opinion

COVID-19 by the number and by the letter

July 15, 2021

We sadly learned that fatalities arising from COVID-19  has just breached  the “tragic milestone” of 4 million mark.  Wikipedia, quoting WHO,  reports that the United States led with 606K, closely followed by Brazil, 529k  and India, 405K.       Other countries which over 100,000 deaths  included the following:  Russia (138K), United Kingdom (128K), Italy (128K) France (111K), and  Colombia (111K).      Countries below 100K but over 50K  included: Poland (75K), South Africa (63K),  Indonesia (62K) and  Ukraine (54K).      Surprisingly, China where COVID-19 was first reported  had only 4,636 fatalities, which is even lower than the Philippines’ 25,196. Does that mean that the Chinese Sinovac is much better than other vaccines? Or  is China  fudging its figures?      Japan had 14,848. Still Japan’s  Prime Suga has declared a state of COVID-19 emergency in Tokyo.  Australia had 910. But Sydney is now implementing the following health measures. 1) Outdoor public gatherings limited to 2 people.  2) People must stay within 10 kilometers of home.  3) Browsing in shops is prohibited. 4) Only one person per household per day may leave the home for shopping. 5) Funerals limited to 10 people.       Vietnam had only 102 fatalities but is not taking any chances. The government has postponed the Vietnam SEA Games to 2022 due to Covid-19 woes.        Singapore and Brunei reported the lowest fatalities with 36 and 3, respectively.       While the vaccine supplies lasted, the City of  Manila  went all out on a vaccination  splurge, jabbing 125,598 in 3 days. Manila registered its highest  single day vaccination at 43,011.  But I guess that will have to slow down. Metro Manila LGUs are suspending for two weeks  the vaccination of first-timers due to the delayed arrival of new supplies.       First it was Alpha ( detected in the UK), followed by Beta (detected in South Africa)  then Gamma (detected in Brazil).  And now, Delta (detected in India).  These Greek letters are used by scientists  to designate the different  variants of COVID-19.  Some variants are designated either as  Variants of Interest  or Variants of Concern. These variants supposedly will respond differently to the  standard medication.  Some variants are deadlier than others. What should concern us most is how to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible. Let us not be choosy about the vaccine brand. Getting vaccinated is still better than having no vaccination at all. Meanwhile, whether vaccinated or not, we should always observe proper   health protocols – wearing face mask and face shields, physical distancing  and frequent and proper washing of hands.  Ayala Young Leaders Congress      Eighty-four young leaders from colleges and universities all over the country gathered for the first-ever virtual Ayala Young Leaders Congress (AYLC) on July 3.       AYLC was launched in 1998 as the Ayala group’s flagship youth development program to nurture commitment, foster patriotism and idealism,  and encourage faithful stewardship among young Filipinos.  The annual leadership summit , which is now on its 23rd year, will be held online over the next five weeks.       Explained AYLC Program Director and Ayala Chief HR Officer John Philip Orbeta: “We decided that now, more than ever, the formation of servant leaders is both relevant and compelling.” Continuing the AYLC  amidst the pandemic , he explained, entailed new approaches  to the program design from nominations to selection to execution  to “make sure that the online AYLC has all the elements that make the Congress a life-changing experience”.      “We have themed this first-ever online AYLC as “Leaders Reimagining Hope”. We believe that all of you in this AYLC cohort are certainly capable of bringing hope to others especially during this difficult and challenging time,” said Ayala President and CEO Fernando Zobel de Ayala in welcoming this year’s delegates. “We trust that you will take advantage of this unique opportunity to learn and connect with  others and find ways to magnify your positive impact.”      “As young people, there are so many things that we see in our society that we want to change,” said Pasig Mayor Victor Ma. Regis “Vico” Sotto. Sotto, 32,  spoke of his journey in public service and shared his thoughts on preparing one’s self for leadership in whatever field , including clarifying intentions, building competency through knowledge and experience, knowing and staying true to one’s purpose, and creating a network of people with aligned values and commitment. Kiwanis Club of Muntinlupa Rizal      The Kiwanis Club of Muntinlupa Rizal (KCMR), my home club, recently unveiled a commemorative marker at the Tunasan Elementary School, one of the club’s adopted schools.       Tunasan ES, under Principal Jennifer S. Joson, has been the recipient of 150 Globe pre-paid wifi gadgets to assist students in their online learning. The milestone event was witnessed by Kiwanis Philippine Luzon District Governor  Mauro M. Cocjin, Kiwanis 4-D Lt. Governor Flordeliza “Baby” Ruiz, and KCMR officers and members led by President Larry Molera, President-Designate Richard Ordoñez, Past District Governor Boy Valencia, Director Myra Santos, Past Presidents Dante Corpuz, Greg Banlasan, Randy Garcia,  Hector Manalo and Past Lt. Governor Toting Bunye.        Note: You may wish to share the foregoing article via Facebook, Twitter or Linked-in.

