My job search during the pandemic

I was on an auto walkway minding my own business when out of the blue my mind sort of went on a throwback of how my job search journey was at the height of the pandemic. It wasn’t exactly a walk in the park but it sure was an unforgettable misadventure. February 2020 would have been the usual love month celebration but turned out to be a prelude to the scariest months of quarantine and lockdown. I recall people already wearing face masks that at the time were already becoming scarce and expensive coming from January that saw the Taal Volcano eruption lasting several days, with the ashfall even reaching cities in Metro Manila including Caloocan where we live. I was already rendering my final weeks at my former job of almost 15 years, both excited and apprehensive. Back then I thought I was ready, thankful for the many years of professional experience, curious and hopeful that I was seasoned enough to move to a new and relevant role. Like me and so many others praying for better days, nothing could have prepared us for COVID-19 finally being declared a global pandemic and changing our career prospects forever.

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Out of crisis comes opportunity

“In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity,” said Albert Einstein. And this was my first thought when I was faced with a very difficult situation at the height of home quarantines and lockdowns due to the pandemic. The timing was as bad as the growing number of people getting the virus. I wanted to move on from my longest career stint to the next, but there seem to be not that many opportunities available back then as more and more companies struggle to keep the business going or just end up quitting the fight and close shop. It sure is no good not to be able to earn a living at a bad time such as this global health crisis.

The crisis that made it even more difficult to get essentials – food, medicine, day-to-day needs, during the first few days of the first lockdown – that extended to weeks and even months. As the head of the family and the one issued with a quarantine pass, I was the one braving the long queues at the nearby supermarket to secure essentials for our household. I dreaded going out every single time, for fear of picking up the virus and putting my family at risk. That’s when I realized I needed to start what my wife and I have been wanting to do but really didn’t have the time. We’ve been planning to turn our garage into a small food park of sorts; no longer a workable and practical idea given the restrictions in the new normal.

So with what’s left of my savings, I instead converted a small space of our house fronting the street into a tindahan or sari-sari store and called it Camia Eats. While the original idea is to make it easy for our community to get access to essentials, we wanted it to be the go-to place for anything needed for home – from combo or paluto meals, tube ice, and purified water to prepaid loads, cash-in to electronic wallets, and printing services. And as if awakening a long lost passion for food (me being an HRM degree holder), I started baking – initially with Ube Cheese Pandesal, then later other flavors and baked goodies. After several recipe trials and oven fails, we sold bags of our flavored pandesal to our very supportive neighbors and friends and relatives from as far as QC and Novaliches.

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