Real Thoughts: Covid-19 || Best & Worst of the Philippines (Luzon Lockdown)

It’s been a month since Luzon lockdown started. Basically it’s been a long time. There are lots of things happened — there’s so many updates on the crisis, updates on the quarantine, updates on COVID-19 and even when you check your Twitter, every hour there’s a new updates and trends. It’s really been an interesting times for living in.

I have been thinking for days about the issues affecting us. There were thoughts and questions in my head and I wanted to make sense of them before I share them. This is a summary of reflections and conversations with a lot of mutuals and friends.

I will try to cover the following:

•Summary of the issue plus the context behind the issue

•The misunderstandings plus the causes behind it

•My learnings plus the realizing some hard truths

•Points to ponder

•Final thoughts

**Note — Please read the whole blog before reacting and read this with an open mind and understanding. Also, don’t take things out of context.

a). The Issues

1. Two weeks ago the Philippine President gave “shoot to kill” orders for leftists and rebels. This cause uproar among those against the administration who stand that killing is wrong. While the supporters of the admin argue that the order is only for rebels not for everyone; A similar issue has happened before and during the drug war campaign where orders to kill people involved in drugs were released. One side agrees that this “iron-fist” discipline is needed while the other side argues that without due process, innocent lives become casualties. I will not able to discuss everything that happened the past years in the Philippines, but I encourage you to read up on articles for better understanding. Just please make sure these are coming from legit sources and not fake news.

2. The “poverty is a choice” became trending.

> Citizens posted their own sentiments and ignited tweets towards the government. Other side felt offended and posted their opinions too. People are now starting to say, “if you don’t like our post you can unfriend, unfollow or block.” It became a never-ending cycle of throwing shade against each other and misunderstandings. Upon talking to some people, admittedly those tweets and posts were out of the line. Those were too emotional and were outbursts of anger and frustrations.

b). A misunderstanding on generalization of each sides.

I made a reference for better understanding.

What is happening: We usually lump people in three categories: DDS, Dilawan and Neutral.

What it actually is: Most of us are Pro-Filipino (intention-wise)

DDS

use hate speech, curses, fake news and personal attacks to defend the government and attacks the critics of government.

Dilawan

use hate speech, curses, and fake news and personal attacks to critize the government and its supporters.

Neutral

Probably have their own stand but chooses to remain silent. Feels like they don’t know enough about politics to speak up.

Pro-Filipino

Obeys the law and support the good orders of the governments. Wants what’s best for the country. Uses rational and factual argument in discussion. Stand up for what is right.

**Note — word used for lack of a better term. Must not be understood for being rebels or total leftists.

> Misunderstanding on being Neutral

There’s a quote, “If you are neutral in situations of oppression, you have to chosen the side of the oppressor.”

There is tendency to generalize being neutral as a bad thing. However, I think it depends on the issue at hand.

Example on when being neutral is okay:

-choosing between two government officials

-mediating between two friends fighting

Example on when being neutral is not okay:

-choosing between right and wrong

-seeing someone getting bullied, seeing wrongdoings and choosing to stay silent.

I will not able to list all down. The point is choosing sides has to be on a per issue level and not based on loyalty or personal biases.

This isn’t about parties or colors or allegiances. This is not about DDS or Dilawan. This is about loving this country with all you’ve got.

c). My Learnings

•Proper communication is a key

We really need to choose our words properly not matter how we feel at the moment. This does not mean that our emotions aren’t valid. It means we also need a rational mind whenever we post something to avoid misunderstanding.