READ MORE
Made possible : The amazing ASEC Ameenah Fajardo’s life of service

June 18, 2021

To end the second longest war in the world – the Mindanao war – has been described before as “mission impossible.”  And why not? That war began in the 16th century when the Indigenous Peoples of Mindanao particularly the Moslems waged a revolution against the Spanish Colonial rule when the Spaniards “discovered” the Philippines and forcibly colonized the archipelago through sword and cross except the “Bangsa Moro.” The struggle to free the Bangsa Moro from colonial rule continued during the American Occupation and the brave Moros battled the American Colonizers with their “bolos” in suicidal attacks, the reason why the Americans invented a more powerful weapon -the 45 caliber- because the 38-caliber then could not stop a determined Moro warrior to kill one or two soldiers before the suicidal attacker succumb to death. No way would the Indigenous Peoples of Mindanao succumb to the power of the colonizers then, the amazing reason why Mindanao has been described as the “land of the brave and the free.”      After the foreign colonizers left, a new breed of colonizers came – the Trans-National Corporations - that have transformed some two hundred thousands of hectares in Mindanao – the choicest of land – into massive plantations to supply the consumerist needs of the people in advanced  countries while the Philippines cannot even produce basic staples like rice and milk for its hungry people. Where have all the forest and mineral gone, the richest in the world? Gone to loggers and miners every one!       Thus, the struggle of liberation continued initiated in the 70s by no less than Nur Missuari, a brilliant UP professor then who formed the Moro National Liberation Front.  The armed struggle of liberation broadened in the late 20th century with the formation of the  Moro Islamic Liberation Front led, among others, by Abdullah Macapaar known as Kumander Bravo who is now an honorable Member of the Parliament of the Bangsa Moro Autonomous Region of Mindanao.       Will the struggle of liberation through protracted war continue without let-up in this rich but poverty stricken island of Mindanao? NOT ANYMORE because of the following analysis. Poverty. Social Injustice. Gross inequities. Political patronage. These are the roots of the war in Mindanao that must be uprooted not through bloodshed but by the strength of the human spirit in cooperation, love and service to one another irrespective of creed, race, class, gender, ideology and color. No less than Pope Francis said that “it bids us all to break the bonds of social injustice and oppression that give rise to glaring and scandalous inequities.” How do we then break these bonds of social injustice and oppression?  That is what  Asec Amenaah Fajardo has been doing all these years to uproot the root causes of the Mindanao War!        Prior to becoming an Assistant Secretary, Ameenah A. Fajardo – a chemical engineer and part of the academe by profession – she has managed to gather extensive experience both in government and business sectors.       Assistant Secretary Fajardo was once a Chief of Staff at the House of Representatives. She also became an Executive Assistant to the Rizal Provincial Government, where she served as the head of the livelihood activities of the Ynares Eco System (YES). She is also responsible for the “Fidel Iodized Salt for the Barangay Health Workers (BHW) Livelihood Program,” which has been throughout the entire country.       She has been actively participating and a volunteer for Disaster Rescue Programs in coordination with Foreign Investors and counterparts, notably for Tropical Storms Ondoy and Yolanda. Recently, their team conducted a medical mission in Marawi.      Asec. Fajardo is being lauded with her accomplishments; she received the Gintong Ina Award for Socio-Economic Community Service in 2001 and the Alay Sa Pamilya Award in 2003, for her dedication to public service pertaining to Livelihood Training and Programs for the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) whereby, she has successfully launched and joined Trade Fairs for our OFW Sector in coordination with different Governmental Offices. In 2021, Asec. Fajardo was recognized by the Guardians Magistrate Advocation’s for Democracy International Inc. (GMADII) and the LuzViMinda International Foundation as Outstanding Public Servant in the Community, Outstanding Women of the Year, and Outstanding Mother of the Year.      