Keep faith, acknowledge pain: Psychologist offers advice amid despair over joblessness

Aleta Nieva Nishimori, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 24 2020 04:36 PM

MANILA – Many Filipinos are now dealing with despair over losing their jobs in the middle of a pandemic. 

But if it involves a still viable job snatched away by outside factors, the toll is even harder, said national social scientist and clinical psychologist Dr. Honey Carandang.

“Intindihin mo nangyayari. Accept mo, 'wag mong itago sa sarili, sa tao, ilabas mo,” said Carandang in an interview on ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.

(Understand the situation. Accept, don’t hide it, let it out.) 

This is the experience of several among workers of ABS-CBN Corp now facing sudden retrenchment after the company's broadcast franchise bid was rejected at the House of Representatives. 

Layoffs affecting many of the network's over 11,000 workers, including long-time employees just years away from retirement, are expected to take effect by the end of August. 

The company was forced to implement a retrenchment program as the franchise denial- a decision by 70 administration allies in a single House panel- has shuttered ABS-CBN's broadcast business, yanking off the air its main TV and radio platforms ABS-CBN Channel 2 and DZMM radio, and regional channels, among others. 

The shutdown took effect even as government’s regulatory bodies testified during House panel hearings that the company did not violate any law. 

Days later, President Rodrigo Duterte, who had many times vowed to take the network off the air, declared with pride he had dismantled an oligarch. 

For those forced out of jobs, the offer of some to just look for other employment may be easier said than done. Businesses and employees alike are still reeling from the impact of COVID-19, which has already left around 7.3 million Filipinos unemployed and caused the economy to contract.

Frustration, despair, anger, fear and hate are all normal and valid reactions to such predicament, said Carandang. 

“Mahirap pigilin kung mayroong poot, mayroong sama nang loob, kung mayroong sakit na ‘di dapat nandoon,” she said. 

(It is hard to suppress the feelings of anger and resentment and of pain.) 

For the Kapamilyas, the continued tirades against the network even after its shutdown is adding further stress and trauma to affected workers. 

“Mali na 'yung nangyayari dadagdagan mo pa ng asin 'yung sugat. Masyado nang masakit. Sana naman mayroong konting kindness kasi may nangyaring napakasakit, may nangyari nang hindi tama, dadagdagan mo pa ng isa pang suntok, isa pang sipa,” she said. 

(It’s wrong to add salt to injury. I hope there’s a little kindness for all the painful and wrong things that are happening and not throw another punch and a kick.) 

Carandang advised retrenched workers to look at and try to understand the situation and to accept what they are feeling. 

“’Wag mong sabihing OK lang ako, kasi hindi ka OK. Kahit sinong normal na tao hindi magiging OK sa nangyayari. Allow yourself na hindi ka OK pero hindi ka dapat ma-stuck doon,” she said. 

(Don’t say you’re OK because you're not OK. Any normal person won't be OK with what happened. Allow yourself that feeling but don’t be stuck there.) 
 
What’s comforting, she said, is the fact that many people are throwing in their support for the retrenched workers, letting them feel that they are not alone. 

She said stressful and traumatic events can take a toll on a person who tries to deal with it alone and who does not have a support system or an outlet to channel emotions. 

“The body stores the trauma. We have to move the body to avoid depression kasi 'yung body nagho-hold ng ating emotion, especially negative emotion,” she said. 

(We have to move the body to avoid depression because the body holds emotions, especially negative emotion.)

It also pays to talk to someone willing to listen and who understands the situation, she added. 

And as all challenges in life are a test of faith, she encouraged everyone to also turn to God. 

“Test of faith din ito. Masyado tayong tine-test itong panahong ito. Sabihin mo sa sarili mo test ito, papasa ako, ito ang mga gagawin ko,” she said.
 
(This is a test of faith. We are all being tested. Tell yourself that these are the things that I will do to pass this test.) 

Carandang also has an advice to those who take pleasure in others' pain. 

“Tandaan mo tao ka rin, 'pag nangyari sa iyo ito mararamdaman mo rin ito. Cruelty begets cruelty,” she said. 

(Remember, you are also human. You will feel this too if it happens to you. Cruelty begets cruelty.) 

Her only prayer now is for people to “just try to be kind.”