"The family is our first line of defense against the dangers and uncertainties of this pandemic."
Today begins the celebration of National Family Week. This year’s occasion is heightened by the pandemic that has gripped the nation in the past several months.
The National Committee on the Filipino Family has refined the theme, initially focusing on a comfortable, resilient and peaceful family, to providing compassionate response and protection for the Filipino family from the problems brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before the pandemic, the Filipino family was already threatened by numerous factors, among them psychological issues brought about by a grossly inequitable, fast-changing, technology-driven, and for some an increasingly materialistic world.
COVID-19 magnified these issues. Families faced health issues whether or not their members were COVID patients. Finances became unstable as millions lost jobs or saw their businesses crumble. Measures toward the new normal—for instance, distance learning for the children and work-from-home arrangement for parents—are also exerting additional pressure on families that have already been struggling to get by.
We observe these even as families were forced to be physically together in their homes at the height of the community quarantines. This enforced togetherness occasioned both good and not-so-good results—enjoyment of each other’s company on the one hand, but also increased tension and even instances of abuse, on the other.
Whatever the circumstances, the family is undeniably the first line of defense against the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the people who are constantly around us who will be the first to remind us to always wear a mask when outside, or observe the minimum physical distance from others. It is our family who will ensure we eat healthy, take vitamins, exercise, and avoid non-essential excursions outside the house. It is our family who will tell us that different Filipinos are affected differently by this crisis, so we should always be both grateful and empathetic.
We do not need to look far to appreciate those who should come first, whether in ordinary times or in crisis situations. Some people are bereft of the comforts of home and the warmth of family. May we never take ours for granted, today and henceforth.