Currently, as the Assistant Secretary of DTI, she handles Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW),  Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), the National Anti-Poverty Commission, Human Development and Poverty Reduction Cabinet Cluster, Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs, Comprehensive Social Benefits Program for the Wounded in Action – Killed in Action (WIA-KIA) AFP-PNP Personnel, Task Force Balik Loob of DND for Former Rebels, and Strike Team for Indigenous Peoples. In addition, Asec. Fajardo joined DTI Undersecretary for Special Concerns Abdulgani Macatoman at the launching of DTI’s Waste Processing Livelihood in Butig, Lanao del Sur and at the launching of Mobile Rice Mill project at Camp Bilal, Munai, Lanao Del Norte.      Be they persons with disabilities, OFWs, IPs, Moslems or the marginalized sectors, Asec. Ameenah has been capacitating and empowering them to be drawn into the mainstream of development processes, It is her contention that social injustices that consign the Mindanawons in the quagmire of poverty is rooted in the powerlessness or the disempowerment of the people and as a countervailing measure, they must be empowered to have access and control over their resources.       Look at the life of the Indigenous Peoples in Mindanao.  They are now the poorest of the poor as their lands have been land grabbed. And when they will stand up for their rights, they are being killed.  In fact, in the last five years, 63 IP leaders have been killed. As a countervailing measure, Asec. Ameenah has now come up with amazing projects so that the IPs can now transform their denuded lands into Abacca Plantation as she is mobilizing assistance from the DA, DTI and DOLE. The Abaca Plantation Project will indeed be a liberating force against poverty, climate change and violent extremism.      Asec  Ameenah is also advocating for much needed paradigm shift in promoting Filipino products  to help the OFWs.  Indeed, during the pre-COVID 19 period, some 6,000 Filipinos are going abroad every day, leaving their families behind to find jobs in other countries.  Why is this so?  Because the Philippines has become the dumping ground of finished products coming from different countries in the world. Don’t you know that buying is like casting a vote, choosing from different economic alternatives? Foreign vs, local.  Because of the gospel of lies, false information and advertisement, the Filipinos have been brainwashed to buy foreign products. Look at our malls.  Ninety-five (95) percent of the products sold are coming from other countries.  Thus, if you buy foreign products, you support the economy and job generation from where the products are coming from. It is time to awaken the Filipino People. When you buy local, you support the livelihood and the job generation of the Filipinos so that the OFWs will just stay in the country caring for their love ones.        Asec. Ameenah Fajardo, you are indeed a new revolutionary to free Mindanao from the quagmire of poverty, from neo-colonial rule.  When you went to Kora-kora, Munai, Lanao Sur where you met the commanders of the 75,000 MILF combatants who have ceased fire to now peacefully fight hunger and poverty through cooperativism, you have heard them shouting, “MGA PAGARI AKON, SAMA-SAMA NA TANU KOOPERATIBA! ISA LANG ANG ARMAS NAMIN NGAYON  AT YAN AY KOOPERTIBA LABAN SA KAHIRAPAN! What has been impossible, is now becoming possible – TO END THE MINDANAO WAR -the second longest war in the world!      Indeed, for those who have sacrificed, advocated and even died for it, social change has been so elusive all these years despite 14 years of Martial Law and two people-powered revolutions.  The ingredients, systems and structures breeding poverty are still as formidable as ever BUT NOT ANYMORE.  Indeed, there is no greater grandeur sight in the world than a great leader like you, fired with a great unwavering aim – to empower the IPs especially the Moro people – as a liberating force to end the Mindanao War and to end the leaving of the OFWs to work in foreign lands!

