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“Social support plays a major role in coping with the uncertainties and attenuates negative affect.  Pandemic guidelines only ask us to practice physical distancing, not social distancing.  So maintain your social connections to family and friends, even if just through social media”.  – Dr. Maria Cecillia Gastardo-Conaco.

The Department of Science and Technology-National Research Council of the Philippines (DOST-NRCP) launches its webinar series billed “Kapakanan ng Tao sa Oras ng Pandemya (KTOP) – COVID”, where the results of five (5) research projects that focused on the behaviours, feelings, cognition, gender issues and even an analysis of the work-from-home (WFH) during the COVID pandemic will be presented in a series of webinars starting June 23, 2020 until August 18, 2020.

Dr. Maria Cecilia Gastardo-Conaco, NRCP Member of the Social Sciences and a Professor of the Department of Psychology, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy of University of the Philippines Diliman, will be the first to present her project outputs for Feelings, Cognitions, Behaviours of Filipinos During the COVID-19 Pandemic, on June 23, 2020 at 10:00-11:00 AM.

Dr. Conaco will present her investigation on people's feelings and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic across its timeline and through the various government actions including how they get their information (i.e., sources), how they feel, respond, process and react to these various information and their sources. Dr. Conaco used the sentiment analysis for its qualitative data and an online survey to get the quantitative data. Accordingly, the pandemic has generated much negative affect since it began with worry, anger, concern and frustration as the top affective responses to news from various sources uploaded to YouTube and FB. And while the salience of various emotions appeared to fluctuate across the pandemic timeline, the top emotions remained worry and anger. The only positive emotion to surface was hopefulness but it was not one of the top sentiments to surface.

The first recommendation based on the study show that information communication is very important. Hence, sufficient and reliable information about different aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic should be channeled through reliable and credible sources (i.e., medical experts). Government spokespersons should consult/collaborate with these medical experts to provide clear and reliable information. Likewise, the role of local government units is recognized, and since they are closer to their constituents, they should be available/accessible and provide clear information and guidelines for accessing fair and sufficient services.

Another key message that Dr. Conaco derived from the study says that “this pandemic has seen a surge in intense negative emotions amongst us – worry, anxiety, fear, anger, frustration.  This is a NORMAL reaction to the uncertain and stressful events.  You are NOT alone, as this study has shown.  We just need to be more aware of this and not blame ourselves or take it out on others”. 

DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña will give a message during the webinar. DOST NRCP Executive Director Marieta Bañez Sumagasay will be the Facilitator NRCP President Ramon A. Razal to give the closing remarks.

A live streaming of the webinar will be available at DOST-NRCP official facebook page Research Pod, at https://www.facebook.com/nrcpresearchpod/

The four (4) next in line in the KTOP-COVID webinar series are Content Analysis of Government Policies and Issuances Regarding the 2020 Pandemic by Dr. Laufred I. Hernandez on July 7, Gender-Specific Insights Based on COVID-19 Epidemiological and Socio-Economic Data by Dr. Jomar F. Rabajante on July 21, Scoping on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services (MHPSS) in the Philippines in the time of COVID 19 Pandemic by Dr. Elizabeth P. De Castro on August 4, and Defining a Gender-responsive Work-from-Home (WFH) Scheme in a Post-ECQ Scenario by Dr. Sumagaysay on August 18.

DOST-NRCP is the premier advisory body on issues of national issues and the only research council mandated to promote and support fundamental or basic research.

Research and development make change happen in across research disciplines including the Social Sciences and Humanities.