Last Sunday, July 11, Binibining Pilipinas came back and graced our screens in hopes of finding the new set of queens that will represent the country. Among the highlights of the night, including Nicole Cordoves mimicking Pinky Webb’s iconic hair flip, was the Q&A portion. It stood out with the top 13 answering questions from the panel that covered everything from personal health to socio-political issues.
One of the most memorable questions came from no less than the King of Talk himself, Boy Abunda. In a pre-recorded video, he asks Iloilo’s Karen Mendoza one simple question that sends not only her but the entire audience, online or not, into a whirlwind of existential crisis trying to look for answers. “When is it okay not to be okay? And when is it not okay to be not okay?”
Like others, I also had to stop and take a moment to decipher his question, repeating it again and again in my head until I finally understood what he meant—a luxury that I now realize Mendoza didn’t have. Though she stumbled a bit (let’s be honest, who wouldn’t?), she still stood confidently in her stunning red and black gown, which by the way was one of the best that night, and answered the question with the grace of a true binibini:
“You know sometimes it’s hard to move on especially… if we lost our loved ones, when we’re depressed, when we have anxiety, but most of all when we want to move forward in life. You know my favorite saying in a movie Disney (sic) ‘Inside Out,’ is embrace your sadness because in embracing your sadness, you will feel happiness afterwards.”
The onset of the pandemic has given us a lot of time to be by our own selves. If you think about it, we haven’t been stripped down to our most human self in a very long time prior to all of this. The growing mental and socio-economic distress we all feel, caused by the lockdowns and the slow response of the government, forced us to rethink and reexamine not only our priorities but our own energies as well. In this case, it really is hard not to be not okay that sometimes admitting this vulnerable side of ourselves is the only way for us to feel okay.
Rest and healing shouldn’t be an issue in the first place. They are needed in order for us to continue our lives. Although I understand how easy it is to equate our self-worth and value to our productivity level, it’s also important for us to dedicate time to things that matter personally, which should always include our own sanity. In fact, admitting to ourselves and to the people around us that we are not okay takes a lot more courage from within than people realize. And just like how the past year taught us to realign ourselves, it’s important that we take comfort in the fact that sometimes being okay with not being okay is the best course of action to take.
The most important thing anyway is that our sense of urgency and purpose remains intact. After all, we are still in the midst of a pandemic, a socio-economic crisis, and an upcoming national election that forces us to be restless. The coming years, in particular, would be crucial in determining the course of the country as we recover from COVID-19 while hopefully settling in with a new administration. In this sense, being not okay is less than ideal, especially since atrocities and negligence are still happening. Our cause needs every single one of us, now more than ever. This is why in our rest, it’s also important to ask ourselves: for whom do we heal? There is still much work left for us to do and the fight, just like the Binibining Pilipinasshow, must go on.