Serve to Survive, Survive to Serve

By Gianina Maria Ciriaco | Posted on October 24, 2021

Working from Home, telecommuting, business continuity plan, retrenchment, no work no pay, adapt and adjust- these are just some of the buzzwords young professionals often hear. Some of the terms spark anxiety, some feel uncertainty, some feel hope. No matter the industry, these are just some of the many things the workforce is currently putting up with this time of pandemic. 

Resiliency is one of the many values Filipinos are known for and over time, they have shown different ways to thrive, to survive, to be able to overcome almost any challenge or threat. This is evident in young professional Rotaractors this Life Changing Year. Despite Covid-19 limiting the usual face to face interactions whether onsite projects, meetings, fellowships and overall, adapting purely online environment in their personal and professional lives, Rotaractors will always find ways to continue growing, learning in times of survival.

This Community and Economic Development month, our Rotaractors from various industries and classification share some of their reflections this pandemic season.

On my job during the first year of pandemic I am working on site from Monday to Saturday. But now on my new company, I am full-time work from home.

For those on an office set up, most employees were asked to transition to working from home arrangement to lessen exposure. Most employers would provide equipment, assure that they are able to resume productivity without disruption and in some cases, even provide allowances for internet connection. Sure, it may seem easy when all the tools and added benefits are provided but adapting to this set up was no easy feat. Robin, a General Accountant from Rotaract Club of Millennial Sampaguita Grace Park shares that he prefers working onsite as communicating with his team was easier and that you would feel the camaraderie between everyone. Giselle, a Project Manager turned Nurse, from RAC SFDM Malaya Achievers add that she felt unproductive and that her daily routine became boring and felt the need to learn new things. Each a truly grueling process, striving to strike a balance between work related items and home life, eliminating distractions and juggling household responsibilities. Most would say working from home has thinned the boundaries between office and home matters and even until now, there are still coping and adjusting to the demands. Adonis, a Licensed Financial Advisor and Host from the Rotaract Club of San Juan del Monte Premier, agrees that the transition to this set up made it challenging to manage his many roles including being a student, family member, Rotaractor, advocate, among many things. He adds that pre-pandemic, it felt different going from one place to another, be able to meet and be with people. Now, most of his tasks involve him facing a screen. He understands that this for the protection and safety of all and that people are doing what they can to help this economy.

Hundreds of our stores were forced to closed and almost three thousand employees including me had to stop working for two months without pay.

Not all industries have the capacity to move to a work from home set up. Some Rotaractors experienced the severest effect of this pandemic to the economy, having business closures, deals put on hold, reduced working hours, having no pay and even losing their jobs. Aaron from Rotaract Club of Malate, works in sales for printing, experienced six-month closure, managing from a distance, paper supply price increases, massive decrease in orders. Genesis, a Graphic Designer and Multimedia Section Supervisor from Rotaract Club of Uptown Dagupan 2000, recalls that the closure of stores, stoppage of work and not getting paid for months had him rely on help from the government and his employer company’s financial aid. It was also during that time, he shared that he took advantage of opportunities off work where he can hone his talent and skills further like joining and winning the Pilipinas Rotaract MDIO Pin Making Contest. Fortunately, when restrictions eased, he was able to go back and resume work.

When the pandemic hit and lock downs were enforced, it provided a lot more time than usual to think about whatever was going on in my life.

As people of action, Rotaractors are quick to find ways to leverage their time, talent and treasure, be able to rethink, regroup and move forward from present challenges brought upon by Covid-19. Christy, a Virtual Executive Assistant from the Rotaract Club of Cagayan de Oro East Urban, was a former Project Development Officer in one of the government agencies. During the pandemic, she shares that things she would usually shove in the corner were given attention and she was able to reevaluate her priorities in life. At present, she is at a better position to give back and be able to live her best life.

Shifting careers and higher education was also a viable and advantageous option. Giselle took online classes and successfully completed her assessments to be a Private Duty Nurse. She found her purpose and inspiration to serve communities and made her feel empowered to support patients. Aaron accepted smaller projects, acquired more clients, reassessed his finances and investments, and pursued a Master in Business Administration (MBA) degree.

By being extra careful and following the health protocols, we were able to overcome challenges at work.

Even Rotaractors who had the same work pre and post pandemic had nuggets of wisdom and life lessons. Ellen, a Customer Service Representative from Rotaract Club of Metro Bacolod, the circumstances made her realize she can do the things she did not think she was capable of doing and was able to overcome the fear going outside her comfort zone. She affirms that her roles’ values such as having empathy and having sense of urgency greatly helped her develop. Jasmin, a Bank Officer from Rotaract Club of Carmen Valley adds that by having cooperation and following safety measures, she was able to complete transactions and hit her targets. Similarly, Don Carlo, a College Instructor, from the Rotaract Club of Batangas Mid-West, shared that the threat of the transmission of Covid-19 was a challenge itself and it affected him mentally, socially and physically. He was able to manage by adhering to the university protocols and health protocols. Learning and engaging in clients’ stories even from customary interactions was something Gela, also a Banker, from the Rotaract Club of Tolong, found valuable in her daily task. These stories are also something useful that she can address in club projects. As for KN, also in the banking industry, from the Rotaract Club of Iloilo South, having patience was his biggest lesson. He shares that the daily tasks that seem normal before but changed now such as commuting, falling in line for hours and experiencing lockdown for days, taught him to be patient and know that everything happens for a reason. 

The good thing was that pandemic never stopped us from helping and serving the community. We are instrumental to change people’s lives for the better.

At this time of survival, the spirit of service in every Rotaractor is bright and active. It is truly remarkable how even the toughest of times can showcase the ingenuity and sincerity of every club, every member and every district and how all were able to serve and participate the best they can, juggling home and work life. Majority of their projects centered on Covid-19 response and vaccination campaigns such as fundraising to support health workers and frontliners, donation of Covid testing kits and conducting webinars to promote vaccination. There were also projects that supported communities who lost their livelihood and who had little to no access to food and basic necessities. Their development as Rotaractors and professionals was also something they kept nurturing through webinars exploring different skills and learning about other industries through experts and other Rotaractors who are seasoned in their respective fields. 

The possibilities to serve and change lives may seem limited and restricted and motivation to be active is low but with the mindset they possess, maximizing their work and resources to their advantage, learning from both the highs and lows, it becomes endless. This is the essence of Service Above Self. Every experience is unique and each Rotaractor knows how to take action, move forward and serve humanity.

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