#VoxPopuli | The Hope in Rising

by Samantha Antonette A. Mateo

Cover Art by Roanne Anteza

A really interesting thing that’s stuck with me throughout the years would be Ibn Khaldun’s cycle of the rise and fall of civilizations. To sum it up, it tells you that a civilization will grow and flourish, then decline and die. While this brutal end of civilizations may not seem too appealing, I believe that its concept shines with hope in these trying times. How? Well, it may say that things, events, and situations come to an end, but it also speaks of them being replaced with something new. It promises us that surely, something will rise from the pandemic’s ruins.

I doubt I need citations to tell you that the COVID-19 pandemic brought a lot of suffering all around the world, the Philippines far from an exception. It tried the stability of our healthcare system, plunged our economy down a hole, subjected us to our government’s trial-and-error protective measures, and worst of all, caused many of our countrymen to suffer, some of them barely getting by.

The pandemic has placed us in a very low position, but that doesn’t mean that there is no bouncing back. Like the cycle of civilizations, from the fall of one thing springs the rise of another. The positive side of hitting bedrock is having no other way to go but up. Like the ever-cited phoenix, we will rise from our ashes as something promising and new. In fact, we’ve already taken the first few steps.

Take the current case statistics, for example. Last September 11, 2021, we recorded the highest number of new COVID-19 cases in one day: a whopping 26,303. Currently, nearly three months from then, the number of new cases has deflated to less than two thousand a day. There are even some places in the country that haven’t been recording any new cases lately. While it’s not yet the absolute zero we’re all hoping for, we’re clearly on the way there and that’s something worth celebrating.

Vaccinations all around the country are also something to be happy about. Many Filipinos aged 12 and above have already gotten their doses. In fact, there is a large possibility that even children 5–11 years old will get theirs before the year is over. The arrival of these vaccinations has been a symbol of hope to many as we’ve been wishing and praying for them to come since the early days of the pandemic. Nowadays, we’ve shifted our attention to jab schedules and zombie-vaccine believers.

If it’s celebrations we’re talking about, let’s not forget the way our country’s state is slowly but surely going back to normal. With the shrinking number of cases and growing number of administered vaccinations, restrictions have slowly started to relax once more. The great importance of keeping minimum health standards remains, but people are no longer as confined as they’ve previously been. The freer movement also gives some much-needed relief to many of our fellowmen in long-suffering sectors such as tourism and film.

Another thing to feel hopeful about is the nearing election, and with it ignites the dream that our chosen leaders will bring better tomorrows. Aside from the candidates, the voters themselves are also rays of sunshine in these trying times. According to Comelec, approximately 5 million first-time voters registered for the 2022 election. Whether these new voters are youths who’ve just reached legal age or adults who’ve gained a newfound sense of duty, the fact that these people felt the need to play their part in the democratic process is something wonderful.

However, the first-time voters aren’t the only ones to be happy about. We’ve all learned lessons from this pandemic, and for some people, these lessons included reevaluations of their political beliefs. The happenings of the past two years have made them realize which of their previous chosen ones were worthy and which they shouldn’t have voted for in the first place. Their vows to vote better this time are truly something to smile about.

The last wild, wonderful and amazing thing I believe we should celebrate is the fact that we are all still here. The fact that you’re reading this right now means that you’ve survived the trials, challenges, and sufferings of the past two years. Whatever happens from here, we’ve gone through a pandemic and that is something to be very proud of. The triumph of each and every one of us that’s here today is a triumph for our whole nation.

I believe that every step we make towards recovery, however small, has the power to bring us hope. Like lonely stars peeking out in a barren sky, they bring light to a hopeless situation. They tease the promise that it hides something more. Each star is priceless, bright, and beautiful. Such beautiful things are what we live for, aren’t they? Whether they are people, events, or emotions, these are what make the journey worth it, despite all the pain.

When you feel like what you’re doing is no longer worthwhile, stop for a moment and look at all the stars we’ve reached. They will surely be more vibrant and more plentiful than they were the last time you looked. Keep climbing the skyscape, keep striving to rise. Who knows? One day, you may look up and find the once-inky night beaming with bright, beautiful stars, even more amazing than they were before this pandemic.

The new era that’s being born is ours to usher in. The future is full of uncertainty, but it shines with possibility’s promise. We are the ones who shape the path we take as we rise from the ashes. Each victory we earn is a torch, each torch will light the trail we choose to take. From the bottom of the cycle, we will keep on living, dreaming, and rising until we rise higher than the stars.


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