Work in the time of pandemic

How to successfully manage challenges, and stresses of working from home

At some point in our lives, we all wished we could work from home so we won’t have to wake up early and go home late, endure long hours of commuting and sitting/standing in traffic, and long queues at the train stations, hoping we could spend more quality time with our family.

As one adage goes, “Be careful about what you wish for” because when the whole world was hit by the pandemic, we were all forced to stay at home and do practically everything online. Then it hit us, is working from home really working?

“Work from home is our ‘new’ reality,” according to Dr. Anna York Bondoc, a pulmonary and critical care specialist, who talked about the “Guidelines in the New Normal: How to Manage Stress While Working from Home”.

“Before, our desks are near each other. People work together and [offices] are usually crowded. A good point of working from home is no more commuting, and it’s safer at home. Work from home (WFH) is possible. It can be done [Puwede pala], which has been resisted before,” she said.

Dr. Anna York Bondoc / Facebook

Apparently, since people are still adjusting to this “new” reality, it is expected that not too many people, including our family and kids, are aware that WFH is actually a job. It’s paid, and if we don’t work, we won’t get paid.

“Husbands expect more from their wives. They come home thinking we’re just at home all day how come we haven’t cooked yet or haven’t done the dishes, or our mother-in-law’s wondering how come we can’t manage our kids, but what they didn’t know is that we also have a full-time job…we’re just at home. It’s our job,” said Dr. Bondoc.

Unlike when we go to the office, commuting separates work from home life. If a person goes to work, he is leaving a restful environment and moving to a professional and stressful environment. Working at the office separates people from home.

“Home is a place where we can de-stress. But when a person works from home, work-life balance is gone. Work is happening in our homes. The 9-to-5 job is destroyed, WFH becomes 24/7,” revealed Dr. Bondoc.

Even before the pandemic, some employers call their employees even after office hours. But work calls after office hours worsened during this pandemic because some employers expect their employees are always connected.

“Some companies call their employees and expect them to respond immediately. Then there’s a loss of privacy. When you’re at the office, it’s a separate entity. You can be professional and leave all problems behind at home. But now, people can see your private life during video calls or Zoom meetings, etc.,” she emphasized.

Apart from the challenge of staying connected 24/7, there’s this pressure on the employee to learn a new set of skills (e.g. online), to be more independent and self-motivated.

“The motivation must come from you now, otherwise, nothing will happen. You have to manage work from home and it’s quite stressful. Online environment/meetings are very stressful, very choppy for both the listeners and the speakers. Connections are bad. Speakers giving the talk are having a hard time gauging the audience. If meetings are not structured, you’ll waste so much time. It must be well planned and well moderated. It’s very difficult. Then people tend to stress eat, they don’t exercise. Too much digital. People feel isolated and lonely,” she said.

Moving forward

 Since WFH is becoming the “new” normal, people don’t really have a choice but to stick to it and adjust to it. Dr. Bondoc offered some tips to help successfully manage challenges and stress from WFH.

“There should be mutual communication between the boss and the employee. Bosses should explain the goals and outcomes so the employees know what to expect. Stick to a schedule. Designate a workplace,” said Dr. Bondoc.

She advised, however, for people to stop using their beds as their workplace. “Don’t do that! Don’t bring your work to your bed. It will disrupt your sleep. Separate working and sleeping place. That’s your workplace and you should be serious about it. Ask your kids/families to respect your workplace.”

Technology-wise, Dr. Bondoc disclosed that some older people are becoming worried that they are being left out by technology.

“Technology is only a tool. What’s important is your knowledge about the job and you know what you do with the subject matter. Technology will always be there, but it won’t give us brains. What to do with it, depends on us,” she said.

While it may seem that being ‘techie’ (a person who is expert in or enthusiastic about technology) gives young people an edge these days, Dr. Bondoc said otherwise. “For younger people, it doesn’t make you a genius if you know Zoom or technology. You still have to put in time and effort into what you’re doing.”

Your health matters

One of the downsides of WFH is the tendency to sit all day while facing computers or laptops. According to studies, sitting or lying down for too long increases one’s risk of chronic health problems, such as diabetes, some cancers, and heart diseases. It can also be bad for one’s mental health. In fact, health experts tag sitting for too long as the “new smoking”.

