Filipinos show readiness to live with COVID-19 —survey

The vast majority of Filipinos think that the pandemic has lasted much longer than expected, but have also expressed readiness to live with COVID-19, the third Asia Care Survey conducted by Manulife revealed.

Among the Filipinos surveyed by Manulife, 69 percent said that the pandemic has lasted longer than expected, with 40 percent thinking that it will last another year, and nine percent saying it will never end.

However, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) also showed readiness to live with COVID-19 and get on with life as best they can. This attitude reflects how the Filipino public has largely accepted and adapted to living with COVID-19, as they continue to confront Omicron and other variants.

Richard Bates, Manulife Philippines president and CEO said the realities of the past two years living with the pandemic have given many Filipinos a clearer lens on the importance of physical, mental and financial well-being.

Bates said their attitudes, behaviors, and priorities have profoundly shifted, while pandemic-linked fears and concerns continue to impact everyday life.

“At the same time, it’s heartening to see Filipinos adapting to COVID-19 the best they can, which drives us to continue to work towards meaningfully meeting the health and protection needs of Filipino families during these times,” he added.

A key theme to emerge from the survey is the challenges that Filipinos face in terms of finances, an aspect of their lives they are seeking to take more control of, through their savings, investments, and insurance purchases.

Alongside financial pressures are physical and mental health concerns, according to the survey.

While 47 percent said that they have exercised more since COVID-19 to boost immunity (80 percent) and mental health (76 percent), majority of Filipinos (81 percent) said they have experienced symptoms of some form of mental health condition in the past six months.

Of the 81 percent experiencing mental health issues, majority are women (84 percent).

Mental health symptoms affecting Filipino women include feelings of sadness (51 percent), fatigue and sleeping difficulties (44 percent), and excessive worrying (38 percent).

Thirty-three percent of women also admitted experiencing extreme mood changes, especially among working mothers and married women.

Filipinos surveyed ranked depression (38 percent) as their second-biggest health concern, with millennial Filipinos ranking depression as number one. Other health concerns include heart disease (41 percent) cancer (32 percent), anxiety (30 percent), and stroke (26 percent).

Burnout is also a new health concern mentioned by Filipinos in the survey due to COVID-19, citing worries about taking care of their family, finances, work, and health and well-being.

COVID-19 has hit Filipinos’ personal finances hard, with more than half of those surveyed (55 percent) saying their monthly income has reduced and with nearly one in five (17 percent) saying they lost their jobs during the pandemic.

This has resulted in a drop in savings, with 79 percent of respondents saying their savings would only last for a year or less. But they have sought to act on these declines by taking more control of their finances – and their expenses.

To mitigate further financial risk, 29 percent said they had cut back on unnecessary or big-ticket expenses, while 20 percent opted to invest. In addition, 25 percent of them also said they had started their own business in addition to their full-time or part-time job to make up for lost income.