18 months after COVID-19 Will the past be our future?

PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez - The Philippine Star
18 months after COVID-19 Will the past be our future?
Doctors Z Teo & Aivee Aguilar Teo
Mau Aguasin

Can we bring the past back and make it our future? Do we want it back — exactly as it was pre-2020?

One of the best things about the past is that it’s a blackboard, or whiteboard  — with lessons writ in black and white.

The year 2020 and the first five months of 2021 were a crash course in surviving the unknown. At least, for many born in the past 100 years, whether you’re nine, 29 or 90. There was a new, unseen enemy with cures at first uncertain, with mankind caught flatfooted.  The enemy robbed us of many of our freedoms, and hid our smiles.

Who would have known that going to churches filled to the rafters on Sundays, concerts, Midnight Madness sales and glitzy balls would be like going back to the Middle Ages? To a time so long ago, and seemingly, so far away?

Nowadays, who prefers a Netflix subscription to a new pair of branded shoes, a Monstera deliciosa to a new bag?

Who have wept over Schengen visas soon to expire — unused?

And yet the year past, for those who have not experienced the excruciating loss of loved ones, has also had its silver lining. We have been bestowed the gift of pause. A reboot. The chance to deepen our faith by being still, “and knowing there is a God.”

The past 18 months gifted us the chance to live our days that way we’ve secretly wanted — in my case, with a dose of domesticity. I thank God for the privileges my fast-paced life had given me before 2020 — but I also thank Him that I now have the time to bake bread for breakfast! Or create tablescapes with figments of my imagination!

I see life being close to normal again. Soon. That front-page photo in the STAR of an outdoor rock concert in Wuhan — the original epicenter of the COVID-19 virus infection — where most  revelers weren’t  in masks, was like ice water on my face. Whaat? In Wuhan? If they can make normalcy happen again in Wuhan, they can make it happen anywhere.

The future, with man doing God’s work on earth, is no longer just a leap of faith. Soon, maybe the best of the past — like hugging one’s senior parents and walking down the aisle of a plane again, passing through X-ray and security checks (who would have thought they were the good ol’ days) — may be our tomorrow again.


I asked some of Manila’s movers and shakers their greatest takeaway from the months just past, and their hopes for the future.

Doctors Z Teo & Aivee Aguilar Teo

Z: The strongest takeaway is to not take every single breath for granted. Every minute of being alive is a blessing and we should always remember to thank God for his mercies every day. Be content with what we have and not be envious of others. We are blessed just the way we are.

I am looking forward to the country getting vaccinated and getting a feel of normalcy returning to our lives. However, I hope we will be able to bring with us the new normal of having more quality time with our family and keeping our physical and spiritual health in peak condition. Looking forward to finally traveling again and going home to Singapore to see my parents!

Aivee: The strongest takeaway is that the pandemic has taught me to simplify our lives. There’s a lot of things that are not necessary and we can do without. What truly matters is God, family, health and work. Everything else is a bonus and we have to be appreciative of both the small and big things. Live not just for ourselves but others.

What I’m looking forward to is to spend more quality time with my family and to focus on meaningful goals to help make a difference in other people’s lives.


Jaime Ponce de Leon, Leon Gallery

My greatest takeaway from the past year is that life is indeed fleeting. What man proposes, God disposes.

(My) first goal for 2021 is to get vaccinated and hopefully, live normally again.

With Chris Evans

Jane Jimenez-Basas, Smart Communications

2020 takeaway?

That no matter how challenging life is, there is always something to be grateful for. That each of us has a role to play to make other’s lives better, especially for those who struggle to find the good in their lives right now. So we should all care, share, and live for others and not just for ourselves. When we do that, we provide not just short-term joy, but hope in the hearts of those who struggle.

Looking forward to what?

For the rest of 2021, I think things will continue to be challenging for most, but I continue to hope. I hope that we will get our acts together and get it right for our people — especially for the poor and for our children. I will continue to do what I can in the role that has been assigned to me to give joy and to help. I look forward to more and more people to get vaccinated, for more businesses to start re-opening whether physically or virtually or both, for livelihood to start flourishing, and for all of us to live more fully in this new world we are facing.

Mau Aguasin

Josephine Ocampo, Bank of the Philippine Islands

I choose to be positive and so my takeaway is that with every crisis comes the opportunity to better ourselves individually, as a community, a country and as a world.  We see heightened spirituality and prayerfulness, stronger family bonds and friendships despite the absence of face-to-face encounters. We see businesses reinventing themselves, and see the rise of entrepreneurs in our community. Generosity of time, spirit and resources is displayed across all walks of life. Vaccines have been developed in record time — so we can put COVID behind us.

For the next half of 2021, I pray that COVID is contained and that vaccines will be available to many. I hope businesses will be able to restart and recover. With elections around the corner, I hope leaders will step up and govern with the best interests of the people.

On a personal note, I hope travel restrictions ease so I can be reunited with my three daughters who are away.  I hope I can see my friends and colleagues face to face. I hope it will be safe enough to watch a concert or a musical live! *


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