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Family Life | Musings about work in COVID-19 times

Work stoppage for most people due to COVID 19 has caused many of us to appreciate and realize many things and re-evaluate the value of work.

People who live on a hand-to-mouth existence know that being out-of-work means starvation and dependency on government aid and others for survival. The imposed lockdown has made this experience more acute for the masses. The sad thing is that the longer this ECQ continues, the people in this category increase in number as many businesses lay off employees or fold up. Work has become a necessity for millions to stay alive.

Our healthcare workers have become very valuable worldwide as they bravely answer the call of duty. They have been hailed as heroes in this pandemic and will never be looked the same after this. Nurses who had to pay for their internship in hospitals or go abroad for higher salaries to support their families hopefully will be given better compensation to keep them home. Government and business sectors now realize the need to upgrade our healthcare capacities and capabilities and value medical personnel to deal with health crises of pandemic proportions.

Farmers and fishermen had consistently been the poorest of the poor according to past Philippine Statistics Authority reports. However, the necessity for food self-sufficiency as a country due to lockdowns in times of pandemic may bring about that needed change. Food sovereignty, instead of reliance on international food supply chains, should be one of the take-away from this C-19 experience. Homegrown food should be encouraged and facilitated. The government and businessmen should give our farmers, fishermen, food suppliers the needed boost to flourish in post-ECQ times.

The home and family again takes center stage at this time. Parents, both -stay-at-home and working ones, now have to keep up with the added work of supervising and helping with children’s education. The lockdown has catapulted life from markets, malls, schools, offices, churches, convention centers, restaurants, to online shopping, e-education, work-from-home, zoom meetings, and food deliveries. The line that divided home space from work, school, shopping spaces, and others is now blurred and becomes undefined, as it is now all done in the confines of home. What used to be a place of rest and relaxation has now become a multi-tasking place of work. There may be some advantages to this arrangement, such as flexibility and hours saved on the commute, less traffic, and pollution, more time with family. However, virtual living also requires a different set of skills, self-discipline with one’s time and set boundaries, and wisdom to sift through the arrays of choices and information. One must also watch out against fatigue and stress from being online too much. We must learn to adapt and navigate this “new normal” with wisdom.

Work gets a big chunk of everyone’s lives. It is a must for survival, for keeping the economy going, for fueling and sustaining progress, a means for accomplishing great things. Work is an avenue to express the talents and abilities we have been given and blessed with. Work also helps build our character as the structure and environment create discipline, accountability, learning from others, and development of skills. Work is actually something wired into us by our Creator from the very beginning. But more than realizing the value of work, ECQ is also forcing us to embrace what many of us have neglected – the rhythm of rest that allows for that balance in our lives. Many of us simply do not know how to rest and miss out by keeping the frenetic pace of work-at-home. Rest could also mean engaging in activities one enjoys and refreshes one’s body and spirit.

After being Manila-based for the last 15 years due to our work and studies, and months of travel visiting our children and grandchildren abroad, we are glad to be home in Davao before the lockdown was implemented. My husband has had time to fix our garden, rehabilitate our fruit trees, things he enjoys doing as he grew up in the farm. I also have had time to declutter and leisurely reorganize our home. We play basketball three times a week for our exercise. We indulge ourselves by watching several series, such as “The Chosen,” “A.D. Kingdom and Empire.” We also follow Tim Mackie’s messages on Matthew that makes us appreciate Jesus all the more and what it is like to follow him. The work stoppage, the forced homestay, is giving not just our earth time to breathe and heal a little, but us as well.

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