A Shift in Values Thanks to the Corona Virus Pandemic

26.04.2020 - Manila, Philippines - Karina Lagdameo-Santillan

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A Shift in Values Thanks to the Corona Virus Pandemic
Post shared on Facebook. Headline reads: Farmers leave vegetables and fruits for street children in Malabon

Next year I don’t want to hear anything about the ABS-CBN ball, FAMAS awards and those expensive glittery parties and events. I don’t want to see a single actor, actress, celebrity, sports star or politician on any red carpet trying to push their BS political agenda on us all!

 Next year I want to see nurses, doctors, military, first responders (police, EMS, fire), registrars, triage, phlebotomists, PT, OT, RT, social workers, security guards, caregivers, support workers, shop workers, DSNY, truck drivers, garbage collectors, pharmacists, grocery workers, delivery workers, garbage collectors, bank workers, teachers, Church front-line volunteers…all having free red carpet parties with awards and expensive goodie bags.

 I want to see those who had fallen during the undertaking of their duties for the service of the people during this pandemic to be given the highest honor and recognition possible.

 We need to honor the real heroes in our society for a change!

If this doesn’t happen it will be the biggest injustice ever!

Thank you…All of you who are working hard and risking your very lives to keep everyone safe and allow us to have food on our table!

 Posts such as this one has been circulating, being copied and pasted, shared in Philippine Social Media since the start of strict quarantine measures to contain the spread of the corona virus.

Posts thanking doctors and health workers for going to work, day in day out even without adequate protective clothing to shield them from getting infected. Posts paying homage to medical professionals who have succumbed to the virus during the line of duty. Stories of janitors faithfully disinfecting clinics, day in day out and new health workers responding to call to “volunteer their services despite the low pay.

A hundred and one ways to help donate food and relief goods for the urban poor who live from day to day and are now unable to go to work due to the lockdown. Numerous calls for donations and masks, disinfectants and PPEs for hospitals and facilities tending to the sick, answered in different creative ways, with fashion designers marshaling their resources to design and sew protective clothing, and friends coming together to make protective gear from plastic bottles. On the internet, a hundred and one donation drives were shared and responded to. From big businesses, church groups and NGOs to small groups of friends, the Filipino bayanihan spirit (communal solidarity) is once again alive and well, helping to mitigate the human effect of the corona virus.

One’s health and well-being and those of others, adequate food, friends and family, the basic things that nourish life, and which we have taken for granted in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, is resurfacing.

News of farmers leaving some of their produce beside some homeless children sleeping on the streets go viral. Braving checkpoints to deliver much needed produce from the provinces to the city, or simply giving them away instead of rotting by the countryside.

All of a sudden, we realize just how important our janitors are in keeping public areas like supermarkets, pharmacies, hospitals and clinics clean. The garbage collectors, the clerks manning check-out counters, truck drivers, people who have taken for granted, their faces and services mostly unseen, finally being given due credit.

Public outcry against top level politicians who use their positions to be first in line to get themselves and their families tested, depriving others who urgently need it more. Public praise for the few city mayors and local government officials who are truly doing their best to respond to their communities’ needs in spite of government red tape. More and more citizens and netizens take to social media to make their voices heard on the burning issues and urgent needs raised by this crisis which, for once, is a deeply shared one, irregardless of class and personal circumstance. And instead of being easily brushed aside like before, we see the people in power now pushed to take notice and take action.

Staying home to stay safe, people are re-experiencing what’s truly important in their lives. Working from home with more time to spend with family like never before. Connecting with friends even if virtually instead of physically to share news, concerns and anxieties. Groups on social media have mushroomed to track news and developments that affect everyone in their respective barangays (communities), trade goods and services needed due to the quarantine.

And, at bottom, there is time to reflect on deeper questions that affect life, personally and socially. This crisis is bringing to the fore, real questions about our priorities in life and showing us that the personal is deeply entwined with the social.

On a social level, more and more people are questioning the conditions under which most of us live in today.

Why is our health system sorely unequipped to respond to epidemics which we know has plagued humanity throughout history?

Why is the social system so fragile that a virus, which isn’t even living entity, can wreak so much havoc on a global scale and at such speed?

Just like that, people have lost their jobs or can’t go out to make a daily living. Just like that, there is panic over the food supply. Just like that, hospitals aren’t a safe place to go to if you get sick. Or just like that, your loved one could get sick, die and disappear without a proper funeral and closure.

Why is the social order such that the basic needs of the majority for a decent life are hardly met while a few enjoy privileges over and above all?

Questions such as which is more important, the health of the people or the economy of the country gives rise to the people versus profit dilemma as governments grapple with a way to balance both life and livelihood.

The instability of the times is giving rise to anxieties about the future Many are saying that going back to the old normal will no longer be possible and a new normal, the outlines of which are not yet clearly etched, is what is in store.

It’s time to reflect on the kind of future we want for ourselves and our loved ones. And to reflect on what we can do, no matter how small, to make that future possible.

One thing though is clear. That which is truly precious and valuable has become clear… at bottom, it’s people who matter. Our collective experience of how valuable the contribution of each person is to our lives during this time of Co-vid 19, can serve as the foundation for that future.

A new normal,one which truly cares for human needs, needs that everyone on the planet shares, could  and should very well be the basis of a future that we could all build.

Footnotes: ABC CBN, FAMAS are red carpet events honoring actors and celebrities in the Philippines, they are much publicized and awaited by the general public.

Bayanihan is a Filipino custom which comes from the word “bayan” which refers to the spirit of communal solidarity, working together and cooperation towards a goal. Helping out a kababayan (fellow Filipino) in need is so ingrained that it spontaneously arises during times of disaster

 

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