DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 04 August) — Japan has lifted the community quarantine for COVID-19. The infection rate is low in Japan and death rate brought about by flu and normal colds is higher than this current pandemic.
Despite that, the economy is still badly affected and suicide rate has risen too.
Current observation reveals that the elderly are the most susceptible to this illness, which I think, must be a reason that this sector in the society will be given more attention and the government should focus more on them and lessen the restrictions on the healthy and younger sector to minimize economic damage.
Here in the Philippines, our Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) company operations are somewhat in place and highly operational during the quarantine months. We have shifted to home-based work setting and things are relatively sound. The challenge is more on the slow internet connection. For our payroll, some of the employees need to go to the bank or the office to get their pay but 90% of our employees don’t need to.
Our Company President decided to keep our home-based work setup until September 30, even when the quarantines are lifted. This move is influenced by the COVID-19 forecasts predicting a second or third wave of the virus come the cold months of the year. Shifting to office and reverting to home-based again won’t be efficient for us, both in cost and productivity.
However, for Pistachia Mindanao, our coffee and cacao export business, the disturbance rests on the logistics. During the Extended Community Quarantine (ECQ), we cannot transfer the coffee beans for one month from Bansalan. Now, however, we’re able to gather the volume as planned. Normally, the gathering process would take us a month but because of the ECQ, it took us another two months. We also had difficulty with our storage areas for these products because the warehouses have also decided to close for a while.
Looking at another angle about this virus, I believe that this challenge is causing a paradigm shift in the world. We are changing, not only our work ethics but most importantly our lifestyle, culture, sense of ideology, and values.
Before in Japan, everybody thought that the life in the urban area is good. We have somehow accepted that commuting in a very packed train and going in a fast-paced life was normal. We didn’t even think that that kind of stress was unhealthy. On the contrary, you can’t really help it. Everybody was doing that. This is not only about commuting, this is about our lifestyle, in general.
At the time of Corona, you don’t need to go to the office. This came in good timing for people to shift their mindset. Gradually, people realize, “I don’t need to live like this. It’s not the world, it’s me. I forced myself into this.” The shift is now in realizing that we don’t need to follow the previous system of capitalism. Having the currency economy is dangerous, especially that it is the only economy that we have relied upon. It is unnatural and unhealthy to have only one controlled economy.
Now, people have come to know gardening once more and we are now helping each other better. In Japan, some poultry farms are distributing chicks to people, they get to grow and return some of it and they can also keep a chick or two. So then, they will have their own source of eggs.
I don’t think we will ever go back to the previous world. We now live in two worlds, the old and the new. It’s up to us to make the best of the fusion of the old and new ecosystem. This will be the saving grace of humanity. Now we can look and ask ourselves what is important? Before, we needed money to buy too much and many of us thought that we cannot be happy without our luxuries. But now, we’re realizing that simple life is OK. COVID-19 pretty much affected the sense of values of the people.
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Ichido Miyake is currently the President of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce, Inc. He runs several businesses in Davao City: a coffee and cacao exporting and a Business Process Outsourcing that caters to off-shore accounts. Ichido has been in the Philippines for around 15 years together with his family)