Celebrating life amid the pandemic

IN THE entertainment industry, there are two hanging masks -- happy an sad. That mask goes out in real life.

But with the current Covid-19 pandemic, not even the face masks can hide the deep sadness everyone is feeling at this moment.

But for Lady Bam or Benjamin T. Petilos in real life, the pandemic should not be exaggerated as an interim apocalypse.

Although admittedly, Lady Bam, being a comedian and entertainer for around 20 years, was not immune to emotional struggles.

This when ABS-CBN, her workplace for 17 years, was forced to shut down due to franchise issues. The network, which was her first formal company, gave her the opportunity to work in Manila for the defunct shows of Willie Revillame (Wowowee) and Kris Aquino. Also, she made a mark as one of ABS-CBN's local show hosts "MAG TV Na, Sadya Ta," which awarded her a Gandingan Award as Best TV host.

"I was sad when I wasn't able to retire to the workplace, whom I call my home for years, since it was my first work right after graduation," Lady Bam said.

In addition, some of her sidelines as a host for events were halted due to the strict restrictions on mass gatherings.

Admittedly, she experienced episodes of anxieties brought about the mixed emotions she felt after losing all of his means of livelihood during the first months of the pandemic.

Unfortunate events may have casted a shadow on her 2020, but she did allow it to stop her from uplifting herself.

Being a member of a meditation group for eight years now had helped her in coping with the pandemic.

"Prayers and meditation got me through those hard times," Lady Bam shared.

Despite the effects of the pandemic, new opportunities have also opened.

This when she landed a hosting stint in a comedy radio program Happy Kaayo, together with local stand-up comedian Chabz.

Hosting a radio program filled with laughter and fun at this pandemic is not only an open opportunity for her, but also a privilege to help uplift the spirits of her fellow Dabawenyos.

"I think it is one of the purposes I have in life- that is to give laughter and spread optimism," she said.

Giving laughter isn't something new for Lady Bam, who also made a name in stand-up comedy in some bars in the city for quite some time now.

But for someone like her, who had also been doing life coaching in a previous radio program from her former network, life needs balance.

The current pandemic might want us to take life seriously, Lady Bam believes that laughter will always be imprinted in the Filipino culture.

Which is why entertainment, in any life events, will always be there to give the public something to laugh or have on.

"As an entertainer, laughter is very important. It brings balance to life. Cliche as it may sound, but science says it is the best medicine," she said.

"We cannot deny the hardships in life, but we're here to celebrate it. It's about choosing to be alive, and since every breath is a miracle, why not enjoy and have fun," she said.

Aside from entertaining people, she also has a business.

During her stint with ABS-CBN, she also had a stint in the sales and marketing department. Of which, she was able to carry in her current career as a professional consultant for products and other marketing clients.

The new normal also did not stop her from hosting events, which shifted to online.

While the pandemic halted some businesses and other activities, it did not stop Lady Bam from getting back on her feet.

She also serves as a mentor to her fellow comedians who are going through the same situation like her.

"Because they cannot express their true side. They have been laughing so much, that sometimes they forget to deal with what they are truly feeling inside," she said.

"From time to time, I always check on them to ask them if they are OK," Lady Bam said, emphasizing the need for moral support at these hard times.

The current pandemic might have brought an unexpected shift of living to all, for Lady Bam, the pandemic taught her the attitude of gratitude.

Nothing lasts forever, she said, and that "keeping the faith" more than ever is the key to overcome. Sooner or later, she said, "we will just be laughing this when it's over."


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