The lost year

"Thank God for tender mercies."



In my opening remarks during the recently concluded 26th Joint Economic Conference held virtually between our country and Taiwan, I quoted a social media post from someone who said that he “is not adding this year to his age, because he was not able to use it.

And indeed, 2020 will most likely be “annus horribilis” for almost everyone all over the world. 

Health systems are over-strained and unable to cope with the avalanche of COVID-19 cases, even in the wealthiest of countries.  Economies have been devastated.  Internal mobility is impaired, just as international travel has almost ground to a standstill. Lives have been shattered by unexpected deaths in families, and current sources of livelihood gone.

For us in the Philippines, life has yet to return to normal, and just as the horrible year is about to mercifully end, with hopeful news that vaccines are being developed with increased frequency in pharmaceutical laboratories in several countries, we are visited by Quinta, then Rolly, and Ulysses. They destroyed wide swaths of land where crops have been painstakingly cultivated by poor farmers, and leaving so many homeless and desperate. All this happened just when Christmas is around the corner.

 The light at the end of the tunnel seems to be like a flickering candle instead of a bright lamp leading us on to the “new normal.”

* * *

In the US of A, the unthinkable is happening.  A madman surrounded by sycophants in the White House refuses to accept the reality of electoral numbers.  He has lost to a man he described as most unfit to lead what used to be regarded throughout the globe as a “beacon of democratic freedoms” and the “land of milk and honey.”  The deranged president refuses to concede, with his discredited team of sycophants charging baseless claims of fraud and conspiracy, even as he pressures fellow Republicans in battleground states to reverse the irreversible and violate their state laws.

As a result, the smooth transition of power, which for centuries has been a hallmark of American democracy, is not only delayed but disputatious to the point of not even happening at all.  In a previous column, I sarcastically wrote that Donald Trump will be dragged out of the White House by Secret Service agents come January 20.  Hyperbolic sarcasm may just become reality.

The American domestic health situation has become worse, and deaths are being reported by the thousands daily, with infection reaching a hundred thousand a day as well.  Still, the unhinged POTUS, an abbreviation used by imperial America to describe their power, closets himself in his Pennsylvania Avenue cocoon in between rounds of golf, with nary a care.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will find it so difficult to govern a scarred and divided nation, once so proud, now so terrified. 

Worse, what happens if America’s enemies take advantage of their internal chaos and confusion to create international disorder?  What is happening in the United States these days is creating ripe timing and opportunities for hegemonic adventurism and even terroristic activities.

Coronavirus has disrupted America’s Thanksgiving Day traditions, as disease conquers family reunions.  Now even Christmas is being robbed by anxiety over their divisiveness borne out of the demagoguery of one man and his minions.  

God help America, and God save the world from it.

* * *

On a happy note, we personally visited a cold chain manufacturing facility in Taiwan that could make, if we need it, the minus-80-degree-Centigrade freezers needed for certain mRNA vaccines such as the one created by Pfizer and some European pharmaceutical companies.

The cold storage facilities, which could be converted later on for agricultural and food security usage has patented technology that brings down electrical energy consumption by as much as 70 percent!

* * *

 Again on the bright side, the private sector in the Philippines is putting its money on the right side of social responsibility.  Without their voluntary and immediate responses during the pandemic, our health situation would have been worse than it already is.

San Miguel Corporation’s Ramon S. Ang for one has announced the building of a hospital in Southern Luzon which would be a hub for infectious disease research and treatment.  And again, as calamity after calamity has struck, not only will San Miguel massively buy corn from impoverished farmers, they are also leading the way in providing food packs to the dispossessed in our evacuation facilities.

“This pandemic has been an eye-opener for all of us. Our healthcare system needs to be strengthened. For this reason, we want to help build up our country’s capability to handle future pandemics and other health crises,” Ang said.

 Enrique Razon has offered to advance monies for the purchase of vaccines, just as he bankrolled, along with Ang and the SM Group, test kits and PPEs even during the early stages of the pandemic when our public health system was bewildered and perhaps bewitched by a bothered health leadership.

Thank God for tender mercies.

Topics: Lito Banayo , The lost year , 26th Joint Economic Conference , Taiwan , Health systems
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