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Rebound and Abound

January 25, 2021

CEBU Landmasters Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Joe Soberano 3rd describes 2021 as “the year of the rebound and abound.” His words not only echo the aspirations of a business community battered by the unexpected setbacks of 2020, but also of many of us, who are only too eager to return to the normalcy of life before the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). Our spirits are lifted not because the crisis is over, but because we weathered last year’s trials, and hopefully, we now face 2021 wiser and more resolute from the experience.

At the early stages of the pandemic, with not much known about the virus and the imposition of stringent lockdown measures, we went through a period of great fear and stress characterized by a propensity to panic-buy and hoard, to devour and spread genuine or false news and to worry no end about physical and mental health. A few months down the road, however, we realized there were ways to adapt to the situation despite our fears. A new normal lifestyle began to take shape. We learned to coexist with the pandemic through community collaboration and by scrupulously observing minimum health protection standards. As 2020 wound down, economic activities increased, travel restrictions eased and we began to nudge forward. We are still a long way off from the end of this emergency, but 2021 now looks more hopeful for eventual recovery and growth. How do we maintain this trajectory?

First on my list for rebounding from adversity is managing risk. We can never totally avoid the uncertainties that perils bring, but we can temper their worst consequences. The best way to face the unexpected is through collaborative power. Just as we learned during this pandemic, we can address our common fears by pooling and sharing resources, by utilizing reliable and efficient delivery systems. In fact, the greatest risk to our family’s security and welfare is when we try to do things without societal and institutional support.

Second, prioritize the essentials. Our movements were severely curtailed by lockdown restrictions, but even after community quarantine levels were modified allowing for more freedom of travel, many continued to limit their trips only for essential errands. Food and medicine runs took preference over leisurely “malling.” Family necessities dominated all other considerations. We should continue filling the “musts” first before indulging in our “wants” so that financial resources are properly conserved, allocated and used.

Third, don’t abandon your life goals. Remaining irrationally fearful will hold us back. However, we mustn’t also throw all caution to the winds. Remain mindful of the dangers, but do not be paralyzed into inactivity. Rebound by resuming, with proper precautions, a more active regimen of productive activities. Be creative. Reinvent yourself if necessary. Change plans but not your goals. Covid-19 wreaked havoc on the economy, but many actually found ways to continue their trade and grow even more. Risks are also opportunities. Therefore, find your rightful space in the new normal environment.

Let’s now consider the second aspiration: Abound. How can we return to a state of abundance from this health crisis? First and foremost, we must abound with optimism, determination and faith. Only by having an abundance of spirit can we, in the words of “Star Trek’s” Mr. Spock, “Live long and prosper.”

Second, abundance does not mean having excessively more, but having sufficiently enough. Many realized last year they had an oversupply of possessions, decluttered and neither lost status nor felt deprived. Looking ahead, therefore, shouldn’t we also redefine our standards for abundance? For instance, businesses returning to prosperity could consider setting a demarcation line on their profits so that anything in excess of that line can be deployed for the good of society. Similarly, individuals can have a new perspective for the accumulation and use of wealth. “Abundance with honor” is worth advocating, where “honor” refers to both the means of enrichment as well as to its use. After all, shouldn’t the spirit of community sharing that was so prevalent last year continue even after Covid-19?

Let me end by adding to Mr. Soberano’s words and suggesting a mantra for 2021: Rebound and abound for a NEW BETTER world! – By Jesus Alfonso G. Hofileña

Jesus Alfonso G. Hofileña, FLMI, LLIF is a retired senior executive with a 42-year corporate career in the life insurance industry with Philamlife Insurance Company and the Insular Life Assurance Co., Ltd. He continues his risk management advocacy as an independent board adviser of BDO Life, Insurance Planning lecturer for the Registered Financial Planners Association of the Philippines, and honorary adviser of the Professional Insurance and Financial Advisors Association of the Philippines.

Published in Manila Times