Benedict is an agricultural economist, academician and writer. He has gained experience and expertise in various fields of economics, business, political science and public relations after through professional ventures in the academe, and in the public and private sectors. He has authored or co-authored key publications on topics ranging from agriculture and food security to global affairs and politics. 

 
Millennial Talk is about the insights coming from the younger generation.

Today's article is actually a follow-up on what I wrote on this column two weeks ago. At that time, my father, Daddy as my sister and I fondly called him, was diagnosed with COVID-19 and was rushed to a private hospital in Laguna. He was intubated and was fighting for his life when that article appeared on this column two weeks ago.

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I am deviating from my usual practice of writing a commentary on politics, business and social events to write on something more pressing and close to my heart and closer to home.

As the title of this essay suggests, COVID-19 is real. It is so real that has come closer to home. I am never a doubter of COVID-19 and I am not an anti-vaxxer but I never imagined myself and my family to experience it the disease first-hand when our father has been diagnosed with it last August 30, 2021.

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I was a college student at the University of the Philippines when the United States was struck by a series of acts of terrorism on September 11, 2001. As my college friends and I were having dinner, live footage of the burning twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City after each of them were struck by an airliner was being shown on television, with people running away from the area and the buildings eventually collapsing. Later news reports came in, saying that the Pentagon, the massive Arlington, Virginia headquarters of the US Department of Defense and the US Armed Forces, was also struck an airliner, causing a section of it to caught fire, and another airliner crashed in a sparsely populated region of the US state of Pennsylvania after taking off from Washington, DC.

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A miracle in Tokyo.

That is how I am going to describe the campaign of the Philippine delegation at the 2020 Summer Olympics that is currently being held in Tokyo, Japan.

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A sense of political continuity.

That is perhaps the reason why Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and President Rodrigo Duterte are the most preferred possible candidate for president and vice president, respectively, according to the latest Pulse Asia surveys that were conducted last month. Mayor Sara was enjoying a comfortable double-digit lead over the next most preferred candidate for president, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno. Meanwhile, President Duterte led by four over the next most preferred candidate for vice president, who is, again, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno.

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Last week, Filipinos woke up to rumors on social media that former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III had died. Later in the morning, reporters and bystanders trooped to the Capitol Medical Center in Quezon City, where Aquino was rushed from his West Triangle home, as family members, former Aquino Cabinet officials and Liberal Party stalwarts began arriving. As the crowd gathered in front of the hospital began to grow, the Aquino family members and those close them finally broke the news that the former President had, indeed, passed away.

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On June 12, 2021, 1Sambayan, the opposition coalition led by former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, made public its list of possible candidates for president and vice president in next year's general elections. The list included the names of Vice President Leni Robredo, Senator Grace Poe, Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto, CIBAC Rep. Bro. Eddie Villanueva, former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Atty. Chel Diokno. 1Sambayan said that the personalities who were shortlisted were "selected carefully after consultation with various groups."

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It is now the month of June 2021. This means that President Rodrigo Duterte has a year and a month left in his six-year term as the nation's leader. Having won the presidency in May 2016 and assumed the post on June 30, 2016, Duterte will hand over the reins of power to his successor at noon on June 30, 2022.

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It seems that professors of politics and foreign relations from an esteemed institution of learning, in coming up with their joint statement regarding the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea territorial disputes, have forgotten the basic principle that governs geopolitics and politics, in general- realpolitik, which is a system or principle that is based on practical considerations rather than those that are moral or ideological.

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The South China Sea can be best described as a trouble-filled paradise. It possesses assets such as rich fishing grounds being enjoyed by people from the countries surrounding it for generations, beautiful tourism-worthy chains of islands and reefs that generate revenue and employment, and potential oil and natural gas reserves that can be tapped by countries around it for their economic well-being. However, it is these same assets that form the main reason for the diverse and complex territorial disputes involving Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

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We are now on “ECQ, Season Two,” and it is up to us if we want another round of tough community quarantine classifications and lockdowns to be enforced or we are going move towards re-open of the economy and going on with lives safely by following basic health and safety protocols, and by being responsible for ourselves, our loved ones and our community.

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Yes, it has been a year since the COVID-19 pandemic first made its presence felt in the Philippines, and it is far from over. It is now up to all of us Filipinos if we want to win over COVID-19, and survive together as one country and one people. The only option available to us right now is working together for us to be able to win over COVID-19, and survive together as one country and one people. The situation we are facing is difficult but it is not an impossible challenge to overcome.

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