Losers and winners

SURELY, there are many, many losers in this unforgettable experience of our generation - families who lost loved ones, friends who lost associates,  huge segments  of our population who suddenly found themselves out of job, businesses which suddenly lost their markets, the national economy which has gone into recession. But there are also some gainers – front-liners who have become overnight heroes, devotees who have become more prayerful, families which have become closer,  we  who can breathe air that is  cleaner (that is if we can step out of our homes for a while), we who  can witness the skies turning  bluer, workers who have found new and more efficient ways of doing their work, families feeling safer because the crime rate has  gone down.

When everything is said and done, however,  I still hope that a vaccine is discovered, approved, mass produced and distributed soon, so we can return to our normal lives.

Until such time, my good friend, Robert Dennis Garcia, Infectious Disease Physician of the Makati Medical Center, has sound advice which he posted on the web.

Dr. Garcia says that we need to continue to remind  our citizenry on the dangers of COVID 19  and to lead disciplined lives both for our protection and that of others. “Meanwhile, we have to make our best effort to prepare, equip, & boost the capabilities & capacities of our health care system. Quarantine facilities in each town & city should be set-up to serve as hospital extenders, i.e., only the very serious cases will be treated in designated referral hospitals.”

Dr. Garcia continued: “For all of us, after the lockdown is lifted, we have to have a mindset that: 1.)  Our home is our fortress.  2.)  Every time I leave my home, my family & my loved ones' lives are placed at risk; as such, I have to have a good reason for leaving, and I have to be protected with a disinfectant in my bag, & I will wear a mask +/- eye shield while I am outside. 3.)  Anyone I encounter outside of my home may have asymptomatic COVID illness.  4.)  If I feel sick, I will not leave my home, & will promptly inform my workplace, & seek medical help for a proper evaluation & treatment.”

Some winners

Technology has been hugely transformational in this experience and companies which have invested for some time now in digital channels are obvious winners. In the case of Globe and GCash, it’s quite extraordinary. GCash has become a favorite payment system and a key channel for money flow during the ECQ. Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala (JAZA) reported to Ayala/Globe shareholders that there has been a  massive uptrend in download. GCash now has over 15 million active users and is one of the largest, most downloadable apps in this crisis.

JAZA added:  “Bank of the Philippine Islands’ (BPI) online banking had more online users in just one month than all the online users it had for the full year last year. That has been a massive take-up in the demand for these online services at this point in time. You see a tremendous amount of users entering the BPI network.”

On a personal note, since the middle of March, I have not had to physically go to BPI to attend board and committee meetings, (even our Annual Stockholders Meeting), thanks to Zoom and WebEx. Meetings are only a few steps away from our bed room and I can attend meetings, wearing only shorts and slippers.

Just before I submitted this article, I was able to attend a Webinar hosted by Smith L. Chua, BPI Asset Management and Trust Corporation (BPI AMTC) Chief Investment Officer. He provided the latest market updates and expert investment insights  on how to protect one’s financial assets as we navigate the “new normal”.

Even the problem of my kasambahays - who needed to send money to their relatives in the provinces - turned out to be no problem at all. BPI EVP Mon Jocson  showed me how. I downloaded “BPI to Cash” – which is linked to “Palawan Express Padala” -  and presto (!) my kasambahay was able to send money to her son in Ormoc. As a back-up, I also downloaded GCash. Much to my delight, I found out that I can also open a savings account through GCash’s partner bank, CIMB,  which pays 4 ½ percent per annum!

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