by Seneca Moraleda-Puguan
Living in South Korea during this pandemic is such a blessing for my family. Though there are still hundreds of cases reported each day, we are still able to move freely within the country.
South Korea was one of the first nations hit hard by this crisis but because of their past experiences in dealing with pandemics, they were able to quickly navigate on how to deal with this emergency situation.
There was no lockdown but only strict social distancing and contact tracing measures were imposed ever since the pandemic started. Gatherings may have been limited but life goes on.
As foreigners, my husband and I are amazed at how the Korean government responded to the ongoing worldwide devastation. We are grateful that even as foreigners, we are eligible to free COVID tests and we have also received financial grant from the local government of the city we live in.
My husband and I were each given a card loaded with a certain amount we can use to purchase from small businesses such as convenience stores and restaurants. Not only have we received help from the government, in a way we are taking part in helping numerous struggling small businesses to survive.
As much as we are grateful to be where we are right now, our hearts bleed for our families, loved ones, friends and everyone in our home country.
With the quick transmission of the virus and thousands of cases recorded daily, we couldn’t help but be worried and anxious for the safety of the people we love. We already have a lot of friends and even family members who have contracted the virus. We know of many who lost precious loved ones.
Our prayers and thoughts go out to the Filipino people who are struggling but still persevering to overcome this dire situation the whole world is facing right now.
The government has rolled out financial support a number of times especially to those in the grassroots but it’s not enough. Not only are many catching the virus, but many are also losing sources of livelihood, many are getting hungry, many are losing hope.
But there are selfless and generous people who find ways to bring even just a glimmer of hope to their communities.
Churches offer their buildings to be a place of rest for exhausted frontliners. Some small businesses open their doors to homeless people in need of refuge. I have witnessed many who are helping financially people they barely know but are badly affected by the pandemic even if they themselves are trying to stay afloat.
And just recently, community pantries have mushroomed across the nation and it just started with the initiative of one person. Private citizens have set up stalls with food that can be taken for free by those in the community who need them. The pandemic may have broken hearts and souls, but it didn’t crush the Filipino Bayanihan spirit.
This Covid-19 contagion may have distanced all of us physically, but it caused us to truly understand what community means.
It has taught us to look out not just for our own sake but for others We stay home, not just because we want to be safe from the virus, but because we care about others not contracting the virus.
We realize that we are all in need of encouragement and prayer that we become the answer to another person’s prayer. Indeed, tough times unite us. Difficult times strengthen us. Bad times bring out the good in us.
I wish that that the Philippine government would learn a thing or two from the South Korean government. I wish that my loved ones and friends in the Philippines can experience the benefits that our family has received from the country adopting us in this season of our lives.
But I trust the indomitable and resilient Filipino spirit. We will get through this together. We will come out of this refined.
As a Filipino living overseas, I don’t just stop in wishing, I choose to hope, I act in prayer and I respond in generosity. I know that all of us, though we all need help too, have something to give.
As part of this global community, we can make a difference. It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small.
Just like that one person who started a community pantry in Quezon City inspired others to follow suit, one simple act of kindness and generosity can cause a ripple effect which in turn will impact the world.
by Seneca Moraleda-Puguan