" Let’s all thank the Lord for his protection and guidance."
I cannot start this column, as the year 2020 is about to end, without commending the many unsung heroes – the health workers, the nurses and the doctors and all the frontliners. They faced, and continue to face, risks of being exposed to the virus.
Santa Banana, to me they are the “Persons of the Year” to whom we owe so much. So many nurses and doctors have died in the line of duty. They make the nation proud, and their memories are forever engraved in our hearts.
As we end the year, we should count blessings from God since the pandemic that has ravaged the world would have been worse off had not the Duterte government made the proper responses to minimize the impact of COVID-19.
The worst hit have been the poor. Joblessness worsened. Hunger became widespread. People relied on what relief the government could give them. My gulay, in my 70 years as a journalist, I have never seen the national economy contract by as much as 16.9 percent!
Worst hit as a result are the hospitality industry, national tourism, the entertainment industry, transportation, especially the jeepney and bus drivers, who we now see begging on the streets. Some factories and restaurants have had to close, particularly the small and medium-sized ones. The airline industry had to cancel flights, and hundreds of thousands of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) had to be repatriated.
Santa Banana, I saw the impact of almost four years of Japanese occupancy from 1942 to 1945, but, to me, it was nothing compared to what the COVID-19 pandemic has done to the country.
What made everything worse was the many super-typhoons that hit the country, causing floods and landslides, loss of lives and devastation in infrastructure and agriculture.
Then, my gulay, came all the scandals like PhilHealth, pastillas and many other instances of graft and corruption.
Just how the government can help the hundreds of thousands of OFW is a problem. Fortunately, Bayanihan 1 and 2 have been enacted by Congress, giving subsidy and relief to the jobless and the poor. But the government cannot subsidize the entire country with money it can hardly afford.
There may now be a light at the end of the tunnel with so many vaccine brands being available to the country. But will these vaccines spell the end of the COVID-19 pandemic? Even now, we worry about a new strain, my gulay!
Just as I am writing this column, health experts and researchers foresee the surge of the virus after the holidays because of the many partying among Filipinos, the reunions, shopping at the malls that pave the way for so many violations of health protocols and restrictions, especially on wearing masks, face shields, washing of hands and social distancing. Will this mean lockdowns and stricter community quarantines? Will our life ever become normal again?
Then again, what would “normal” be like after this?
Before I end this column, I must say that President Duterte and the Inter-Agency Task Force are doing their best. Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia have found out that 92 percent of those surveyed trust and are satisfied with the President. This has never happened before to any president.
This is why I say we should count our blessings because all of these could have been much worse. We can only pray and hope that God will make everything much easier for all of us this coming year of 2021.
At this point in time, let’s just hope and pray that the new strain that hit the United Kingdom would never reach the Philippines.
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A survey of the incumbent Metro Manila mayors had shown that Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte ranked no.1 among all Metro Manila mayors. I can believe that since records showed her performance is remarkable. I may just add that her honesty and integrity are beyond question.
It’s lamentable, however, that Makati Mayor Abigail Binay was not in the first five. In my book, Mayor Abby is a performer. I have always ranked her among the first five in performance.
The projects of Mayor Abby make her outstanding. The first is her subway train project which will interconnect with the metropolitan subway. This project could well be her legacy. Another project of Mayor Binay is the “columbarium” where a cemetery of Makati will be transformed into a columbarium for all residents of Makati.
Mayor Abby continues with the long tradition of the Binays in granting extra privileges to the city’s senior citizens and elderlies, granting them their mid-year cash subsidy and their Christmas bonuses. My wife and I may now be longer in that list of senior citizens and elderlies since we now stay with my daughter at Merville Park subdivision, but we still consider ourselves Makatizens because we still have a house in Ecology Village.