The heroes of this pandemic have been clear from the start—the front-liners, the health-care professionals who risked their lives every single day, the essential workers who kept things running while the rest of us stayed at home. But we all have our personal pandemic heroes, too—those people who made our lives in quarantine a little happier, easier, at least more tolerable.
It could be a mom who’s been cooking delicious comfort food, a supportive boss, a helpful neighbor, a yaya who’s been a godsend, a delivery guy who went the extra mile, a teacher who deserves a shoutout, a kind friend, anyone who has brought you joy.
We asked people to tell us about their pandemic heroes and how they made a difference in their lives.
Bringing back the magic
As a professional photographer whose work has been in the live event/music industry, the pandemic hit me really hard. The first few months were okay, as I found time to rest, spent time fixing the things I wanted to fix, like thousands of photo and video files and things around the house. But as the months went by, I found myself not being that productive anymore.
I tried a lot of things—I tried to cook, to become a streamer, to become a YouTuber—but at the end of each trying day, I still felt incomplete. I spent a lot of time with my wife and that kept me going. We became closer not just as spouses, but also as best friends again in life.
But creatively, it was like I was running after something that wasn’t there.
Month after month, I felt defeated, I felt I had no purpose. And despite seeing all my equipment at home waiting to be used, I felt lost.
My wife always suggests that I do something—do workshops online, teach photography, shoot food, take family portraits of the neighbors in our village or anything that comes to her mind. I appreciated that but maybe I didn’t feel as productive because I was still hoping I’d find purpose in shooting events again. My head was in a sad place.
Early this year, my wife asked me, “Are you OK?” and I just started crying. She was so concerned because she felt like she lost me some time in the past year. So I opened up to her and admitted to her how defeated I felt. And of course, she comforted me.
I can’t believe how someone can be so understanding even if she sort of worked alone for the both of us for almost a year. I felt embarrassed. I let her down, I let myself down. But in all confidence, she told me, “I guess that’s how marriage works. One person always has to be that person to lift up the other. We’re a team.”
She reminded me how positive I was in life back when we were still dating. She reminded me that the reason she had a crush on me was because I was very hardworking. She reminded me how good I am as a photographer—she would even be impressed by my photos of a bank deposit slip, lol. She reminded me to be me.
And just like that, I shook off the bad juju vibes and went back to being the positive person I was before the pandemic. It’s all thanks to my wife’s patience and confidence in me. As cheesy as it sounds, she is the reason I was able to bring the magic back. Maxinne, my wife, is my pandemic hero. I’ll surely tell our kids this story someday. —Magic Liwanag
Next-door neighbor and confidante
For the past 10 years, I have been blessed to have my best friend Ning Tadena as my next-door neighbor. We would always visit each other and spend time together. Having her so near made me feel safe and secure because I knew she would always be there when I needed her.
This proved to be invaluable during the lockdown when everything became uncertain and we were worried about how the pandemic would affect us all. When we could not visit each other, we scheduled regular video calls or we would go out on our balcony and talk to each other from a safe distance. We would share our worries and fears and find ways to stay positive and grateful throughout this difficult time. Ning is the person I confide in and ask for advice on how to deal with all the emotions that were brought about by this sudden change in our lives.
Ning has also helped and guided countless others as a life coach and author. During the pandemic, she mounted her first online event, The Heal Summit, which brought together local and international speakers, experts, doctors, healers and teachers to share their knowledge and inspire others to have a stronger mind, empowered heart and indomitable spirit. On top of it all, she is also a loving mother and wife.
I admire Ning for her passion, kindness and love for others. I am fortunate to have her in my life and I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for our friendship. —Treena Tecson
Surprise in the stable
COVID-19 feels like it came straight from the movies. The pace of my life didn’t change much since I am practically retired, but changes in our way of living have truly been seen and felt by everyone. I’ve chosen to take this time as a learning opportunity to get to know myself more, and to appreciate everything, no matter how small or inconsequential.
We are lucky to have a farm somewhere in the south where our animals continue to thrive. There we have free range chickens and ducks, goats, six Belgian Malinois dogs, a rescued horse from Taal, and just recently, a foal that came with the mare.
The biggest surprise was not knowing that the horse rescued from Taal’s January eruption arrived in our farm already pregnant! So we woke up one morning and we found a foal in the stable. What real joy! It’s one of those moments when you feel your heart fill with warmth and you find yourself smiling for the rest of the day.
That’s on top of the endless love we feel for our favorite dogs—our six Belgian Malinois and our older mini pinscher, Lolo. They are my pandemic pals—my heroes who keep us feeling loved. —Vangge Giorgetti
I’ve been living independently since I was in my 20s but had to move back home with my parents before the lockdown started. I moved out again just last month, and I got a lot of help and love from my boyfriend JJ and friends in the form of housewarming gifts, like a French press and coffee beans from Jean, plates and bowls and jars for spices from Courtney, and plants from Joel. My friend Anne even bought me a pink rice cooker and Chelsea assembled my work desk for me! My other friends in the office Aly, Des and Mich also deserve a special mention for making our endless Zoom meetings and job orders more fun. —Kristel Ann Cruz
Message of hope
Yes, there is a person who definitely made my pandemic life tolerable. This was when people were feeling anxious, wondering how long the lockdown will be, if people were going to turn into zombies or if this was the end of times. The feeling was aggravated by so much homework and endless readings while transitioning to online blended learning.
But in May 2020, on the last day of the semester, someone in our Zoom class had a sincere message of hope for us, a person who believes that we can do it. These simple words mean so much to a person who wants to give up. I am still in law school because of lawyer Reggie Ukol. He is my pandemic hero and he deserves a shoutout. —Luke Jickain
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