Dealing With Covid 19 in Dumaguete City
Dealing with Covid 19 in Dumaguete City
Personally and as a Business
It would be an understatement to say we are living in challenging times. The current pandemic has impacted our entire world. The reaction in terms of dealing with the virus has differed significantly from one country to another with varying degrees of success and failure. At PHILX, we are and always will be, impartial politically, and will not comment on individual political leaders. It is however, appropriate to say that political decisions have had both positive and negative impacts in every country fighting this pandemic.
Democratic countries presently worst hit are the United States of America, Brazil, Great Britain, and India. At the time I’m writing this, July 10th 2020, America had recorded yet another daily record high of confirmed C19 diagnosed cases. India, which had initially taken strong action to combat the first wave and had good results, began to relax its restrictions and now is facing negative consequences. In Brazil, which had been badly impacted, it’s somewhat ironic that President Bolsonaro, who had claimed C19 is not a serious issue, has now been diagnosed with the virus.
What’s happened in Australia is startling. New South Wales has been cut off from the rest of the country. The only time that happened before was during the Spanish Flu, also known as The Flu Pandemic of 1918. The problem there seems to have arisen because of the grossly irresponsible behavior of employees who were supposed to be supervising people in quarantine. They not only failed in their duty, but several also indulged in sexual activity with people they were supposed to keep in isolation. They inevitably contracted the virus then transmitted it to their families and subsequently to the general community in Melbourne. This is a classic example of damage caused by the failure of personal responsibility.
In a recent edition of Foreign Affairs, the internationally renowned political scientist Francis Fukuyama attempted to identify why some countries performed so much better than others regarding their response to C 19. He said “The factors responsible for successfully dealing with the problem have been state capacity, social trust, and quality leadership. Countries with all three, a competent state apparatus, a government whose citizens trust and listen to, and effective leadership-have all performed impressively and limited the damage they have suffered. Countries with dysfunctional state apparatus, polarized societies, and poor leadership have done badly.”
With the pandemic we have been reviewing our corporate and personal experiences and responsibilities.
Personally, I suspect that both myself and my wife Shirley contracted this novel corona-virus early on. In March, Shirley was still interacting with a lot of international travelers in her role as a licensed broker for our real estate marketing company, PhilX Support Services . She came down with a flu like illness and for the first time in her life she struggled through 3-4 weeks of fever, headaches and stuffiness. She is oine tough lady and typically gets over illnesses within 2-3 days, so I know that what she caught this time was differnet. Then, in early April, while Dumaguete City was on lock-down and I was stuck in the house, I started feeling tired and just a little “off”. Within 4-5 days, the muscle pains began to get worse, headaches became severe and I started struggling to catch my breath. Over the next few weeks, I cannot say that physically things were worse than an average flu, but mentally I just could not get away from thinking about the worst case scenarios. Was I going to wake up the next day in critical shape, and if I did, could I even get decent medical care? Was I gong to spend the last weeks of my life living my worst nightmare, struggling to take every breath? If I died, how was my wife going to be affected? I worried not only whether she would be provided for properly from a financial standpoint but also whether it would cripple her emotionally. In the end, both Shirley and I slowly got better physically, but it clearly has had lasting effect on both of us emotionally. This experience forced me to seriously consider not only my own mortality, but also how I wanted to live the rest of the life I have been given. I, like most other people spend way too much time worrying about minor day to day aggravations without fully focusing on the understanding that our lives can be taken away in a heartbeat. Sometimes we need a traumatic experience to spur us to face the concept that we need to spend what time we are given wisely.
Besides my own personal illness there was concerns about the businesses we had worked so hard to build over the past 5-6 years. In March, we started to see the true dangers that were coming and had to start planning for the worst. Before we went through our own physical health scares, we were more concerned about how lock-downs could potentially affect our companies and were there ways to mitigate our potential risks.
