It has been 8 months since the Philippines recorded its first Coronavirus case on the 30th of January, 2020. Everyone’s life is at stake of getting infected. As the recorded cases increases, the level of anxiety and depression accelerates. Many business establishment are losing revenue; workers lost their jobs; unemployment and poverty follows, students adapting and coping up with their current learning modes and, of course, the country’s frontliners and health care workers who are risking their lives. All people around the world are affected and adapting to this so-called “new normal.” Every movement has its restrictions, wearing those annoying face masks or face shields and observing social distancing. And for 8 months, we have not developed a vaccine yet. While everybody is complaining, staying in their houses and praying; there are those who chose to fight despite the situation. These kind of people are the kind of people we should always keep on our side. These kind of people are the sources of hope and inspiration. Their strength, grit and resilience against the pandemic are something we should all have.
For today’s article, we have chosen to feature three different people with their stories of grit and resilience despite the pandemic.
First we have, Dr. Carmina Fuentebella, she is one of those countless brave health care professionals who fearlessly stepped on the way and battled with Covid-19. At the UST Hospital, where she works, she saw closely how the virus can destroy the human body and how patients who got sick of Covid-19 needed care. Eventually, she contracted the disease herself before her 27th birthday which she celebrated as a Covid-19 patient. There she was placed in an isolated room which was very similar to her patients when she was giving care. In her interview with INQUIRER.net, Dr. Fuentebella narrates her struggle to survive and beat Covid-19. She narrates how hard it was in an isolated room where she felt like she was being killed slowly, she could literally feel the clock ticking every second. She almost lost hope and even question God why she had to suffer such misfortune— for she was just doing her job as a doctor. She almost felt like giving up.
On her 27th birthday celebration, she said she had no any expectations, but when she woke up in the morning she saw the nurses putting up a banner that says, “Happy Birthday,” on the walls. And her friends got to prepare cakes, and residents from the same department even came and sang a “Happy birthday song” fully dressed in their PPE’s. She also received many video greetings than her past birthdays.
Dr. Fuentebella was also asked if after her recovery, would she be able to return as a frontliner, and she said yes, saying it is a doctor’s job to take care his patients, but it takes more than just knowledge of medicine to fully cure those who are suffering. And with empathy, she hoped to let her patients know that they are not carrying the burden of their illness alone, that there is someone who will fight with them-the same way all those people who did to her. There she prayed for faster recovery, and she was grateful for her friends, relatives, families and other people who are always there for her. Now, she already had recovered from the Coronavirus and regaining her strength to fight again.
The way she risked her life and fight against Covid-19 just to be with her patients and take good care of them is a story of perseverance, grit and resilience.
Next on the list is, Mrs. Lorena S. Mendoza, a 46-year-old public school teacher from Langkaan Elementary School. For 26 years, Ma’am Mendoza handles Filipino subject and has handled different generations to which some are already offspring of her former pupils. A typical classroom teacher yet her younger colleagues would always admire how her devotion to the profession has not changed through the years. On March 2019, Ma’am Mendoza was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent through medical operation on April of the same year and took a 7 month leave for her recovery. On January 2020, she was reinstated from service although against her family desire. According to her, the pain of suddenly being out in a class in weekdays during her leave is harder to bear compared to any medical procedure she had undergone. It is more deafening to hear silence in the morning compared to the students’ noise she gets used to for the past decades.
As Langkaan Elementary School adapts online and modular distance learning modalities for the school year 2020-2021, Ma’am Mendoza initially enlisted herself under those who will handle modular classes. According to her, using technology or gadgets would be difficult for her as the reason of choice for modular learning. Her health is at risked. Soon, she would be loaded with various printed modules on her disk, and this compelled her to switch for online learning.
Ma’am Mendoza had signed under the list of students who will deliver via online. She knew that this is going to be tough. She was inspired by her younger colleagues, and challenged herself to learn persistently along the way with her cellphone and laptop, have supplements the Division and school trainings with self-directed learning. She would also ask for assistance from her children who are technologically adept.
Ma’am Mendoza, upon learning the brilliance of technology, proudly shares her output with her colleagues. Thus, gaining their respect for her deep and sincere commitment as a teacher.
And there, Mrs. Mendoza, a seasoned teacher presently fighting against cancer, giving her best in learning with the use of technology to ensure the continuation of learning for her students.
At a time like this, we need people like Mrs. Lorena S. Mendoza. Her commitment and dedication against the odds for the love of teaching is superb. This is another story that speaks of grit and resilience.
Finally, we have Louie Animas- an incoming grade 10 student of UP High School in Iloilo sold cashew nuts to buy gadgets he needs for the upcoming school year. He narrated how he was able to overcome the impacts of pandemic and how worried he was when he heard in the news that the upcoming school year will be online and will be on distance learning. He does not have the gadgets as required for this kind of learning arrangement and they are also not financially stable. Instead of thinking it as a problem, he think of it as a challenge.
He said he had to be optimistic and productive, then he finally decided to sell cashew nuts with two goals in mind-first, for fundraising to buy the tools for this upcoming online class, and second, was to help his buyers boost their immune system as one way of fighting Covid-19.
His selling journey was not easy, but then he was persistent and determined to reach his goals. Initially, he has about 5, 18, 20 kilos of cashew nuts to sell and turned into a massive 75 kilos sold.
He was also thankful for the generosity and full support of his family, friends, coaches, anonymous donors, ASTROFIL Spain-Philippines and the UPV community that gave him strength to sustain his project along the way which made it a success.
Above mentioned stories of grit and resilience may encourage and inspire us in times like this. Each was not born a fighter but rather chose to be. Hardships made them warriors. If they can do it, then you can.
Have hope. Strive harder. And succeed!