When it seemed like the lockdown was going to last forever, around May to June, I can say I was completely devastated about the entire situation. I was bored at home, and cursing the existence of the virus. How unlucky could I have been that I had to be in my last year of high school during the onset of a global pandemic! I lost my senior year of high school, and also my freshman year of college. Aside from that, a lot of Filipinos weren’t getting the proper support they needed to ensure that they would survive this pandemic.
It wasn’t long before I started questioning why I was so upset. After some reflection, I realized that everything had piled up on my shoulders –– the cutting short of my senior year of high school, the fact that I couldn’t step foot on the campus of my new university, the general incompetence of the Philippine government during this global crisis–– everything just felt so heavy. Once I had accepted my situation, I turned my attention to what was happening around me. The government was just turning a blind eye to the needs of the people as always, but in this case it was even worse than usual, because the lockdown was for an indefinite amount of time, which meant that Filipinos would be suffering for an indefinite amount of time. Their already difficult lives just got a whole lot harder, and meanwhile the government was spending the budget on unnecessary projects like the dolomite beach in Manila Bay. I realized that while I was sulking, people were suffering. I felt guilty. Slowly but surely, that guilt developed overwhelming restlessness and anger towards the government.
I was able to channel these overwhelming feelings into concrete action through my contributions to the non-profit organizations I was affiliated with. These included donating to them, making promotional materials for them, overseeing their projects, and volunteering for repacking & distribution efforts. There were even some times where I was luckily able to see the fruits of my efforts through the smiles of the people we distributed to, and that in turn truly warmed my heart.
By the time 2020 was over, I realized I was left with nothing but a full heart. Yes, I was still very disappointed in my government, but a lot of that disappointment was overshadowed by the bright joy that I gained from helping small communities in need. I felt that I was utilizing my resources and talents to their absolute fullest, and it felt great knowing that I was using it not for myself, but for others.
— Emma Peckson, 18