This Pandemic is a Chance for Us to Build a Better Philippines—But are We Willing to Do the Work?

Almost every day for the past six weeks since this quarantine started—and consequently when we all realized just how real this pandemic is—I have been feeling a deep sense of dread. Like many of you. That’s a collective thing we all feel now, isn’t it? The world is bound now not just by the same experience of facing a lethal virus, but by the same feelings of dread resulting from the loss of a world we used to know.

Many people are saying that we should get used to this—the “new normal”. And while there is a nugget of truth and wisdom in that, the same feeling of dread I’ve become so familiar with now would arise every time I hear those words.

I don’t want this to be the new normal. I don’t want this to be the new world we know and live in. A world of fear, and pain, and suffering of so many people. And I know you don’t want that too.

Photo: DOTR Philippines

ALSO READ: We Asked People: “What Do You Hope Filipinos Will Learn Through This COVID Crisis?”  Here’s What They Said

Every time you look at the news you’ll see a story or two about the suffering of the common Filipino under the weight of this crisis. The plight of our tired front liners who, before this pandemic, were just another sector in the workforce. The poor who before had so little, now have nothing. Our essential workers—our farmers, our delivery guys, our grocery staff, and more like them—who are earning peanuts and have been constantly denied the benefits they deserve but are now literally the people keeping us alive. Keeping the world going. We, in our homes, are protected, but who will protect them? The people who are still out there, or are hungry, or are suffering? All because we’ve been too comfortable all this time. Too set in our ways.

And it took a virus to reveal to us the gravity of all the parts of our nation’s system that weren’t working. That never really worked.

Photo: Eunick Nobe @eunicknobe

So perhaps we shouldn’t just be accepting that this is our fate now. The New Normal. We should be refusing to just throw our hands up in the air, surrendering to the burden this crisis has thrown at our feet. After all, haven’t we all been told growing up that in any hardships we encounter in life, there are lessons to learn and take away?

So perhaps this is it—the biggest challenge that we will have to face as a nation, where lessons are buried underneath. This pandemic is presenting us with an opportunity to build a better nation, but we must be willing to do the work. A tremendous chance to remold our country, and turn what was once wrecked into something remarkable. After all, if there is anything we’ve learned from our heroes and history books, it is this—this country is worth marching into battle for.

Photo: IAHV Philippines

Let’s do it. Let’s do the work. For once maybe we can set aside our differences—political, social, and whatever the hell we’ve all been arguing about. It seems that we all easily forget: we are all fighting a common enemy. The battle is not between me and you. The battle is between us and a virus.

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