As we continue to cope with the challenges of the pandemic, I would like to share with you some of my thoughts that are keeping me awake at night.
Just recently, the government announced a calculated easing of restrictions on physical movement of people, goods and services across the country to be implemented soon.
This is not a signal that the end of the COVID19 pandemic is already in sight. This, to me, looks more like a realization that sacrificing people’s livelihoods in order to save their lives turns out to be false.
After all, there is no life without livelihood. They are one and the same, and it took a virus to remind the world of this plain and simple truth in the most painful way.
We have all seen cycles of economic booms and busts in our lives, but this one promises to be the worst in almost a hundred years.
Over and above the shock to the world’s health care systems, the pandemic quickly brought global tourism – the world’s biggest industry – to its knees. And this is just the start.
Many of the biggest names in the global industry that hire hundreds of millions and is worth trillions—covering transport, hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, name it—are laying off workers, cutting salaries and even commencing bankruptcy proceedings, among others.
In our own country, we don’t need the Central Bank to foresee an obvious recession coming, but it just did anyway. Forget the big picture. All this simply means is that people will be out of jobs in their legions.
Experience tells us that full global recovery in a crisis of this potential scale takes years. Unfortunately, it takes less than a year for kids to miss enrollment, for loved ones to die of curable diseases, to lose a house due to foreclosure, and all the many hopes and dreams that could come tumbling down because of a jobless breadwinner.
These thoughts are what keep me awake at night.
This crisis will have to end, sooner or later, one way or another. And I don’t want our hopes and dreams to end with it.
For now, we remain grateful. We have been hit hard like everyone else, but we remain standing.
It helps that we are in a business deemed essential to national survival. But, I know that many of you had to draw deep into your inner resources to personally brave the challenges in the streets that threaten even the fittest of our species.
This crisis is doing to you what 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit of intense heat and pressure does to common coal in order to transform it into sparkling diamonds.
You have made the simple act of going out each day to sell chicken a sublime act of faith. We do what we do because it matters, because it saves the lives and livelihood of many, including our own.
You have innocently infused in your everyday actions unexpressed hopes of taking back what the virus has stolen from all of us—the sheer joy of hugging and kissing loved ones, embracing friends and shaking hands of people we meet.
Because in the end, this is what a decent livelihood means to human life. It protects our basic humanity and is, therefore, worth fighting for.
Like the true diamonds that you have become, you have transformed the simple and mundane into something noble and rare. As sure as this will be rewarded, nothing could be greater.
Let us all keep safe and stay the course.