Jobs well done | Inquirer Opinion
At Large

Jobs well done

With quarantine controls relaxing, one can almost hear the sighs of relief as “emergency” measures now become part of daily routine and regular practice. To be sure, the coronavirus is still lurking out there, and we must all take precautions against a possible “second wave” of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. There is still no “magic bullet” cure nor a vaccine, despite the high hopes of leaders eager for quick fixes. The “new normal” is still taking shape, and we will be constantly on the lookout for signs of a resurgence of the contagion.

But the sense of panic is easing. By now, people have gotten intimately acquainted with the routines of hand-washing, personal hygiene, physical distancing, and looking out for symptoms like fever, coughing, sneezing, and breathing difficulties. And, although this is still more of a hope and wish rather than certainty, the government has responded to the emergency, even if many say “too little, too late.” We’ll see…


One sign of the easing of public fears and apprehension is the termination of fundraising and distribution efforts that the private sector, in the early days of the contagion, embarked on in response to the emergency. When health frontliners sounded the alarm about shortfalls in personal protective equipment (PPE) that were leading to the deaths of colleagues, private groups and corporations pooled funds to buy PPE and distribute these to both public and private hospitals. When the lockdowns across the metropolis resulted in many urban poor families going hungry and desperate, all sorts of groups, from neighborhood associations to corporations, schools, churches, and individuals in the food industry, started preparing meals and distributing these to communities in need.

It was proof that even without government prodding (and even in the face of bureaucratic stumbling blocks), ordinary Filipinos could and would work together to ease the plight of the less fortunate.


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One such effort was that led by The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS) Foundation with the UP Medical Foundation and corporate and individual sponsors and volunteers including the Philippine Navy, working together to purchase PPE and distribute them to frontliners in hospitals and clinics around the country.

In an end-term report, TOWNS said that as of May 24, the project had delivered PPE to 437 hospitals, 16 rural health units, three COVID-19 centers, and 13 penitentiaries across the country. In all, more than a million PPE were distributed, ranging from N95 and surgical masks, gowns, and hazmat suits to gloves, shoe covers, goggles and face shields, as well as alcohol and other cleaning supplies. All these from over P60 million in donations.

The TOWNS response was born from what Dr. June Lopez describes as her own desire to respond “when close friends in the medical profession became critically ill and eventually died of COVID-19.” Lopez reached out to Dr. Medi Saniel, former head of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and current chair of the UP Medical Foundation who led the effort along with other TOWNSwomen, Sabrina Ongkiko and Isa Lorenzo, who took care of purchasing and logistics.

In an interview with Rappler (conducted by TOWNSwomen Maria Ressa and Ces Drilon), Lopez said a breakthrough in their distribution operations took place when Philippine Navy commander Marissa Martinez, another TOWNSwoman, volunteered to help ship the supplies to areas in the Visayas and Mindanao. Serving as storage and repacking center was the Bahay Tsinoy headed by Tessy Ang See, another TOWNSwoman.Shows just how much can be achieved when women of ability and heart get together and work for good. Truly a job well done!—————Also wrapping up its fundraising and organizing work is Bayanihan Musikahan, a series of nightly online concerts to raise funds for poor communities affected by the lockdown. More than P122 million was raised in the two-and-half months the concert was online.

“Artists are naturally emphatic so it wasn’t very difficult for them to decide to join us,” said National Artist Ryan Cayabyab, who spearheaded the effort. Starting on March 19 with “Mr. C” himself, the show featured more than 170 concerts, with performances by Lea Salonga, Martin Nievera, Ebe Dancel, Sponge Cola, Top Suzara, Noel Cabangon, Regine Velasquez, Ogie Alcasid, Jennylyn Mercado, and Dennis Trillo, among others.

Not lost on the artists themselves was the fact that the entertainment industry is among the hardest hit by the quarantine, what with public performances banned during the ECQ and perhaps well beyond the COVID-19 regime. It’s time the audience paid them back for their generosity, isn’t it?

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TAGS: At Large, coronavirus pandemic, coronavirus philippines, COVID-19, frontliners, Rina Jimenez-David, TOWNS
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