“Set aside time for yourselves. Exercise! Try to exercise twice a week. Set proper meal times. Primary immunity will come from your diet. What are you eating? Lasagna, ube pandesal? Eat a balanced diet: Proteins, carbs, fruits, and veggies. Vitamins for immunity are D, E, Zinc. One multivitamin a day is more than enough. Good diet, proper exercise, and enough sleep. Try to normalize your sleeping time,” she said.

Apart from taking care of one’s physical health, Dr. Bondoc also reminded everyone to set aside “quality” leisure time for family. “Talk to your husband. Play with your kids. Reach out to your friends or colleagues, sisters, cousins, boss. Try to talk to someone. Physical distancing, not social distancing.”

She also warned everyone to be aware of using too much social media as it can also be the source of anxiety. “Social media is a form of advertisement. Whatever we are posting, it’s the best version of ourselves. They tweak it to make it look better than it actually is.”

Dr. Bondoc affirmed that feeling sad, depressed, anxious, and hopeless in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic is normal. “If you don’t feel anything, your heart is made of stone. Everyone’s depressed and a little anxious. You’re going to go through ups and downs during this pandemic. There are times you will counsel, other times, you will need counseling. Practice patience and kindness. Be thankful. Look for strength in other people.”

Lastly, coronavirus is a new disease. While none is documented of contracting COVID twice, Dr. Bondoc said it’s still best to take care of oneself. “Everyone can get COVID. If you have to go out, please wear masks, sanitize, and practice social distancing. Please show compassion and respect. Change to house clothes and slippers once you go home.”


Barbie Almalbis honors Filipino optimism with “Umagang Kay Ganda” music video

Filipina rock icon Barbie Almalbis hopes to encourage and inspire listeners to rise above extraordinary times.

With the official release of “Umagang Kay Ganda,” the third single of her upcoming new album under Sony Music Philippines, the Dahilan singer-songwriter uses her platform to pay tribute to the courage and optimism of the Filipino people.

“The current situation has made so many of us experience such a profound sense of loss, and it has also given us a rare chance to stop and reassess our lives and consider the things that we really value,” the acclaimed pop-rock artist shares. “I hope Umagang Kay Ganda will be a blessing especially to our front liners. It is our little way to say thank you for the selflessness that they have continually shown and the sacrifices that they have made to help us get through this together.”

With the help of constant collaborators, Barbie and her bandmates put a creative stamp in reimagining “Umagang Kay Ganda,” while making sure that its empowering message shines through the intricate arrangement. “Karel and I initially jammed it and he wrote lines for the instrumental section, then we arranged the rest with Nikko on keyboard and Jonard on drums. We were able to record the rhythm section just a few weeks before the lockdown.” As a result, the new version conveys the timeless appeal of the original, while exuding a warmer approach in terms of production details.

Inspiring music video

The official release of Barbie Almalbis’ latest single comes with an accompanying music video that brings to light everyday stories of hope and love for the country amidst the global health crisis.

Interspersed with scenes of the new normal, the visuals for “Umagang Kay Ganda” also showcase the heroic deeds of our front liners and several acts of compassion and resilience from ordinary Filipino folks.

Barbie adds, “Although some people consider music and visual arts as non-essentials these days, I’ve found that many are actually turning to the arts as a way of coping and feeling connected to others. We want to remind people of the real hope that we have and can hold on to, even as we confront the invisible enemy on a day to day basis. We’ll be able to stand above difficult situations and hurdle these atrocities with the gift of love and compassion.”

The music video is also part of Magnolia Dari Creme’s campaign reminding us that in extraordinary times as in the normal times, tomorrow always brings us new chances for a brighter day as long as we are with the ones we love.

Filipina-Singaporean R&B artist Gail Belmonte releases debut single ‘Tonight’

R&B/soul singer-songwriter Gail Belmonte has released her debut single ‘Tonight’, via Singapore-based indie label Umami Records.

A chill track with that feel-good fairy dust sprinkled on top, ‘Tonight’ is about enjoying the night, slowing down and taking the time to soak in its magical beauty.

“I’m quite the night owl and work best during the nighttime, so I decided to write a whole song about how much I love the night,” Gail shares the details about her new song.

“In writing ‘Tonight’, I felt a sense of safety in the night, and I wanted to portray that in the most comfortable and magical way possible – and that’s throwing a bit of love in there. The most important thing to me is that it’s completely okay to feel vulnerable on your own in the dark of night, and it is okay to slow down every once in a while and let the night time take over,” she continued.

