Duty, honor, country

AS A MATTER OF FACT - Sara Soliven De Guzman - The Philippine Star

Who would have imagined that this year would bring us so much misery, devastation, frustration, disaster and depression? No one saw it coming. Everything right now is new and experimental. There is no clear-cut solution to the problems we face, be it in the medical field, economy, private and public sectors. Today we are forced to accept the realities and push ourselves to move on. But how?

In a time when everything seems to be falling apart and our lives stuck in the doldrums, we need inspiration to pull us right back on track. We need good, honest and decent men and women to lead us. We need a united front where cooperation and support abound.

The words of General Douglas MacArthur come to mind in a time of seemingly utter confusion: Duty, Honor, Country – those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying point to build courage when courage seems to fail, to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith, to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.

This is not the time to be greedy or to serve oneself. This is not the time to steal. This is not the time to panic. This is not the time to be ambitious. In times of disillusionment, my father would always recite Josiah Gilbert Holland’s poem:

God give us men! A time like this demand

Strong minds, great hearts, true faith and ready hands;

Men whom the lust of office does not kill;

Men whom the spoils of office can not buy;

Men who possess opinions and a will;

Men who have honor; men who will not lie;

Men who can stand before a demagogue

And damn his treacherous flatteries without winking!

Tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog

In public duty, and in private thinking;

For while the rabble, with their thumb-worn creeds,

Their large professions and their little deeds,

Mingle in selfish strife, lo! Freedom weeps,

Wrong rules the land and waiting Justice sleeps.

Yes, this can be a prayer for our country. It is a strong prayer of hope in a time when the spirit of an officer seems to be lost. When a country is suffering and trusted officers are supposedly managing our healthcare systems efficiently but are not. When the lead doctor should rally behind his frontliners but is failing in the decisions and foresights he makes. When protection should be given to the people instead of death. When promises are made for the right education of the children but are not kept. When a group of men must collaborate for the urgent needs of the country but choose to only work for self-interest. When a President is expected to act like a father but chooses to be stern and callous.

Everyone has been affected by this great disaster. We have experienced so many deaths of our loved ones (family members, friends, acquaintances and public figures). We have been exposed to many sicknesses amidst our continued prayers for safety and protection. People close to us have lost jobs. Unemployment is rising. Establishments big or small are closing down. Two old-time favorite Chinese restaurants have closed down. Your favorite café is out of business. Fast food chains have lost billions. Hotels are empty. The airline industry is on the verge of collapsing. Banks have downsized. Schools have closed down. We are facing recession at its worst. If our COVID-19 cases continue to rise, we will suffer even more not only physically but economically.

According to the Nikkei Asian Review, Metropolitan Manila makes up nearly 40 percent of the national economy and is closely linked to production hubs in the northern and southern regions. Our gross domestic product growth will be hit hard in the first half of the year. Based on data of the Philippine Statistics Authority, the unemployment rate in the country is at its all-time high with 7.3 million jobless Filipinos.

Our employed citizens must realize that they are very lucky to still have work. But why are they still demanding hazard pay, work from home benefits and the sort? Don’t they know that their company may be on the brink of closure? This is not the time to make demands. This is a time to help make companies survive. It is mayday! Yes, companies are already getting distress signals. Employees must stop their personal whims, be stronger in spirit and become more prudent and supportive. If they cannot handle the situation, they better leave and find a job that suits them. This is the time to protect what you have. Most importantly, be grateful!

Many companies, even schools, have tried the “work from home” mode but it is not working. The efficiency that a company gets from its employees working at home will never be the same as working on site. Quality will eventually deteriorate and this will force the company to close. If this trend continues, the companies may just decide to downsize, choose the more courageous and non-bickering staff to work on-site or to close down. The demands of the workers, for example from the BPO industry, are way too much. They do not realize how it can be aggravating for a company trying to cope with so much. The government’s requirement of free shuttle service and free COVID-19 testing is not fair to companies. It will not help sustain business. Every employee must do their part and contribute to the survival of the company. It can never be a one-way street.

Customers and clients, on the other hand, demand even greater service. Sorry to bust your move but this will not happen all the time. Patience is the key. Entities are in a frenzy trying to adapt to the new normal. Clients must change their mindset. We are in a crisis. Companies are trying to maintain their services but they do not have enough staff as they have had before. Many are downsizing. Customers must learn to have good manners. In short, do not be too demanding. Do not shout, curse and complain like crazy. Chill! These are different times. And different times call for different measures. We need to adjust in order to survive. Be patient.

My father, the late Max Soliven, once wrote, “When all is said and done, what ails our nation is a crisis in morale, a loss of self-confidence, a feeling of despondency bordering on despair, the unnerving thought that perhaps we Filipinos cannot measure up to the demands of nationhood. The most deleterious emotion of all, I submit, is one of mounting cynicism. The feeling that our leaders and our politicians are all fakes. The self-defeating notion of: What’s the use?”

Let us not lose hope. Duty, honor and country. Together, we shall win this battle.




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