It’s that time of year when most of us are winding down for some much-needed rest, a chance to spend time with our families and friends to celebrate our favorite season. This is our second pandemic Christmas, one that has brought us all unexpected challenges. In spite of this, I have also seen warmth, care and commitment demonstrated at every turn — not just from healthcare workers, but from the entire community.
Christmas has always been a reminder to help others. And although economic and social imbalances remain, Covid-19 has given us the opportunity to address this once again. More importantly, it has given us the chance to acknowledge one another not only as friends, but as brothers and sisters.
No one really “has to help,” but it was an inspiring display of “bayanihan,” shown by many if not most that fueled us and kept us strong. From companies like San Miguel retrofitting their factories to produce hand sanitizers and alcohol, to Uratex for the development of their proning pillows with friends like the alumni of the Immaculate Concepcion Academy who worked tirelessly to obtain funds to donate and distribute these pillows around the country, to people like Neil Arce and Angel Locsin providing tents to hospitals to help protect healthcare workers and the growing numbers of patients from the elements.
When personal protective equipment in short supply, we scrambled to find alternatives, with many of our local designers like Rajo Laurel and Michael Leyva, companies like Kamiseta and enterprising individuals procuring and testing different kinds of fabrics to make into coveralls and protective gowns. My wife came up with a do-it-yourself mask, and she and our neighbors made over 3,000 pieces, distributing them to hospitals and the community. My sister was part of a group that provided face shields to healthcare workers.
The Philippine General Hospital (PGH) became a major Covid-19 referral center, admitting patients and providing patients with a hotline, but it was still not enough to cater to all the patients in need. They then launched a free online teleconsult service called PGH TeleGabay where doctors volunteered their time to answer messages from patients who could not make it to the hospital to consult for Covid, or those who could still be managed at home.
There are many more organizations, acquaintances, friends and colleagues, all of whom can look back on this year and the previous one, knowing that they made a difference — either with donations, volunteer work, giving discounts and reprieves for rentals and loans.
I continue to be inspired and appreciative of the willingness of our countrymen to adapt to the difficulties presented by Covid-19 this year. And although I may not be as optimistic as most, I share in hoping that we are through the worst of this pandemic.
The health and wellbeing of our countrymen, our patients, their families and friends must remain a high priority as we move into 2022. Stay vigilant, do your part. If you haven’t yet, please get vaccinated. If you have, please continue to be careful, monitor and follow any health advice from the government. We’re all tired, but I thank you for your willingness to abide by the measures introduced in the past years. Whatever your opinion of these may be, believe that by merely cooperating with them, you, too, have made a difference.
We will remember 2021 as a landmark year just as 2020 was. It has shown us the true value of community and demonstrated the emotional connections this brings. In all the uncertainty we have found ways to work together towards achieving goals, our community has persevered and together we shall see the light at the end of this tunnel.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a safe, relaxing holiday season.