1. How is your local community doing amidst the pandemic? Are you involved in some locally grown initiatives?
My community- the US Territory of Guam- is currently battling a surge in COVID 19 cases. We have one of the higher incidence rates among US States and Territories.
Back in March, when Guam had its first cases, I volunteered at the Dept. of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS). I served as an adviser to the Director, and helped to establish Guam's designated Isolation Center. It reminded me of the days leading up to the People Power 1 revolution in the Philippines - it was like a guerrilla campaign against an unknown enemy. I was briefing staff from the back of a pick-up truck!
In April, I suffered a setback, when I was diagnosed with skin cancer, and had to scale back my involvement with DPHSS. When the DPHSS Director retired in June, our Governor and Lt. Governor asked me to take over as Department Director (the Director is like the Philippine Secretary of Health), but because of my health issues, I had to decline. Then in August, my husband fell and fractured his right arm! So it has been a challenging period for us, but we've managed to be resourceful and steadfast.
2. What public health measure for you think should be adapted to best mitigate the increase in the number of cases in the country?
It's important for everyone to realize that right now, all we have to protect against this virus is distance. This is challenging because of our essentially gregarious nature, but it is critical to acknowledge that every individual's actions affect everyone else's risk for infection. We are trying to echo the message to "Stay home so everyone can stay safe."
The government can issue policies and mandates, but at the end of the day, it is up to every one of its citizens to ensure implementation. The measures are simple: physical distancing, consistent mask-wearing, and good hand hygiene. Ultimately, our success or failure in containing this pandemic rests on a citizenry that has at its heart civic-mindedness and
collaboration for the common good.
3. What is the first thing you want to do once the pandemic is over?
That's simple - head to our Boston home to visit our grandson, "Sisig Boy" Shane, and our kids! Family is our priority. This pandemic teaches us to re-examine what is valuable in our lives. It also challenges us to be resilient and to build up our patience and fortitude. We can live our lives very simply, and still manage to survive. It's all about a mindset that sees the pandemic as an opportunity to re-align our values and priorities.