110 Years For The Filipino: Lessons Of Hope, Courage, and Overcoming the Pandemic

November 25, 2020

110 Years For The Filipino: Lessons Of Hope, Courage, and Overcoming the Pandemic

Eleven decades and one would think, you’ve seen them all. But each of these periods is unique unto themselves; they are different from each other with their own distinctive highlights.

What is certain is that Insular Life (InLife), has been for the Filipino all these 110 years.

And these past eleven decades presented interesting experiences of their own: the first half is of growth and expansion, its second a series of great years and some costly lessons. There were periods of unprecedented growth as well as intervals of tempered expectations.

Today InLife attains another high point, becoming one of the very few Filipino companies surpassing 110 years of success and continued service and operation since 1910. But as the company celebrates this milestone, the world is gripped yet again, by a most crippling crisis – a deadly battle against the unseen.

The COVID-19 pandemic may be the worst crisis of this generation because all at once it became a global health, humanitarian, and economic crisis. This is exacerbated by the fact that there are no manuals for solutions, no past lessons from which to learn.

Hope amidst trials

Samuel Gaite knows this for sure, himself having experienced the lows of the pandemic and the uncertainties of losing his most treasured possession – his job!

“Lumaki ako sa kalye. Isa akong undergrad, 3rd year high school lang ako. Kaya nung nag-ka-trabaho ako sa barko, nag-iba ang takbo ng buhay ko,” he recalls.

Early this year, Samuel came home for vacation with the intention of getting married in May. Then the pandemic happened.

In an instant, he had no job and a wedding coming soon, what is he to do?

“Walang-walang na talaga ako,” he lamented.

For 74-year-old Juana “Ana” Dela Cruz, nothing is more painful than the loss of her husband, Manuel. While it happened at the onset of the pandemic, the cause was not COVID, but stroke, probably due to complications of other illnesses.

She and her husband were married in 1973 and had eagerly anticipated their 50th wedding anniversary. While this plan for a grand celebration of marital union could not happen anymore, being widowed at this time when the pandemic was raging on was even more painful.

Lola Ana recounted the good life she had had with Manuel. He was a good provider. He, too, was a seaman.

In retirement years, however, Manuel became sickly and suffered from several conditions, the latest of which was the fatal stroke, which hospitalized him in the intensive care unit for a few days.

“Meron kaming mga properties. Pero sa panahong ito ng pandemya nakapahirap makakuha ng bibili ng lupa. Hindi naman ito pwedeng pang-bayad (hospital bills),” she said.

A legacy to pass on

For Chiqui Ruth Uy, the uncertainties of life is also an opportunity to prepare.

“I am a believer of the importance of life insurance and part of my long term goal is to accumulate life, health, and investment plans for my family,” said Chiqui, a Tacloban City resident and mother of three boys and two daughters.

Chiqui shared that she got her first InLife policy for her daughter in 1997 and over the years, she had accumulated several plans for herself and other family members.

The same experience can be said about businesswoman Cecile Sabido.

A mother of one teenage son, Cecile admitted that she was at first skeptical about getting insured; fortunately, she met a financial advisor who would turn her doubts into belief.

“I was young and did not think I needed it,” she admitted when first approached about the idea of getting life insurance.

Over the years Cecile, who owns a logistics hauling business, realized the importance of being insured, even for a businesswoman like her.

“Knowing that my family members are insured with guaranteed payout, to me that is the greatest impact of having insurance,” she said.

Samuel and Lola Ana shared the same sentiments. Both agree that they initially refused to be insured, believing that at that time, they were young and did not need it.

“Wala sa pagkatao ko ang salitang security. Kung ano yung kinita ko, ginagastos ko,” admitted Samuel. Pero nakita ko sa mga kasama ko sa barko, kahit gaano kalaki ang kinita nila, ubos din. Nag decide ako mag tira for myself, nag invest ako sa insurance.”Lola Ana said a family friend persisted that they get insured while there is time. Her husband eventually got one and its proceeds became their instant source of income during their retirement years.

Samuel said his policy loan allowed him and his new bride to start a business during the pandemic. “Ito yung pinapa-ikot namin ngayon.”

As for Lola Ana, she awaits the time she can join her son and grandchildren in Canada soon as the borders open.

“Ang hirap mag move on. Pero mas lalong mahirap mag move-on kung wala ka nang asawa, wala ka pang pera,” shared Lola Ana. For

Chiqui and Ruth, the pandemic only reinforced their belief that preparation is key to financial freedom.