Gail’s voice is a formidable instrument that fits the song’s easygoing charm and brimming sensuality. Her singing style works pretty well in the context of flowy arrangements and vintage sounds, and it somehow finds fascinating corners within Tonight’s urban pop appeal.

Born and raised in Singapore, of Filipino descent, Gail Belmonte started singing and performing from an early age and has won and appeared in numerous singing competitions in Singapore and the Philippines since 2016. The upcoming singer-songwriter made her theatre debut in Pangdemonium’s staging of the Tony award-winning musical, Fun Home, in 2017.

Gail Belmonte has been featured on tracks by artists like fulses, thecolorfractal, Fingerfunk, and Tim De Cotta. The R&B artist is finally ready to put out her own music with three singles planned for release in 2020, in which she explores the effects of love, heartache, falling apart, and putting yourself back together again.

Tonight by Gail Belmonte is available everywhere at this link.

Fit, fierce, & 40

Today, I’m celebrating my 40th birthday. My mom told me not to post this photo, but I insisted because I wanted to remind myself that with God’s grace, support of my family and friends, and constant criticisms, He granted my wish to reach my ideal weight before I reach the age of 40.

Why did I choose that photo? Because I’m 40! Who cares?! Besides, during my younger years, I wasn’t able to wear one so I’m taking this opportunity to wear one.

My journey to fitness has not been an easy one. My family and friends are witnesses to my endless struggles, trials and errors, failures, and heartaches. I tried various types of diets and exercises to the point that I entered the military to subject myself to a very rigorous training just to lose weight. But when I was discharged from the academy in 2002, my weight only ballooned and became worst because I ate like I was still in the military with one to zero hours of exercise.

I tried running twice or thrice a week with no progress. I tried fad diets as well to no avail.

But more than two years ago, I tried prayer and fasting for very personal reasons, and that started everything for me. I lost about 10 lbs immediately. I noticed though that with diet alone without exercise, I would always feel so sluggish and weak. So I slowly incorporated running and high-intensity interval training to tone my muscles. From 191 lbs, I am now down to 145 lbs. Thank God!

I am still a work in progress. There are times I still succumb to temptations and my cravings, but what I realized now is that I’m more motivated and consistent in my workouts and diets. I post pictures not to flaunt myself, but to motivate people who are struggling like me before and even now, and to remind myself to be happy, be content, to keep on going, and that this is not a one-time feat.


Apart from my weight loss success, I’m thankful to God for giving me the strength, motivation, and inspiration. Thank you, Lord for this life, for my health, my family, my friends, my job, and for all the opportunities, blessings, favors, good health, and all the answered prayers.

I may not have everything I want for now, but I won’t stop dreaming, wishing, and praying – for the love of my life, a family of my own, and kids. For now, I will be grateful for what I have – my parents, my sisters and brother-in-law, my pamangkins, my loyal friends, for my job, for my health, and the opportunity to serve the Lord and our community in ways I know how. I know the best is yet to come. He will make all things beautiful in His time.

For now, my birthday wish is that He heals this world from this pandemic and make this a better place again, that He give us strength, stamina, and the grace and favor to endure this life’s challenges, that He heals our hearts, forgives us our sins, that He will guide our leaders, healthcare workers, front liners, and that He’ll protect us and our loved ones.

I know NOTHING is impossible with God. This too shall pass. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Ben&Ben launches BBTV to celebrate 1M subs on YouTube

After reaching more than a million subscribers on YouTube, multi-awarded nine-piece collective Ben&Ben has heeded the call of fans for more exclusive content in the coming days.

The acclaimed band has recently announced the launch of their upcoming weekly series, BBTV on July 31, Friday to celebrate this important milestone in their career.

“We’ve been making vlogs that showed our life behind the scenes, but eventually the band and its team came up with the idea,” vocalist and guitarist Miguel Benjamin shares. “Its primary goal is to simply find more ways to connect to people through more varied content.”

Extensive range of content

Aside from themed music performances and collaborations, expect an intimate look at the band’s more personal and entertaining side as they share their journey of living together under one roof.

“We decided to live together to eliminate or at least greatly lessen the risks involved with working outside,” says Miguel. “We always had the idea of living together in the future to create content and write music, but with the situation now we realized that now was the best time to actually give it a shot.”

