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Back to basics

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, my daily routine would usually start at 7:00 in the morning, with my wife persistently waking me up. From then on, everything was intense and rushed. Living far from office, I would take one to two hours to travel to work, depending on the traffic. Work, meetings, and evening law classes took up most of my day. The day would end around 10:00 in the evening upon my arrival at home.

I admit that the time I spent with my wife and children was minimal. That was my daily life. As a child, I learned to hustle in this competitive world, keeping in mind that money and resources would not simply knock on my door.

At times, I could only wish for a break. We all get tired and weary. While I have paid leaves to spend more time with my family, it never seems enough. Then, the unthinkable happened. The COVID-19 pandemic set in, and everything changed.

We are working from home. My daughter’s classes were suspended. My wife, who delivered our son in late 2019, is still on maternity leave. All of us had to stay at home. That was our new normal.

Now, I am getting the hang of things. Lunch is spent with my family. It is not hurried, and I no longer skip this meal. While my virtual meetings could extend to late at night, I do not have to worry about my dinner and attire. My wife always makes sure I am full. More importantly, I have seen the milestones of my eight-month-old son, who now knows how to clap. I have observed how my daughter enjoys talking, dancing, and singing rather than writing. I don’t have to rush and weave through heavy traffic. I have learned to use a drill. I have become more tech-savvy for online classes and virtual meetings. I have learned to look at the positive despite the negativity hounding us.

With the onset of this new normal, allow me to share my realizations, which can be summed up simply as, “back to basics.”

Family is basic

Who are we with at this time? What clothes and things have we used to date?

I am with my immediate family, and I only wear plain house clothes. Except for internet connectivity, it seems that we have been transported to the olden days when malls and cinemas did not yet exist. The few branded clothes and shoes I have are of no use. In times like these, may we always cherish moments with our loved ones, for we do not know when this may end.

Basic skills first

Aside from my work from home, I need to do house chores. While I know how to wash the dishes and clean the house, I regrettably do not know how to cook or do carpentry. It is very convenient to say that I am neither a carpenter nor a cook. However, this pandemic forced me to do so. Recent events have made me realize that, had we been introduced to basic carpentry or cooking classes in basic education, I would not have to rely on YouTube how-to videos. On the other hand, my wife’s home cooking has made her a star in my daughter’s eyes at every meal. By the way, I can cook, but only with cooking oil.

Now, the academe, especially at the primary and secondary levels, is scampering about going online. It may be ideal for higher education with the acquired fundamental skills. For primary and secondary students who live in areas that do not have any internet, this will only cause undue burden. Even in my law classes, some students were kicked out of our online class sessions and exams due to power outages and intermittent internet connections. These external factors, by no means, should not gauge, much less affect, their learning. The internet is a learning aid, but it must not deter one’s fundamental right to education. Fortunately, asynchronous delivery and activities are in place.

While our government explores several teaching and learning modalities, perhaps they can consider recalibrating basic education to teach essential life skills through television or radio.

Insurance is basic

A healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a balanced diet, is the time-tested health booster. However, this pandemic is a warfare of the unseen. No matter how healthy we are, everything is uncertain. To shield ourselves and our families, we need medical and life insurance. Buying an insurance policy is primarily dictated by our means to pay the premiums. While insurance may be a burden to some, treat this as essential if you can afford it. As they say, if there is a will, there is a way.

Essentials are always a priority

While our hierarchy of needs may be have evolved, one thing is sure: this pandemic revealed the survival essentials from the non-essentials. Luxury goods, travel, entertainment, and other non-essential activities have halted. Food, medication, and education, being essentials, have gone online. If you venture into business or seek new employment, connect your venture to basic needs to ensure sustainability.

Stress, calamity, and pandemics, reveal one’s true color

Finally, as an employee, I have realized the importance of finding a transparent and compassionate employer. Thankfully, I am with institutions known not only for their excellence and integrity, but also for their compassion. I hope you, too, have found your compassionate employer or are an empathic employer in these trying times. Keep safe!

Kim Aranas is a Manager of Tax Compliance and Advisory of P&A Grant Thornton in Cebu.  P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading audit, tax, advisory, and outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 24 partners and more than 900 staff members. We’d like to hear from you! Tweet us: @GrantThorntonPH, like us on Facebook: P&A Grant Thornton, and email your comments to or For more information, visit our website:


As published in Mindanao Times, dated 16 July 2020