Covid-19 revisited — a year after Cartooning for Peace on Twitter

Covid-19 revisited — a year after Featured

THE year 2020 could have been a year like any other. But it went fast and slowand slow: fleeting for the Covid-19 victims, especially for the families left behind; too fast for proper grieving; no closure; our departed’s presence lingering, still felt as goodbyes were not said intimately. Dying alone is not a civilized choice and is culturally abhorrent. These days death bedspace turnover is quick, ICU slot a premium and cremation a must. Time goes painfully slow for the living. Waiting for vaccination is simply excruciating.

I have written 19 columns on this pandemic. And I wrote a blog on the Ebola virus, which proved to be eerily prescient. This was the African outbreak that killed thousands. I am reprinting an abridged version of this 2014 blog on the Ebola virus that has similarities to the current coronavirus in its deadly spread, titled “Ebola virus: Is this the end of our world?”

“Quite recently, we woke up to the screaming headlines of newspapers that alert us to the outbreak of Ebola virus from Central and West Africa infecting people from several countries. The spread of this disease is now made easier due to plane travel that whisk people from continent to continent in a few hours. And this disease has an incubation period of from two days to three weeks. This means that a person will not display any symptom after being infected within those days. By that time, too, the carrier would have flown to another destination, perhaps home —infecting a family member, a loved one without each knowing the danger they are in. And we have thousands of our OFWs in these affected areas coming home!”

April 1, 2020 — ‘Covid-19 conspiracy theories’
“…The lockdown, enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) or similar appropriate euphemisms is a correct attempt to contain a deadly pandemic.” These drastic measures were meant to contain the virus and were not expected to last very long. But it did and the race was on to come up with a vaccine. There were subplots in this global narrative that involved America. It was expected to provide world leadership. It did not. The irresponsible President Trump, in denial mode predicted in early March that the virus was going away with April’s summer heat. He was criminally oblivious to the death toll of Americans that on April 24, 2020 broke 50,000. Today, April 5, 2021, America has 568,777 dead Americans.

April 22, 2020 — ‘Alternative aftermaths’
The world’s economy was collapsing, and I quoted reportage from Fareed Zakaria, a journalist of global renown, on the state of the world’s economy that we are just at the “early stages of what is going to become a series of cascading crises.” And we are not going back to anything resembling normal, a position that Adam Tooze, a British historian and an eminent academic, agreed with. “The old economic and political playbooks don’t apply…”

April 29, 2020 — ‘Economic recovery’
“Central to a global economic recovery are two predicates: the taming of Covid-19 as a “sine qua non” and a seamless measured lifting of the quarantine to restart local economic activities. But the world cannot wait 18 months. Much is unknown about Covid-19’s virulence when quarantine is lifted. It could trigger another wave of contagion. Yet, the world must understand we may have to live with the contagion or its mutant form among us for the foreseeable future.

Philippine cases are surging but the death toll was still unlike those of our neighbors, particularly Indonesia. While the Duterte government was serious in imposing the lockdowns and quarantine… “The undisciplined hordes, the pasaway roaming the streets during lockdowns need to be tamed with creative alternative livelihood, keeping them productive. The Deegong who has just extended quarantine for major cities to May 15 (2020) has initiated a Balik Probinsya program to decongest the slums of the cities. But, again, as in any palliative, instant solutions to generations-long festering problems are bound to fail. The pasaway will just earn a much-needed vacation back to their provinces. When the crisis abates, they will be back in their hovels.”

This week, April 2021 in the NCR, ECQ is being extended!

April 15, 2020
At 4 p.m., a Wednesday, total number of cases was 5,453 with 349 deaths and recovery of 353. We entered our sixth week of lockdown with the government extending the same to April 30, 2020. Our health experts predicted cases to rise somewhere between 26,000 to 75,000.

That was a year ago today. April 5, 2021, the Philippines has 803,398 cases, 646,237 recoveries and 13,435 deaths. Our one-year projections are off by 10 to 30 times.

An intimate death
But these are no longer cold statistics. By April 3, 2021, in the Philippines, 103 people had died of Covid-19. One was a friend who was like a brother to me. He was my son’s wedding “ninong” — and his confirmation sponsor. Although much younger, he mentored me on the financial markets and started me on a business path as a full partner in a cement trading and distribution business. He was a ‘84 Harvard Business School, I was class ’89 Harvard KSG. He was the chairman, and I was president. On intuition, we liquidated our company before the Asian financial crisis of July 1997 hit — a serendipitous decision which paradoxically he did not follow to its logical conclusion with his other firms. They could only be liquidated to the detriment of his clientele and other partners. It is a measure of the man’s decency that he chose to weather and absorb the full impact of the financial crises and helped his partners recover. He did recoup his losses and became even stronger in the aftermath. As they say, “what does not kill you makes you even stronger.”

But at a low point of his professional life, he rediscovered his Christian moorings and a deep affirmation of his faith in God. Years later, he gave me a book, The Purpose Driven Life by the American Baptist pastor Rick Warren, whose principles were his guidelines, long before this was widely published.

This man was forged out of crises both in his personal and professional lives. But two of these tragedies need recounting as perhaps these defined his character. He became a single father to a beautiful infant daughter after his young wife was murdered years back. This was a kind of a common bond as we share a tragedy. My father was murdered too when I was younger than he was. The second tragedy nearly cost him his life. Returning from a business trip abroad, he was robbed, shot and left for dead in his car. He sort of hinted to me later that his guardian angel must have been working overtime as it was early dawn when it happened. He survived with several bullets in his body.

This was an astute businessman with streets smarts, a head of a business clan and a good family man — leaving behind a wonderful wife, Rhodora (he remarried), two sons Bambam and John, and daughter Diane, who gave him four grandchildren.

The greatest tragedy perhaps is that this billionaire businessman, Jerry Angping, could not survive Covid-19.

Goodbye, my friend.000
Read 100 times Last modified on Wednesday, 07 April 2021 10:34
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