As of today, the world already has more than 9 million people infected by COVID-19, with 471,754 deaths and 4,513,310 recovered. In the Philippines, we have reached 30,682 cases, with 1,177 deaths and 8,143 recovered. This is genuinely a health crisis we are facing, and it seems it has affected all aspects of our lives: economically, politically, psycho-emotionally, socially, culturally, and spiritually.
First of all, the initial reaction to COVID-19 was FEAR! There was a threat to life, and the immediate response was to protect ourselves, to withdraw away from the danger. Nobody was prepared to face this disease that swiftly became a pandemic. Not even the best doctors and health experts in our country. Uncertainties about the coronavirus caused both medical and financial anxieties. A lot of people were scared and normally, out of fear, decided irrationally. Although there was a willingness to continue risking with usual work and activities, the external lockdown order of the government prevented the movement of peoples.
As an effect, for me, who is a church worker, schedules were canceled – our usual activities like meetings, evaluation, reflection sessions, processing, seminar-workshops, mission activities – were all suspended. What was painful was the cancellation of masses in the churches, most notably the Holy Week activities. I was down and frustrated because we already had some “grand plans” for that religious week.
On the other hand, I felt so blessed to have been locked down in my home place. I thought the pandemic was a “blessing in disguise” to experience the much-needed rest and interaction with my family. It was my first time to have spent the whole month with my elderly mother and my siblings. I had the luxury of building up myself and my family. I had the opportunity to conduct values education to my nephews, nieces, and grandchildren. I was doing a mission to my own family.
Most of my friends shared that they were afraid of COVID-19, but were silently happy for the chance to be with their families during the lockdown. There were mixed feelings of fear being quarantined, but at the same time, grateful for the rest and quality time with family. Some shared that they missed the usual activities of the various ministries. But, we realized that the “new normal” would be challenging us to explore new ways of doing mission and new ministries.
That lasted for more than a month… until the “no work no pay” scheme in most workplaces and establishments, including the church. Some felt hurt and down-hearted. It created a sense of insecurity. Some expressed that they thought being “left behind or abandoned” by their employers. In smaller institutions, the workers were trying to understand the financial situation of their companies, but they said that their only source of support and hope come from their employers. In this time of the pandemic, they had high expectations that their bosses would stay by their side.
Worldwide, we have heard that most economies were at risk, where more than 436 million enterprises faced high risks of severe disruption. The Philippines was one of the first countries to shut financial markets over the virus. The suspension surely hurt those who rely on trading for an income. According to experts, this COVID-19 crisis would undoubtedly hurt the Philippine economy with an estimate of 2.2PhP trillion losses this year, while millions of workers lose their jobs and income.
COVID-19 has slowly pulled down the Philippine economy. I hope and pray that our economic leaders are enlightened on the right steps to take to be able to overcome the crisis that we are facing. As much as we need the economy to prosper, I think that we also need to think of our countrymen who are having a hard time coping up with their day to day living.