Filipino’s creativity to help PH achieve ‘better normal,’ prof says

The Philippines can rise from the world of the global crisis created into a new and ‘better normal,’ like the mythological bird phoenix, known to obtain new life by arising from the ashes of its death, a sociology professor from Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) said Saturday in the annual St. Thomas More Lecture.

“This image [of the phoenix] is something very pertinent to us in the difficulties we are all facing this pandemic but [there is] the recognition [that] we will rise out of it, we can rise out of it,” professor Mary Racelis said in her lecture titled “What’s Different About the New Normal? Phoenix Arising from the Ashes.”

Racelis is a faculty member of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and a research scientist at the Institute of Philippine Culture of ADMU.

Racelis discussed a year-later perspective of the effects of the global pandemic and how the creativity of the Filipino people can be used to create a better country than that of what it was during the pre-COVID-19 crisis.

Racelis noted that skills such as gardening, mask design and sewing, cooking, web design, and online selling were learned during the pandemic, increasing the Filipino’s self-resiliency.

Over 73,000 online businesses have registered in the Department of Trade and Industry during the third quarter of 2020 as most consumers opted to shop in e-commerce platforms such as Shopee and Lazada since the global pandemic started.

Coupled with the “insufficient and unpredictable responses” of the government, these learning of skills were induced by the newly-acquired knowledge about the vulnerabilities of citizens the pandemic brought forth.

“Tremendous problems [like these, makes you think about] how [can you] craft your future… if you are not sure you can’t depend on the standard things that enabled you to survive before,” Racelis said. 

The society needs to be reborn in order to achieve the great possibility of achieving a better normal, said Racelis.

Racelis also called to reexamine the large and costly infrastructure “Build, Build, Build” project for reallocation to socially-responsive infrastructures such as mass transit, health centers, and renewable energy.

The price stability of rice, food, household fuel, and other basic necessities must be maintained, Racelis added.

The government needs to rebuild the public’s trust by having democratic electoral processes, making just laws, and attack bureaucratic red tape and corruption as a part of political reform, she said.

Racelis praised the local government units for she believes that they responded to issues more quickly as she calls for a strengthening of nationwide responses.

The youth’s capacity to handle social media and design systems that connect resources and institutions to benefit people in their daily lives must also be recognized, said Racelis.

Racelis was this year’s special guest speaker for the 2021 St. Thomas More Lecture, an annual event to commemorate the patron saint of the Faculty of Arts and Letters. F

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