Filipino workers during pandemic

A worker carries sacks of rice before the Munoz market closes, after it cut its operations to four hours a day to curb the spread of the coronavirus in Metro Manila.

Just while the Philippines become finding its groove after decades in the economic wilderness, along came the Covid-19 pandemic.

During the past five years, growth averaged greater than 6% and changed into projected to exceed 7% this year, vaulting beforehand of long-time local stars like China, Indonesia and India. More likely now is a growth of simply 3% in January to March, followed with the aid of a contraction the next two quarters, in step with the imperative bank. Steep cuts to interest charges and purchases of government bonds may not alter that prognosis; it’ll merely prevent the damage from being worse still.

Now the capital, one of the world’s maximum densely populated cities, is on lockdown to stem the surge of infections. The Philippines had at the least 2,084 instances and 88 deaths as of Tuesday. Cargo is piling up unclaimed at Manila’s port and meals is being held up at a few checkpoints. The important island of Luzon, which is home to 60 million human beings and generates approximately 70% of the country’s gross home product, is correctly shut off from the rest of the archipelago and the world.

As sobering as these numbers are, the human drama behind them is even greater. More than 10 million Filipinos, or about 10% of the population, work abroad at any given time, cooking, cleaning, supplying care, building matters and staffing commercial ships. Their remittances account for approximately 10% of GDP. From construction workers in Saudi Arabia to nannies in Italy and Singapore, this diaspora keeps an entire environment afloat at domestic. Their wages assist feed, clothe, train and positioned a roof over the heads of the grandparents and siblings who regularly improve their children.

That revenue stream is certain to take a success this year; the central bank reckons that remittance growth may be towards 2% than the 3% previously projected. Leaving apart tour curbs at home, much of western Europe is shuttered and major airlines are mothballing fleets. In an effort to curb massive scale gatherings, Singapore authorities have strenuously discouraged foreign employees – many of whom are Filipino — from congregating around places like Lucky Plaza on Orchard Road all through their day off. The mall is domestic to a plethora of remittance services, an important channel for earning profits back home given that almost half of foreign domestic employees lack bank accounts within the city-state.

Then consider call centers, every other key pillar of the Philippines economy. Known as business process outsourcing, or BPO, the industry has surged in the past two decades to account for approximately 8% of GDP from nearly anything in 2000. For many younger people, who speak American-tinged English, these centers have been a crucial local opportunity to life working overseas. RPV Native Commerce, which has since been renamed Scalewind Corp. — its chirpy younger employees stated they felt lucky to be working in one of the world’s high-quality returned offices.

The sector’s success helps provide an explanation for why President Rodrigo Duterte has granted exemptions for BPOs to running despite the broader lockdown. The hassles of having to work all through curfew, however, make the loophole nearly worthless. Malou Sebastian, who runs the Scalewind facility, scrambled to preserve operations strolling after Duterte’s announcement. She originally set aside space for workers to sleep and eat, then resorted to distributing laptops to staff who faced obstacles commuting, given curbs on public transport.

“The decree lasts until April, however frankly, things are converting through the day,’’ she stated when I stuck up with her by means of phone, adding that it looks like she’s living in the tv action-drama “24,” where each episode is an hour in the existence of a counter-terrorism agent. There’s little use being open for business when employees have problem on foot thru the door. “I simply went out on the road and couldn’t see a bus.”

The economic blow comes just because the Philippines’s increase prospects had reached an inflection point. In current decades, as many East Asian nations started to develop production export bases, the country was held back by way of graft, ineffective autocracy and powerful oligarchs in agriculture and property, many of whom traced their privilege to the technology of Spanish colonial rule. As a result, the united states of america missed the big wave of Japanese investment that followed the Plaza Accord in 1985, which triggered a large appreciation of the yen and made production overseas cheaper. By the 1990s, China and economies alongside its supply chain had been the new game. Again, the Philippines missed out. It exported people, but not a lot else. In 2000, consistent with capita GDP became basically caught at 1980 levels.

Then things commenced to show around, largely thanks to Beijing’s outward investment. China was the largest overseas investor within the fourth sector of 2019, exceeding the U.S. And South Korea. Mainland cash has flooded into sectors spanning infrastructure, telecommunications and gaming. It was impossible to overlook the banks, spas, realtors, resorts and concert arenas dotting a neighborhood near Manila Bay, all geared toward Chinese tourism and investment. The massive question is whether that largesse will evaporate inside the post-virus generation and if the Philippines, a former U.S. Colony, can tap China’s monetary heft without acceding to its strategic goals.

This pandemic will no doubt, look at the nation’s economic aspirations. But lengthy used to adversity, citizens must lodge to their wits and pragmatism. “Filipinos are very flexible and resourceful people,” Sebastian instructed me. “We will get through this.”

Millions of workers were displaced because of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) implemented by the government in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease. Employees in vital agencies and institutions such as hospitals, however, have continued working during the pandemic.

