To the Roots Collective Community:
We pray you and your loved ones continue to be well.
Exactly one year ago, the Philippines began what became one of the longest - and still-ongoing - lockdowns in the world. Sadly, the intended effect, unlike in other countries with equally strict or even stricter measures, was not achieved.
Just the other day, we hit a six-month high in the number of new cases of COVID-19. And beginning tonight, all of Metro Manila will re-implement an evening curfew. The vaccine rollout has also not been as defined and comprehensive as in other countries. Misinformation both within and without our borders, on so many things, is rampant.
Our socio-economic system is more fragile than others, and definitely cannot take so heavy a beating without much loss and suffering - a fear that has driven some leaders to resist public safety guidelines. At the same time, we have to face the stark reality that, without putting health measures first, we can never truly shake off the specter that is this pandemic, and the economy will not truly or fully recover.
With all this sustained uncertainty, MSMEs still face grim outlooks. Some have been more fortunate than others due to the nature of their products and services, while others have been relegated to the sides and have had to work harder in pivoting to remain afloat. Others still have shuttered, for good or indefinitely.
But it is in hoping and not giving up that we can prevent the “for good’s” and put a time limit on the “indefinitely”.
The co-founder of Human Nature, Dylan Wilk, once taught his three rules: “Don’t quit. Don’t even think about quitting. And whatever happens, don’t quit.” We may take a beating, we may need to pause or put on hold - but we should never, ever lose sight of our missions, what we are called to do for our country and our God.
The Filipino people are often written of as being resilient, in the face of disaster after disaster. While this has been criticized in light of the heartbreaking conditions that they must face and live with post-calamity, we can also translate this resilience into hope. The question, though, is: hope in what?
The answer: Hope in our fellow Filipino - that instead of pulling each other down like crabs, we all help each other like geese flying in V formations. That instead of building and maintaining walls, we break them down and rebuild bridges in their place. That instead of viewing people as just statistics, as numbers, they are viewed as what they truly are: fellow bearers of God’s image.
The ongoing uncertainty is also keeping us at the Roots Collective unable to enact our own plans with certainty, but we ourselves continue to hope. Our Web store is here to stay, even post-pandemic; and we are adding some new distribution channels to cater to a wider range of needs and demands. Not only have we managed to re-engage with many of the creative and social enterprises we worked with pre-pandemic, but we have also added others to our family for the first time. No pandemic is going to stop us from being a community and working together.
As we said last year, everyone’s rootedness and selflessness is necessary if we are to #FlattenTheCurve and return to some real semblance of normalcy, if such existed. Even with vaccines on the way, please continue to exercise prudence and care. Physical distancing, mask- and shield-wearing, and constant washing with soap and disinfecting are crucial. Please remember that even asymptomatic persons can be carriers of COVID-19 and infect others. Healthy lifestyle habits will not guarantee you immunity from the virus, but it will vastly improve your immune system and your body’s fighting chances.
Another way you can give your support during these times is to check out our local and social alternatives to the usual big-brand or negatively impactful products, especially those that are necessary nowadays. Disinfectants, cleaners, soaps, PPEs, healthy foodstuffs - we have all these at the Roots Collective. As we hope to sprout back and bloom again, let us sprout back well. Sprout back in a way that you can help others sprout too - mission-driven small business owners and their beneficiaries. We’ve already sown the seeds for lasting inclusive and sustainable development - now let’s make them grow.
Even amidst these dark times, we can always celebrate the best of Filipino community, creativity, and collaboration.
Aloy Chua and the Roots family
General Manager for Business Development