READ MORE
Come to me, all you who are weary

June 18, 2021

What wonderful and consoling words of Christ! We have to keep these words always in mind especially when we encounter overwhelming problems and difficulties that would leave us with the sensation that we sinking and drowning. Christ reassures us he will take care of everything.      “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” (Mt 11,28) Christ said, fulfilling what was prefigured in Psalm 55,22: “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you.” The same idea is echoed by St. Peter when he said: “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Pt 5,7)      We cannot deny that everyday we can be burdened with so many things. We first of all have our own share of weaknesses and miseries, and some of them can be of the permanent type for which no human solutions seem not to be found anymore. We cannot help but feel depressed and wilted.      Then we can be shared with the problems and difficulties of the others. If we happen to be parents, friends, or especially priests who hear the confidences of people, we should be ready to be dumped with all sorts of problems that can truly weigh us down.      There are times when we encounter surprises, and our conscience would tell us to play the role of a Good Samaritan. But we find it hard and feel helpless about it. We can also be subjected to all kinds of pressures. That’s when we should just go to God and show the real state of our soul in distress.      It would be nice to be reminded of the reassuring words of Christ. We should be quick to have recourse to these words rather than to let ourselves to be led simply by our emotions and our other human powers and resources. We have to activate our faith that is clearly expressed by these words of Christ.      Christ takes care of everything. But we also have to learn to suffer which is unavoidable in our life, no matter how much we try to avoid it. We have to learn how to unite our pain and suffering, our annoyance, irritation and distress with the passion and death of Christ. That way, they become meaningful and more bearable, since we know it would be Christ more than us who would bear them.      We have to be wary of the subtle grip of pride when these difficulties and problems assault us. When we lose peace, when we feel at a total loss as to what to do, these can be signs that our pride is preventing us from going to Christ, from believing that Christ takes care of everything.      If we are humble enough to allow our faith to animate our reactions to our problems and difficulties in life, we would have no problem in finding consolation in these reassuring words of Christ: “Come to me all you who are weary and I will give you rest.”      Humility also enables us to be tough so as to know how to suffer with Christ. It would leave us in peace and even with joy when we suffer. We need to bring these reassuring words of Christ in our prayer so that they become deeply embedded in our consciousness and serve to animate our reactions when we find difficulties in life.

