Since COVID-19 lockdowns began in March 2020, many turned into survival experts and doomsday preppers: cooking food, baking bread and our own birthday cake, ordering take-outs then hoarding the leftovers, or growing vegetables in pots. Overnight, we have become obsessed with numbers and the news: monitoring COVID cases, hospitalizations, and the new variants.

With our “lizard” brain — the part that gets us into basic survival mode — always on high alert, living in a pandemic can be very tiring. It's no surprise that the prolonged lockdowns have exacted a toll on our mental health and well-being. Humans are not used to live in isolation so the social distancing protocols, while meant to keep everyone safe, have also led to stress, anxiety, depression, and the so-called “cabin fever.”

These InLifers showed the way to navigating the pandemic and coming out, not just as survivors, but as champions. Here are their inspiring stories.

Insular Life supports the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

Reality Check
Bing Olivarez
Property Leasing & Sales Specialist
InLife Employee of the Year Awardee

I found it difficult to adjust to the “new normal.” Everyone had a duty to keep, but as a parent, it was difficult to juggle everything all at once. Our family depends on me and my husband, so we had to be strong. The situation is tough, but we need to be tougher for the sake of our families.

At work, I also found myself carrying a lot of weight on my shoulders after some colleagues resigned due to the pandemic and I had to take over their responsibilities. Fortunately, I'm an organized, disciplined, resilient, and a consistent team player. Despite the work-from-home setup, I managed to maintain skillful collaboration with my team, as well as with other members in our division, especially with our external clients (our tenants, brokers, and prospective tenants).

I also frequently worked onsite to somehow lessen the backlog on pending documentations brought about by the pandemic. Despite working under pressure, I was able to keep my calm, remained focused on what needs to be done, committed to staying on top of things to ensure quality and completion of work, and still delivered exemplary work. I'm grateful that these did not go unnoticed as InLife gave me the InLife Employee of the Year award.

No one was prepared for this pandemic. It gave us a reality check that life is too short. At the last moments of our lives, who are we going to look for? For me, it's going to be my family. And I'm glad I also have my InLife family who looks after me.

Resilient Spirit
InLife Employee of the Year Awardee
Corporate Bancassurance Unit Head

The pandemic made me more resilient. I was struggling with anxiety because of uncertainties of the future. I had to learn to battle my fears one by one. I tried not to overthink and just be mindful of the present. I realized that many factors are beyond my control, but there are still some things that I can manage.

One of the trying tests I had to hurdle was the prospect of losing a huge corporate account. The client was having a difficult time during the pandemic and decided to terminate its Group Hospitalization Plan with Insular Health Care (IHC). We went out of our way to make special arrangements for the client.

I was able to face these challenges by channeling my positive energy. To stay productive, I kept to my usual working hours and activities in my designated “office corner” at home Constant, thorough, and efficient internal coordination with my IHC sales counterpart as well as with InLife and IHC backroom support group were done, I had to do post-sales monitoring and suggested necessary adjustments to our backroom support. Sometimes I needed to renegotiate the terms so that the client's expectations are met and renewal is done the following year.

These challenges made me persevere more, knowing that if the job is well done, it will open more business opportunities for InLife and IHC. InLife recognized my efforts that's why I was honored with the Employee of the Year award.

This award is a morale booster since the pandemic took a toll on my well-being. I channeled my energy towards staying physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healthy.

I started with my goal to lose weight. This means getting enough sleep and regular exercise and maintaining a well-balanced diet.

Finally, the pandemic kept my faith in God strong and steadfast. Ironically, the lockdowns allowed me and my family to attend masses together again. On Sundays and holidays of obligation, we all gather in the living room to attend Fr. Jerry Orbos' virtual holy mass. It felt good to be complete, hear mass, and pray together again. Believing, trusting, and surrendering everything to Him swept away all my fears and anxieties.

The pandemic taught me to be kind to myself and to other people. At the end of the day, nothing is more important than being at peace with oneself.

Turning Point
Data Analyst, Data Analytics Division

I'm still coping but getting better at dealing with the challenges of the pandemic. The first year was very stressful and melancholic, as I had just been transferred to Data Analytics a few months prior to the pandemic.

I was also living in isolation, and had to take care of myself when I got very sick, working hard from home despite my anxiety and lack of sleep, not having to hug or kiss my partner and my daughter for so long, and not being able to see my friends.

Adjusting to my new job, I had to learn new things so I can perform my job well. I studied new tools while catching up on my deliverables. The Data Analytics Team maintained its productivity during the pandemic despite working from home. While in isolation, I took the opportunity to continue my LOMA education.

