"We don’t just sit and wait for better times ahead."
By most indications, Filipinos have reason to be hopeful. The number of new COVID-19 cases has been declining in the last few days, the positivity and reproduction rates are on a downward trend, and many restrictions have been lifted. Some 24.5 million have been fully vaccinated; another 28.3 million are awaiting their second dose.
These developments are giving people a little more room to go out and relive the sense of normalcy that has been missing for far too long. They have also breathed some life into businesses, which have seen a slump in the past year and a half.
The Education Department is even fleshing out the details for a pilot return to face-to-face classes: Some 30 schools are participating.
Lest we get carried away, however, by a renewed sense of freedom, let us remember: The virus is still with us.
The vaccination rate is a mere 32 percent of the government target in order to achieve herd immunity. The intensive care units of hospitals are still full. Amid these, many medical frontliners, exhausted by more than a year of not getting the pay they deserve amid great risk, are resigning and looking for lucrative jobs abroad.
If we are not careful, these early gains may be wiped out again. Greater mobility and economic activity, as well as a general sense that things are improving, may cause complacency. People might be less assiduous in following protocol, if they ever were in the first place.
Recent developments are causing us to dare to hope again, but this time around we should not stop with simply hoping. We should, instead, recognize that we each have a role to play in ensuring that the recovery is sustained.
We can begin by acknowledging that it remains our responsibility to abide by health protocols religiously, and to call out those who appear to think the crisis is over.
We can follow it up by keeping abreast of developments in governance and holding our leaders accountable for the imprudent decisions they make.
Finally we can assert ownership of our fate by ensuring we are able to vote in the May elections and choosing carefully the candidates we will put in office.
We don’t sit and wait for better times ahead. Instead, we must all do what we can to ensure the end-game is as close to the ideal as we can imagine.