READ MORE
A TRANSFORMATIVE LEADER FOR PEOPLE, PLANET, PROSPERITY AND PEACE

June 2, 2021

COL. BENITO OLEA RAMOS, JR: (Ret) A TRANSFORMATIVE LEADER FOR PEOPLE, PLANET, PROSPERITY AND PEACE             “From time to time there appear on the face of the earth men of rare and consummate excellence who dazzle us by their virtue, and whose outstanding qualities shed a stupendous light. Like those extraordinary stars whose origins we are ignorant and whose fate once they have vanished we know even less, such men have neither forebears nor descendants, they are the whole of their race.”             There is no greater grandeur sight in the world than a great leader, fired with a great purpose, dominated by one unwavering aim – to protect the environment and to serve the poor and the oppressed! I’ve first met Benito Olea Ramos, Jr. when he was the Training Director of the PNP Regional Training Center with a rank then of Colonel. But prior to that, he rose from the ranks with his very satisfactory ratings not only in advancing peace in his area of jurisdiction by stopping armed men to perpetuate commission of crimes even to the extent of putting his life at risk. Upon knowing concrete circumstances of facing so much risk to apprehend criminals as PNP commander, what came to my mind is the truism that says, “no greater love there is than one man ready to give up his life so that others may live!”             His compassionate pro—people service earned him multiple awards, i.e. Medalya ng Papuri, Medalya ng Kasanayan, Commendation Letters – not only locally but more so internationally when in 2003, he got the United Nations Service Award. His motto in life focuses on service, not only for people to be freed from poverty but amazingly to counter climate change and violent extremism.  Oozing with environmental spirit to stop illegal logging, he has enforced environmental laws, not minding threats to life.  He thought that in this country no one is above the law; all must bow down to the majesty of the law because we follow the rule of law and not of men.  But why did we lost the 17 million hectares of dipterocarp forest when there are laws prohibiting the cutting of trees in highly elevated areas with a topography of at least one thousand meters above sea level or in areas with more than 50% slope gradient.  There are also laws that prohibit the cutting of the finest species of trees such as Red Lauan, Mahogany, Narra as these are the finest of trees not found anywhere else in the world but only in the Philippines. But all of these laws were violated and not a single logger went to prison.  In fact, many of them were elected to high positions i.e., mayor, congressmen, governors, as one shipment of logs would earn a logger 360 million pesos -  money that they used to buy votes or to bribe law enforcers.  But Col. Benito Ramos, Jr. did prove equal to the task of stopping logging despite threats to life.             During his stint as the PNP Regional Training Director, he would invite me to lecture to PNP Officers to protect our remaining forest. Almost every week, he  would allow me to present to the PNP officials the current state then of the environment as I would show pictures taken from the Philippine Air Force Helicopter hundreds of thousands of denuded areas in the hinterlands of Cagayan de Oro, Iligan and Bukidnon that were the subject of illegal logging by six logging companies in the last 6 decades. That was in 2010, a year before Sendong that took place in December 17, 2011 when some three thousand people died in just one night of flooding.  Our battle-cry then was, stop the environmental bleeding and start the healing of the blighted land or we will all perish.  But no one was listening then including an agency of government whose main task is to enforce environmental laws.  In fact, that agency was telling us that these illegal logging and mining activities must be legalized because they alleged that no one can stop them as these are being done my powerful people or in cohorts with powers-that-be.             Then horrible Sendong did hit the cities of Cagayan de Oro and  Iligan, to Col. Ramos’ dismay who together with me was re-echoing the horrible consequences of the Filipinos’ environmental neglect. But Col. Ramos, as head of the PNP Regional Training School (RTS) then, mobilized his 300 PNP recruits to help in regaining back decency in what seemed then as the most horrible scenario, i.e., giving assistance to the victims in terms of providing shelters and food, spearheading the rescue operations to save the victims, those who were left stunned, shocked, shaken and helpless; the hurt, harmed, and wounded, and  helping in gathering dead bodies from muddy waters and providing decent burials.             After his retirement from the PNP, Benito Ramos, Jr. was elected  as a Municipal Councilor of Kalilangan, Bukidnon. Then, began the very amazing performance in serving the poor farmers who are victims of human rights violations. So amazing because there are those who use their power to exploit the poor farmers whose lands are being fenced forcibly by armed groups or land-grabbed and crops destroyed but here is a councilor who is using his position to countervail against the abuses of powers-that-be.  Indeed,  Kag. Ben Ramos, Jr. is correct. A person will be judged not on fame, power or wealth, but on how he has served the least of his brethren.             In a world that is giving high veneration to the profit-motive that has already captured the mindset of all governments, all institutions, all universities and even of religious groups, here is a sui generis visionary leader who is unfettered from the egoic mind, to liberate the poor and the oppressed from poverty and oppression. I remember the leadership  footprint of an amazing leader in India by the name of Mahatma Gandhi who, a century or so ago, toppled down the most powerful empire then in the world to liberate the Indians from British Colonial Rule, not through armed struggle but through sheer determination to correct social wrong by awakening and empowering the people.  Gandhi’s advocacy was based on the poetic prayer of an Indian Novel Lauriat named Rabindranath Tagore and I quote: “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high; where knowledge is free; where the world is not broken down by narrow domestic walls.  In that Heaven of Freedom, my Father, Let my people awake.”  Such truism of leadership is the one trail-blazed by an amazing contemporary leader named Col. Benito Olea Ramos, Jr. (ret) now Kagawad Ramos, Jr.             To Kagawad Benito Olea Ramos, Jr., our firm salute and warm embrace!!