Ben&Ben also revealed about their plans to drop a “head bang” version of their smash single “Pagtingin,” as well as cover select K-Pop songs in the future.

The online series, which airs every Wednesday, will also feature a more extensive range of content for people to connect to, including but not limited to games, competitions, challenges, and other forms of entertainment.

Sophomore Album

Ben&Ben is currently working on the follow-up to their platinum-selling debut album, Limasawa Street, which produced generation-defining songs such as “Pagtingin,” “Fall,” “Araw-Araw,” “War,” and more.

Paolo confirms in a statement that one of the reasons for moving in was to start writing for their second album to be released under Sony Music. “We wanted the process to be as organic and as involved as possible, and we’re so excited to see what we can come up with where distance and time isn’t a hindrance.”

New episodes of BBTV will drop every Wednesday of the week on the Ben&Ben YouTube Channel, starting August 5, 2020.

How to stay healthy while stuck at home

Most people have been isolated or confined to their homes for more than four months now due to the threat of a pandemic. If you’re feeling sad, depressed, impatient, craving for food, unmotivated, and hopeless lately, you are not alone.

We all wanted our “old” lives back, but we can’t do that for now. So, we have to accept and try to live the “new” normal. Our goal is not only to stay healthy at home but to also feel good about ourselves. It is important to try to maintain a healthy lifestyle during this pandemic.

Here’s how to do that:

  1. Get a home massage. Panic, anxiety, and fear are all common feelings, but there are ways to manage them, and one of them is by getting a massage. A regular body massage promotes reduced muscle tension, improved circulation, relaxation, reduction of stress hormones, among many others. But since we cannot visit any massage clinics at the moment, massaging ourselves or members of our family even with a simple back rub can also be very effective, although it may not be satisfying like how our favorite masseuse does. Putting massage oils not only improves the nature of relaxation massage, but it also helps in the healing process.

Here are some popular massage oils and their benefits:

  • Peppermint – relief from itching, muscle pain, and headache; it is also a treatment for a variety of conditions to include nausea, digestive issues, and irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Lemongrass – antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, stomach pain, and nausea.
  • Lavender – relieves pain, treats various skin disorders, keeps your hair healthy, relieves respiratory disorders
  • Chamomile – for indigestion, nausea or gas, wound healing, anxiety relief, eczema or rashes, anti-inflammation, and promoting sleep.
  1. Boost your immune system. We cannot afford to get sick these days as most of the hospitals are already in full capacity. Even the slightest sign of sore throat, cough, or colds can make us feel anxious and in panic mode. Back in the days, honey is an old sore throat remedy. People try a spoonful of honey when they have a cold, adding it to a hot tea with lemon. It’s been used as a folk remedy throughout history and has a variety of medical uses and health benefits. Raw honey is a good source of antioxidants, has antibacterial and antifungal properties. It can heal wounds, has a phytonutrient powerhouse, and helps in digestive issues.


  1. Go easy on food and drinks. Some people find comfort in eating and drinking when feeling sad, anxious, or depressed. But did you know that a typical fancy coffee drink contains 170 grams of sugar? You’d get more of sugar than a caffeine buzz. As the popular song would say, too much of something is bad enough. But if you really love coffee, why not switch to organic coffee because it’s high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Coffee in itself boosts the immune system and helps the bodyguard against disease. Organic coffee is said to be free of pesticides and artificial fertilizers and reduces the risk of harmful chemical ingestion.
  2. Take care of yourself. Working from home means more time to take care of yourself. That means taking a bath regularly and pampering yourself. But make sure to use products that are free from chemical loaded products. Over time, toxins present in those products will be absorbed by our skin and can lead to more serious health issues. Using organic products such as soaps is not only healthier, it is also better for the environment, cruelty-free, more economic. Organic soaps, for example, have better healing properties, easily disposed of, have glycerine, loaded with antioxidants, no chemical antibacterial toxins and preservatives.
  1. Don’t forget to exercise. Before this pandemic, we often complain about how we don’t have much time to exercise and do things that we love. Now it’s a good time to do that as exercise is an effective way to reduce anxiety and depression. Try walking or running around the neighborhood, or try online yoga, Pilates, or Zumba classes.
  1. Get enough rest. Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of good quality sleep each night. Getting enough sleep isn’t only about the total hours of sleep, but a good quality one. Sleep plays a crucial role in good health and well-being throughout your life.
  1. Pray and meditate. Prayer is one of the most important things we can do right now. Prayer is when you talk to God and meditation is when God talks to you. You can do it anywhere at any time. Just find your quiet place. Prayer changes us, protects us, and brings us breakthroughs in life. Why not give it try? It doesn’t have to be complicated and difficult. Just be honest and be yourself. Trust the process. Let go and let God take care of the rest.

