Ilonggos turn inward to get themselves through quarantine
ILOILO CITY, Iloilo, Philippines — They came from all walks of life, and it didn’t matter how much money they could spare. They only had one thing in mind: help the city government lessen the impact of community quarantine amid the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, even without national government support.
One resident, Mercy Dumancas, chipped in P500 for the city government’s efforts, while two others, Jonas Raphael Chan, a contractual city employee, and Reyna Alpas, sent P2,000 each by money remittance and bank transfer.
Donations from employees, business owners, students, and professionals have helped provide food, transportation, services, and equipment to those worst affected by the quarantine measures and health workers in the front lines.
With money donated by businessmen, Mayor Jerry Treñas bought 2,500 COVID-19 testing kits worth P5.5 million since no kits had arrived from the national government.
Other business owners gave rice, drinking water, canned goods, bread, and other food items, especially for displaced workers and health-care personnel.
Community at work
The city government is operating 240 community kitchens in 180 villages for residents whose livelihood has been severely affected by the lockdown.
It will also implement a cash-for-work program for some 20,000 people who lost their jobs. Each of them will receive P2,500 for 10 days of work.
Amid the clamor for mass testing, physicians, scientists, lab technicians and alumni from the University of the Philippines (UP) Visayas, University of San Agustin (USA), West Visayas State University, Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC), UP Philippine Genome Center and private hospitals have collaborated with the city government to push for the accreditation of a subnational testing laboratory in the city.
On March 26, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III announced that the WVMC was certified to conduct independent testing, which meant that swabs from suspected COVID-19 patients did not need to be sent to testing centers in Manila or Cebu.
Treñas offered accommodation at Iloilo City Community College to several hospital employees who were ejected from their boarding houses over fears that they would infect other residents. This triggered a flood of donations for them, including food, beddings, pillows, toiletries, gas stoves and even Wi-Fi modems.
Chemistry students of UP Visayas and USA also produced volumes of ethyl alcohol for hospitals and front-liners.
The city government, in partnership with Vallacar Transit, the country’s biggest transport company, deployed 30 buses to ferry health workers for free.
John B. Lacson Colleges Foundation has converted a training ship into a 200-bed shelter for city employees involved in essential operations.
Country within a country
Online posts about community efforts have gone viral. Some called Iloilo City the “Wakanda of the Philippines, a country within a country,” referring to the fictional country of Marvel’s “Black Panther,” which is self-sufficient and isolated from the outside world.
“The outpouring of support from private companies and individuals is a clear manifestation that Ilonggos have a strong sense of community and are extremely empowered. With clear direction and trust in local leadership, the community is able to mobilize and generously contribute time and resources,” said Maria Victoria Lea Lara, executive director of Iloilo Business Club.
The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .
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