DUE to physical distancing protocols and quarantine travel restrictions, we were forced to drastically change some of our activities. One of these is the way we conduct meetings, specifically business meetings. This pandemic has left us with no choice but to hold meetings online, mostly through a computer application called Zoom. Teleconferencing is not new, but the current situation forced everyone to use it. It took some time for me to adjust to this new norm but I'm getting used to it now.

Our activities in the Metro Angeles Chamber of Commerce (MACCII), like the regular board meetings, are now done via Zoom. Our Breakfast Club meeting/trainings were all done via video conferencing too. A bigger gathering, our annual general membership assembly and election of new Directors, was likewise held via Zoom last Wednesday, August 26. This is a first in MACCII's more than half a century of existence. My other group, the Environmental Practitioners Association (EPA), will also hold its Annual General assembly today in the same manner.

An even bigger chamber event, the North Luzon Area Business Conference (NLABC), was successfully held via Zoom last August 20 to 21. The event was originally scheduled on July 9-10, 2020 at the Thunderbird Resort in San Fernando City, La Union. The annual NLABC is a gathering of all business chambers in North Luzon. The hosting of the event is rotated among the different chambers in the four regions in the area. The good thing about this online conference is that whole proceedings can still be viewed on YouTube.

There is something good about virtual meetings. In addition to lessening our possible exposure to the virus, they made efficient use of our time. Prior to this pandemic, I have to spend at least 30 minutes travelling for a meeting in Angeles City and at least an hour driving back. A short meeting in Manila would practically take the whole day due to traffic. Through Zoom, we start right on time without leaving the comfort of our office. As soon as the meeting ends, I can immediately go back to my office work. It saves time and gasoline. There is no emission of greenhouse gasses too, which is good for the environment.

As for the online classes of my college freshman, there are advantages too. My son is a first year architecture student at the University of Santo Tomas. I told my wife that least for a few months, we will not spend money for dorm rental, food, transportation and other expenses. The future architect is enjoying his online classes for now. But I still I want this pandemic to be over soon so he can experience life in a physical school, which is actually part of his development as a professional.

Virtual meetings have a disadvantage too. They are impersonal. I still prefer face-to-face interaction. Meetings are also bonding time with colleagues. For sure we will go back to normalcy soon. This pandemic will end. We will probably stop "zooming," but at least we know that we have a proven alternative to face-to-face meetings.