Remember, if you’re only being asked to stay at home, call yourself blessed. Some people are fighting for their lives, risking their lives, and saving other lives just to survive. Stay at home, keep yourself healthy, wear masks, and practice social distancing. This too shall pass.

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Listen to Twenty-Nine Eleven’s take on 6cyclemind’s “I”

Filipino pop-rock outfit Twenty-Nine Eleven has finally released their remake of 6cyclemind’s “I,” off the upcoming Sige I-Cover Mo Lang Project.

The song serves as the second single of the online compilation, produced by 6cyclemind and their management Soupstar Music, and released by Sony Music Philippines.

The aforementioned tribute record aims to introduce the band’s legacy as reliable hitmakers that continue to define an entire generation’s collective consciousness.

A captivating take

 Twenty-Nine Eleven’s version of the alt-rock classic was handpicked as one of the three winners of the Sige I-Cover Mo Lang Project—an initiative that encouraged fans to submit covers of their favorite songs from 6cyclemind’s catalog.

Their captivating take stands out with its earnest simplicity and delicate arrangements, giving the song a refreshing spin while maintaining the original’s timelessness and emotional appeal.

According to Fony Alfonso, the lead vocalist of the five-piece band, the song is already great on its own. “However, in order to make it sound like us, we wanted to rearrange the song and add more of our personality to it. As with all of the songs that we’ve done before, we experimented with it until we got the right ‘feel’ that we wanted to express as a band.”

An inspiration to young musicians

 The independent band considers 6cyclemind as one of their inspirations.

“After spending time with the members of 6cyclemind, we were able to understand that it wasn’t only their music style that made them successful, but also their perseverance in pursuing their career and passion,” guitarist Alexandre Abesamis shares.

“As they’ve told us back then, there were a lot of other better and more skilled bands than them, but what made them stand out is that they never stopped playing.”

Currently, Twenty-Nine Eleven is working on new material and experimenting with various sounds and techniques culled from their individual musical influences.

Drummer Jerell Co adds, “Ever since high school, we were subjected to various styles and genres of music from the most dramatic love songs to the heaviest rock songs. That alone has developed the kind of music we could make now.”

Twenty-Nine Eleven’s rendition of “I” is now available on various music streaming and download platforms worldwide.


John Legend’s new album, Bigger Love celebrates Black Culture and Pride

Multi-platinum artist John Legend dropped his sixth studio album, Bigger Love on June 19 via Columbia Records.

On a lengthy Instagram post, the Emmy, Golden Globe, Oscar, and Tony (EGOT) winner reveal that Bigger Love was written and produced prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and the #BlackLivesMatter protests happening around the world.

John Legend

According to Legend, the album is a “celebration of love, joy, sensuality, hope, and resilience” and an important showcase of what makes black culture so influential and empowering.

“It’s important for us to continue to show the world the fullness of what it is to be black and human,” John Legend takes pride in.

“Through our art, we are able to do that. I’m under no illusion that music can save the world or solve the world’s problems, but I’ve always turned to music to help me through tough times and I know many of you have done the same.”

His new album, Bigger Love features 16 soulful, R&B-laden, and pop-influenced tracks, and includes guest spots and collaborations with Gary Clark Jr., Jhene Aiko, Koffee, Rapsody, and Camper. It is executive produced by Raphael Saadiq—the award-winning neo-soul artist who co-produced two of the most critically acclaimed albums of the last two decades: Solange’s A Seat At The Table and D’Angelo’s Voodoo.

The All of Me singer-songwriter dedicates his upcoming record to his wife, his family, and “the rich tradition of black music that has made me the artist I am.”

The album’s focus single is “U Move, I Move,” a duet featuring Jhene Aiko. With its velvety harmonies, lush arrangements, and an inescapable chorus, the R&B slow jam embraces the emotional range and vulnerability of both artists, taking listeners to a place of romantic high with just the right amount of warmth.

Upon hearing the track, Legend’s wife, multimedia star Chrissy Teigen tweeted, “One of my favorite ones is one with @JheneAiko. Why don’t u guys just get fuckin married.”

