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SURVIVING THE PANDEMIC, THE AC WAY

(Message delivered on AC’s 56th foundation day, January, 2021)

  1. INTRODUCTION

One good result of the  COVID 19 pandemic is having brought out the potential of people to pursue activities that they have never done in their lives before. Furthermore, many have  strengthened their passion for doing things that they used to do before the Pandemic.  At home for example, my grandchildren’s  love for animals went beyond caring for just our Persian cats Halo and Tom;  our dogs Bailey the AmBul, Peachy and her puppies Rossi (named after Valentino Rossi, champion motorcycle rider) and MM (named after Marc Marquez, a Spanish Grand Prix motorcycle road racer),  and our rabbits Ebony and Ivory, to taking care of chickens and ducks.

Out of 12 hatched eggs from one of our hens, only 4 chicks remained. Unfortunately, field rats attacked these chicks and only one survived. This only survivor was a black chick, its  toe nails gone, and her feet were bleeding when we saw it,  as they were bitten by the rats, so we had to put the poor chick in a safer cage hoping it would survive, and survive it did! We named it Vivo, short for survivor, and  for those who know Spanish,  we know that vivo is the first person singular form of the infinitive “vivir” which means to live. Vivo therefore is translated  “I live”. We were thinking Vivo was a male, but as it grew bigger, it  turned out to be a female, a pullet. One striking thing about Vivo is her ability to feed herself from the crumbs around the house, escaping the big roosters and hens that would always chase her away. Sometimes I make comments that Vivo thinks she is a cat as she plays and eats with Tom and Halo or at times she would think of herself as a dog  because she would eat and play with MM and Rossi. At times she would think of herself as a human being because she would fly to the top of the table when she hears someone call us for meals. Vivo is not afraid of people. She would noisily follow any of us around whenever she wants to eat. In fact, I would also say that she thinks my daughter-in-law, Joan is her mom because she follows her most of the time. I  really admire Vivo’s survival skills. Now, she is growing into a beautiful hen and I hope she would be able to take care of her chicks well in due time.

  1. SURVIVAL

IF a small chick like Vivo could survive in a dangerous chicken world, how much more could a human being like you and me – endowed with wisdom to discern right from wrong, see the difference between safety and danger, and make the right choices – survive this pandemic world?

All of us have stories to tell about how we have come this far after ten months of the Pandemic.

Each of us has a story to tell about how we coped with the anxiety and stress that the pandemic had caused.

We share the same feelings at the onset of the Pandemic – fear and anxiety about what would happen; so many “what if’s”- what if there would be shortage  of food?,  what if one of us in the family would be infected by the virus?, what if AC would stop its operation?

But thanks be to God! We have survived and we are still surviving! Thanks to the many options we can choose from to spend our time not only to fight boredom and anxiety, but also to be productive and remain calm and be at peace within ourselves.

One of the most important factors that I find necesssary to be  strengthened in order to be able to continue navigating the new normal is our RELATIONSHIPS.

The Pandemic continues to  dramatically affect  our lives, including our relationships with other people in our homes and our workplaces.

Despite finding ourselves in  worrying, frightening or even unbearable situations, it is very important to maintain good relationships.

How do we nurture  relationships in our homes and families?

  1. Give time – put more time aside to connect with your friends and family. Distance is not a hindrance because of the presence of many ways to connect with people we love, no matter where they are.
  2. Pay attention to the other people in your life and try not to be distracted by your phone or your work (especially now that many are already in work-from-home set ups),  or your  other interests.
  3. Listen – really listen to what others are saying and try to understand and to focus on their needs, especially the immediate ones.
  4. Let yourself be listened to – honestly share how you are feeling, and allow yourself to be heard and supported by others.
  5. Recognize unhealthy relationships and do something to improve them.  Remember that these are strange and difficult times, and it’s  important to protect our relationships.  
  6. Stay connected – Use your gadgets  to stay in touch. Don’t you agree that hearing a friendly, familiar voice, or reading a message from people we care about, help us feel more connected?  On the other hand, there may be people living away from us, who may be feeling lonely, isolated and afraid, who need to hear us, too. Staying connected helps improve our mental health.
  7. Sharing feelings, can help us feel calmer and closer to each other. Remember that everyone is affected by the coronavirus situation and may be feeling more anxious and perhaps irritable than usual.

In the workplace, we also need to maintain a healthy  employee- employer relationship. You may not have given it much thought, but what we are doing at Aldersgate College are all geared towards establishing a strong employee- employer relationship. This may be in simple things like a monthly cellphone load of 200 pesos, releasing our salaries on time, loans to purchase gadgets, or even occasions like today, to recognize the valuable contributions we made for Aldersgate College.  

We try our best to support, train and prepare our team to be flexible and to act accordingly and swiftly in different situations; to share information, encourage cooperation, to lend a helping hand. I hope those who plan to leave soon will remember Aldersgate College for these simple  but heartfelt gestures of the administration.

To survive the pandemic, let us not forget to take care of ourselves. Self- care involves both physical and mental well-being. Physical health entails proper food and nutrition and exercise.

For our mental health, let us make time for things we enjoy.

We do not know when this pandemic will end, but we are not hopeless. Covid-19 is not here to stay. But God’s protection remains. The pandemic should not hinder us from planning for the future – how we can continue to thrive and survive in the new normal.

  1. CONCLUSION

Yes we will survive. If Vivo, the chicken could, we also can!

If there is one person who would know about survival like the back of her hand, that’s me. But Experience has taught me that no problem is permanent.

Widowed at the age of 38 with 4 young children, the youngest  of whom was 10 months old, it seemed the end of the tunnel was a far stretch ahead. The question of how to fend for them occured to me, but God’s promise to care for the orphans and widows was fulfilled in me. These 4 treasures are God’s way of strengthening me. No one can shatter the bond I have with my kids. I would do anything in the world for them. I would fight for them as much as they would fight for me. Together we have survived those difficult years and together we experienced and are still enjoying God’s protection and provision.

Being a grandmother for the first time at the age of 41, I held a 984 gram- 28 – week old pre-term baby boy in my arms. As I prayed for the survival of that baby, I looked forward to the time when he would be a grown-up young man, which my Arkhie is today.

I could go on and on telling you about how I survived problems and trials but as I said earlier, these are not permanent.

I do not say that I don’t have my share of trials anymore. I still do, like any normal human being. But one thing is sure, God has seen me through and I am certain He will still do. I believe, these too shall pass.

Thinking positively may be difficult at this time when all of us anxiously wish to remain negative of the virus, But it is now more than ever that positive thinking could be used as a powerful weapon for survival. Coupled with a strong faith in the Almighty Father, positive thinking will bring us to the light at the end of the tunnel.

This possitivity is best expressed in the poweful words of Amanda Gorman, National Youth Poet Laureate and the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history, in her poem titled “The Hill We Climb”, during  President-elect Joe Biden’s installation to office. (And I would like to quote excerpts from it)

“When day comes we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry, a sea we must wade…

So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert, How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?…

And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us,
but what stands before us….

Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true,
that even as we grieved, we grew,
that even as we hurt, we hoped,
that even as we tired, we tried,…

When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid,
the new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

Yes, this Pandemic, too will pass, and let us look forward to that time when we see the light at the end of the long tunnel, and  together we declare, “We survived! “