Their new normal: ‘To keep sane, it’s important to have a grateful heart’ | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Sunset photograph by Dr. Cuanang

It has changed my life

Dr. Vicki Belo

medical director, Belo Medical Group

Dr. Vicki Belo with staff and husband Dr. Hayden Kho (far end) in file photo: “Remember to be kind always”
Dr. Hayden Kho: The real teacher

I’m trying to see the “new normal” as exciting and positive. Let me describe how it has changed my life for the better.

Scarlet, Hayden and I have become closer than ever. Those three months of enhanced community quarantine could either make or break a relationship. We thank God that in our case, we made it.

Although Hayden is the real teacher, I am spending more time with Scarlet. We’ve developed a pattern where it’s 30 minutes of learning and 30 minutes of play. I’m in charge of arts and crafts. So far we have baked cakes and cookies, made gourmet popcorn and tie-dyed shirts.

Hayden and I start our day with one hour of praise and worship together or individually. We talk about life and work.

For work I’ve learned how to do Zoom consultations. I love it because it’s really a one-on-one conversation with no distractions. I then make a beauty plan and then send it to my doctors in the clinics the patients go to. While they are doing the procedure, we do FaceTime so I can see if I’m getting the results I and the patient want.

Life is slower and I’m less stressed. I am so grateful that Belo Medical Group can continue to minister to people by making them happier because they are more gorgeous.

To keep sane, it’s important to have a grateful heart, to search for blessings in my life big or small, and thank our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. Remember to be kind always. Pray for our country and its leaders every single day.

Sunsets during lockdown

Dr. Joven Cuanang

neurologist, art patron, founder of Pinto Art Museum

The last sunset of June in Dr. Joven Cuanang’s Pinto Sunset Diary, June 30, 6:26 p.m.
“I really love this Rothko in the afterglow,” writes Dr. Cuanang in his Pinto Sunset Diary, July 2, 6:39 p.m.
Sunset photograph by Dr. Cuanang

Now I have more time to pursue the things in my mind that were left undone.

I had always wanted to have an organically grown vegetable patch tucked in a corner of Pinto, and influence my neighbors in the four subdivisions nearby to do the same.

We started organizing the community, and together we started our collective dream of someday having a weekend “market” of organically grown vegetables harvested from our backyards. From Pinto funds we bought fruit seedlings to be distributed to our neighborhood, and someday soon we will have our own supply of local fruits.

I continued my practice of medicine via teleconsultation and found out that I could do it without having to grapple with the traffic from Quezon City to Global and back. I continue to be a clinical teacher in neurology through long-distance learning via the internet. This gives me great satisfaction.

But most of all, I had the time to pursue my longtime dream of doing photography. I end my day by carefully documenting the sunsets from the vantage of my roof-deck, and for the last three months, I have collected pictures in a folio I call the Pinto Sunset Diary. The biggest compliment is being noticed by BenCab and Wig Tysmans, with our National Artist suggesting that we have a joint photo exhibit of sunsets after the lockdown.

I do miss traveling

Stephanie Chong

deputy manager, Hermès and Tiffany & Co

Stephanie Chong: Glad to be back in the stores

These have been the most challenging times yet, and the retail world has not been spared.

Over the past three months, we’ve learned to navigate within the digital space and continue to do so. Even though we’re accustomed to in-person interactions with our team and clients, we found new ways to adapt and work efficiently, while maintaining good team rapport and strengthening our client relationships.

On a personal note, I’ve enjoyed my time at home and have adjusted to my work-from-home routines. I do miss traveling. Back then I used to be overwhelmed by my travel schedule; now I’m looking forward to the day I get to fly again.

After over 70 days, I’m glad to be back in the stores with the team and to see familiar faces. The challenge is far from over, but we’ll continue to work together to face what’s ahead and to remind ourselves to appreciate what we’ve previously taken for granted.

Truly a ‘brave new world’

Jojie Dingcong, talent manager

Jojie Dingcong
Dingcong on the treadmill, lovingly encouraged by friends

There’s really no handbook on how to engage in the new normal. But my fave author/futurist Aldous Huxley summed up times like this perfectly: It’s truly “a brave new world.“

The age of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is actually a strange door that we are all half-blindly walking into. No one is ever certain of what’s really in the cards. Finding the cure is our lone ray of hope.

Adapting, I guess, is our best weapon, in all aspects: home life, work life and social life.

I rediscovered home cooking and creating a repertoire of dishes in our kitchen with our cook—Ilonggo fare like pancit molo, batchoy, fresh lumpia, kadyos soup, crab cakes, bagoong two ways and a host of other comfort delights. Food is my comfort and joy. I get cuter and much chubbier, lol!

I started doing daily treadmill workouts at home with plenty of loving encouragement from my dearest friends. Three-hour chats have become the norm, sharing stories about cutting our own hair, reading books I bought but never got past the book jacket. Our dinner dates have been replaced with video chats on WhatsApp and Viber.