The tweet has racked up more than 40,000 likes and a thousand retweets.

For more information about the album, please visit his website.

About John Legend

Critically acclaimed and best-selling artist John Legend has garnered 11 Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Tony Award, and an Emmy Award, making Legend the first African-American man to earn an EGOT.

He has released six celebrated albums including, Get Lifted (2004), Once Again (2006), Evolver (2008), Love in the Future (2013), Darkness and Light (2016), and A Legendary Christmas (2018). Legend starred in NBC’s “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert” in 2018, winning an Emmy for Outstanding Variety Special and nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor (Limited Series). Legend joined “The Voice” for Season 16 (2019), winning with his mentee Maelyn Jarmon and is currently a judge on Season 18.

Legend is a partner in Get Lifted Film Co., serving as an Executive Producer for “Southern Rites,” “United Skates,” WGN America’s “Underground,” and films “Southside with You” and “La La Land.” As a philanthropist, Legend initiated the #FREEAMERICA campaign in 2015 to change the national conversation surrounding the misguided criminal justice policies in the US and to end mass incarceration.






The ‘New Normal’: How military reserve, police cope with COVID-19

When President Rodrigo Duterte called on the uniformed personnel to help strictly enforce the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), there was an uproar from the public, especially since the information came out first from a leaked memorandum, instructing “all personnel to prepare for strict implementation of extensive ECQ” or a “martial law-like” implementation.

The public was particularly concerned about the “iron-fist ECQ implementation that could violate human rights with impunity and disregarding the situation on the ground.”

While some concerns can be valid given our 20-year history with martial law during the time of former President Ferdinand Marcos, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) had been quick to clarify that it “is not taking over as in a martial law setting” and that even in normal times, the military “has been aiding in purely civilian matters whenever necessary, such as disaster situations, rescue, and relief operations and medical missions.”

Since then, the military and police personnel have become one of the familiar faces during this pandemic. But apart from regular military personnel, the AFP has also utilized the services of military reservists. In fact, in Quezon City and Manila alone, 500 reservists were deployed; while the remaining 300 personnel were fielded in Pasay, Taguig, Pateros, and Paranaque.

Time to shine

For Army Major Neil Konrad Binayao III working for GN Power Kauswagan (GNPK), a power plant, and being a Reserve officer at the same time is both a commitment and a challenge, especially during this time.

Army Major Neil Konrad Binayao (left) of the 1003rd Ready Reserve Battalion poses with one of the soldiers at the quarantine checkpoints

“The biggest change would have to be being away from my family for a much longer period of time. Due to precautionary measures, I have to be away for two to three weeks at a time instead of the usual five days. But other than that, I’ve always been a bit of a lone wolf: I could spend an entire day alone inside photography hideout in the forest, so social and physical distancing is nothing really new to me,” said Binayao.

But the major challenge is when he needs to be physically present during his unit’s activities in Malaybalay, the provincial capital of Bukidnon where he is the Battalion S3 of the 1003rd Ready Reserve Infantry Battalion but he’s working in Lanao del Norte, which is about five hours away.

In some cases, he has to rely on his network developed over the years to facilitate the conduct of some activities in Bukidnon while being confined to his place or work.

His unit is only involved in assisting LGUs in Bukidnon in the repacking of food supplies.

“Our LGUs have been very appreciative of the assistance extended by our Reservists and have reciprocated in kind by providing food and transportation assistance to our troops,” he shared.

While a good number of scheduled activities had been put on hold, GNPK has been helpful in assisting the LGUs in terms of providing food assistance in cooperation. They work closely with the security department to facilitate the delivery of much-needed supplies to stakeholders beyond the immediate periphery of the plant site.

While it’s an added work and responsibility, Binayao said that it is in times like this that the value of Reservists as force multipliers get to really shine.

“The spirit of volunteerism and selfless service shown by fellow reservists in this crisis makes me very proud to be one of them,” he quips.

On behalf of an agri-business company and in coordination with an Army unit, they were also able to facilitate the delivery of 200 sacks of rice to a Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) camp that was the site of a development project.

“The happiness and appreciation we saw in the faces of battle-hardened combatants as they unloaded the sacks of rice was priceless.”

Like everyone else, Binayao wears a mask at work, practice social distancing and good hygiene. He also takes multivitamins and eats nutritious food to boost his immune system.

