In the two years since the new decade began, we have faced change like no other. In the blink of an eye, the pandemic crept its way into the homes and lives of many, altering the way we moved, worked, and lived out our everyday existence. From our homes to our schools, our workplaces and our public spaces, change has been the only constant in our lives over the last couple of years, with new travails and triumphs at every corner.
Although the worst of COVID-19 is arguably behind us; we continue to grapple with its long-lasting effects. Businesses reopen, close and then open again, gradual and hesitant. Schools weigh the option of the safe return of students to the campus against the threats of new variants of the virus. News outlets and other media platforms learn from the headlong evolution of technology, devising new ways to bring information to the public in the most accessible way possible.
Our country, too, was not impervious to transition; 2022 particularly saw the end of one administration and the rise of a new one, with the former regime leaving behind problems still unsolved, and many Filipinos still yearning for a future of justice, equality, and human rights for all. Our education, transportation, health and labor sectors, among others, continue to yearn for recovery and progress from eternally difficult times. And my generation — the young and determined, undaunted by the challenges and setbacks of the past — remains restless and eager for the tomorrow that is soon to come. Indeed, the country continues to change, be it for better or for worse —and we have no choice but to adapt every time to such changes, like a rollercoaster ride that seemingly has no end.
The Philippine STAR’s July 27 issue highlighted what a number of key industry leaders did to adjust and adapt to the COVID-19 health crisis and the devastating changes it brought. They learned how to navigate through one of the darkest periods in our lifetime and take important lessons that can certainly prove useful as the country moves forward. Working with real-world problems and coming up with real world solutions, these key opinion leaders led their businesses and organizations through life-changing events and challenges that would no doubt leave a mark on their day-to-day operations.
But for many others, life goes on. The everyday, after all, stops for no one, and the stress alone of coping with our daily trials makes it tempting to accept things as they are; to settle for the easy what is, and to toss aside notions of what could be or what ought to be. The hardships of the real world can reduce imagination to something childish, and idealism to a flaw. Oftentimes, it feels safer to confine ourselves to wrestling with our daily struggles than to aim to dream bigger and perhaps just be let down by the weight of our own expectations.
This year, however, The Philippine STAR dares to want more. Fired up with the idea of reenvisioning our lives, we dare to bridge the gap between dreams and reality by exploring The Next Page for us as a country and people. What lies ahead for the Philippines if we just begin to reconsider the accepted realities around us?
For the paper’s 36th anniversary, we highlight a collection of articles that seek to venture beyond the world we know now, and into a world we could very well make happen if we put our hearts and minds to it. We asked the question “What if?” about various aspects of our lives, and our invited thinkers and opinion-makers have reached deep within themselves to try to find the right answers that will bring us to a better tomorrow.
Asking 'What if?' goads us to begin anew the process of progress and innovation, to resume the ceaseless task of creating a healthy nation for all Filipinos marked by the spirit of community, social justice, honor and democracy.
From a world where gardens cover our roofs to keep our homes cool, to opening public libraries in every town and city, demanding that our highest officials walk in the shoes of the people they govern, having a Chief Wellness Officer in every company to take care of employees’ well-being, ensuring that our workweek adheres to an ideal work-life balance, establishing more community spaces for creators and entrepreneurs, rallying greater support for scientists as well as e-gamers, putting more women in charge of running the country — the possibilities explored in these pieces are the furthest thing from mere fantasy. And they all begin with the act of imagination, which is not in any way a childish endeavor. As journalist Joel Pablo Salud writes in his piece, to look at the world differently, “we can begin by tapping our inner child, by letting our curiosity run free.”
To ask, “What if?,” after all, is more than just pure speculation; it opens up new horizons, the way the powerful thought pieces in today’s anniversary special help point the way toward a more responsive, inclusive framework for nation-building. In particular, in the wake of a crisis of catastrophic proportions, asking “What if?” goads us to begin anew the process of progress and innovation, to resume the ceaseless task of creating a healthy nation for all Filipinos marked by the spirit of community, social justice, honor, and democracy.
Human rights lawyer Neri Colmenares, reflecting on what it would take to “reimagine the Philippine human rights situation, and to work for the realization of that vision,” concludes that it is “an act requiring much-vaunted bravery from everyone.” Indeed, if there was ever a time to reflect, to be bold and to reassess the condition of our lives as we know it — that time is here. That time is now.