COVID-19 thoughts: An opportunity for renewal


It goes without saying that we’ve already entered a ‘new normal’. Nowadays, the best we can do to help is by staying at home and helping wherever we can. In my case, I hope sharing my personal thoughts online would help give the assurance that no one is alone, and that we’re all going through this together one way or another.

In the Philippines, we’re past day 50 now ever since the ‘enhanced community quarantine‘ was imposed. For many Filipinos, however, it still feels like not many has changed. The number of confirmed cases has already reached beyond 10,000, and a plethora of political issues remain despite the threat of the pandemic. Recently, one of the biggest media organizations in the country was shut down by the government.

I know what you’re probably thinking — so what’s the point of still talking about all the horrible things happening? Shouldn’t we focus instead on what can be done? Well, for one, not talking about the things that are happening would show that we have a neutral and disinterested stand. So, in a way, we’re still making a stand by not making a stand. The reality, however, is that by doing so, we’re only further enabling the oppressors and horrible things happening. So if you ask me, yes, we should be taking the right and informed stand in times like this.

Anyway, that’s not the point of this entry. I want to focus our attention on the future, something that not many of us have the luxury to do because at this time, we’re caught into compromising and doing a lot of risk management for our organizations and personal endeavors. What does our future hold when things finally start to stabilize?

One thing is for sure — we cannot go back to how we originally spent our lives. The photo below, I think, encapsulates this thought. As I was writing this entry, this photo is being randomly shared across social media. There are actually many others like this photo, but I think this one hits the spot.

“To stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.” One of the basic human values, according to Shalom Schwartz, is universalism. It involves the understanding, appreciation, tolerance, and protection for the welfare of all people and for nature. Schwartz and many scholars, however, state that people do not recognize these needs until they encounter others beyond their primary group and until they become aware of the scarcity of natural resources. In other words, people only begin to understand their coexistence with other people and with nature when they themselves become inconvenienced by certain circumstances.

And we see this happening today when the pandemic struck across the world. We’re realizing that oh, we actually need to coexist. But up to how far can this realization go? Will it merely be just another social media trend in the ‘Wishful Thinking’ segment?

By no means am I an expert, but one of the things that surely needs to change is the way we view money. Let me explain.

For a long time, we have perceived money as something that allows us to engage in life’s pleasures and hedonistic activities. This is correct, and nothing can take that away from us. But what if humanity were to reach the ‘final’ tipping point — the point of no return? When will be the time that we acknowledge that consumerism has reached its peak, at least in an international sense (note that mostly only developed countries have reached this so-called peak), and that a new order has to come into play?

Money has always been about things like buying power and increasing the gross domestic product. And this is something that we shouldn’t demonize nor impose malice upon. Our concern should be — what if this constant need to become rich affects other aspects of life? Like the environment, our mental health, and personal relationships. What, then, becomes of humanity?

Many think tanks and smarter people have expressed this thought so much better than how I’m doing it here. But the pending dilemma remains: Only when we learn to align our ambitions and constant need for wealth toward the genuine advancement of humanity will we truly become ‘good’ people. Imagine if it’s a common thought for money to be grown so that we can plant trees across the world, or if money is used to grow businesses that have a social cause and not merely maximizing profit for stakeholders. Of course, this is clearly wishful thinking, but what if?

Money is not bad. Nor is it good. It’s basically a ‘vehicle’ for day-to-day transactions. It almost feels like a form of language. Like what you probably heard already before, it’s not money that becomes bad, but the way people use it. In essence, people are also neither good nor bad (this statement can be quite debatable), but the actions they partake in dictate whether they are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ people. So when we earn money, it’s important that we think about where and how it will be spent. This is, I think, one of the ‘new normal’ that we should be taking into account: Our perception of money. It is, after all, our chance for renewal as we go towards more uncertain times.

Hi! I’m Ian. In this blog, I share my personal stories and hopes for the world. Let’s take the conversation forward! Email me at for collaborations.

How (and why) minimalism can save the world


Disclaimer: The opinions here are solely mine and I am by no means an expert in minimalism. Mainly just a passionate enthusiast.

The basic premise of minimalism is having only what you really need and understanding the purpose behind owning them.

I identify as a minimalist, but by no means am I perfect. Here, I want to share a thing or two about why I think minimalism can remove a ton of headaches.

Minimalism in relationships

The world is a noisy and highly audible place. It can be taxing for introverts like me. Luckily, we have the power ourselves to manage our relationships healthily.

You might have heard a lot from Marie Kondo’s tips. In relationships, minimalism can also be applied.

I prefer keeping and staying in touch with those who I think are real friends. Gone are the high school days where having tons of friends is the ‘cool thing’. Now, the quality in our friendships is what we should be striving for. As the world gets more and more complex, we need people who will walk the hard path with us.

By now you probably think that minimalism is “quality over quantity”. I don’t think this is necessarily so. Again, minimalism is about having only what you really need and understanding the purpose behind them. If you’re the outgoing and jolly type of person, probably having a lot of friends will work out very well for you.

Minimalism in money

This is where the “quality > quantity” argument becomes even more applicable. Minimalism doesn’t necessarily mean you should settle for less when it comes to personal finances. It actually means the exact opposite.

Minimalism is about spending your money wisely. It’s about spending it on wise purchases and investments. Get that insurance, mutual funds, business — what have you. What matters is that your money is going somewhere that it is going to grow. If you want financial independence, this is the way to go.

This is not to say that you should deprive yourself and not spend your money. By all means, find happiness also through your spendings. Personally, however, I prefer spending them on good experiences.

Minimalism on the environment

There are many subtopics under this. From the clothes we wear, food we eat, our low impact lifestyle — all of these are related with minimalism.

For one, limiting the clothes we wear has a positive and indirect impact to the environment. By having less clothes, we help lessen the production.

Another example is the type of food we eat. As much as possible, we have to understand how our food is made. Only then will we understand the kind of impacts that the global food production system is causing to the environment.

By being minimal in our purchases and choosing wisely which products to buy, we are already helping the environment. After all, the real power lies with the consumers. If we, for example, lessen our usage of plastic, then the producers should have no choice but to shift to another product line that is hopefully more eco-friendly.

At the end of the day, minimalism encompasses different areas of our lives. It’s not just about having less. It’s about understanding why we have a certain thing or person, and assessing ourselves if they are worth having in the first place.

Let’s take the conversation forward. Find out how we can collaborate for a sustainable future: