By Jay Ledesma

The doubting Tomases

TWO Sundays ago, the gospel was about the story of disciple Tomas who refused to believe that Jesus has resurrected and appeared to the other disciples only because he was not around when it happened. He had to see it with his own eyes and only then he believed that indeed Jesus has risen! 

It’s human to doubt and to doubt is human. We don’t always believe, we ask questions, we challenge facts. The pandemic caused people to have so many doubts...doubts about the capability of the government and of the citizenry to overcome the crisis, doubts about intentions and motives, doubts about the future, doubts about our own selves. In one way or another, we were the doubting Tomases. We needed assurance, we needed proof that things will work out, that things will soon be okay. 

But on the other side of the spectrum, the pandemic also allowed us to address and remove our doubts. It taught us to be more believing and trusting. 

With our economy shrinking, the majority has been financially displaced. Whether you are an employer, a business owner, an executive, or a regular employee, almost everyone experienced a financial setback and had to tighten their belts, so to speak. During this time, there were those who doubted if people can and will still want to help. People may not want to give any more as they have to secure themselves and their families first. To each his own, as they put it. 

But so many people came forward and reached out to help not only their friends but total strangers. From PPEs to food packs, assistance came pouring in not only from the moneyed but even from a regular Juan dela Cruz. Those who have no means to help financially volunteered their time and talents. Recently, community pantries are being set up in different Barangays by private individuals and groups to help our needy fellowmen. Never doubt the kindness in everyone. 

Many lost their jobs, many had to close their businesses. Many had to take on new jobs/roles, many had to learn new things, many had to go out of their comfort zones. These made them doubt their capability to learn new knowledge and skills. They doubted their ability to provide for their families. But we have seen people discovering, doing, and thriving in their newfound career and businesses amidst the crisis. I know people who are even “thankful” because the pandemic somehow forced and led them to their successful online businesses where they’re earning even more than their former jobs. 

I also have friends who before the pandemic, were scared of technology thinking that it’s only for the young ones but have found the confidence to adapt. They are now more techie than me. Never doubt one’s resiliency and adaptability. 

The increasing number of new Covid-19 cases especially in the NCR + bubble continues to cast doubts that we can win this battle. Many are already doubting if the quarantines are still effective, or if the vaccines are working, or if the basic health protocol is already enough.  But are quarantines, vaccines, and health protocols the real problem or is it the implementation?  Early months of this year, our Davao City used to top the areas with daily new COVID cases. But with the stricter implementation of the health protocols, the City managed to drastically lower the count. There were even days that we have 0 new cases. And we don’t even have the vaccines here for non-medical front liners. And there are many other cities and provinces that have managed to control their covid cases because they chose to discipline and implement. They have proven that it can be done. Never doubt the importance of discipline and proper execution! 

The initial rollout of the Covid-19 vaccines received a lukewarm welcome from a big chunk of the Filipinos. There were fears that the Dengvaxia incident will be repeated. Many were skeptical that these vaccines will be effective in fighting COVID. A lot of fake news circulating in the different media platforms contributed to this skepticism. That even our front liners were hesitant to get the vaccine despite the daily risk they faced. But with the massive vaccine campaign from the government and private sectors, many got more aware and better informed about the vaccination program. Slowly, more people are showing up at vaccine sites. The problem now is the lack of available vaccines because more Filipinos want to get vaccinated. Never doubt the power of the right information!

The very low insurance penetration and savings rate in the Philippines shows how Filipinos regard the importance of being financially ready. As many were in good health, were employed, or have good businesses and were able to provide for their families, they doubt if they needed savings or protection plans. Many see them as non-essential expenses, usually at the bottom of the list. Then COVID happened, discriminating against no one. Healthy people getting infected and hospitalized, business owners and employees losing their only source of income, breadwinners not being able to provide anymore. The only savings they have did not even sustain them beyond 2 months into the quarantine. On the other hand, those who have savings, medical and protection plans experienced how these programs worked for them. 

The pandemic somehow changed the perspectives and beliefs of many Filipinos towards financial readiness. Now more than ever, they are realizing that unforeseen events can just hit us anytime and that we should always be ready when it does. Never doubt the importance of being prepared. 

The pandemic is far from over. We still have a long journey ahead of us. And along the way, we will again be challenged, we will again be tested, we will again doubt. 

But then again let’s be mindful that our faith, belief, and trust in ourselves and others should be far greater than our doubts. Better yet, let us be an instrument to inspire and enlighten those Doubting Tomases out there! 


About the Columnist

Image of Jay Ledesma

Ms. Jay Ledesma writes about local tourism and business bits that delve on investments and insurance.