The world could change tomorrow… or not.

INTROSPECTIVE - Tony F. Katigbak (The Philippine Star) - November 4, 2020 - 12:00am

By the time this column is published, we will all be in the thick of the US elections and waiting for the announcement of the next president of the United States. This is something that is going to impact not only America, but also the entire world as well and I have no doubt we will all be watching with bated breath for the outcome.

Here in the Philippines, the wait will be just as much of a nail biter as it is for our American friends, as so many of us are invested in life in the US through friends, family, and much more.

Making this election even scarier and more volatile is the coronavirus pandemic that raged throughout 2020 and changed the entire election process. On regular election years, polling day is the end of a long and full political season. Voters would line up at the polls to cast their votes and return home to tune in to the news and await the outcome. Of course, this is not happening the same way this year.

The pandemic, lockdowns, and subsequent safety protocols have upended the entire procedure and cycle. From changing the way candidates campaign (though Trump would readily hold a rally with thousands in attendance despite warnings against doing so) to how the country votes. It has been an election season like no other, with rallies held virtually, conventions put online, debates canceled, a record number of mail-in ballots, the death and replacement of a Supreme Court justice, and of course, President Trump “getting COVID-19” in the middle of it all.

I’ve been through many election seasons and I have to say, this was the most confusing, worrying, and ultimately shed the light on protocols that have to be put in place if, God forbid, this situation were to ever happen again. We can’t say this will be the last pandemic in our lifetime. I would like to think that it will be, but considering the world as it is – biological warfare and environmental degradation and all – it will not be far-fetched for illness spreads like COVID-19 to happen again and again.

In either case, this was the hand that was dealt to the US for 2020, their election year, and they have to play it the best they can. Based on early numbers the number of young voters (18 to 29) has quadrupled this year as compared to 2016, especially in battleground states. I think it is actually a good thing because the results of this particular election will impact them most of all. The election process is an important way for them to let their voices be heard to shape the country they want to live in.

Honestly, there is so much riding on this election that the tension is palpable. COVID-19 has completely changed the US and how the world sees them, and what happens next is going to determine what the future will be for America and for the rest of the world. At this point, the most important thing is for everyone who can to vote. This is no longer the time for silence or apathy.

In another 24 hours, the results of the election will be in and the world will change – or not. Until then, everyone will be watching the news and waiting for the outcome.

*     *     *

Meanwhile, here in the Philippines, the country is dealing with the aftermath of Typhon Rolly (Goni) – the strongest typhoon in 2020. The entire country prepared as best as possible and prayed that the super typhoon would weaken and spare the country. While it did weaken, at least seven people were killed on Sunday as the storm brought winds, intense rains, and floods that sent thousands fleeing their homes.

The typhoon first made landfall in Catanduanes before changing course and hitting Albay province. The devastation in the province and surrounding areas was intense and the storm ripped through homes, tore off roofs, downed power lines, and triggered several flash floods in low-lying areas.

Everyone prepared heavily this time around and I am grateful that we all took it seriously. From early evacuations, on-call medical and rescue services as early as possible, to households individually planning go-bags, food, batteries, and the like it was good that we are finally learning how to plan early and make the proper preparations to the best of our abilities. In the end, it’s always better to be over-prepared than the opposite.

While I am grateful that the full impact we were bracing for wasn’t as bad as predicted (with potential aftermath worse than even Yolanda), I know that so many of our countrymen were not lucky and are facing a long road to recuperation and recovery ahead. And that is where we can help them. Now is the time to help, in any way we can, those who were severely impacted by the storm. There are several ways to send help and lists are being routed on social media and updated regularly.

We can’t just sit back and breathe a sigh of relief. We need to remember that there were so many people who weren’t as lucky over the weekend and do what we can to help.

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