The morning after

EYES WIDE OPEN - Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) - January 4, 2021 - 12:00am

It was a little quiet the morning after and the only thing I could hear was my own sigh of relief. Finally, a year like no other has passed and, while it doesn’t seem like it, we are still okay.

To have endured the challenges of 2020 is a feat and that’s enough reason to be grateful and to congratulate ourselves. However, the real work of rebuilding and recovering has yet to start.

As we all welcome the new light of a new morning, let us start reworking on the things that we all need to do to move forward to build a better society.

As we do that, let us bring with us the hard lessons of 2020.

Indeed, it may be tempting to forget about 2020; it may feel necessary even, to just bury it in the deepest recesses of our unknown parts, somewhere far from the amygdala, and let it fade into oblivion. That is how our bodies deal with trauma after all.

We all want to just erase the madness, hit the reset button, and get the fresh start we need. To simply move on and never look back seems the easiest thing to do.

But not this time. Not when the year has shown us almost everything that we needed to see in ourselves, our society, our environment and, most especially, in our present-day leaders; not when we need the lessons to move forward; not when our country’s future depends on many things we saw last year that we need to drastically change; not when the year has shown us that big and difficult lessons are necessary to become a better society.

Magnifying glass

The COVID-19 health catastrophe, as I’ve said, has put a giant magnifying glass on the nightmares of this country from our frail health system to entitled authorities, to blatant violations of existing laws, to shameless corruption, to the Spanish-era “palakasan” especially evident in the access to test kits and vaccines.

Now that we’ve seen it, we can’t just turn a blind eye. We also can’t let our collective amnesia take over.


We can start by holding our leaders and health authorities accountable for the manmade follies of 2020. We all know the year was made tougher than what was written in the stars because of their incompetence.

In the end, let’s look at the lessons of 2020 through a lens that will allow us to see and build a better and brighter future.

It can’t be business as usual anymore. Let us not go back to the old ways, both as individuals and as a society.


As we approach another election year, let us all help our country elect better leaders who can really stir this nation to greatness. It is time to sober up and stop being mesmerized by posers and folksy leaders, whether they’re unorthodox sweet talkers, an actor-turned-politician or the best boxer in the ring.

We need sincere, competent, and capable statesmen who will put our country’s best interest at heart.

Those who have the capacity to support candidates should also put the country’s interest ahead of their own selfish motives. You all have seen what can happen when you help put incompetent leaders in power – even your very own businesses suffer on a whim, especially if you are the least loved oligarch.

Instead, let us support candidates who are sincere and competent, and not those who will simply continue the kind of messy and disorganized governance that we have seen unravel especially last year.

Let us channel our sorrows and grief, the anger of being in isolation, and all the losses we have had to endure last year to work for a better and brighter tomorrow – for the sake of our country and for the generations and generations of Filipinos to come.

Those of us who made it this far have the responsibility to do just that. It is our chance to make things right or even just a bit better. By doing so, we honor our tireless health workers and frontliners, and the countless lives lost in the tragic year that has just passed, and maybe, just maybe, we make their deaths a little less painful to the loved ones they left behind.

And this, perhaps, will also make the madness of 2020 a little less meaningless than it seemed.



Iris Gonzales’ email address is eyesgonzales@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @eyesgonzales. Column archives at eyesgonzales.com

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