For InLife, we view these uncertainties as opportunities to serve and to fulfill a promise to be with the Filipino at all times, even in the worst of times.

Lifting up others

Such is the case for InLife employees Bryan De Matta and Patty Vasquez.

During the early weeks of the pandemic, Bryan and his two other high school friends noticed that in their hometown in Binan, Laguna, doctors treating COVID patients were also getting infected.

“One reason bakit nahahawa ang mga doctors is because of direct contact with patients during a process called intubation,” he said.

Bryan explained that doctors put a tube into the windpipe of severe Covid patients to help them breathe. But this direct contact procedure increased the risk of getting infected.

“We launched a project called ‘Pledge a Box’ over social media to solicit donations so we can buy aerosol boxes for hospitals,” he said.

These aerosol boxes are made of transparent acrylic material and placed over the head of the patient. The box created a separation between the doctor and the patient.

From March to April, Bryan’s group distributed 45 aerosol boxes to 16 hospitals in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, and Ilocos.

For 25-year-old employee and entrepreneur Patty Vasquez, it was seeing the elderly struggle during the pandemic that made her decide to do something to help.

“I started my branded shoe business (www.PAVPH.com) in 2019,” shared Patty. “I do it online so that I can still be fully employed at Insular Life,” she confessed.

“Yung business ko kapag kumikita ng malaki tumutulong kami sa iba. Lalo na ngayong pandemic, kailangan tumulong sa kapwa,” she said.

Patty explained that shoes and heels are not essential goods. “What our people need are food, water, and medicine,” she said.

“During the lockdown nag sale ako online and I called it ‘Shop For a Cause’. I promoted it on my FB and on my IG. All the proceeds of my April sales were donated to the most vulnerable families in Sta. Rosa (Laguna) and to frontliners like policemen and Barangay workers. Kasi sila yung mga nasa labas,” she said.

With proceeds from ‘Shop for a Cause’ and her personal money from her mid-year bonus, Patty was able to buy stocks of noodles, canned goods, biscuits, rice, water, and medicines for 200 senior citizens and frontline workers.

Pledge to Protect

After the success of ‘Pledge a Box’, Bryan and his group launched another project called ‘Pledge to Protect’.

“Medical workers were pleading for personal protective equipment (PPEs). That became our next project.” Bryan shared.

Through sustained social media drive, solicitations, and family contributions, Bryan’s group collected P175,000 which they used to buy 450 PPEs, disposable shoes, and caps for hospitals in Laguna.

Asked why millennials like them embarked on a selfless act for others, both Bryan and Patty credit the example they witnessed at work.

“We are part of the bigger community. We must be aware. Not only sa ganitong situation dahil ang mga Filipino ay laging handang tumulong,” Bryan said.

Patty added: “Na-inspire ako lalo noong nag volunteer ako sa Insular Foundation. It is about giving back. Iyong humanitarian heart ni InLife is aligned with my goals as a person.”

Both Bryan and Patty are volunteer-employees of Insular Foundation.

Ida’s story

While Bryan and Patty took care of senior citizens and frontline workers during the pandemic, another InLifer took on the care of the people under her.

Ida Jacob, who started her insurance career as an InLife employee in 1988, turned out to become one of InLife’s most successful agency leaders.

Graduating Summa Cum Laude at the Colegio de Sta. Isabel (now Universidad de Sta. Isabel) in Naga City, Ida first ventured into the world of the academe. But her father, at that time already a seasoned and successful insurance agent, urged her to try InLife.After years of prodding from her father, she relented.

“I was hired as a trainer. Later I was transferred to sales. After about four years, I was promoted to district manager and later on as agency leader,” Ida recalled with fondness.

Ida said that from that time on, she has devoted her time, energy, and talent to honing the skills of financial advisors, especially more so, during this period of the pandemic.

“I want all my agents to be able to adapt, all my leaders, all my advisors dapat lahat sila makasabay. I need to sustain their morale, their motivation, monthly, weekly, kung pwede, kahit daily,” she said.

Ida admitted that caring for her agents is a role she takes to heart. “I don’t control the minds of my agents, but hopefully by my actions and example, I can inspire them.”

It is what she hopes to achieve for her Company, InLife. “It’s Filipino! InLife is invested in our own country because we do not repatriate income to a mother company abroad. If they should get insured, it should first be by a Filipino,” she said.


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