Thank you very much for inviting me to speak here today and share a bit about my own pandemic experience. It’s a pleasure to be able to connect with you again even if only virtually. At the very least I got to dress up and put on lipstick like I would for an ordinary occasion when we gathered for an event, back when things were ‘normal’. We have been cooped up for close to two months now and the confinement has been hard to bear. Up until the quarantine I didn’t mind staying at a condo unit, because it’s really mainly a sleeping place as I spend all of my days at the university. But now I long for my home in Daraga more than ever and I envy some colleagues who are able to grow things in their garden, like Dr Dinah Roma who told me she is making her garden a memorial to the pandemic. On second thought, though, I realize I am also growing things in many ways. I have started a personal website and growing its pages. I have enrolled in an online teaching MOOC to better guide my college in the current move towards full online education which we are forced to take up. I meet with colleagues every week and attend to faculty and student concerns on a daily basis, all virtually, but sometimes even late into the night. I am still active in my own arts sector and working with colleagues at the NCCA to be able to provide assistance to artists who have lost jobs or work opportunities because many shows have been canceled. On the side I read news and watch Kdrama and movies on Netflix or do crossword and play games. And best of all I am with my family and we laugh together or cringe together at the most recent news on Trump telling people to ingest bleach to sanitize themselves from the virus, or we are moved together by the stories of many people trying to help others through this pandemic. We have also settled into our quarantine rhythm so to speak, with work from home and domestic chores thrown in with netflix time and conversations on anime and the deep philosophical ideas embedded in the narratives. You might say this is how we have been taking care of our mental health.
Br. Ray just reminded me — I should watch Fiddler on the Roof again — I’ve watched it countless time, I know all the songs and it would be great to watch it again at this time. My version of Tevye’s roof is the tilted earth we live in, where we are always on the brink of disaster if not right smack at the center of one, like we are now, and we need all the strength of character and mental wellness and fortitude we can muster to forge through.
Dr Rosemarie Clemena, salamatonon — thank you very much for your sharing today. Your session has been an opportunity to self-reflect and face my own emotions and mental state, and I’m sure this is shared by the participants. It’s a humbling experience, but also an enlightening one. I realize we take many things for granted and it’s easy to surrender to our feelings of vulnerability and to forget what is essential. Thinking about this I am reminded and encouraged by the words of Paul on weakness and vulnerability in 2 Corinthians (2 Corinthians 12:9):
8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.’
A philosopher has called this as Paul’s ‘militant discourse of weakness’ (Badiou 53) — that I find strength in my weakness — and I say we need such a militancy in these difficult times, a militant fidelity to what we believe in, to forge on in the war against the pandemic.
Thank you to the heroic TLC team led by Dr Caring Tarroja composed of faculty and student volunteers. Thank you for the support of Br Ray, Fritzie, Dean Raymund Sison, CLA Associate Dean Dr Ron Resurreccion, and Psychology Chair Dr Robert Javier Jr. The Telepsychology initiative is a brilliant idea, both for awareness raising about mental health and for the provision of psychological services to those who need them. To the team, I wish you all the best in the days to come. I hope you take care of yourselves first of all because we need you to take care of us and of others. And for what it’s worth, let me say I continue to be committed to support this endeavor in whatever way I can.
Thank you all for attending this webinar and I hope to see you at the next one.