August 19, 2020 COVID-19 Series: Checking in on trivia79 in Philippines

Where are you from and what is the Covid situation in your country right now?
I’m from the Philippines and as of this writing, we beat China in terms of total number of COVID-19 cases. We are the only country in the world still under the longest lockdown, yet we failed to flatten the curve. Philippines is a third-world country, which is why the effect of the pandemic is being experienced significantly by the poor people.

Our healthcare system in the metro is reaching its maximum capacity. Frontliners are sending a message to our government that they are really exhausted from being on duty for at least fourteen hours. Their workforce is further decreasing due to increasing infected frontliners. Hence, Metro Manila is now in Enhanced Community Quarantine again until the third week of August.

What were the major changes/challenges in your daily life during this crisis? (As pertaining to work, family, free time, etc.)
This pandemic and repetitive lockdowns hinder me from visiting my family in our province. I haven’t visited my Mom since January. I also skipped celebrating Mother’s Day and her birthday with her.

I’ve been working from home since the second week of March 2020 when my employer found out about the fast spreading of Covid-19 within the city of our workplace. This resulted in numerous delayed feedbacks from our clients who have also been badly impacted by the lockdown.

On the brighter side, I have freed a few hours of my day that I previously allotted for preparation and transportation. My monthly savings also increased because I’m not travelling to work anymore and not buying fast foods outside. The pandemic teaches us that we can live well even without fast foods, expensive coffee, cinemas, luxurious entertainment and many more unnecessary things.

Is your work at home life affected by any family members living at home? Spouse, children, pets?
I’ve basically been living far from my parents and siblings in our province. I’m renting a room as a co-tenant near my workplace. Currently, none of my co-tenants are being affected by my work at home setup as they are also doing the same in their respective jobs.

Did you discover any new hobby/ passion during this period?
Yes. After being idle for so many years in quiz gaming and being idle for a year from a ‘Pinoy community’ mobile app, I’m now actively participating. At least I get to enjoy scavenging my stock knowledge and earning a few pesos when winning. Games are hosted by a live streamer and range from quiz trivia games to guess the tune and even lip reading.

Was there a place you planned to travel that you couldn’t make it to?
Me, my life partner, and my college friends and their partners had planned to travel outside of the Philippines this year. Fortunately it’s still a plan, haha.

On the other hand, my life partner and I had already booked airplane tickets last year to travel to their far province this year. This has been cancelled, obviously, and we opted for a refund as we don’t know when we will be able to travel safely again.

Also, if the pandemic never happened, this would have been my first time travelling outside my country to participate in Topcoder Regionals. When this pandemic ends, I’ll make sure I can make it again to the regionals.

Did you use your experience as a remote worker to help others (friends, family) to cope with the new reality?
Somewhat. During the first week of work from home setup my life partner was slightly struggling as she was not used to it. She quickly adapted because she observed me and I explained to her things that she finds confusing.

I also helped a friend of mine by introducing him to Topcoder. I’ve explained everything he needs to understand before and after registering. He is a data scientist and his Topcoder handle is ch1n1t0. He actually got second place in the second challenge he participated in.

What did you learn during Covid that will improve your life after?
More than learning is the appreciation. I appreciate more the importance of having a savings and emergency fund in times like this. This is the very reason why millions of my countrymen have been significantly impacted by the pandemic since day one of our first lockdown. In times where our economy is technically in a recession, cash is really king.

Above all, if we just live below our means, we can have more. When this pandemic erupted, no one rushed to buy gold, share stocks, fancy clothes, the latest gadgets and more unnecessary money-wasting stuff. We all rushed to buy necessities like food, hygiene items, medicine supplies, and many more basic needs to survive, keep safe, and be healthy. 

How do you think the future will change after Covid ends at a global level?   
In terms of employment, many companies will offer employees a work at home setup, even if just a few days a week. A lot of companies and SMEs (small and medium enterprises) will also realize having a digital work process by adapting technology innovation to their traditional business processes.

The freelance community will exponentially increase as more people switch to online to find work.

Countries will strengthen their healthcare system by giving more perks to their hardworking frontliners, expanding the healthcare reach, and improving healthcare facilities and equipment.

Agriculture will be boosted by expanding and preserving agricultural land area and/or developing more innovative ways to cater the country’s needs. The pandemic taught the world’s nations how to be even more self-sustaining.


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