We were all taken aback with the effects of COVID-19 crisis— taking a huge toll not only in our physical, mental and emotional health, but also in our lifestyle, economy, and overall well-being. We’ve stepped up to adapt to a so-called new norm, embracing changes and adjusting to what fits our capacity as human beings. We’ve heard different stories of hope and despair, and of striving to make ends meet. Each one has a unique story to tell in the face of the pandemic season; whether recovering from the virus, losing a job, discovering a new hobby, overcoming depression, or starting a new business. COVID-19 has changed us in one way or another.

My story encompasses the reality after losing my loved ones during the quarantine, how I managed to overcome that emotional burden, and the things I started doing differently to cope with the lifestyle changes brought about by the COVID-19.

The pain of losing my loved ones

When the ECQ (Enhanced Community Quarantine) was newly implemented in Metro Manila, I lost my dad who battled with liver cancer for almost a year. We were fortunate of being allowed to hold a decent funeral service and burial for him but there were only a few people who came to comfort us because of the travel restrictions. Although I am at peace that he is no longer enduring the pain of his terminal illness, the lockdown setting made it even harder to grieve and cope with loneliness. I suffered from bouts of depression because I was the one who witnessed his painful ordeal during his last critical hours at the hospital. I’m a self-proclaimed Daddy’s girl and his death was one of the most painful things that I had to bear even up to the present.

My dad and I

Two months after, Karen, one of my closest friends since high school died of heart attack. I’m not even halfway done with grieving over the loss of my father, then came this shocking news that once again broke my heart. Karen was one of my confidantes and was one of my constant companions as we grew together in the same church. We’ve shared a lot together from heartbreaks, career milestones, achievements, laughter and tears.

Karen Joy and Me

Losing two of my precious loved ones in the peak of COVID-19 crisis created a huge dent in my heart but this has taught me that life is fragile — it is short, uncertain, and you don’t have ownership of it. Our life belongs to God alone.

Moving on with my daily routines and appreciating my job stability

Trying to move forward in life despite this major setback, I occupied myself through working from home. I am blessed that our company allows working remotely while retaining our benefits and allowances as employees. I am working as an Analyst in one of the companies specializing in Financial Research. Working from home may be difficult given the limitation of tools and juggling home responsibilities at the same time, but I am grateful that I can fulfill my tasks without compromising my health and security. Also, I get to see my dogs often! I can still do household chores while continuing to deliver my job as an Analyst. Face-to-face contacts were replaced with Zoom and Microsoft Teams meetings, and daily conversations and delegation of tasks were channeled through online chats. I’m happy to still collaborate with my colleagues even without seeing them physically. I am thankful that with the help of technology, business continuity is being achieved. This would not be possible without the company’s vision not only to ensure that business needs are being met, but also to look after the welfare of its associates. The security of my job is very important to me as I am standing as one of the breadwinners in the family.

I have learned to appreciate my job more and I am even motivated to always give my best in my role. Not everyone is blessed to maintain their jobs; some even suffer from hunger and poverty because of this global crisis. I have learned to be thankful and be contented, and reach out to others even in my own little ways.

Adjusting my finances and learning how to manage amid the crisis

Although I have a secured job, COVID-19 has affected my family financially too. Aside from the medical and funeral expenditures of my dad, my siblings’ reduced clients and paid gigs somehow affected our financial state. Because of the lockdown, my mother cannot do her usual errands in the supermarket so I volunteered to do it for the family. I realized that it is really hard to stick to your budget when it comes to buying the family’s basic needs. With the prices of the commodities nowadays, you can only buy a few supplies with your budget. I salute all homemakers who are experts in this field! This lockdown has given me time to listen to financial seminars online such as Chinkee Tan and the speakers from PRU Life. I’ve learned that we should not rely on our present income as anything as drastic as the COVID-19 can deplete our resources instantly. We should: 1.) Build our emergency fund 2.) Create another source of income 3.) Learn to invest 4.) Prioritize needs over wants.

I’m slowly building my plans how to establish these financial boosting schemes.

Continuing my passion for food and cooking

I am happy that during the lockdown, I have more time to do one of my passions: cooking! Reinventing my own recipes enhances my creativity and continue my love for food. I enjoy watching recipe tutorials in Youtube and other social media platforms. My friends even tell me that I am so hardworking in the kitchen to think of cooking gourmet dishes, but I guess this has been one of my effective outlets this quarantine. It releases my creativity, innovativeness, and resourcefulness (yes, with limited budget). Dad used to work in the kitchen abroad so this somehow reminds me of my good memories with him.

Speaking of food, I’ve been supporting my friends by buying their food products and promoting it in my blog social media platforms such as IG and FB.

The lessons the crisis has taught me

The importance of family is irreplaceable. The pandemic made me value my time with my family. Before, I was too focused with my work that I neglected spending time with my family and helping at home. Now, I enjoy bonding with my siblings and cooking for them. I became more keen in maintaining the cleanliness of the house. I appreciate my siblings in helping me provide for the household. We enjoy ordering food, watching movies, and doing errands together such as buying groceries. I am thankful to the Lord for my family’s good health despite the rampant cases of the COVID-19 virus.

There is joy in appreciating the simple things. The things we took for granted before give us room to appreciate what we have. These could be dining out, traveling anywhere, going to church, and the convenience of public transportation just to name a few.

Prepare for your emergency fund. Do not rely on one source of income. We never anticipated that this virus can tremendously affect our ways of living. Therefore, it is always good to prepare financially. Be resourceful and innovative. Look for other ways to build your financial stability rather than relying on your employment alone. Also, our security is not in our jobs. It is in God, who owns and supplies everything that we need.

Live by faith, not by fear. Fear and anxiety are the inevitable effects of this crisis. However, we can choose to place our faith in God who is more powerful and sovereign to know even the smallest details and burdens in our life.

Make a difference in the society. Contribute to the society by following the simple rules and ordinances of the community. Simple adherence to the rules can benefit many people. If you have the capability to help others to alleviate their plight in this time of crisis, do so.

Change is the only thing constant. Be willing to change and embrace change. Be a better version of yourself. You can change old habits and improve for the better while you have the chance.

What compels me to move forward

I just put in mind that this is just a phase and we will eventually move out from it. What matters is how we respond or react to the current situation and turn it into a positive platform of creating change. Soon, this will pass. We just have to be strong and patient. Better things are coming for us.

This story is an entry to ComCo Southeast Asia’s “Write to Ignite Blogging Project”. The initiative is a response to the need of our times, as every story comes a long way during this period of crisis. Igniting and championing the human spirit, “Write to Ignite Blog Project” aims to pull and collate powerful stories from the Philippine blogging communities to inspire the nation to rise and move forward amidst the difficult situation. This project is made possible by ComCo Southeast Asia, co-presented by Eastern Communications and sponsored by Electrolux, Jobstreet and Teleperformance.