My business meetings are all conducted via Zoom. My business as an entertainment agent/manager will take some time to fully adjust. We can’t have our actors and performers on screen with face masks and face shields. New protocols are being initiated by the television networks and movie studios. Everything looks hopeful. The advertising world is doing the same. More focus now is given to social media platforms vis-à-vis traditional media. The entertainment business is adapting and evolving.

My world is now engaged in through my fingertips—over smartphones, iPads and laptops. Technology saves the day. Just imagine if we were still in the age of rotary phones and landlines.

My new normal is still a work in progress, and with hope and prayers, I know we will survive. The irony of it all is that I feel I am somehow more connected now with my family and my friends.

My new normal is more time for myself, much less noise and real, bluer skies. Hope is my armor and my hope lives strong!

The practice of listening

Rina Go, owner of NIC’S

Rina Go: “As Auggie said, curiosity activates the mind”

There are silver linings I see from the incendiary effects of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Not counting the deaths and the reality of business survival and compromised livelihood for the marginalized, we all stand to learn something. I actually shudder when I hear anyone say, “I can’t wait for things to normalize.”

I see the benefits of work from home, less carbon emissions, and a way to ease the traffic. It is also a good time for some introspection as to why this has happened, and for us who are blessed, the question remains: “What can we do to help?”

And, yes, while Zoom is a welcome respite, conversations should lead to that responsibility. Otherwise, how much can we take?

My work from home has allowed me to pore over the numerous cookbooks of various cuisines I have been wanting to try. I surprise my kids with Korean, Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Thai, Spanish, Mexican, Balinese dishes. It has come to a point when they ask, “Mom, what’s for dinner?”

I am learning from a slightly more concentrated time with my children to refrain from the old “You should not complain” statements and shift to the practice of listening. Can you believe that? It’s actually quite difficult. And though I may have a point, I have learned that they, too, are going through their stress and pressure that have to be recognized. If my shock revolved around what to do for NIC’S to survive, they, too, need to figure out how to curb their dreams.

I only like yoga, but I see my kids following strengthening exercises on YouTube.

My older daughter Nicole is amazing in pushing and developing a stronger brand in online platforms. I would never be able to do that.

Madison surprises me with her research on courses leaning toward psychology, which she thoroughly enjoys. She tells me there are free courses in Yale, but if you want a certificate, you need to pay P5,000. What do you think?

My intermittent chats with intellectuals like Auggie Cordero only raise the fact that I have yet to appreciate films and learn to discuss the director’s style or an actor’s body of work. What happened to Polanski? Who got the rights to Kurosawa’s films? Why is no one turning down Woody Allen? What is Brando’s method acting?

As Auggie has taught me, curiosity will always activate the mind. I could get caught up reviewing world history to understand period pieces. Catching up on novels by Edith Wharton, wandering through the Gilded Age, and reading up on Bunny Mellon can really be enjoyed during this time.

My prayer time is even more focused now on gratitude. There is no place for hubris. Is it sad? Yes, but if you look hard enough, there will always be blessings to count.

Looking outward

Alice Eduardo, businesswoman in a man’s world of construction

Alice Eduardo: “Time to spring clean both physically and spiritually”

Lockdown has been a continuing exercise in looking outward, how to help those I have never met alongside continuing to take care of those close to me. It has reminded me of the very basics in life—our families, our health, our ability to help, the air we breathe. I have had a renewed appreciation for staying in and keeping to myself. This window gave me time to spring clean both spiritually and physically. Being able to review and put many personal and business files in better order has been such a recharging experience that has energized me. I feel very prepared to tackle the operational challenges brought by the new normal. It is with immense gratitude that we at Santa Elena Construction and Development Corp. have gradually resumed operations in these critical times. I have personally put in place the team’s safety protocols and strictly monitor compliance.

Translating compassion into action

Agnes Huibonhua, Consul to Gambia

Agnes Huibonhua: Continue to serve

In my new normal, I keep myself healthy by taking the proper vitamins, I work out every day, eat healthy foods, lots of fruits, and I try to get at least 15 minutes of sun every day. And most importantly I don’t forget to pray daily.

My new normal consists of regular Zoom talks with friends and family, the consular corps, foreign diplomats and business groups so we can be updated with latest developments. I also keep in touch with my host country to catch up on situations in Africa and Malaysia where the Gambian Embassy is located.

I hope as well to embrace the new normal by intensifying my sociocivic and charitable efforts because I know that many of our countrymen are in need and are experiencing hard times. Despite the restrictions on our movements and economic challenges, I am determined to show that we, as Filipinos and as international citizens, can still serve the people. Now, more than ever, my new normal is demonstrating compassion and caring and translating these into concrete actions.

But the most important way I am embracing and will continue to embrace the new normal is to really make the most of every single moment. To evaluate my priorities and spend time doing things and spending time with those that really count. My new normal is to eliminate the nonessentials and to concentrate my time, effort and mind on what really matters: Family, true friends, people and causes that need support, things that make me and those I love happy. That is my new normal.