We continue our series on personal pandemic heroes with stories about friends, sisters, even a stranger met through the sale of a used car, who have made a positive impact on other people’s lives during these challenging times.
Video calls with my family made a difference. The amount of time may not be much, but the moments were priceless to me. It didn’t matter what we discussed; just knowing that they were out there gave me comfort. —Kooky Tuason
Patience and tolerance
Going through two trimesters of pregnancy and soon, the homestretch, is not an easy task. Fear and uncertainty creeps in, and I end up feeling like a first-time mom all over again.
Everyday battles of morning sickness, mood swings, hormones and anxiety exacerbated by the lockdown situation is a frustrating experience.
This was all cast aside by my husband Ryan. His heroic acts were his patience and tolerance.
He would always respond to my quirks with kindness and understanding. He took up my responsibilities around the house and to our kids. Not only did he assume my household chores, but he also took care of my emotional state by making me feel calm, special and well taken care of.
I appreciate my husband for being supportive and encouraging. He is my pandemic hero. —Terry Tantoco Dy
Maiqui and Charcoal
I am just happy to see my little sister Maiqui and my dog daughter Charcoal after a week of work, work, work.
Maiqui gives me joy whenever I see her—it makes me happy to see that she’s growing up to be an intelligent, kind and funny woman.
Charcoal, on the other hand, just gives me all the attention and energy I need. —Nyko Condenuevo Rodriguez
Early in the lockdown, I got sick. It was strange because it was a low-grade fever for 13 days with no other symptoms. But we were on a lockdown and I couldn’t get tested, as testing was very limited.
I was treated by our doctor as if I had COVID, and our entire household was on lockdown. I live in Salcedo Village, and I have a group of mommy friends here. Our children go to the same school.
They were very instrumental in helping me get the medicine I needed, food for my family and batteries for my thermometer when it died out (I was checking my temperature hourly). Any time I needed something, someone would volunteer to secure it for me; either they would get it or they would get their husbands to do it and deliver to me.
To this day, a year after the lockdown, we still buy fruits, rice or vegetables for one another. We definitely share our suppliers and recipes! To Michelle Ong, Maan Sicam, Tess Talusan and Charina Mendoza—you are my heroes. Thank you for being there when I needed the help and for continuing to be there when I need an onion or even a cup of flour. —Bess Howe
Sister, teacher, hero
My pandemic hero is my sister, Icka Santos. She is a teacher and she has been my hero for the longest time.
When lockdown was announced in March last year and all the classes shifted online, she eased my worries by handling all the school requirements of my children.
Icka turned our living room into a makeshift classroom and monitored all their school activities. She continued tutoring them amid her own adjustment in online teaching. Icka knew I needed help because I was a medical front-liner in a very novel situation. She was aware that there is a possibility for me not being able to go home after a call from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine or other hospitals.
During the start of the enhanced community quarantine, she started Letter of Love Ph as a way to support the health-care workers emotionally. My med friends are also her friends.
Icka also started free online classes for preschoolers called Morning Circle Time with Teacher Icka to help parents and their kids adjust to the “new normal.” Many parents messaged her to tell her that it made shifting to online school easier when the academic year started in August/September 2020.
Late last year, she went to my room in the middle of the night and told me of her growing anxiety. I told her that it’s all right to feel that way, as we all can’t see the end of the road. I tried my best to ease her mind as much as she is still making things easier for me. It was such a relief for her, I think, when she learned I received my first dose of the vaccine.
This is my sister, Icka, an aunt, a teacher, my support, my hero. Even if I say thank you a million times, it will never be enough. —Dr. Twinkle Santos
My pandemic hero is a divorced man, and he is my hero because he made me see that it was better to be single again than to stay in a relationship where I don’t feel alive and connected.
I met Mans because I was forced to buy a secondhand vehicle when public transportation was too risky. Mans had just come back from the United States where he worked for two decades. After his divorce from his wife of 10 years, he left his stable job in the United States and started a business of selling used cars here in the Philippines.
We were both graduates of the University of the Philippines and because of that, I knew that we had a commonality in thinking, shared values and ideals.
When I found out that he was the one who filed for divorce from his wife, and that it wasn’t because of a third party but from foresight that their future together was doomed, I felt that his story was mirroring mine. I was in a five-year relationship with Ben, a health-care professional. During the pandemic, I felt that Ben was unnecessarily burdening our relationship with his constant worries and anxieties. I realized that this has been a trend in our relationship, that Ben always expected me to be the stronger person, and that I would always be there to ease his troubles.
But the pandemic happened, and it made me question the foundation of my relationship with Ben. In these trying times, it is not selfishness to want freedom from toxicity, but basic self-care. With daily life getting harder and heavier to bear, it made me question whether there were enough reasons to stay.
My pandemic hero, Mans, strengthened my resolve to be free again and to experience the joys of singlehood. To have this time to know myself better, to be more connected, and be attuned to my needs and desires. To not tie up my value with the person I’m in a relationship with. To be independent, and to finally accept that I am capable of having a loving and healthy relationship with myself, one which I usually seek in romantic relationships. That I am a strong woman and that I don’t need to be pressured into settling just to fit in with societal demands.
Truly, the pandemic brought drastic changes in our lifestyle, and in my case, it made me want to have a happier future, even though, in the process, I had to break out of a relationship heading for marriage. Never mind that I am alone in facing the challenges of this pandemic; it is in these difficult times that I realize that I value my happiness and freedom more. —Rebecca (not her real name)