Some companies producing essential items such as food have also continued their operations. But a number of employers have been forced to make do with available manpower because some of their workers have refused to go to work fearing that they might get the virus.

Reducing the impact of the pandemic

In the Philippines, to reduce the impact of COVID-19 outbreak on businesses, workers, customers and general stakeholders, HR leaders and employers have made tremendous efforts to mitigate the circumstances. Various companies have updated their risk management plans to address the specific exposure, identified sources of exposure and means of transmissions. Employers have taken careful steps to identify risk levels in workplaces and to determine the control measures necessary to implement.

On another juncture, the crisis became a clear springboard for Filipino HR practitioners to rise above the challenge. Despite the worst business outlook in the coming months, HR Leaders made it a point to rally behind the “People First” battle cry, putting more emphasis on protecting lives and safety above profitability and revenue generation. Filipino Human Resources Management practitioners exercised discernment and extraordinary leadership in these unprecedented times. They showed flexibility in addressing the needs of their people, without being too technical in the extension of social safety nets. Valuing human dignity and a strong belief on people first was at the core of every leader’s decision. The Filipino value of KAPWA (the self in the other), has transcended corporate policies and practices. The order of priorities is to first take care of their people, the customers come in second, then their partners and last is profit.

What measures have Filipino employers put in place?

There was a survey conducted by an association member on what other concrete organizational practices they have put in place. 39% provided shuttle services to employees who play a critical role in the continuity of operations. 36% also introduced early pay out of the 13th month pay, while 32% provided free meals to employees who are on duty.  Others also introduced the following:

Early release of the full month wages for the month of March.

  • Online delivery instruction to professional subjects.
  • Full wages regardless of employment status.
  • Full pay during enhanced community quarantine for those who are unable to work from home.
  • Provided hygiene kit such as masks, alcohol and vitamins.
  • Provided work from home allowance that covers electricity and internet.
  • Advance crediting of salary for the next pay period.
  • Provided individualized tents with lockers as accommodations to employees in the worksite.
  • Additional medical assistance.
  • Provided 50 kgs of rice and cash assistance.
  • Provided regular updates that are accurate and how it made an impact on the organization.
  • Executive levels voluntarily rolled back pay to help alleviate business conditions and assist on the needs of the workforce.
  • Provided individual rest areas in the workplace with air-conditioned facilities.

Moreover, many groups furnished clear directions, self-assurance and assured employees via sending a robust message that overall fitness and health is deemed more important than profit. To keep business continuity and make operations work, virtual meetings are being maximized. This is likewise a manner of providing non-stop engagement among employees.

Reflecting on these practices, we can get a glimpse that no matter how big or small an organization is, showing the true meaning of MALASAKIT (care and concern for the other) and BAYANIHAN (a fundamental aspect of Filipino culture with an aim to work together to achieve a common goal) in times of crisis is inherent among Filipinos.

Indeed, it is in times of crisis that our capacity as HR practitioners to act humanely and with dignity is put to a test. It is my hope that we, as individuals, would always decide and act by putting people first.

The Workers on the Front Lines of the Philippines’ Fight Against Coronavirus

To apprehend the worst-case scenario, think about Italy however with a weaker fitness care system, says Karl Henson, the director of the Hospital Infection Control and Epidemiology Center of The Medical City, a fitness care community in Manila. So far, the Philippines, a kingdom of 100 million unfold out over extra than 7,000 islands, has no longer faced the form of infection charge that hobbled Italy and now has half the global populace on lockdown. But the quantity of cases is fast growing and threatens to undo an already fragile health care system. “It is ideal that the pandemic is hitting city areas,” says Henson, because “it will be tough for rural areas to address critically sick Covid patients.”

On March 17, President Rodrigo Duterte placed Luzon—the maximum populous island within the archipelago, with a population of more than 50 million people—under “enhanced community quarantine,” restricting movement and mass gatherings and imposing a web of checkpoints throughout the island. Hourly personnel out of place their incomes, faculties shuttered, and community government devices have been scrambling to address the lockdown. Outside the large cities, smaller businesses are struggling to nip the pandemic inside the bud, with precious few assets from the government.

On paper, the Philippines has a universal, single-payer health care system, with a law surpassed just final twelve months enrolling all Filipinos into the national medical health insurance program. But in practice, the device stays a messy patchwork of public and private hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s offices, with a yawning hole in care depending on a patient’s capacity to pay for remedy. Even earlier than the Covid-19 crisis, the country’s fitness care gadget wanted years of investment in infrastructure and medical personnel to permit it to offer good sufficient and equitable remedy for all who need it. Now, the pandemic is straining these already limited resources.

