What I’ve learned from staying home and living in dread of a pandemic

When my parents needed to teach me a lesson,  it usually began with, “Nung panahon ng Hapon…” as they recounted what were unspeakable hardships during the three years Japan had occupied the Philippines. They hid in bunkers, divided a piece of fish among 10 siblings, and feared neighbors with paper bags over their heads.

Some people feel conditions today in a time of a public health crisis are just as dire: Several months of lockdown, tens of millions jobless, and people dying from a virus that governments cannot seem to  control. It seems like the world is falling apart and being alone at home gives you a sense of helpless rage in that you are powerless to change anything.

Some people remain hopeful though that the world will pull through somehow. We spoke to five FilAms who reflected on what has happened to them since the pandemic erupted early this year and what they have learned living through it. – Cristina DC Pastor


Writer, illustrator and artist

I don’t think my life has changed somewhat except I hate shopping for groceries more and I am beginning to hate Zoom calls with a passion. So, my daily life is okay, I have been more creative and doing more fun stuff personally. But in a macro sense I am very upset. I feel that COVID-19 has thrown into high relief that our country is not functioning well compared to others. We have not done a good job being on top of the virus, and it makes me very upset.


Home health care worker

First of all, I’m thankful to God that me and my family are doing fine during these tough times. Second, my relationship with my family has grown much closer and stronger. We look out for each other more because tomorrow we can’t tell what will happen. This pandemic has taught me to value life even more. I am really thankful that I can continue to work and safely take care of my elderly clients.



Flip Eats

I think this lockdown reminded me of the importance of taking a break. Since I do most of my cooking/work at home and never done freelance work before and was always in the mindset of scarcity. I was always working. Never knowing when the next paycheck is going to come was all new to me. The pandemic kinda gave my wife and I the permission to stay still and to be reminded of how simple life could be or is. The importance of taking care of oneself was placed in the front burner. Our state of mind overflowed with gratitude made each day a celebration of life.


IT Management and Desktop Support

NYU Langone Health

The weeks before the shelter-in-place was announced, it was a mass exodus of electronic devices for WFH (Work From Home). When the shelter-in-place took effect and restaurants ordered to close at 8 p.m., I saw the whole city in a state of bleak and dismal emptiness while I drive to and from work. The pandemic hit me hard when OCME (Office of Chief Medical Examiner) started building Morgue City near the FDR with freezer trailers lined along the road. I saw carpenters building wooden shelves for the body bags and a forklift to move the bags.

Earlier in the year, my aunt died in her sleep, then my dad, and then my uncle, and just recently my sister-in-law from mysterious circumstances. I knew a lot of people under 50 who dropped like flies unexpectedly. From that point, I accepted that when it’s your time, it’s your time. As a religious Catholic, I have prepared my soul for whatever happens. Life goes on. Deal with the current situation and prepare for the unexpected. Pray for the best.


Tax Investigator

New Jersey Department of the Treasury

My line of work before the pandemic was majority field contact with taxpayers — businesses and individuals — and so working remotely, away from my office is not new to me.  However, working from home on a lockdown, social distancing ordinance, an overseer of subordinates plus home schooling of three children – all of these was quite a learning process with challenges.  It may seem simple to say now but in time and gladness I can say that I developed work ethics of efficient planning, communications, prioritizations, compassion, attentiveness and all this into one major trait: to be productive in a time of uncertainty. My key insight was making the best of time and use of available resources.  

For instance, I really take the time to include being a homeschooling mother of three in my daily schedule.  This means I will take a good quality break time from work to make breakfast, lunch, dinner and homework support without the feeling of hesitation away from work hours.  This was the hardest feeling I had to face.  At first, I felt this was taking time for me to be productive working from home.  I realized however that my family is priority and the reason why I work in the first place.  

I would communicate more with my team about my priority schedule and make arrangements with meetings and work.   As a team leader I was able to be considerate and make compromises in helping colleagues with their work and in return they would also help me.  As a compliance officer, the sense of fulfillment in the ability to be able to make time to do what matters to me produces the most compassion in my service.  

I would wholeheartedly take breaks to deliver meal packs on a schedule to health front liners in hospitals.  I was even more motivated to work with organizations with ideas to provide PPEs to nursing homes.  Without hesitation I volunteered to the NJ Department of Labor in processing unemployment claims.   So again, my key insight is taking time to do what matters, gave me the most motivation to be productive at work and service amidst this unprecedented time.

© The FilAm 2020

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