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Rage killed the Cat — and other musings on COVID-19

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Alvin Neil A. Gutierrez

The View From Taft

PHILIPPINE STAR/MICAHEL VARCAS

We know the saying, “Curiosity killed the cat.” But recently, one cat wasn’t curious enough to understand why Filipinos thronged at a checkpoint despite the social distancing rule imposed during the COVID-19 lockdown.

A socialite/influencer was roasted over social media for her remarks on her Instagram page live. While watching the news on her 52-inch plasma TV at home, she raged against the longsuffering commuters clogging the checkpoint, and her outburst was recorded. A few hours after she had posted her video on March 17, she was lambasted on her Instagram account and was forced to take down the video. She became headline news on GMA online, Rappler, and ABS-CBN online, to name a few. Although she later apologized on her Twitter and Instagram accounts, netizens were unappeased.

From her privileged position, she did not realize that the commuters were trying to make a living because of their companies’ policy of no work, no pay — a crucial HR issue that has now become a cause of concern for our government.

As an HR professor, I stress to my students the importance of humanistic management — making sure that running a business is not just about profit, but also about the welfare of its most important asset: the employees.

Because of our month-long enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), I have been unable to meet my classes in person. In our last online discussions, my students felt bad that we would meet face-to-face (should the ban be lifted as declared) only on the last day of the term. I consoled them by saying that this crisis is the best time to see the importance of human resources. Work-from-home (WFH) arrangements, the early release of the 13th-month pay, consumption of leaves, and other safety nets that private enterprises can offer to alleviate the plight of their employees are all HR concerns that business students must understand.

During this nationwide health crisis, we salute our hardworking government officials and the frontliners in both the government and the essential services sector. We also salute HR personnel who process the WFH schemes, salaries, and logistics of the company for their skeleton forces. Other HR responsibilities are explaining to management the directives coming from the Department of Labor and Employment, and operationalizing these given the company’s resources. These tasks are not easy, for so many things are uncertain, including the quarantine period, which might be extended if the number of COVID-19 cases increase.

However, this health crisis is not just a governance or HR issue. It is personal. It requires being sensitive to the welfare of others. While a lot of people are busy making quarantine memes or jumping on the TikTok craze to entertain themselves at home, many more are stressing about how to walk, say, the 91 kilometers from Dau, Pampanga, to Basista, Pangasinan, because the Luzon-wide ECQ had been imposed without warning and public transportation had been suspended; about where their families’ next meals will come from; or even about whether they will still have jobs after a month of no profit by their SME employers.

Let us thus think twice, even thrice, before posting on social media. Let us research thoroughly to check the validity of what we see in our newsfeeds (remember the banana cure fake news?), and reflect on the effects of our posts and shares before clicking the button lest we cause more harm than good.

Check your privilege. As for your posts about being so bored that you’re counting the grains of your rice, or so frustrated that you can’t celebrate your birthday, all I can say is that other people wish they had your “problems.”

While staying indoors during this ECQ, let us engage in more productive pursuits such as praying for God’s mercy and healing for everyone affected by COVID-19, donating online to worthy causes, and, if we have stable internet connections, attending MOOCs that can increase our knowledge and develop our critical thinking and communication skills.

Above all, let us not be catty.

The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of De La Salle University and its faculty and administrators.

 

Alvin Neil A. Gutierrez is an Assistant Professor of the Management and Organization Department of the Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business. He teaches Strategic Human Resources and Organizational Behavior to undergraduate students.

alvin.gutierrez@dlsu.edu.ph

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