In the rural metropolis of Bambang in Nueva Vizcaya, a province in North Luzon, as soon because the lockdown turned into announced, the understaffed and under-supplied neighborhood government gadgets mobilized their fitness branch to broaden a plan to limit the spread of the coronavirus. These rural health gadgets are an essential a part of the country’s health care system; they serve as the primary line of care for all fitness wishes and function a buffer to avoid overcrowding the already overworked hospitals. In Bambang, a group of one physician and forty nurses and a navy of underpaid medical experts with no medical levels make up the unit at the leading edge of the combat towards Covid-19.

Every barrio is assigned a nurse or midwife to supervise the community, assisted by volunteer health care workers. On normal days, the number one of responsibilities of a Barangay Health Worker (BHW) are to disseminate records inside the village, assist in nutrients drives and immunization programs, and organize health events. They undergo schooling from the Department of Health and are taken into consideration volunteers; the 1,300 hundred Philippine pesos ($25.48) they receive each month are most effective honorariums. With the pandemic, their responsibilities have turn out to be that tons more vital and dangerous, and they now help train the network on infection prevention, screen people underneath quarantine, and are expected to attend to people who are in isolation units.

Some stories of Filipino workers during pandemic

Deedee Villahermosa

Deedee has been working in PLDT for 30 years. As the Team Head for the Customer Line Resolution Management, her task is to lead her crew that assists PLDT Home customers on their service concerns and repairs. Upon the implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine in Luzon, Deedee chose to be far away from her family so that she will be able to retain to serve with her crew inside the PLDT’s Sampaloc Exchange office. Deedee shares, “While our customers work from home, our internet services are important to them especially during this time. This may be a little sacrifice that we can do for them now so that we can help them stay and work at home.”

Her family in Cebu, co-workers in PLDT, and sturdy faith retain to inspire her at work now. She explains, “Prayers will move mountains. My faith has strengthened, and I believe that everything will pass. We are uncertain with the COVID-19 virus, but our faith is strong.”

Cyril G. Gonzales

As a healthcare employee at the Dagupan Doctors Villaflor Hospital, Nurse Cyril must work on an eight-hour shift and to be on an on-call basis due to emergent health situations.

“Going to work each day raises the chances of me contracting the disease,” Gonzales said. “But as a frontliner, I strive to give proper nursing intervention according to the hospital’s protocol.”

For him, the motivation to aid patients in the face of the virulent hazard comes from knowing that when he serves others, he does the same to the Lord.

Despite the risk of being exposed, Gonzales still makes sure quality time with his family remains his top priority due to the fact he believes that irrespective of what happens, “Families can be together forever.”

Jaime Gabriel, Sr.

Not all heroes wear capes. Some are at our doorsteps handing over goods when no one can do so. Amidst the dreadful circumstances that affect millions, Jaime or Lolo Gab together with his wife, continue to supply fresh eggs to people’s homes.

Knowing food supplies could be restricted due to the community quarantine, the couple put aside the risks and chose to drive through the streets of San Miguel, Bulacan, to deliver an essential food supply.

When asked about how he managed to remain staunch in his work, Lolo Gab has only one answer – his impregnable faith in Jesus Christ and his restored gospel.

“As a member of the Church, I believe in its truthfulness. We also believe that we are guided by the Holy Ghost. It helps me to remain strong and faithful despite the pandemic that we are facing.”

At 71 years old, he remains prone to being infected through the diseases, but Lolo Gab shared how he keeps himself from the risks of the virus, “I always follow the governments directives combined with my faith in Heavenly Father that He will keep me safe, as I served those who need me.”

Pepito Rodrigo

Aside from being a farmer and tricycle driver, Pepito additionally dedicates his time every other night to carry out his responsibility as tanod or peacekeeper in their barangay.

When the pandemic started, he volunteered to bring relief to the poor and the needy. Oftentimes, as a tanod, he receives rice for his long hours of work. But he would share them to his neighbors whenever his own family has enough for the week.

Rodrigo is aware of that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ invites him to act in faith and serve others. His family, his love for the country, and his faith in Jesus Christ inspire him to serve regardless of the disease.

Jilbert B. Red

As a police corporal, Jilbert is required to work on 24-hour shifts every other day at a checkpoint station to make sure the public health and protection of his municipality. Because he works at the frontlines, Red shared that he has fears of getting exposed to COVID-19.

When his rest day falls on a Sunday, he is grateful that he could study the Come, Follow Me lesson with his wife. He is thankful that his wife stays supportive regardless of the dangers worried in his line of duty. He also finds strength from being a father figure to his nieces and nephews whom he supports financially and morally.

More importantly, he finds power in Jesus Christ’s instance of affection and provider, which he has discovered at some point of his mission.

“I was assigned in five areas where I learned the value of service and love to other people. I learned to take care of the families we taught and understood their unique situations and have mercy on them,” Red recalled.

He became capable of convey this valuable lesson to his task as uniformed personnel of the Philippine National Police. “When you are in the service of your fellow being, ye are always in the service of God,” he said quoting a scripture verse found in Mosiah of the Book of Mormon.



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