This is the day that many of us have been waiting for – the day when we bid farewell to one of the century's most challenging years. Who would have imagined that a tiny particle, unseen to the naked eye, would wreak such havoc around the world?

Indeed, 2020 has brought us so much suffering and hardship; but it also taught us lessons which we can use as we welcome another year.

While 2020 started out with much promise, I know that since March, it has become a difficult year for many of us. For some, it has seen illness and death. For many, it meant the loss of income, of socialization, of many plans made, of opportunities lost. Indeed, 2020 has not been an easy year.

Yet while we mourn our losses, I encourage all of us to also look back and count the blessings we gained – time with family, the opportunity to grow closer, the innovativeness that we had to push ourselves to. We became a much more creative community, finding ways to withstand the effects of the pandemic or in some cases even more productive in the difficult circumstances we found ourselves in. I hope that we also became a kinder and more loving community, one that has had its eyes opened to how fast the world can change around us and how this can have devastating impacts on our lives.

Strength. With all the disasters and difficulties we have experienced in 2020, we have been able to cope and surpass these, and have emerged stronger.

Innovation and Creativity. While the COVID-19 pandemic has altered our way of life, the situation has made us more innovative and open to creative ways of adapting to the new normal, especially in the way we work and communicate with peers, friends, and relatives.

Togetherness. In containing the pandemic, lockdowns were imposed which in a way brought families closer together, as they got to spend more quality time with one another.

Unity and Faith in God. We have learned that in fighting any battle, we will emerge victorious as long as we unite and believe in the Lord Almighty.

As we welcome another year, not much has changed yet. But we look forward to a lot of things this coming year, foremost of which is the ability to be able to go back to some semblance of normalcy. Undoubtedly, it will be a tough road – one that is filled with yet unknown challenges and trials. But if 2020 taught us anything is that we have the capacity and ability to face these challenges and come out triumphant if we exercise the same degree of courage, creativity and conviction, sprinkled with kindness, empathy and love.

May these valuable lessons guide us as we embrace 2021 with renewed hope and strength.

Happy New Year! God bless the Philippines. God bless us all.