Our changing lives

If we are to learn anything from Queen Elizabeth, it is to keep moving forward, faith alive.

It was the sound of “silence” that struck many of the leaders and dignitaries interviewed about their visit to London this past week to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II.

The solemnity and respect accorded the world’s longest serving monarch spoke much of her kind of influence on people everywhere, even the farthest reaches of the planet.

Yet one thing that struck me most of all was a story shared by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on BBC News.

Ardern met the Queen when she was pregnant with her first child. She asked Her Majesty how she managed to be a leader and mom at the same time, to which she said she got the best advice ever: “Well, you just get on with it.”

I think this is advice we can all use at this point in time.

We can blame the pandemic for so many things — the hit on the economy, and the impact on industries that led to loss of jobs among the major ones — but we can also be grateful it fast-tracked certain changes in our lives that had been a long time coming.

Among the most important ones was the “forced” hiatus from external distractions. Families spent months together under one roof, with no malls to go to, not even parks for kids, or trips to take.

Relationships under these conditions were certainly tested, but many attested to major improvements.

Online schooling became a challenge for parents and kids — a whole new situation that continues to present our education officials with a conundrum.

As for work, most companies had to come up with work-from-home setups so that operations would continue in spite of the limitations and restrictions caused by the health pandemic.

In fact, latest developments on the expansion of the WFH rules by the Labor department have got us thinking deeper into the changes wrought by Covid-19 on this front.

The Department of Labor and Employment says employees under WFH arrangements “should be given the same terms and conditions mandated by the labor standards in the country, based on the revised implementing rules and regulations of the Telecommuting Act.”

The revised IRR, news reports say, “was approved and signed by Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma under Department Order 237.”

WFH setups have presented various challenges both for employees and employers, including productivity and proper compensation.

On the other hand, its benefits have far outweighed most concerns, especially with the Covid-19 still around and mobility continuing to be a challenge with fuel prices still up and rising.

Cost of living nowadays is a big factor affecting decisions, not only of individuals, but also governments.

Fuel price hikes had affected food prices, even as food shortages have drawn attention to self-sufficiency and all the attached social and political issues we have faced long before the pandemic came.

Climate change, corruption, conflicts — these are all part and parcel of a life we must now learn to live with. And if we are to learn anything from Queen Elizabeth, it is to keep moving forward, faith alive.

As Andern said: “You just take every day as it comes and she did, but I have such respect for her because I see now what it takes to be a mum and a leader.”

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