Nature is doing a hard reset. And it’s accomplishing this with a tiny, deadly virus.
The coronavirus pandemic has spread to more than 150 countries and has claimed nearly 9,000 lives, with more than 220,000 confirmed cases worldwide. When I look at those numbers, I just pray that our cases and deaths can remain at the fairly low levels where they are today.
It has taken an imperceptible virus to remind us that we should spend our time on earth with love and compassion. Unlike humans, COVID-19 does not discriminate or heed privilege, and is therefore, like other tragedies, the humbling equalizer in this unequal world.
The virus is spreading with abandon in all directions. When it subsides, COVID-19 will offer multiple lessons. One of these lessons should be to create a more accessible, universal health-care system that is beneficial to all. We are at a point where the health of each one of us, irrespective of religion, profession or economic standing, depends on the others’ willingness to commit. We are being put to the test, and I pray that kindness and empathy win.
The little things
Amid the bad news, there are still some wonderful things happening around the world. We’ve all seen how dolphins have returned to the Venetian canals, but even here, the skies are clearer, we can hear birds chirping, and it is suddenly just a bit cooler than normal. That we are paying attention to the little things might just be the best thing to come out of the virus.
But there are also so many great acts of kindness and generosity. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is near and dear to my heart because it is an organization I know well. Through my soul sister Vina Francisco, their human resources specialist, I know about their various projects all over Asia and the Pacific. I even joined her at ADB’s annual meeting in Fiji last year, and I am keen to attend more annual meetings in the future. I learned a lot in Fiji and was inspired to follow through on the meeting’s theme by protecting 25 reefs in the Philippines as my advocacy for my 25th wedding anniversary.
In these globally trying times, the ADB is at the forefront once again in providing assistance to the region. In response to the health emergency in the Philippines, ADB fast-tracked a $3-million grant to help the government buy emergency medical supplies and deliver much-needed healthcare services.
In the 54 years that the ADB has been headquartered in the Philippines, it has been a key contributor to development in the Philippines through loans, grants and capacity building. Supertyphoon “Yolanda,” the Marawi conflict and the Taal eruption are still ingrained in my mind, and I know ADB was right there. A few days ago, ADB pledged a total of $6.5 billion to finance emergency health action in Asia and the Pacific.
Meanwhile, the ADB headquarters in Manila is closed but hardworking ADB staff are working from home and ensuring that operations don’t skip a beat now more than ever. I am looking forward to recovering from this crisis and visiting the ADB headquarters again.
In our own private sector, many have extended much support to their employees and the frontliners helping combat the outbreak. The Ayala Group set the tone with their massive P2.4-billion announcement in various support actions, to employees and lessees.
The SM Group has allocated P100 million to help government hospitals deal with the outbreak. Steven Tan, SM Supermalls president, told me that they will waive rental charges for those affected and unable to operate during this period.
The Department of Trade and Industry was so pleased with the number of companies that quickly jumped up that they issued a memorandum to President Duterte praising the initial nine, including the Aboitiz Group, Asian Terminals/Solaire, JG Summit Group, Jollibee Group, Lucio Tan Group, Manuel V. Pangilinan Group and SMC Group.
Not to be left behind, the Udenna Group announced that they, too, will maintain the salaries and benefits of all their employees for the duration of the quarantine, plus advance employees’ 13th month pay and yearend bonuses.
Also, the Udenna Foundation, in cooperation with Myongji Hospital, donated 1,000 COVID-19 diagnostic kits to the Department of Health. Dennis Uy, Udenna Foundation chair, also announced that their Wendy’s and Conti’s Bakeshop have been sending food packs to around seven medical institutions, health and community workers, and Philippine National Police officers.
On an individual basis, Sen. Manny Pacquiao, through his foundation and in partnership with Jack Ma Foundation, provided 50,000 test kits to combat COVID-19 in the country. The boxing champ senator also distributed 700,000 face masks to the soldiers and frontliners on duty. We cannot all do such massive and impressive donations, but even at our individual levels, we can all help. My Zumba group of Zbabes friends has been donating food and supplies to many areas in need. Our Assumption HS ’81 Foundation has supported the research on developing cheaper test kits.
Cleaning the air
With the emergence of new COVID-19, H1N1, SARS, HFMD, and other viruses and sicknesses that are as harmful to our health, we really should clean the air we breathe inside our homes. When I had my house done, we didn’t even need to leave the house because BactaKleen is plant-based and nontoxic.
Owner Hazel Go shared with me the other products of their company, like BactaKleen Ultra Mist that kills bacteria and fungus, Odour Killer that effectively kills bacteria and mildew that cause foul odors, Germ Buster for easy sanitizing, and Bactasheild Basic for all spaces.
Since all Bactakleen products are made with botanical extracts, the products are safe for every member of the family, expectant moms, babies, kids, plants and even your pets.
We are mortal and fragile. Our humanity is under attack and there is no time for greed, selfishness, pride or fear. We must use this terrible crisis to relearn the values to live by like humility, kindness, service and generosity. We cannot take people or things or our health or our planet for granted.