At 7 a.m., my alarm rang. I woke up on a different bed. I am not on my bunk bed anymore. I woke up hearing birds chirping instead of cars honking and chickens scratching the roof instead of city cats meowing. It is the first day of the quarantine, and I am back home in Bohol. I returned home before Cebu City declared a community quarantine.
In light of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, the government implemented an enhanced community quarantine on cities and provinces to curb the number of positive cases. This quarantine, however, has caused companies to shift to a work from home setup.
It is the first time that I would work from home. It took me a week to discover which part of the house has a reliable internet connection. My parents were supportive. I stayed in a separate room where I could not be interrupted, yet my father would check on me from time to time. My mother, on the other hand, diligently cleaned my workspace, placed a pillow on my seat so my back would not hurt, and even arranged items in the background so the room looked presentable during video conferencing meetings.
With this work from home arrangement, however, I experienced many setbacks, from an intermittent internet connection and an overheating laptop to challenges in transmitting documents and instructing colleagues. These delays were making me anxious, along with feeling unproductive and uncertain over the coming weeks.
One night, when everyone was asleep and I was walking about our living room, a dusty photo album sitting idle in a cabinet caught my eye. As I flipped through every picture, I lost track of time and realized I was smiling. I was looking back on fond memories, which came to me as a relief since the start of the quarantine. Deep inside, all I felt was sheer joy.
This pandemic has been in the headlines for months now. It has completely taken over the world, and our way of living has drastically changed. The old normal, as we auditors call it, has a material uncertainty of going concern: it is hard to know when things will return to the way they were. We have many questions about this crisis and about how our lives changed because of it. It seems like all the progress that we have been making is delayed or has been taken away. Unfortunately, the virus has spread not only through human-to-human transmission, but also on social media sites in the form of fake news and our thoughts. We feel frustrated by all the chaos.
Finding happiness during this pandemic is challenging. Like looking through the photo album, we must look for small pockets of joy, many of which might be right under our nose. Pockets of joy will become blessings; the more we look for them, the more we see it all around us. We may not see them instantly; we must open our eyes and slow down to find them. I see a pocket of bliss in my mother, who has lent her time to make me comfortable while working at home. I see it in my father, who often checks if I am doing okay. I see pockets of happiness in my coworkers and friends who are a video call or chat away, and to whom I can confide when I feel anxious and lonely. I see it in our frontliners who tirelessly brave the storm of this pandemic.
I hope we take this time to remember and acknowledge even the smallest sparks of joy and the things we can control. We cannot control the virus, the movement of others, or the government. What we can control, however, are our thoughts and actions. Let us prevent the spread of the coronavirus by being physically and mentally healthy. Wash your hands regularly, wear a face mask, go outside only when necessary, maintain physical distancing, connect with friends, build relationships, and stay positive. Through these simple steps, we can help flatten the curve.
In moments like these, let us trust the Lord that everything will work out for the better. We cannot navigate this storm alone; we need Him as the captain to steer us. Despite the unfortunate events this pandemic has caused us, let us remind ourselves of the certainty of who God is. According to Psalm 112: 7-8, "Bad news won't bother them; they have decided to trust the Lord. They are dependable and not afraid, and they will live to see their enemies defeated." We may be physically distant from each other, but we must not be spiritually distant from God. Le us not allow this COVID-19 pandemic to take hope away from us. Remember that this moment, too, is worth living.
Jobelle Bongato is an In-Charge of Audit & Assurance 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 23 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. For more information, visit our website: www.grantthornton.com.ph
As published in Mindanao Times, dated 01 June 2020