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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

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BEYOND SIGHT: Navigating the post-pandemic world

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By Monsi A. Serrano

When we spent the New Year’s Eve countdown in Tokyo, Shibuya, one of the much anticipated countdown spots in the world, I was ecstatic because I only got to see this marvelous countdown on television — like the ball drop on Times Square in New York.

To be a part of this grand occasion, I had to go through the maze of people while pushing the wheelchair of my daughter and waited for midnight of January 1, 2020. It was fun and even my daughter Agnes enjoyed it. It was one of those experiences we’d remember in our lifetime.

But little did I know that 2020 would change the course of the world’s events as the infamous Coronavirus pandemic was to spread like wildfire globally from China.

Literally, the world stood still because the nasty virus had taken so many lives, disrupted business operations, prevented mass gathering, social physical contacts and strict implementation of social distancing was in place.

In my case, many close friends unexpectedly passed away, and the fear of either myself or a member of our household getting infected by the deadly virus has caused anxiety for me, as it has for many others.

Fast forward, the whole world welcomes the 2024 New Year with much optimism. Albeit with some minor concerns about the issue of the endemic COVID-19 disease. But at least, people welcomed the year 2024 without masks, expressed appreciation and greeting others by hugging, kissing or shaking hands. These changes are already a welcome development. Something we all have to be grateful for.

Business in the post-pandemic era

Back in the Philippines, before the year 2023 ended, I had the opportunity to be invited to intimate lunches and dinners by various embassies and different ambassadors and officials. Some of these were held in their residence, while others in not-so-public restaurants where we had the opportunity to talk discreetly without being noticed.

Most of them expressed their concerns on how their respective embassies can help the Philippines to draw more investments and cooperation beyond the hot issue on the maritime cooperation and security.

As an active participant in the business community and having collaborated closely with various foreign chambers, particularly as THEPHILBIZNEWS has consistently partnered with embassies and foreign chambers in the Philippines, it is essential for us to discuss these issues objectively. There are no hidden agendas or political biases in my perspective or our publication.

As our economy strives to recover, I assert unequivocally that this administration surpasses its predecessor in foreign policies. The past Sino-centric approach not only foretold economic decline but also fomented regional instability. If I had my way, I would redirect them from their malefactor China.

Observing business and investment, it’s evident that the Philippines’ true friends prioritize accelerating our economic rebound, aiming for the robust economy we deserve.

During the pandemic, the Philippines received substantial financial aid, raising questions about its allocation. I’ve urged ambassadors and officials to ensure transparency and accountability with detailed financial expense projections before granting aid to prevent potential corruption.

Take the “Bangon Marawi” program, for instance. Where did the funds go? A progress report should align with the funds’ purpose. The focus should be on vital needs like shelters, water, electricity, and school reconstruction rather than self-promoting mosque reconstruction.

Commending the resilience of our MSMEs and enterprises, they’ve adapted admirably in this fast-paced, complex business environment. Industry transformations, changing customer needs, technological solutions, and human-to-human customer service remain vital amid AI and chatbots.

Entering 2024, the endemic era, let’s hope for positive developments. I believe in the axiom, “If it has to be, it is all up to me.”

Wishing everyone a Meaningful and Fruitful 2024!

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