EXPERTS around the world have been warning us: Along with the wave of Covid-19 infections would be a wave of mental illness. There’s no avoiding that: People are anxious, afraid, and many have lost jobs and face an uncertain future. Add to that our collective isolation, loneliness and dread. Overseas Filipinos (OFs) are particularly vulnerable.
Actor Piolo Pascual is among those calling for more support for OFs during the pandemic. He said that overseas Filipinos are already under a great amount of pressure as they face tough emotional, physical and financial challenges. It’s not surprising then that some of them would have mental health issues.
“For decades, our economy benefited from billions of dollars in remittances. At this time, it’s our turn to give back and support OFs now that they are going through both a pandemic and an economic downturn,” said Piolo.
Piolo has played several OF characters in various dramatic films—it’s a role that he also knows in real life because he used to be a security guard in Los Angeles, California before he achieved Philippine movie stardom. Recently, it was revealed that he again played versions of these characters in three new videos that will be shown in BDO branches, on BDO’s YouTube channel and on the BDO Kabayan Facebook page.
The commercials are light-hearted spin-offs or even slight spoofs of classic scenes in his movies “Milan” (with Claudine Barretto) and “Starting Over Again” (with Toni Gonzaga). As the videos’ release coincides with OFs’ present situation, they take on more significance and meaning in Piolo’s view.
“Filipinos love their drama and comedy! These videos blend both but with a twist. These share a message of joy and hope, a message we really need to hear right now,” Piolo said.
“We need to feel lighter. We need to feel hope, that there’s still a solution. We can always find ways.”
He also reminded OFs not to hesitate getting professional help if needed. “There’s still a stigma over mental health. These days, we no longer have to be ashamed of mental illness. Let’s treat it like any other sickness in our body.”
Piolo added that people should be more empathetic and compassionate. “When some people approach us with a problem, we sometimes say, ‘You can do it’ but we just leave them hanging afterward. That’s not enough. Let’s not leave them. Let’s be with them and hear them out. Let’s make them feel that they are not alone. We don’t need to solve their problems. Let’s just be present to support them.”
All of Piolo’s new videos aren’t just fun and enjoyable to watch but also showcase how Filipinos, deep down, are ready to help someone in need. During this public health and economic crisis, all essential services—including banking and remittances—have become crucial to our survival, sanity, and happiness. The pandemic and economic crunch may last longer than expected. But as Piolo’s commercials show, in their own witty and hilarious way, Filipinos still have each other. And that’s worth the effort to keep on fighting and hoping. (PR)