Rep. LJ Castro: ‘We will survive’

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AMID the Covid-19 pandemic, Rep. Luis John Castro said he would like to share the following statement to the people of the CNMI:

Luis John Castro

“This morning, a friend of mine shared with me a speech given by Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. In his address to his people, Prime Minister Lee spoke of what his government has done and continues to do to assess and protect his nation from the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Over the last few months, and most especially the last few days, we have consistently lived in awareness of the corona virus’s presence and the clear and present danger it posed to all of us on every scale imaginable. Now the very thing we were safeguarding ourselves from has reached our region, and poses a very real threat to our villages and our islands.

“Although we have no present cases at the moment, we live with the possibility that it’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’ one will occur. Yes, friends, these are scary times. Covid-19 has brought about emotions of uncertainty and fear. It has us worried about how it will affect our ability to provide for our family. It has us worried about the health and well-being of our wives and husbands, our sons and daughters, and our elders. It has us wondering what tomorrow will bring.

“However, it’s a feeling we all know too well.

“It’s the same feeling our parents and grandparents felt when they picked up the pieces scattered by the bombs of war. It was a feeling present in them in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Kim (1986).

“We saw them endure the same type of emotions when they struggled to put food on our tables and clothes on our backs when the economy slumped at the turn of the century. And we as adults and parents felt that way when forces of nature named Pongsona (2002), Soudelor (2015) and Yutu (2018) laid waste to our islands in the dark of night.

“However, what got us and our elders through those hard times was the fact that they were, and we are incredibly resilient. We endured because every single time something tried to subdue us, we learned how to face those challenges together. And after every dark day that passed, slowly we moved forward to see the sunshine at the end of the struggle.

“Of course, each new obstacle brings with it even greater challenges. Covid-19 brings with it financial uncertainty and has turned us into a community on edge. But in order to get through this, we must not panic and remain calm in the face of this danger. We must not turn hostile in the wake of this scenario.

“We must be considerate of others who want to be just as prepared as we want to be when the worst comes. We must take the necessary steps to maintain proper hygiene to prevent possible infection. And most importantly, we must not rely on rumors at a time where facts must be accurate and truthful before they are circulated.

“As your precinct representative, a parental figure, and more importantly as a citizen, there are many things that come along with this situation that make me hope that our manhoben and our manamko’ will remain safe from the danger this outbreak brings, and I hope with the measures implemented by the Legislature and our government, I hope it does just that, safeguard the ones we love.

“The measures of self-quarantine and social distancing may take a little bit of adjusting to, but if it means protecting our families, the ones we work day in and day out to provide for, then so be it. This is a new reality for all of us, but hopefully, at the end of it all we can be assured we did all we can to keep ourselves and our loved ones out of harm’s way.

“True this danger is not the same as other calamities we have endured, and the effects of this will be felt for possibly years, but we as a people have been strengthened over the decades of our collective existence through overcoming anything that has stood in our way. Circumstance has called us to go above and beyond again now as it had then. Yet, just like in times past, through our faith in a higher power and our faith in our individual strengths, we will overcome this.

“I echo the final words of Prime Minister Lee’s address. He ended by saying, ‘We will remain in this high-risk state, nevertheless, for some time to come. But if we keep up our guard, and take practical precautions to protect ourselves and our families, we will be able to keep our economy going and carry on with our daily lives. In such a crisis, everyone has a part to play. I hope you will work with me and my colleagues to keep our families safe, and move forward together.’

“Yes, my colleagues and I along with the rest of our leaders have said this is an unforeseen and tough period we are in now. But, if we collectively do what we can together in the spirit of inafa’måolek to keep ourselves safe, sane and healthy, we will continue to remain Marianas Strong.”

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