Never have I imagined that we would experience a pandemic crisis in this lifetime. One that was so sudden, so severe and jarring, that it completely swept us under the rug. I could remember the first few months of the pandemic. The sheer fear I felt for not only my life, but for my siblings, my parents, my love, and my children enraptured me for that entire time. I remember the many times me fighting over with my eldest son, who had to go out for work or social meets, and arguing with my siblings that the pandemic is very much real.
Honestly, even now, I am still in fear of every time my eldest son goes out, and just praying that he doesn’t contract the virus and he gets home safe.
I could only wish that all this pandemic did was to cruelly put the whole world on pause, but, no, it did something more. It took away our right to enjoy our life, our right to economic stability, and our right to be free. Sadly, my family and I were no exceptions.
Nevertheless, we did try everything to survive. With each desperate day, we clung to the hope that tomorrow gets better. It has been more than a year now, and with the emergence of the new variants of the Covid-19 virus, it is sad to say that there is still a long way to go before this outbreak ends.
I am not a person who publicly speaks about their experiences. Everything that I detailed on my websites has all been my hobbies, but I never expounded more than that. I kept my family matter private, a secret even, to many of my readers and even my fellow bloggers. However, in this desperate time, I understand that there may be other people like us. Others who lost many things, sacrificed many, just so they could survive.
It is then my duty, not as a blogger, not as an influencer, but as a fellow human, to at least impart what we have gone through. That, in these struggles of mine, they will be able to inspire you, my readers, to act as we did.
Before the pandemic
With all the buzz about COVID-19, I am almost certain that the people may have forgotten about a similar outbreak problem before the pandemic. However, my family and I have not, because this problem has severely impacted not only our lives but the mental health of whom I love.
Before the Covid-19 virus outbreak, the African Swine Fever (ASF) infested the Swine Industry. It was not picky in its victims, as most piggeries, whether big or small, were affected and badly hit. There had been no cure for this infestation, and many farms struggled at the time to make sure that the damage is mitigated.
Unfortunately, my husband did not have such luck. Being a Swine Management Consultant, he, unfortunately, lost his job as all five of his commercial farm clients have shut down their operations.
This is the beginning of our financial instability as he was the main breadwinner of our family. However, even then, we were trying to look towards the future. My eldest son at the time had truly stepped up to become the new breadwinner of the family, and he had been doing everything he can to make sure we survive. I will always be grateful to him and his efforts, as he would come home always haggard and tired, but willing to work for another day.
Then came the Covid-19 virus outbreak.
March 15, 2020, the ECQ begun in Metro Manila. My eldest son came home carrying his work peripherals as they were advised to go on a home office set-up. At first, we were thinking that ASF will eventually vanish and my husband can return back to work. There were still some piggeries who might need his expertise, and we were truly hoping that he would get employed once again. We did not have to worry about our finances. After all, we had enough savings and emergency funds to get us by.
But as the Covid-19 total lockdown continued and ASF still spread, I came to realize that my eldest son will not be able to support every house expense. The prices were rising every day, and our emergency funds diminished just as quickly. Eventually, my eldest son would not be able to handle the expenses for all the housing, utility bills, maintenance medicines, and daily food to put on the table.
I did not want to admit this to myself, but I did eventually come to the most horrific realization that we might not survive if this continued.
Typically, blogging and freelancing is my part-time job. Since we had more than enough, my earnings go to our emergency funds and become our extra budget to buy what we want. Especially for our youngest son, who always had wanted something to buy for his collection and entertainment. But due to our financial crisis, it became another source to supplement our daily needs. My part-time work became full-time, as I knew that our funds were diminishing at an alarming rate.
However, as the pandemic impacted all businesses globally, my work time has been reduced, therefore less income is produced. I needed to look for more jobs available online which put me through numerous sleepless nights. This was the time when it sunk in my mind that this was not enough and I needed to do more. To further stretch our finances, I have resorted to selling baked goods. I needed to look for more opportunities to help my son in providing for the family needs.
Is it okay not to be okay?
Ever since the pandemic, I have had trouble sleeping. Always waking up in the middle of the night, crying and praying; asking for His guidance and help to give us grace and wisdom so we can survive these trials that we are into.
Both my husband and I went through anxiety and mental stress.
Being jobless took a huge toll on my husband’s health. He became frail and unexpectedly fell causing wounds and bruises to his face. In just about six months or so, he suddenly developed Parkinson’s disease and early dementia. Though his age is also attributed to his disease, I believe overthinking made it a lot worse. He needed plenty of laboratory and diagnostics tests to be able to rule out his underlying condition to address his proper medication.