READ MORE
The future education, either blurring or sparkling

May 22, 2021

The future is uncertain... but this uncertainty is at the very heart of human creativity (Ilya Prigogine: 1917-2003). Ilya Prigogine was born in Russia in 1017 and died in 2003. He is a professor of Chemistry. He wrote a book, titled “the End of Certainty.” And, he got a noble prize of Chemistry in 1977 (Wikipedia).  He believed that uncertainty can lead us into being more creative. It is the very heart of human creativity.      Now that we have lived in the pandemic of Covid 19 for one and half year, we have been facing uncertainty. The uncertainty is related to the time when this pandemic is over. Not only do we have to practice the health protocols but we also get vaccinated. Though not all the people in every country got it, we have to follow that protocol: vaccination. Under this uncertainty, we have eye-witnessed that people around the world are busy with their struggle for life.      When concerning the education programs, we have done online-learning processes. During the first lock down, all schools and colleges were not totally ready with online classes. More crucially, it is for the primary schools and kindergarten. Not all the pupils and their families have got androids for online classes. Even not all the college students were totally ready in the first lockdown.   In a related research, it was stated strongly by Simon Burgess, S and Sievertsen H. H, (2020.), that this Covid 19 outbreak has made global home schooling surely produce some inspirational moments. But, it also produces some angry moments, some fun moments, and some frustrated moments. It unlikely, on average, among others, replaces the learning lost from school, interruption in students’ learning and in internal assessments.      The students had to go home to their home towns. This also creates a new problem. Their town or regional governments are not always prepared with the facilities of internet connection. These interrelated problems made all education process were firstly not well-planned. I bet it could be almost everywhere. In some chats in the messengers groups, internationally, we have the same evidence. In one family, there could be only one android, shared by two or three people for online learning. In the webinar sessions, some speakers and participants said, not all the families in remote regions have androids; Let alone the laptops. This is a crucial issue in an online learning.      During the first lock down, almost all schools got simple panaceas with quick changes. But, I am not sure yet with the kindergarten and primary schools everywhere in the remote areas. I have just eye-witnessed in colleges. During the first-one semester of classes, we had mostly used the WhatsApp (WA) application. Sometimes, we used the free zoom application. We also used messenger video for the class practice. The students were grouped into the WA groups.      After one semester, we have had very well-scheduled zooms in my colleges. The class processes have been regularly scheduled virtually. Some variations of online learning processes have been created.  The uncertainty during the first lockdown made us do everything creatively but virtually.   Up today, we are not sure yet when the pandemic is over. As viewed by Ilya Prigogine, it is time for our creativity.  As based on a research by Megggane and John J. John (2020), on medical students, they found this disruption a good chance for the students’ innovation. Covid 19 makes the students able to adapt and innovate. They could devise ways to exhibit their skills, work ethic, teamwork, and even dedication to research. Such endeavors can be a readily-viewed attribute, in facing those new challenges. So, the future of education can be more sparkling. And, how to manage this uncertainty and make the people creative is the key success for survival. The best national-leaders are needed in this uncertainty to lead and manage the people to be creative. That is the future of education. It can be either blurring or sparkling, depending on the leaders in every country.      Dr. Djuwari is an Associate Professor and the Director of Language Laboratory at Universitas Hayam Wuruk (UHW) Perbanas Surabaya, the editor of some research journals in the Philippines and Indonesia. He is also a journalist in some newspapers in Indonesia; the President of International Association of Scholarly Publishers, Editors, and Reviewers (IASPER).

