Filipinos are restarting the lives they put on hold for two years due to COVID with a flurry or return to work orders and the uncertainty of the most divisive elections now in the past.
For the first time since 2019, millions can now plan a year's worth of vacations, travels and life events as most of the country remains under the lowest set of COVID restrictions.
The only things that differentiate 2022 from 2019 the wearing of masks and full COVID vaccination. Living life is trying to make up for lost time until a new variant comes along. Here's what to expect in the new normal.
If you haven’t returned to the office already, you’re expected to visit at least once for some meeting, an onboarding requirement, or a mandatory office day.
The world saw employees carry company operations remotely and it’s highly likely working from home will remain an option for many Filipinos. Companies like Google and Twitter are making remote work a permanent option for their employees.
In case working remotely full-time is not an option for your field, a mix of days at the office and at home via a hybrid system is likely to be implemented. There are different types of hybrid work systems, and your company may choose to implement one based on office space, employee considerations, or financial sitaution.
Still, for client-facing and in-person service industries, working in an office or establishment is required, especially those on a no-work, no-pay setup. After all, pilots can’t steer planes from home and bank tellers can’t process your cash transactions remotely.
More people returning to the office means traffic. Free MRT-3 train rides, bus lanes, and an active transport community can help you get places, but some prefer to travel via private car as a precaution against COVID-19.
If you’ve kept fuel payments to a minimum the past two years, expect it to be recurring monthly expense now. The Russia-Ukraine war pushed prices up, but a recent rollback offered some relief to consumers.
Vacation leaves are your best bet at a breather. You'll want to keep track of the long weekend ones for future travel plans.
If things remain as they are with no new variants or viruses popping up, this could be the first Undas or Christmas season Filipinos can spend abroad as tourists.
Countries are reopening borders for the first time in two years with hopes of restarting tourism industries and services as Filipinos adjust to the new normal with boosters and masks.
Neighboring countries like Singapore and Thailand have opened doors to Filipino tourists, while popular destinations like South Korea will once again begin processing visa applications starting June. Japan is also seen to ease border restrictions over the next few months.
Requirements are still subject to the destination country’s guidelines, but several countries like Singapore have dropped the negative RT-PCR test requirement and mandatory quarantines entirely in favor of vaccination certificates and digital contact tracing.
Concerts and movies
Intimacy remains the biggest enemy during a pandemic, but masked gatherings among fully vaccinated individuals have become commonplace in 2022.
Malls, public transport, offices, and even cinemas are accommodating thousands of masked Filipinos daily, with more expected to come out of their homes as the weeks go by.
‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ also saw an eager crowd despite coinciding with the heated election season. At least one friend per night would post their movie tickets on their Instagram stories or tweet about the CGI.
Concert organizers are also looking at the Philippines for venues, with some announcing tour dates already, and some tickets for K-Pop acts now on sale.
Contactless transactions were pushed at the onset of the pandemic to minimize contact that could potentially transmit COVID-19, but have become an essential for Filipinos. Instead of carrying a phone and a wallet, some people can go days with just their phone using mobile wallets and digital payment methods.
Online scheduling and reservations are also common for establishments now, as it lessens the steps people need to take for that movie ticket or dinner table. Window shopping can be done in one day, with a bulk of orders actually fulfilled online and delivered straight to the house for free.
Even vaccine certificates are digital now, a lifesaver for forgetful folks who leave their cards at home frequently. Laboratory and hospital results are also sent virtually to prevent paper waste and queues.
While it means faster and more seamless transactions, unbanked Filipinos without smartphones or access to internet connections could be left behind.
Getting tired faster
Going to the office even three times a week demands social energy, and you might find yourself easier drained. What was once a normal day for you pre-pandemic could be mentally and emotionally exhausting now that you're a few years older. It’s totally normal, and there are ways to cope.
Aside from work responsibilties, you might find yourself more tired than usual despite doing seemingly normal things. A fun day out shopping can knock you out earlier than expected, or an otherwise fun catch-up with friends over brunch can deplete your social battery.