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As we near the end of the year, these illuminating women talk about their lessons learned amid the pandemic.

On New Year’s Eve, the world celebrated the arrival of another year and decade, of opportunities that will come, and of new goals to accomplish. However, the pandemic happened and its impact on us was and still is tremendous. Some call it “the great equalizer” as it affected everyone regardless of their social status. Now we are almost close to ending 2020, what are the lessons people learned? Looking back, what are some moments or experiences that people should have cherished more before the coronavirus outbreak? We talk to women who share their thoughts and get encouragement in facing the incoming days.

Sofia Borromeo-Alvarez

“If I could go back in time,” Sofia says, “I would tell myself to always make decisions based on forward-thinking.” Like many others, Sofia never expected the immense negative impact of the pandemic. It was difficult to secure plans for the family and for work or business, especially at the last minute. Thus, the past few months were spent adapting to the recent changes in the world.

Beyond these challenges, Sofia shares she is grateful to experience the positive. “[Given] my husband’s career, it demands his time to be away from family, and when the lockdown started, it allowed us to be a family for a much longer period of time.” With major changes in her business plans, it gave her the privilege of being a full-time mother. She can now sit through her daughter’s online classes, be her teacher, and support her. “There is a lot of strength that comes from simplifying your life, learning to accept big changes,” she realizes. All these experiences warm her heart as she and her family get to enjoy more time together.

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Pam Litton

Many lost opportunities define this year and Pam carries strong feelings towards this. “There are so many things I took for granted that I can no longer do nor experience the same way,” she reflects. If traveling back to the past is possible, she would have told herself to savor every moment. Now, she is determined to live with intention. She tells herself, “If today were my last day, would I be happy with the life I have lived?” In this way, she is reminded to cherish and make the most out of every day.

Given the devastating impact of the pandemic on livelihoods and the economy at large, it is normal for all these to take a toll on our mental health. Pam affirms, “Things are quick to weigh us down and make us lose faith, but having the strength to persevere and the hope of better days is what keeps me motivated.” Resilience and keeping connected are high priorities at these times. Furthermore, she believes identifying and grounding ourselves on our purpose helps us cope and conquer each day. Above all, she shares, “At the darkest of times, having people to connect with and rely on for support is what makes living worthwhile.”

Geewel Fuster

With months spent under a lockdown, many of us continue to be nostalgic about traveling—and Geewel is not an exception. Before the pandemic, she wished she basked in the beauty of her surroundings, especially during her travels. “I was busy taking photos and doing things virtually not knowing that I was missing a lot and will be missing more enough,” she admits. With the trend of this digital age, it is common for tourists to capture every astonishing place they visit. However, Geewel realizes now she should have done otherwise. “If I knew this is all happening, [then] I could have thrown all my gadgets and just connected well with the whole universe,” she muses.

Now that traveling remains a general risk, she laments missing the chance to savor nature and to spend more time with her family and friends. Despite these, she shares how much she has learned over the quarantine. “We don’t really need [many] things in life to be happy,” she affirms. “We were put on a reset. In an instant, we are all equal… This is the time that we only need the essentials to be physically and mentally healthy,” she adds. It is all about focusing on the “essence of our existence” and valuing our purpose in these times.

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Pamela Carunungan-Montelibano

There is no guide about living in the new normal and so everyone is doing the best they can to navigate through it. Pamela feels similar, especially when she thinks backs to life before the pandemic. If she could go back in time, she wants to tell herself, “No matter what happens in this world, I am strong enough to move forward.” It’s a great way of encouraging herself even until now when the pandemic remains out of control.

Bearing an attitude of forward-thinking, Pamela learned the value of time. She believes compromise is key in letting go of what she couldn’t manage and adjusting to changes. “If there is something that you’ve been planning for, do it in the most creative way you can; in this way, memories become more special,” she elaborates. Since many people have time now, but we are limited with movement outdoors, Pamela believes we can always create ways to achieve what we are set to do. What matters is learning to recognize the times to persevere and the times to let go and move on.

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