READ MORE
The fight against COVID-19 is far from over

May 22, 2021

Rockingham, North Carolina—First off, I would like to extend my condolences to the family of Arnold Nadala, who passed away in the early hours of May 18 (Tuesday). I’ve yet to verify the cause of death but it’s definitely not COVID-19. Still due to the strict COVID-19 health protocols in place in Cagayan de Oro City, attendance in his wake and eventual burial will be limited. The City Information Office posted a tribute video to Arnold which followed his career as co-host of the TV programs that promoted the administration of Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno. I also knew him on his early days at the (temporarily) defunct ABS-CBN during my career as (ahem) a tri-media practitioner in Cagayan de Oro City.  Farewell, Arnold and may your memory be cherished by your family and friends long after you’ve been gone. ******** More than a year passed since it broke out and the COVID-19 pandemic is continually testing the limits of our inner strength and resolve as well as our sense of self-discipline, responsibility and accountability not only to ourselves but to our families, friends and neighbors. It pains me to read Facebook posts of friends and acquaintances dying in Cagayan de Oro City and in Misamis Oriental province due to Covid-19. Among them were Patag barangay captain Maricor Calizo and Romeo Naces.  I also read Facebook posts clarifying that local marketing guru Gabby Bacarro didn’t die of COVID-19 which still doesn’t remove the sadness over his untimely demise. For me, there’s too much death and sickness hovering around and it is scary. Sometimes when I post photos of my weekly adventures in my adoptive country of the US in Facebook I feel guilty. The guilt comes from the concerns posted by friends over my safety especially as I am a breast cancer survivor. The guilt also comes from the fact that here in North Carolina, health protocols had been eased to allow seniors like me to enjoy the lives we used to have before the pandemic while back in the Philippines, my loved ones remain under the longest running quarantine in the world. I also look with some concern over the recent spike of COVID-19 cases in Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental and northern Mindanao. In Cagayan de Oro particularly the surge in cases is eating up the city’s critical care utilization rate (CCUR) which is the basis for determining a local government’s quarantine status every month. I know that Mayor Oscar Moreno’s administration is doing everything it can to stem the tide and I fully agree with his call on the people of Cagayan de Oro City to step up to the plate and help City Hall in defeating the virus by protecting themselves through compliance to minimum public health protocols. Sadly that has yet to be fully realized and until then, I join the growing number of Kagay-anons who keep the faith and stand with City Hall’s frontliners in battling the virus. The Philippines of which Cagayan de Oro City is part of is still a long way off from achieving herd immunity which is lately being realized in some parts of the US due to the massive vaccination campaign. Trust me, even after I completed my two-dose vaccination I’m still following minimum health protocols despite the easing of quarantine restrictions here. ******** Before I forget, I thank Rosemary Castillo, a classmate now based in Manila, for voicing her concern on my health.  Don’t worry Rosie, I follow the protocols and will never let my guard down until the virus is contained. Speaking of discipline, I ask whether it is a virtue in itself or a skill developed over time. Whatever it is, self-discipline is important at this time when COVID-19 cases in the Philippines already reached 1.15 million and a death toll of 19,372. Self-discipline is knowing in your heart and mind what needs to be done and doing it without reservations or doubts even if you don’t want to do it. Here in North Carolina, a person hosting a party makes sure to remind guests not to go if he or she displays COVID-19 symptoms and the guests are responsible enough to avoid attending if they even have the slightest suspicion of being infected. Some even conduct temperature checks and the parties are held in open spaces to allow for physical distancing. Photo ops are done in less than five minutes and it’s back to face masks or keeping our distances to each other. Aside from the lack of discipline among the Filipinos, I also noticed that Pinoys hide from medical authorities symptoms like fever, coughing and colds or refuse to disclose that they had contact with a possible COVID-19 case. In effect they play hide and seek with the health authorities and contribute to aggravating the spread of the virus within their immediate communities, leading to hospitals being overwhelmed with admissions of sick and dying patients. The key to fight this pandemic is for us to do what we know needs to be done even if we don’t want to do it for one reason or another.  Don’t wait for the authorities or worse, the virus to hit you. ******** PS: i attended the birthday party of three-year-old Brynnely Heart Matthewson hosted by her parents Mr. and Mrs. Harry Brent Matthewson Jr.  Carol is a great party host and she made sure that the guests were gathered in separate groups in an open space to allow for physical distancing.  Thanks to the Matthewson family for the lovely party.

READ MORE

Subscribe Now!

Receive email updates from Mindanao Daily News.