Introspection during Holy Week
AS A MATTER OF FACT - Sara Soliven De Guzman (The Philippine Star) - April 6, 2020 - 12:00am

Yesterday was Palm Sunday. Today we begin our spiritual quest during this holy week period. These coming days should be time spent with God – alone, to achieve a greater level of introspection. This is the most precious gift given to us in our lifetime. A time with God, away from the busy and buzzing world. Everyone in isolation, in deep reflection amidst the pandemic caused by COVID-19.

During this Lenten season, the message of faith, hope and charity abound us. Faith in what we do. Hope for what lies ahead of us. Charity to the people in need. Everyone is going through a personal journey of spiritual cleansing and renewal whether we like it or not. Our spirits are tested everyday as we face this different battle called ‘life’. We cannot help but think about what has become of us – as a mother, father, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, grandma, grandpa, friend, worker, leader, nurse, doctor – as a people and as a nation.

Clearly, in all of his messages the President is stressed, anxious and agitated. We have been very patient listening to him because whether we like it or not, he is the father of the nation. But in this time when everyone is devastated, frustrated, harassed and afraid, I think the President must give us the calmness of the spirit. He must lead us to a more peaceful transition during this time. We need him to give us peace of mind and inner strength. We need him to assure us that we will conquer this battle. He must be more gentle in his words and in a more fatherly-loving way. He must lead us through all these through a more peaceful means and protect us from the violence and hatred around us.

The mayors, the barangay captains and councilors must continue to live to work. Work! Work! Work! This is the time to show yourselves to the people, to help your communities and plan movements wisely. If you want peace, plan your distributions efficiently. The people are hungry. They will run like crazy whenever a food cart is around. Pity those you incarcerate. All they want is to survive. You should be able to discern violence from an act of survival and desperation. Why put them in jail in a time of need. Where is your compassion, kindness and mercy? 

What about the police, the military and the NBI? All those in the field must know what they are doing. Teach them to be more logical, practical and selfless.  A false move creates unecessary panic and unrest. Many of us are already complying and trying our best. But there are emergency situations and different needs. Please know how to handle such cases. We are already torn and broken just like you are. We do not know what lies ahead. Fill yourselves with helpfulness, gentleness and understanding.

Our senators and congressmen must always be ready to support government and the people. Do not add to the burden of society. Be there, ready to help. Stop your squabbles and quarrels. In troubled times, we don’t need to hear your nitpicking. Bring out the best in you.

Healthcare workers are the heroes but there are other heroes today who continue to work but are in the background (yes, this include our public officials). But just because you are in the front of the battlefield, this doesn’t give you the passport to be rude, heartless and unmindful. Do your work well. The sick and the dying need your patience all the more. Your power is useless if you are merciless. Do not be callous, cruel and harsh.

Private and public hospitals are filled up. It takes a day (if you’re lucky to get a room) but it can take as long as 2 to 3 days to get a room. COVID-19 patients have no choice but to take the very expensive test and the medications. Isn’t there a way to help alleviate all these expenses? Can’t hospitals review their rates at this time of crisis? Is this the time to take advantage of the situation? God be with you.

Citizens and netizens at home, restless but nestled in safety must be more tactlful of what they say in social media. This is not the time to contribute to the chaos happening around us. It is very easy for many to complain, to bicker or to rant. Control your feelings and emotions. Use this time of isolation to put some order in your household – physically, emotionally and spiritually. 

In time, families should begin to enjoy the comfort of each other 24/7, eating, bonding and praying together. Children will become more responsible learning basic life skills, respect and responsbility while helping out in doing simple house chores. Parents will have more time with their children, listening intently to the stories as they also become ideal wives and husbands. Soon, we will have happier families (improving mental health issues) appreciating clearer blue skies, cleaner waters of rivers, birds chirping, the green forests teeming with wildlife, and the restored beauty of a healed earth. Politicians will be true public servants ending publicity stunts (as they realize that this is not what public service is all about). Nations will be as they are now called upon to unite against the virus in a race to find the cure to it.

In the past at this time, everyone is headed to the mountains, the beaches, to their destinations for a long vacation. Today, we have no place to go but home. And as the saying goes, “home is where the heart is”. Let us fill our homes with a renewed and rekindled spirit. Let us prepare our spirits for a new way of life. And this is the best time to do it as we await the coming of Easter.

*      *      *

Today marks the fourth week of the Enhanced Community Quarantine lockdown in Metro Manila. Were we able flatten the curve? Data shows that we have 3,094 confirmed cases, 144 deaths and 57 recovered cases (as of Sunday April 5, 2020). Our Southeast Asian neighbors show more recovered cases than deaths compared to our statistics. What are their medical communities doing that we aren’t? Of course, these data do not show magnified details of patients’ medical histories which can help us understand the situation we are in. Nevertheless, we must continue to pray that we find better ways to increase the number of recovered patients over the number of deaths in this country.

House Committee on Ways and Means chair Joey Salceda is calling for a two-week extension of the Enhanced Community Quarantine lockdown. He said that, historical, scientific and economic evidence points to a more cautious approach to the pandemic and that lifting the quarantine period would be premature at this time and could trigger a massive wave of new infections. He also said that we must increase mass testing per day to strategically contact trace and identify infection clusters to confront the virus and use the best logical and technological means (mobile tracking, GPS, mapping).

Yes, this gives us a clearer track. Please speak to us, we are listening. We need to have a better over-all understanding and direction for the country. Aside from the medical concerns, another crucial concern is the economy. In order to fuel the country, our economy needs to be healthy. But how can it be if we do not address the concerns properly. Our country seems more focused on political issues even more than the health ones. Our health officials and the whole industry are at the mercy of our leaders running as politicians instead of statesmen.

In this time of great mercy, let us get our act together. Focus on the problem. Stop killing the hungry. We are already suffering and dying inside.

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