“I also take time to exercise inside my quarters and within our staff house compound.  Aside from getting the physical benefits of exercise, the ensuing release of endorphins can also contribute to mental well-being,” he added.

When he gets to go home, Binayao makes sure he takes extra precautions to ensure the safety of his family.

“First, I travel straight from my workplace. Upon arrival, I proceed to my sister’s unoccupied house, next to ours where I leave all my things, bathe, and change into a fresh set of clothes. Only then do I set foot inside my home,” he said.

Army Major Neil Konrad Binayao of the 1003rd Ready Reserve Battalion in Bukidnon (far right) oversees the turnover of donation boxes for front liners

Be a responsible citizen

Like most of us, uniformed men are also having a hard time adjusting with the so-called “new normal”. Take the case of Police Staff Sergeant Nicolas Lumbuan III of Marikina Police Station who has been in the service for 13 years. He admitted that this is his most challenging assignment for now.

A policeman scrutinizes a rider’s license and other pertinent documents before letting him through the checkpoint

“It’s very risky on our end as we don’t really see who is infected or not. It changed everything from the way I dress. I have to wear a mask as part of my uniform before I enter the office, which makes it more difficult for me to communicate and breathe,” he said.

After work, he also has to change his clothes first before he chats with his family, unlike before he can do that as soon as he arrives. And since he has only two pairs of combat or battle uniform, he still needs to rest before he can wash his uniform, and then after that, that’s the only time he can sleep after his 12-hour shift with no day off as it has been canceled because of this pandemic.

“I pray harder before and after my duty. I ask Him to give me a healthy body and mind while I perform my duties,” he shared.

Apart from wearing masks, Lumbuan has become more vigilant in communicating with his coworkers and the public. He also avoids any social gathering for now and practices good hygiene and sanitation by frequent washing of the hands and using alcohol. He also makes sure he takes his daily dose of vitamins to help boost his immune system.

One of the major challenges he encounters these days are people who are blatantly violating the ECQ guidelines.

“We first talk to the person and explain to them why we need to strictly follow and implement the rules and why we are doing these. But if they don’t listen to us, we issue an ECQ ticket and bring them to the barangay officials. If they resist, we will file a case such as disobedience, resisting of arrest and etc.,” he said.

He recalled one time when they had to transport one member of a civilian family to the hospital because transportation was difficult at that time.

“Even if we were frightened to get infected because one of them is experiencing symptoms of COVID, we still need to fulfill our duties to serve them in these trying times. So, we drove them to the nearest hospital,” he said.

Apart from manning checkpoints, Lumbuan also shared that they also assist in distributing relief goods to several families, and sometimes, they would donate money from their own pockets for this program entitled, ‘Adopt an Indigent Family’ to buy them relief goods.

Admittedly, performing police duties during this time has been really difficult, but if there’s one secret weapon he’d like to share that gets them through their daily tasks is praying together as a team.

“Praying together has become part of our routine now which helps us to battle this pandemic and make us stronger despite a very risky job,” he shared.

Thus, Lumbuan appealed to the public to stay at home and avoid social gatherings, for now, to help minimize the spread of the virus.

“Follow public health guidelines. Practice hood hygiene. Wash your hands regularly or as needed. Be a responsible citizen.”

While the Philippines is ‘getting better’ according to reports, we still need to flatten the curve through expanded testing and intensive contact tracing to help the country return to the “new normal”.

Two policemen check riders for license and travel passes

As of this writing, there are 20,382 total COVID cases nationwide with 4,248 recoveries, 984 deaths. Time and again, the public is reminded to stay at home, wear masks when going out for essentials only, and practice social distancing and good hygiene.

9 fun & random facts about me

I got this idea after our supervisor made me and my teammates do this during one of our weekly online meetings so we could get to know each other more. It got me so interested that I turned it into a full-blown article.

So here it goes:

  1. I prefer ‘sunrise’ over ‘sunsets’

While most people would be in awe watching the sunsets, I don’t like watching the sun set as it gets teary-eyed and sad. Apparently, our house faces the direction where the sun usually sets, while the sun rises at the back of our house. When I was younger, when my mom won’t allow me to go out to play or I’d often get reprimanded to come home early before the sun sets, I’d usually sit by our main door to mope. There I would see the sun setting in front of me, which added to my already sad feeling. Over time, I’d often associate sunsets over sadness for not being able to play outside with my friends so whenever I’d see the sun rise, it gets me the feeling of hope and promise of a new day that I can play again.