On the real estate side, there was no way getting around the fact that if lock-downs were in place, sales would suffer. We did however feel that all was not lost. The first realization we came to was that if people were in lock-down, they, like us personally would be at home most likely glued to their computers with little else to do. A perfect captive audience, bored and depressed making plans for a brighter future. We made the decision that rather than shelve our marketing and advertising, we would buck the trend, and instead do more. After careful study, we also realized that travel restrictions would probably be eased in phases. First locally, then nationally, and last, internationally. We also predicted that there would be pent up demand accompanying which would surge as each of these phases were initiated, so it would be wise to precede phases with advertising targeting that specific market group. Fortunately, our strategy appears to have paid off , at least for the first phase. In June, when the local lock-downs were lifted, we recorded the largest number of sales in any month since the day the business was opened. We are extremely hopeful that as first national then international travel restrictions are eased, we will experience the same surges, and if they do happen, Philx Support Services will be ready for them!
The construction business had its own unique challenges. In March, we did see the writing on the wall and expected that lock downs were coming. Our main concerns were that to keep the work flowing and revenue coming in, we would have to address the problems of stable workforce, material supply chain interruptions and of course the continuing ability to supervise and organize our projects properly. After discussions with site workers and the confirmation that they did not want, nor could they afford to stop work, we approached the local government officials to make arrangements for them to stay on site and work safely. Knowing the impact mass layoffs would have, all officials were willing to work with us in a manner that ensured both the workers and the local community. The biggest challenge though was supply chain interruptions. To overcome this problem we really had to go out on a limb to pro-actively purchase and stock everything and anything that we could possibly need for a lock-down period that was impossible to predict. Fortunately, the procurement team at DPX Construciton rose to the task and after working flat out for several weeks, got enough materials to the places they needed to be, to weather the storm. A third challenge was keeping the company momentum going. In the construction business, contract awards usually lag 3-6 months after the initial design stage is started. As we foresaw the office would have to be closed down, we moved our key design and estimating staff’s computers to their home, set them up with proper internet service and then installed tracking software so we could properly supervise their work output. Though all this was not the way we would normally like to run our business, I am proud to say, we adapted, survived and possibly even became stronger. The biggest payoff was the confidence we instilled in new and existing clients, that regardless of the challenges, we would outperform most of our competitors.
So where are we now? As a business group, I am confident we have survived the worst of it and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Slowly but surely, travel restrictions will ease and I predict that not only will the original market return, but we may even see some substantial increases. Dumaguete City and Negros Oriental were pretty darn good place to whether this storm, and from what I have seen through lead inquiries, more and more people might be looking at moving here. Though there will be always be some people who bitch and complain that the measures taken were overreaching, I believe that with the governments here have actually done a great job minimizing the pain, with far less resources at their disposal than most other countries.
To end, I, like any responsible meber of a community, has given a lot of thought to our individual and collective roles are during this time of crisis. I’ve come to the conclusion everybody living in Dumaguete and Negros Oriental, has a moral and societal responsibility to behave as good citizens and community members. At PHILX, we advocate adherence to all the scientific and medically approved recommendations and act accordingly. We all have a duty to fulfill a responsibility to each other and to everyone living in Dumaguete and Negros Oriental, to act appropriately, and not allow any petty reservations triumph over our need to act responsibly. Wearing masks, regular hand washing and social distancing is the least we can do. The regulations implemented by President Duterte at a national level and Governor Degamo at a provincial level have resulted in protecting the Philippines from the worst ravages of this pandemic. But we still have a ways to go before we rise up safely on the other side of this challenge.
We are deeply grateful to be living here in Dumaguete and Negros Oriental. Agreement is total there is no better place we could be in the world during this, or any other, time. We are grateful for that and don’t take it for granted.
THE PHILX GROUP
DPX Construction – https://negrosconstruction.com/
PhilX Real Estate – https://philippine-islandproperties.com/
Metro Dumaguete Estates – https://dumaguetedreamhomes.com/
DPX Cabinets – https://dumaguetekitchencabinets.com/
DPX Solar – https://dpxsolar.com/