awakening. The new normal is beginning to reveal many truths: the ineptitude of our leaders, and their relentless apathy, the significance of our health that we had taken for granted many times before, and the company of the people we care about the most.

This is the time to contemplate what we have missed and what we are still losing. We have been battling the crisis and we will succeed above it. Nothing, after this, should ever be the same again.

What is there to believe that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel or a silver lining for us to hold on to? Something to grapple in the midst of our dark days and the darkest that has yet to come?

We long for the things that we used to do. We daydream for the better tomorrow - a future that is far from what we witnessed today. We imagine, after this has ended, we will restore, and we will learn. From that view afar, we can only dream. We can only hope. The country needs resiliency and it needs to deepen its faith - something to hold on to when nothing makes sense and seems clear in the present time. When our strength falters, we support one another, uplifting each other.

Before it’s too late, let’s ask ourselves, what is this story telling us?

Until then, we will continue to ask.

Written by: Claui de Guzman

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