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Alba Iulia
Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Our lives as Filipino-Australians may never be the same again

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The onset of the pandemic early this year has been reshaping the landscape of the world as we know it. As businesses close down or downscale and people shut themselves in, the world is making a radical shift that not many had anticipated—all in the name of combatting an unseen enemy, but is widely felt everywhere.

While people were forced to stay at home, a great transformation has indeed happened. As the number of jobs dwindled during the onset of the pandemic, communities rise to fix the kind of life that was taken from them.

Rise in remote interaction

The Filipino-Australians are not excluded from people badly hit.

For a group of people for whom socialising is an integral aspect of their being, the forced social distancing was a scourge in waiting.

We, who are a community of tactile people who show our affection via a warm hug, a handshake, or beso-beso, are severely hit by how we relate to others. It just gets a bit more challenging when situations become tough like family or friends getting sick, lonely or worse, die.

In such circumstances, we haven’t been able to visit, offer a hug, or do usual things such as meet up over a cup of coffee.

So we make the most of the situation by being more available online or over the phone. Having temporarily lost our ability to maintain close distance, we resort to means that are remote but still maintain a sense of closeness as facilitated by modern technology. Zoom meetings have become commonplace, with socialising spanning not only between family and friends here, but also back home. 

Uncertainty in future local events

Our social interactions have also been gravely affected by the economy. The economy is one aspect clearly affected by the pandemic and this certainly has some effect on our income stream, personally and industrially.

On top of the limits imposed as we gradually ease back into normalcy, economics will also dictate how we will get together as a community.

For now, we will not be able to mount huge gatherings for national celebrations, such as the Philippine Independence Day.  

Fiestas may be cancelled, balls and galas, concerts (local artists and celebrities) as well as anniversary celebrations. These require money and coordination among groups of people to mount. Events don’t happen overnight and resources have to be poured in to make them successful.

What will hurt for us is that many of the events we hold are fundraising in nature, whether to add to our organisation’s coffers or to support our chosen charities. What happens now to our scholars in the Philippines, or the projects we fund which help in the social and economic mobility of individuals or sectors back home?  

For now, we have to come up with creative ways to sustain our community spirit and at the same time, still be resourceful and help out kababayans here, for example, international students, or they who lost jobs or been stood down, and Philippine charities. It hurt and might continue to in the next couple of months or more.

But we have to learn to live with our new situation. The rules of the game have changed and as of late, we don’t have yet a solution, locally and globally, for COVID-19. As most of the states ease into our new normal, one thing remains the same. The risk is still there. We cannot be business as usual.

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