2. I like ‘blue-eyed’ guys

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As a young girl, I’ve always had a crush on Prince William. That goes to say that my “dream” guy should be like him: tall, white, blonde, blue eyes, and royalty (It’s a dream! Don’t judge me.) Perhaps, every little girl dream of becoming a princess and marrying a prince. I was one of those little girls. While I do talk to a guy who has other eye color, I get more interested if he has blue eyes.

3. I love putting fabric conditioner in my clothes and sheets

I wash my bed sheets every week and likes to put fabric conditioner after every wash. I prefer if the scent lingers longer and Downy Passion does just that. When the scent fades in my sheets, I find it hard to sleep at night. I know it’s my signal to wash the sheets.

4. I prefer sleeping with the lights off

Maybe it goes with age, but a little crackling and ray of light wake me up at night often giving me interrupted sleep. Complete darkness gives me peace as opposed to people who have a hard time sleeping without a little light on.

According to, “Sleeping with the lights on has been linked to depression. Blue light from electronic devices may have the worst effects on your mood. A lack of sleep can also cause moodiness and irritability. Children who don’t get enough sleep may be more hyperactive.” meanwhile said that “sleeping with the lights on has an effect on your brain wave patterns, the natural cycle of Melatonin production, and cell regulation all which disrupt your sleep cycle. This has been linked to a variety of health issues like depression, obesity, breast and prostate cancer, and cardiovascular disease, to name a few.”

5. I’m obsessed with scented candles and essential oils

These are some of my obsessions lately – scented candles and essential oils. My favorite brands are Yankee for candles and Mia Mason for essential oils. They’re a bit pricey but they’re worth it.  

Burning candles is said to have many health benefits. According to, “Scented candles that use quality essential oils can promote relaxation, reduce anxiety and stress, and induce quality sleep. The flicker of the flame and the low lighting provided by the candle light creates an ambiance of relaxation and calm.”

While aromatherapy oils can provide respiratory disinfection, decongestant, and psychological benefits according to Inhaling essential oils stimulates the olfactory system, the part of the brain connected to smell, including the nose and the brain. Some of my favorite scents include Lemon Grass, White Tea & Ginger, Fresh Bamboo, Warm Cotton, Peppermint, and Eucalyptus.

6. I love cookies and sweets.

I have a sweet tooth. Before, I can eat one box of cookies in one sitting, but since we have a family history of diabetes and I’m on a diet, I try to control my cravings by eating cookies or sweets after my main meal or as desserts. But here’s the catch: I like eating them after I brush my teeth, which some of my officemates find weird. Who eats after they brush their teeth? I do.

7. I’m a frustrated athlete

Growing up, I’ve always felt fat, ugly, and insecure so being a ‘beauty queen’ or a ‘model’ never occurred to me. So, I’ve always wanted to be an athlete to force myself to get into shape, run, train, or just do anything to be physically active. It has always been my dream to wear shorty shorts, high-knee socks like Volleyball players because I find athletes strong, sexy, hot, and very empowering.


8. I love white sheets

Lately, I’m obsessed with anything that’s white, specifically with my sheets, blanket, and pillow cases. The danger with white sheets is that they get super, super dirty. So, I just make sure I don’t eat in my bed or spill anything that might stain it. White sheets are classic. It is a symbol of luxury, simplicity, and elegance. The best hotels use white sheets. While it might seem boring on the surface, it communicates a sense of calm, serenity, and tidy feeling.

9. I love good fragrances says that fragrance can boost our confidence, enhance our mood, make you attractive to people, trigger memories, reduce stress levels, and increase alertness. Fragrance speaks volume about a person’s personality and character. It is another ‘window to the soul’ which cannot be missed or overlooked like our daily attire. I wear a signature cologne that I want to be my trademark – a fragrance that will remind people or my friends that it’s me. There’s something about fragrances that draws me to a person, as well. I find good-smelling people very attractive. I always associate good smell with how they take good care of theirselves, their body and how they value people around them who can smell them or get affected with how they smell. But of course, I don’t judge people mainly on how they smell. Beauty both comes from inside and outside. It doesn’t matter how good looking you are or if how good you smell, if you treat people badly, then I don’t think you’re a good person.