FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - August 4, 2020 - 12:00am

One of the many agonizing moments in our lives under quarantine is being separated from our circle of dear friends. Indeed, true and faithful friends are God’s statement that all is well with the world – despite the hard times we are experiencing these days.

Thank God we have the telephone, Zoom and email, which still enable us to keep in touch (not literally) with our friends. I am sharing the experiences of two accomplished women in coping with the demands and challenges under the coronavirus pandemic.

First, there’s Flor Gozon Tarriela, former vice president of Citibank (the first female to hold the position in the Philippines) and current chair of the Board of Philippine National Bank. The other is Evelyn del Rosario, the highly effective head of the Community Relations Department under Public Affairs in the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT).

Flor and I were once business partners (in exporting capiz lampshades) and Bible study chums.

Flor told me, “How am I affected by quarantine? I was initially filled with anxiety. To be in quarantine is unprecedented and I didn’t know what to expect. Fortunately, I listened to Christian messages on YouTube by Charles Stanley, David Jeremiah and Peter Tanchi, among others, on Anxiety and Fear. All had the same messages: ‘Know God. No Fear. No God. Know Fear. If you have anxiety and fear, Trust Jesus. Trust Jesus and cast your cares on Him, fears will go away.’

“God is in control and has a purpose for everything,” Flor said. “I’m asking God to make me realize his goodness, his power. What he wants is for me to fully understand the lessons to learn this COVID season.”

“How do I keep busy during this COVID lockdown? I’m kept busy with virtual business meetings, informative webinars, watch Netflix movies and YouTube concerts and bond with apos CJ (10), RB (9) and EF (3) who live next door and, of course, take care of and be with Ed, my ‘roommate’ who says he is now a ‘prisoner of love’.”

Gardening has kept Flor busy and inspired. Ed loves fresh vegetables and with Secretary William Dar’s “Plant Plant Plant,” Flor was inspired to transform their Valle Verde home garden to edibles. “Now we are able to eat fresh camote tops, alugbati and malunggay daily picked from the garden.”

“What can’t I do? I can do practically everything I was able to do before the lockdown except the physical face-to-face interaction with friends and colleagues and the mobility to go outside the house. Can’t go to the office and board meetings but with technology, I can attend meetings one after the other, even those organized abroad, without leaving home and going through EDSA traffic! Chaired the first annual PNB stockholders meeting virtually this year.

“I can’t visit my siblings Ate Kay (Jimenez) and Henry (Gozon, president of GMA-7) but we meet through Zoom regularly, at the very least, once a month. Can’t go out and visit Flor’s Garden in Antipolo, closed since the lockdown but have now ‘reinvented’ Flor’s Garden to making products such as edible and medicinal herbs, garden kits and materials, beautiful indoor plants available online.

“Can’t go out to church and concerts but am able to watch church services online – GCF, CCF and Victory, etc. and various concerts on YouTube. Can’t go out to restaurants, grocery stores and the market but fortunately, we are able to order practically everything online.”

*      *      *

A very spiritual person, Evelyn del Rosario has spent time with church prelates and nuns; now she starts her day at 7 a.m. by attending Holy Mass on Facebook livestream since the imposition of ECQ (enhanced community quarantine). She does her daily recitation of the Holy Rosary and novena prayers, and daily, except Sunday, she and her friends engage in a 4 p.m. ZOOM meeting. Says Evelyn: “I am anchored in my relationship with God and the Blessed Virgin Mary.”

Evelyn’s personal challenges:

“Because I don’t know how to cook, God provided me a chef, Noel Milan Mirasol, who was locked in at the Mosaic Tower where I live. He prepared my breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks from March 18 to late July. Unfortunately, Noel had to go home to Iloilo. Good thing there is the Coffee Project in Mosaic Tower and restaurants in Greenbelt with take-out service.

“I needed to put up a ZOOM app, but I did not know how to set it up. Then God made me meet Celine Lumain on the 7th floor of Mosaic where my food was being delivered. Celine became my IT consultant, and put up my ZOOM app.

“My Polish friends who also live in Mosaic, and my Opus Dei priest friend whose convent is just across the street from Mosaic, offered to buy anything for me at the grocery store. Oh, they were all my angels.

“After having worked for 46 years and two months in PLDT, I really looked forward to a happy, exciting and beautiful retirement.”

Evelyn joined PLDT after her graduation with a bachelor of arts degree in political science from the University of Santo Tomas.

“Honestly I did not miss my work because I know that I have done a great job as head of public affairs of the Community Relations Department of PLDT. I know I have left a certain legacy which cannot be replicated by any of my successors. The gift of charm and dexterity in addressing concerns of communities as well as in the highest office, be it in the government, church hierarchy, academe, among indigenous leaders, customers or private individuals.

“Although I am retired, VIPS call me up to complain about telephone service. Sometimes I end up defending the side of PLDT from angry customers. They still believe that although I’m retired I can still get things done through my good friends in PLDT.

“I miss the old non-coronavirus days, when I was free to move around and travel here and abroad, and dine out with my close friends and family until late at night.

“But most of all I miss personally attending daily mass and communion and visiting the Blessed Sacrament.”

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