THE VIEW FROM RIZAL
Dr. Jun Ynares
For a brief moment at the start of the year, the hashtag “2020, too” went viral in social media.
The phrase apparently referred to the view of many that the year 2022 would be a repeat of the 2020 – a particularly difficult period.
It will be recalled that in January 2020 began with a bang – literally. Taal Volcano erupted. This was Taal’s first major one since the 1977. President Duterte declared a State of Calamity in the severely affected areas. We saw images of homes, establishments and business devastated by the ash fall, as well as of people in mass exodus.
In January 2020, we witnessed for the first time a great number of our countrymen wearing face masks. That image was like a prediction of what would happen in the first quarter of 2020 – a major lockdown implemented in the entire country in March of that year following the rapid rise of the much-feared, deadly COVID-19 viruses.
The lockdown caused massive changes in the way we lived our lives. We were forced to adapt to a situation none of us had anticipated nor experienced before. Our routines, enterprises and significant activities disrupted. Our world stopped and we came face to face with the reality that comes with this relatively new phrase: “mental health issues.”
Memories of 2020 must have been rekindled by the developments that took place late in 2021 and early this year. They must have been the reason for the notion of a “2020, too.”
The strongest trigger must have been the skyrocketing number of daily COVID-19 infections which started just after we ushered in the New Year. Just last week, the country registered record peak daily infection numbers, something that happened in other parts of the world much earlier than here in the country.
Despite these, we believe “2020, too” is not real. The present is much better than the recent past. Consider the following.
First, we have vaccines against COVID-19. As of December 2021, the World Health Organizations have listed 10 vaccines approved for use all over the world.
Second, many have already received first and second doses of the vaccine; administration of the booster shot have started in the Philippines and other countries. By the start of this year, some 9.5 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have already been administered.
Third, most of us have adapted to the “new normal.”
We have accepted the fact that we have to conduct our business and go about our lives in a different way. Many of us have accepted and gotten used to the basic health protocols. While we long for a return to the “old normal,” we have embraced the new ways of doing things.
Also, we will have general elections this 2022.
We will be giving out “mandates” to those whom we will elect.
“Mandates” from the people, both fresh and renewed, are beneficial as they are important.
They give national and local leaders, as well as the people, a “fresh start.”
It is like a go-signal to “reboot.”
Technically, “mandate” means “authority.” Elections are a democratic process where aspirants to elective posts receive the “authority” from the electorate to govern them, to manage public resources needed to protect and advance the interests of their constituents.
From the political candidate’s perspective, the “mandate” also translates into “blessing.”
This is a profound concept and which is embedded in Filipino culture. We “impart” blessings to those who ask for them. When we “bless” them, we give them our permission, our consent, and our whole-hearted support. “Basbas” is how we refer to it in the vernacular.
A new or renewed “basbas” from the electorate in 2022 will be crucial.
Once given, the newly-elected and the reelected may then draw up new and bolder plans to arrest the spread of the virus and put an end to the pandemic. They may then also put in place new programs that will fuel the revival of the economy at the local and national level.
The “basbas” is more than just a go-signal. It is also a declaration of support. It conveys the commitment of the mandate-giver that trust has been given to the recipient of the “basbas.”
This means the newly-elected or the reelected can count on the support of the governed.
Under a democratic system, the “basbas” is freely given. It is interesting that something so sacred and so valuable is given free.
We hope that those who will be elected or reelected would not squander this precious resource.
We also hope that our countrymen would exercise wisdom and caution as they decide who they will give this to.
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