•Taking time to reflect is really important

It’s really important to think about things with an open mind. If you’re rationally discussing the topic but the other person would go around verbally attacking you, all we need to do is to step back and breathe. The problem with the conversation is it becomes too unhealthy because we give in to rage — defense mechanisms. Especially if you can’t defend your side. Deal it by still being your rational self. But what if the person who has different views and opinion from you is your family or a friend, would you still want to be connected or befriend to that person? I think the right thing to do is to talk to that person and understand. Because for me, I want to hear his reason. I believe it’s deep rooted in a person’s morale and values. Sometimes it embedded through upbringing and environment. So step back and try to understand why that person come to think that way even if you don’t agree with them because your purpose is to help them to understand what is right. Helping them to understand is the key. Trying to educate someone doesn’t hurt. Especially, when it comes to morals (and when there’s a psychological aspect related). I would ask for their rationale behind why they support *this side* and have a calm, open discussion as to how their support could be seen negatively and the implications. It may not work sometimes but least we’ve tried to persuade them see how concerning their support towards that issue would be. We didn’t leave them ignorance. If we’ve truly explored every single reason as to why they support them (example, oppression and violence) and couldn’t change their mind, then we can’t do anything more. We moved on. It’s frustrating, I know. But at least they are now aware of the implications in the choice they made to support the side they’ve chosen. Basically, we do our part — the best that we can. But at the end of the day, we cannot change people.

•Right is right and wrong is wrong

This truth will never change. It’s not about standing up for what we think is right. It’s about standing up for what is really right. Finding out what the truth is and standing up for that is our responsibility as human beings. I personally believe that every person is capable to distinguish the right and wrong. There’s no gray area. They can be disguised as the other too.

•Being kind is important than being right

If you’re going to choose between being right and being kind, always choose to be kind.

But yeah, this is very hard to do especially when the other person is not kind at all. I understand that we are not perfect and people have limits on how much we can take. But cliche as this sounds, love is greater than hate. The best way to go about this is to love this person until he realize his wrong. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. Same principle. Drive out the wrong way by doing something right. By showing kindness. It’s universal language we also forget about.

In all our effort to tell people about the right thing, we must not do it in the wrong way. Let’s not fall in the trap of belittling and dehumanizing every people we want to educate and inform. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of the purpose of why we are speaking out. We are not the final judge of anything in the end. And no matter what happens, the good will always prevail.

•We have the freedom to express our opinions but we are also responsible for our own opinions.

d). Points to ponder

You don’t need to force yourself to understand everything all at once. It took me days to digest everything and make sense of all the thoughts and questions running through my mind too. It’s also important to know what are the values you believe in and will stand for.

Also, I want to talk about that “povery is a choice.” Yes poverty is a choice. A choice not made by the poor but made by the powerful. From keeping wages low to making housing and health inaccessible to denying free education, mass poverty is a deliberate policy choice by the resourceful few benefit from keeping many of us poor. Poverty is complex and must be assessed from a multidimensional perspective. Poverty has become a social problem due to political oppression and a rigid institutional structure. Not innovative, path-dependent and politicians are unwilling to change; I always volunteer for social works and we often discuss about poverty and how it exist. Basically, it is not a choice. As modernization exist, there are some factors that affect the situation of every people in different classes. It’s just that the job opportunities are less. Their opportunities are less; Let’s just focus on spreading awareness and helping. Including the feeding programs for the poor, donating. We can also teach the vulnerable to help themselves. But in times like this most of us can’t go to work so they have no option but to ask for help to the government.

I also remember during our immersion, we were asked to interview the farmers and fisher folks and there we learned that even they strives to the point of breaking their bones, they’re still remains “tagged” as poor by the economy system. And even they toil multiple hours to scrape a few hundred pesos to feed a family, it’s still not enough for their basic needs. So we can’t really blame and judge them if they looked for help from the government. So nope they did not choose to be that way, if they have a choice I’m sure it would be far from being poor. They’re less privileged because they didn’t have the same opportunity or network that you had that made you succeed. This is the reality a lot of people don’t understand. They simply say you’re lazy or a lack a strong will. Try to put yourself in their shoes. And it’s not just about “we work hard so we have what we have right now and it’s your fault you are at the bottom level” thought. This is about the society as a whole and the opportunities present from which these people were not exposed into.