The second year was more manageable but took a toll on my health and wellness, and this served as my turning point. I prayed hard for strength to adapt to the abrupt change in my life, reflected, and then picked myself up and looked for ways to get through with optimism. All these experiences, as well as knowing the suffering COVID-19 brought to other people, toughened me up.

I learned to never take time and relationships for granted. Many lost their loved ones or even their own lives. We all lost time for our hobbies, couldn't attend gatherings and celebrations, couldn't go to school or the office. Those lost time and relationships won't come back, but we can spend the time we have right now wisely and nurture our relationships while we still can.

Care for Self and Others
Administrative Support,
Office of the Corporate Secretary

The pandemic taught me a lot of things, especially in terms of self-care. I had to take good care of myself so I can continue reporting in the head office, even when everyone was working from home. I was dedicated to my job. It was important to me to be present because my job consists of routing paperwork for the Legal Department and liaising with the Board of Directors on documentation requirements.

Since I'm reporting daily in the office, I have to be extra careful to make sure I don't get sick. I strictly follow preventive measures and health protocols. I eat healthy meals and ensure I get enough sleep and exercise to keep my body strong.

The pandemic taught me to be grateful, to stay positive, and to make more time for my family because the time I spend with them is what keeps me strong.

The importance of care is one of the lessons I've learned in this pandemic. Practicing self-care is one way of showing you care for others.

Always in Touch
InLife Financial Advisor

My clients who are business owners had problems with liquidity that affected their operations and personal income. I was so happy I was able to help them get funds from their InLife policy.

I had a client who availed of cash values on their policies so they can pay their employees' salaries. Another client, a couple, contracted COVID-19 during the Delta variant surge and were confined to the hospital for 30 days. They have the financial resources but couldn't access their funds in the bank. I helped them access their funds from their InLife policy to settle their hospital bills. I prepared the withdrawal form and authorization requirements then deposited the proceeds in their behalf. They sent their verification via email while they were in the hospital. They appreciated the quick response from their InLife family because the Php6 million were deposited the following day.

The internet helped me in communicating with my clients. I can update them about the market or about their policies, send prayers of comfort, and even just say 'hello' and 'how are you?' They truly appreciate our efforts to stay in touch.

During the pandemic, I learned the value of maintaining good relationships with my clients and making them feel cared for, especially at this time of crisis.

Going the Extra Mile
District Sales Manager

The pandemic forced agents to conduct transactions online, but my clients were apprehensive because of privacy issues. Thankfully, with the support of our administrative managers, we were able to assure their safety and continue delivering the services they need digitally.

As their agent, I had to assist my clients and guide them step by step in using our online procedures and tools, especially our elderly clients who are not familiar with technology.

I communicated with my clients virtually. I kept in touch by texting or chatting, and for those who got sick or lost a loved one, I offered prayers and checked up on them in their most trying times. I also invited them to our company-sponsored online events to keep them updated and to help them combat isolation.

During the pandemic, I learned to use video communication platforms like Zoom for meetings and virtual presentations. Also, I now know how to edit and add infographics to make my presentations easier to understand which became important as we're only doing them online.

I know the pandemic is hard for everyone, especially my clients. So I always go the extra mile in assisting them. I book delivery services for documents to reach our clients and used online banking apps to assist them in their premium payments. I even ordered food for them.

The pandemic helped me strengthen my faith and trust in God. I learned to accept my limitations and know when to ask for help when facing challenges. I learned humility when seeking help and being open to receiving support and love extended by family, relatives, friends, clients, team members, and co-leaders in the workplace.

A Life of Service
InLife Agency Leader

I've been an agent for 26 years. After my husband passed away, I was thrust into a leadership position. I became Agency Leader last year as his replacement. It was a new role so I found it very challenging.

I'm not very good with technology and so were most of my clients. It was a struggle to meet them over Zoom because we're used to face-to-face meetings. I also found it difficult to train new agents because of the online setup and internet connection problems.

So, I changed my strategy. Even though we have online communication tools and methods, I still chose to visit my clients who live close by. What I would do is deliver the presentations online then collect their signatures in person. That physical connection really helps strengthen client-agent relationships.

One of the lessons I learned during the pandemic is that we don't need a big sale. What we need is to reach out to people, to let them know how they can be secured. The more people we reach out to, the more we're able to help.

The second lesson is that an insurance agent's life is a life of service. It's not about the big profits or the commissions. It's about helping people live secure lives. It's about reaching out to them, giving them useful information on how they can protect their health and livelihood, and genuinely caring for them.