The Philippines’ tourism industry was among the many sectors severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. With most tourism efforts halted the past year, people in the industry experienced devastating loss, taking a toll on their mental health
Addressing tourism officers and operators during the annual Tourism Convention, Department of Tourism Region 1 Director Jeff Ortega said, “Travel today is more than leisure. Travel is a necessity to refresh someone’s mental well-being in these trying times. But we must remember to travel safely and responsibly always.”
“I hope that you never lose hope. If we work together, I believe that tourism will rise again,” Ortega added.
Conducted as a special segment during the Tourism Convention, “Better Today Conversations” was held as a hyper-collaborative initiative between PLDT, Smart, Makati Medical Center Foundation, and the Department of Tourism Region 1, as a platform the tourism officers and operators to discuss topics related to mental health. The conversations series took a deep dive into the topic of grief and loss led by MakatiMed Wellness Center Director Dr. Gia Sison.
According to Dr. Gia, grief manifests in different forms, including anger, shock, disbelief, confusion, sadness, and yearning. She mentioned the term, “languishing”, coined by Adam Grant in his New York Times article.
“When you say, “languishing”, it’s really the middle feeling of depression and being okay. It’s when you’re often asked kung kumusta ka (how are you) and you simply say, “I’m okay.” – it’s that feeling of isolation and withdrawal,” Dr. Gia said.
Dr. Gia also underscored the importance of recognizing your own feelings. “Identify your feelings and get to know them because that can bring some much-needed clarity. Acknowledge that there will be obstacles and recognize ways to remove these to help you with your healing,” she added.
Dr. Gia also shared important reminders on how to cope with grief that can contribute to healing, including acknowledging things to be grateful for, taking things one step at a time, and prioritizing self-care by checking in with oneself every day.
PLDT and Smart seek to uplift and improve the overall physical and mental wellness of Filipinos through initiatives that ensure food security, improve nutrition, and create awareness online. These initiatives emphasize the commitment of PLDT and Smart to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG #3: Good Health and Well-Being.