Lastly, if privilege removes one’s compassion, then I’d rather be poor. Some people make wise decisions, some are not but it doesn’t mean we have a right to blame them for their mistakes or belittle them. Compassion is the currency of happiness.

e). Final Thoughts

In times of crisis I came to think who I am in the scenario of other people. Am I causing them harm? Am I helping them? Am I fighting for those who can’t fight for themselves? Am I defending the defenseless? Today speaking up is been becoming an issue. If you speak up, there are people who will tell you that you‘re just pa-woke (trying to be woke). Some will tell you to just keep your silence because you’re not a politician and if you’re not directly affected to the issues then stop meddling to it. But I believe otherwise because what’s affecting my fellow countrymen now will eventually affect me. Because we are connected somehow but more than that to me it’s a simple ask, “If I don’t speak for my countrymen, who will?” I know I have right to speak up on what’s happening in the country that I was born, raised and currently living. Especially, when it goes against the morals of justice, human rights, and integrity. Okay, I’m not saying that everybody has to speak up and out. I understand that we have different callings. Maybe you’re an advocate for mental health or environment. Maybe you’re comfortable doing relief efforts or maybe your heart is shown to quiet gifts of donations or maybe you can offer for now is staying home and praying for our country — and that’s as just as important. Maybe you’re just having a hard time on composing tweets or you’re just a quiet type of person and that’s okay. Nobody should forcing you to speak up and nobody should judge you for not doing the same things that they are. I know speaking up is just one of hundred ways that we can help. We just have to offer what we can that’s best for our country. I just have one request. Please, don’t be apathetic.

Again, I hope this situation brings out the best of us not the worst. Also, crisis reveals character. How is it revealing yours? I hope you come out a better person after all this. I hope in the middle of the noise, we can stop and reflect on our actions and our words. All I encourage is for us to listen to ourselves and observe how we’re behaving. Listen, observe, and speak the truth. Because this time we can see the best and worst side of everyone. From the government to the rich to the poor. We see those people who chose self-preservation over public service. We see the mishandling of funds on over-priced food packs, those people spreading fake news, those who hoarding of almost one million worth of grocery items, those who still in denial about this crisis and still chose to turned a blind eye for what our country truly needs. We see the lack of concrete plan. There is no positive longterm outlook. And we see that lack of empathy and disregard for the value of life in the words of violence shared on national television and live streams. But one of the silver linings that I see is we are slowly waking up by every day the vulnerable fought for, and views and lives changed. Slowly our eyes open to see what’s really the good governance and true public service is.

But by seeing the worst in our country, we could also see the best. The politicians who doing their job well and not even want to take the credit for themselves. We see the companies and NGOs doing their best to help their employees and more than that. Also the celebrities who are using their platforms just to help our countrymen. And the frontliners who put their lives in the line every single day just to save our lives. May we, the citizens forever remember with dignity and respect the sacrifice of our frontliners throughout this entire COVID-19 crisis: our doctors, our nurses, our health workers, our local government units, our military, our security guards, the supermarket employees, and our sanitation workers. We also see the ordinary citizens who have gone and beyond sacrificing time, effort, money to help the vulnerable. To the neighbors who shared their groceries, to the friends who donated PPEs. Truly in the midst of crisis, bayanihan spirit has been restored and it’s beautiful. This what makes me proud to be a Filipino — to see that we are helping each other, to see different people we’ve never met before from different walks in life gives food, donating money, offering the word of encouragement. I believe that is what Filipinos are really made of.

I don’t know how long this would last but let’s the true Filipino will shown! When this crisis ends and I’m sure that it will, after this when everything goes back to normal programming, I hope we don’t just go back to the things that we were. I don’t want everything we’ve been through go to waste. I don’t want what we fought for to go to waste. Even beyond COVID-19, let’s keep the bayanihan spirit alive. Let’s continue being kind to our neighbors. Let’s continue helping one another even strangers. Let’s continue staying connected in community. Let’s keep pushing for justice. Let’s keep standing up against oppression. Let’s keep demanding for good governance. Let’s that be our regular programming. I’m not giving up for our nation and I hope you either. Let’s keep hoping. Let’s keep praying.

If you have read everything up to this point, thank you!

Keep safe and God bless!