by Bernadeth Barillos
A quote once said, “If you stay positive in a negative situation, you win.” But with a global pandemic with billions of people around the globe affected, is there a positive outcome after all? In this article, we will talk about the positive and negative effects of this pandemic and how each of them plays a role in maintaining life’s balance.
The novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that caused COVID-19 first emerged in Wuhan, China back in 2019 and was later declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020. People from around the globe suddenly switched their panic buttons ON and started to hoard food, tissues, alcohol, and all kinds of disinfectants including face masks in fear of getting infected by the deadly virus. In just a matter of a few weeks, the first suspected case in the Philippines of COVID-19 was investigated on January 22, 2020, and by March 1 of the same year, 633 cases were reported. This resulted in Enhanced Community Quarantine being implemented by the National Government on March 17, 2020, which also resulted in forced temporary closures of almost all the establishments but not including the ones in the food industries and the drug stores hospitals which were considered essential. With this drastic change in the business routine of those establishments that were not considered essential, most of them had to lay off some of their employees which left them uncertain about when can they go back to work.
As per the discussion paper published by Asian Development Bank Institute, the Philippine economy immediately experienced a sharp decline in domestic and foreign demand, international trade, national production, and consumer confidence. This hurt our Micro, Small, and Medium sized enterprises which led them to permanently close their businesses leaving their employees with no choice but to look for other sources of income during the height of the pandemic. This is when the negativity of the pandemic started to be felt by Filipinos.
With the ECQ still being strongly implemented, this resulted in having people stay at home with limited capability to go out and look for new jobs. As per the Publicus Asia survey conducted on April 13-18, 2020, 78.12% of respondents from Poor Households reported that at least one of their family members had lost their job due to the ECQ. Meanwhile, in Germany, where globalized labor is being utilized, they also have felt the massive effect of the pandemic due to physical distancing that they were forced to cut back on overseas production which led them to decide on bringing back the production to Germany, but this would also mean that they can lose a fair amount of prosperity. The same goes for the countries of the supply chain. Loss of jobs would mean loss of income and no food. With all these effects stated, this only proves that the pandemic has indeed impacted all sides of the world fairly.
Amidst the negative effects brought by the pandemic, there are several reasons why we thought we can include the positive effects it brought. The presence of negativity can indicate that there is positivity. During the pandemic, people living in a community under lockdown are only allowed limited access to the establishments they regularly go to pre-pandemic. May it be their favorite restaurants, fast food stores, malls, or the public market. Since some of these establishments are temporarily closed, and with their limited allowed time outside, they still can’t avoid the fact that their daily necessities like food are sometimes out of reach. This has sparked the creativity and resourcefulness of Filipinos. If you remember the recent social media trend wherein one of the family members of the household would start their garden in their backyard and eventually fill it up with vegetable-bearing plants and trees, for personal consumption, but later being flaunted in their social media platforms. They were called the “Plantitas & Plantitos”. From the article, “Plantdemic: The rise of Plantitos and Plantitas” of Panay News, this trend even brought earning opportunities while people stayed at home. This was a hit, and more and more Filipinos were trying out gardening and finding joy in harvesting the abundant fruits of their labor. Not only it was some kind of diversion when they go busy planting or fending their vegetables, but it also gave them access to fresh fruits and vegetables that they can serve to their families in the absence of pre-cooked meals that they usually enjoy.
Another form of creativity and resourcefulness we observed during the height of the pandemic was when offices temporarily shut down their businesses because of strict compliance with social distancing. Of course, they cannot be closed for too long, or else they will lose their customers. This started their idea of implementing temporary work-from-home setups. They have sent their employees home with their computers and other gadgets to continue working for them while at the same time, maintaining social distancing and avoiding the risk of being infected outside. This allowed their employees to continue earning while at the same time spending time with their families during lockdown allowing them to make up for the time they spent outside instead of bonding with their loved ones. In Frankfurt, Germany. Jenna Stein founded the BCS or Berlin Clothing Swap, which allowed the people in their community to bring their old clothes and swap for someone else’s clothes in hopes of getting new outfits while saving money since the production of clothes was also affected.
Indeed, “If you stay positive in a negative situation, you win.” This pandemic not only taught us how to take care of our health but, most importantly, served as a simple reminder that no matter what our nationality is or social status, everyone can make each other’s lives easier, especially in unforeseen circumstances like this pandemic only if we view such an event positively. We may have lost a lot during this health crisis, but we have gained a lot all at the same time. If we just give ourselves enough reason to view life in a positive manner. Now that we have ended the year 2022, we may all remember the learnings from the past years and use them to see situations from a positive view.