To answer his medical needs without resorting to getting a loan, we decided to sell one of our vehicles. It had been the vehicle that my husband had been using for as long as my youngest had been born. It broke my heart to see him that way, as he parted with a vehicle he drove for a long time. As of this writing, he is still under medication.
Our Daily Lives
As much as I wanted to say that our daily lives are improving as the pandemic continues, I just cannot ignore what is truly going on.
There were many mornings when I would wake up and have no motivation to get up. However, I needed to get up, to work, just so my family could survive one more day. I incurred many injuries over the time of the pandemic and even broke my toe. However, out of consideration of our finances, I just kept the pain in and adjusted my lifestyle alongside it. It still hurts whenever I had to walk or if pressure was placed against it, but it did not hurt as much as seeing my family be confused and depressed.
The past year has been unkind to my family. My husband has become more disoriented and has been more frustrated with himself. My youngest was the same, frustrated at his inability to help financially. To help what little he could, he sold off his Percy Jackson books that he had owned since his childhood and was willing to give away his and his brother’s shared Zoids collection as well. He poured himself into his academics, always giving his best to the point that he burned himself out from all the activities.
However, I think it is my eldest who struggled the most. My eldest has been losing sleep, most likely from the stress and pressure that he is the sole breadwinner of the family. He even stopped spending on his hobby of collecting Gundam, shoes, and his car, just so he could focus on helping the family survive another day. Recently, he even got scammed because he wanted to do something more to help us survive. We got into fights over that many times, but I do understand and am grateful that he is trying to find a way to survive when he could’ve just easily crumbled under the pressure.
Fortunately, our efforts had at least made some headway. We have somewhat stable funds for our daily meals, but we had to cut down on the quality. We no longer have any stock on the fridge, nor do we have canned foods on the cabinets. Instead, we chose to buy whatever we can buy the cheapest on the market early morning, trying to keep a strict and tight budget that constantly gets challenged by the hiking food rates at the market. It genuinely frustrates me, to know that one day, what we have would no longer be enough to buy even just a bundle of vegetables or a few pieces of meat. Even so, it makes me happy to see my husband and children eat whatever is on the table anyway without complaints. They understand the situation we are in, but it does not make me feel any less guilty that I could not feed them with something more than a few pieces of egg and some dried fish.
Even so, my recent life in the pandemic made me realize that instead of focusing on these things, I should learn to be grateful about the little things in life.
Big or small wins matter
To have motivation in this pandemic, I have told myself to not expect too much and to always do what I can. Instead of just focusing on the future, I learned to just be grateful for what I have in the present. For me, the fact that my family was able to eat on this day, that no one in my family was sick, and that all are still alive are huge victories. These things may be small compared to winning the lottery, but they still do matter. It just shows that we were all still living and that we are all trying to survive another day.
Then, there were the three big victories during this pandemic, one that would not have been possible if it weren’t for the efforts of my two children. As mentioned in my previous paragraph, my youngest son is still studying. That fact had been problematic for me as we had no idea where we are going to get his tuition fee as he is only getting 50% scholarship discount; yet, to our surprise, he was given a 100% discount being on the President’s Honor List. I am so blessed that my youngest son understands our current situation and strives to maintain his grade of GWA 1.0. He is already graduating this next school year. Moreover, much to our delight, he passed the Huawei Artificial Intelligence Certification exam despite how anxious and worried he had been prior to the exam. As for my eldest son, he has also passed the Certification for Associate Project Manager.
The fact that my children gained such big victories in this desperate situation gives me the motivation to do what I can to gain a big victory as well. I could not let them down, and it is in that fact alone that I am able to carry on as well as I have.
Two big wins despite the hardships we are facing, both of them still have a positive outlook in life and thrive to prosper.
Faith, Love, and Hope
The magnitude of the current crisis brought by this pandemic allowed us to gain more personal insight that life is to be lived through experience. This is the unique time to reflect on troubling matters and learn something in the process.
Never lose your faith, hold on. Let love and hope conquer your heart. We might be struggling every now and then but we are still surviving this pandemic crisis.
This story is an entry to ComCo Southeast Asia’s “Write to Ignite Blogging Project Season 2: Dear Survivor”. The initiative continues to respond to the need of our times, as every story comes a long way during this period of crisis. The initiative aims to pull and collate powerful stories from the Philippine blogging communities to inspire the nation to rise and move forward amidst the difficult situation. The “Write to Ignite Blogging Project” Season 2 is made possible by ComCo Southeast Asia, with Eastern Communications and Jobstreet as co-presenters, with AirAsia and Xiaomi as major sponsors, and with Teleperformance as sponsor.