Alumni Voice


“Looking Back at Our Future”

Mark Ulysis I. Romulo

University student (Department of History and Philosophy)

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly transformed the individual and community situations of people across the world. The ease of transmitting the disease, varying demographic risk factors, as well as an unprecedented global media campaign to put both the causes and effects of the disease front and center has made high the costs of the disease to both individuals concerned for themselves or their loved ones and the public-at-large. Problems of public health and disease control have been pushed to the forefront even as significant economic losses have been inflicted upon many members of the public who would otherwise remain healthy and uninfected and yet suffer acutely alongside those who are subject to medical attention and confinement. Strict and exacting public health and safety protocols, as compared to what had been in effect before the pandemic, has made life difficult and unbearable for many, whether through the sudden narrowing of financial capabilities and prospects or through the personal pain brought about by the incapacitation or loss of loved ones as a result of the disease.

As for myself, while me and my family remain fortunate enough for not having been afflicted by the disease, its effects on our lives remain acute and potent as it is. Like many in our own country, the Philippines, the slow relaxation of public safety guidelines has given way to still many restrictions and requirements on the part of reopening private firms and entities. Once vibrant and busy streets have become much less so as many among us opt out of appearing or interacting physically to conduct our activities, especially among the children and elderly segments of the population. School and work activities, for myself and most others around me, have shifted over to using virtual spaces in order to continue functioning safely. For the less fortunate, audio-visual methods of transmission such as one-way radio or television, non-Internet based methods such as two-way radios and SMS, and written response methods such as modular learning, remain the norm for the foreseeable future until such time that a return to large-scale physical interactive spaces becomes feasible.

While lamentable for many, certain effects of the pandemic remain salutary and helpful with respect to the innovations brought about as a result of the challenges posed by the pandemic as well as the responses emerging as a result of such. It can be said that the pandemic has accelerated the trends of virtualization with respect to the economy and social life, with the rapid increase in individual and community costs if traditional means of economic and social life remain inflexible and unadjusted. We have had to become more connected and wiser to technology, if only to restore some semblance of normalcy to the radically changed world. From online classes to virtual parties, many activities once considered primarily the domain of the socio-physical setting have made the uneasy, uneven, transition to the virtual world and yet one would expect that in a post-COVID world such trends would continue and thrive even alongside a near-total restoration of pre-COVID norms and activities given their utility independent of pandemic conditions as well as the ease and reach with which they have become embedded into the public consciousness.

Among the most significant themes and lessons that still remain with me since TYCA is the importance of sustainability, specifically man’s sustainable relationship with nature and the rest of society, the value of technology in improving the lives of people across the world, and the significance of such innovation in making sustainable living possible for people. In the face of the current crisis, it has become ever more important to consider the importance of such lessons especially as our communities start planning ahead and moving past the era of COVID. At a global scale, the crisis has shown to us and many other communities in the developing world how vulnerable we are to the tumults and crises of a globalized economy, where we cannot hope to compete effectively on the world stage against the developed nations when it comes to acquiring sufficient necessities for our people, whether for reasons of health supplies, food security, financial assistance, among many other concerns. At a local level, we see such disparities in our own communities wherein far-flung or depressed areas simply cannot provide adequate and quality support for the already burdened people locked out or diminished by the prevailing conditions. It has thus taught once again to many of us about the need for sustainability not only in terms of the environment but also in terms of our economies and technologies.

As TYCA alumni, we must also be cognizant and realistic of our own abilities and limits. Doubtless, many of us may still hold the hope that one day we may still make a significant impact on our societies by introducing and promoting practices or technologies acclimated to our specific social and economic conditions, but also awake to face the realities of prioritizing the survival of ourselves and our loved ones in the here and now and as well as the foreseeable future to even begin to consider how we could change our worlds. This should not discourage us in the least, but instead channel our focus into the fields and social circles in which we congregate and start working towards change even while we work towards outlasting the crises which we face. Individually, we can inform and motivate others to share and move towards our goals, inspiring and educating our fellows over the needs of our communities that need to be addressed, especially now that communicating virtually and non-physically has become ever more commonplace. The lessons we have gained from TYCA will always find themselves most fruitful and compelling at the level of our communities, whether those we participate in online or in our physical local communities. If we are to collaborate with our fellows across other countries, then we must also collaborate with our fellows right next door. Pursuing a sustainable and innovative community means that we must participate actively in those communities to move them in that direction, we may encourage them to adopt practices which support locally-sourced or renewable materials in the maintenance of public health and safety, or we may support groups and organizations in our communities that advocate for healthy living and safe health practices, among other things. It is from actions like these that we can extend our influence meaningfully and demonstrate to our fellows elsewhere that another way of living is possible. There is a certain beauty and logic in trying to live out what we have learned in the humble streets and alleys of our homes and communities, as our presence and actions can only go so far there as we are willing to commit to, and it is in such spaces in which we are aware of intimately enough to know and apply our knowledge in far more knowledgeable and creative ways than in just what was mentioned previously. Regardless, in whatever way that we may decide to contribute to our loved ones and communities in the world beyond the pandemic, we should always keep in mind the lessons and experiences which we have learned not only in TYCA but also since those days. After all, we are going to have to act, if we want to live in a different world.







Choose your Reaction!