COVID-19 and Bayanihan

(Editor’s note: In this unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, private companies and private citizens have come together to help those in need by doing food drives, maintaining the salaries of their employees, and raising funds for wage earners, their communities and people in the frontlines. Accompanying this column is a photo essay by The Philippine STAR photographers covering the crisis in and outside Metro Manila.)  

As the corona-virus reached more than 100 countries worldwide, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic two weeks ago and the world is facing an incredible public health risk and tragic deaths.

With mass transport suspended, a Badjao family walks on McArthur Highway in Bamban, Tarlac to Angeles City, Pampanga. Photo by MICHAEL VARCAS

The Philippine government is responding to improve the health security and prevention system in our country as COVID-19 worsens in the Philippines. With the confirmed cases continuously rising, we can’t help but be worried for ourselves and our families.

Our government calls for solidarity among Filipinos and to abide by the mandated Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine until April 14. Some of the guidelines are stringent social distancing measures, strict home quarantine in all households, and limited movement except to access basic necessities.

Volunteers from the Bureau of Correction, PNP, World Vision and QC Government assemble a giant quarantine tent for COVID-19 PUI at Polytechnic University in Novaliches on Friday. Photo by Boy Santos

In this most difficult moment for the country, I believe it is everyone’s duty to help one another. We must initiate and do something to combat COVID-19.

We are known for our most valued culture of bayanihan, which simply means the spirit of communal unity and cooperation to accomplish goals together as one.

As we fight against this devastating crisis, we must live and demonstrate the bayanihan spirit in all forms.

Health workers inspect each other’s personal protective equipment in Los Baños, Laguna. Photo by WALTER BOLLOZOS

The Gokongwei Group allotted P100 million in support to hospitals, health workers and affected communities fighting the disease. The company will provide personal protective equipment such as surgical masks for healthcare frontlines and rapid test kits. Among its priority beneficiaries are the UP Medical Foundation and the PGH Medical Foundation, Inc.

Same with the SM group; the company declared the release of at least P100 million to support government hospitals in their fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. They allocated funds for the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and other government hospitals, and this includes provisions of personal protective equipment such as face masks, gowns, visors, hoods, gloves, shoe covers and urgent medical supplies.

Globe engineers John Louie Mateo and Rommel Macaranas keep the network going so customers can stay connected at these critical times. Photo from the FB page of JAIME AUGUSTO ZOBEL DE AYALA

Meanwhile, Ayala Corporation has made a big move to show its support to fight against the pandemic after providing a P2.4-billion relief package covering the full compensation of their employees and waived rental charges to its merchants during the whole quarantine period. Moreover, the company has initially distributed over 10,000 N95 masks to public hospitals in Manila and Quezon City.

Megaworld Corporation donated one million liters of 70 percent ethyl alcohol for distribution by the Department of Health (DOH), Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and other Local Government Units (LGUs). Megaworld has also extended transport assistance to healthcare frontliners working in hospitals and health centers by deploying its Citylink buses. The company has announced the waiving of rental charges in their malls and commercial centers in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon.

Megaworld distributes food packs to its construction workers in Bacolod and Iloilo. Photo from the FB page of HAROLD BRIAN GERONIMO

Wilcon Depot, the Philippines’ leading home improvement and construction supply, has also announced that it will release a total of P100 million in financial assistance to its employees and community partners.

As the company responds to make provisions for their employees to cope with the situation, Wilcon allocated P80 million for its employees to receive their salaries in full in spite of the discontinuation of work in corporate offices and stores.

Residents of Rosales, Pangasinan walk home with their groceries. The province had four confirmed cases of COVID-19 on March 24, and by April 1 a town mayor and his wife also tested positive. Photo by Michael Varcas

Furthermore, with their continuous initiatives to contribute to the community, Wilcon has allocated another P20 million to support ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation and GMA Kapuso Foundation in their efforts to help provide basic medical supplies for the health and safety workers, who are prone to severe health impacts because of exposure to patients who are being treated for COVID-19 and supply food and basic needs to poor families whose source of living has been affected by the enhanced community quarantine.

Military checkpoint in Nasugbu, Batangas Photo by ERNIE PEÑAREDONDO

During this time of adversity, our solidarity as Filipino people is being tested. Let us continuously seek opportunities to help and contribute to resolve this crisis we are going through. In our own little ways, extending help to raise emergency response funds can make an enormous significance in our community.

As President Rodrigo Duterte said, “In this extraordinary war, we are all soldiers.”


Residents walk through a disinfection booth in Trabajo Market, Manila.
Launching drones to disinfect the streets of Pasig. Photo by WALTER BOLLOZOS
Residents line up outside a supermarket in Pasay City. Photo by KJ ROSALES