Prayers, townmates’ support sustain Iloilo family through coronavirus fight
ILOILO CITY, Iloilo, Philippines — Health authorities identify them simply as WV (Western Visayas) 16, WV 25, WV 27, WV 28, WV 29 and WV 30—six family members in Iloilo province who have contracted the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).“We did not want this [disease]) and we did not imagine that this will happen to our family,” one of the family members told the Inquirer.
They have been on quarantine at their house in the town center of Lambunao, 54 kilometers north of Iloilo City, since last week even as they grieved for the death of their father, Fermonio “Dodoy” Wong.
The Wong family agreed to have their father and a sibling identified to help avoid confusion and panic among townmates.
Dodoy, 70, died on March 29 due to COVID-19 complications, a day after his test results were released. He sought consultation at a hospital in Iloilo City on March 7 and was confined for mild pneumonia. He was released on March 19 but was again admitted on March 22.
Beverly, one of his five children who took care of him in the hospital, also tested positive for the coronavirus.
Beverly’s 70-year-old mother and three other siblings also tested positive, as shown by results released on April 3. All of them were asymptomatic or did not display any of the symptoms of the disease.
Another sibling, who is working abroad, is the only family member spared.“We are praying and doing all that we can while we cannot go out of our house,” said a family member.
The Wongs have been doing chores, taking vitamins and eating vegetables and fruits. They watch television during their spare time and pray the rosary every night.
“We are constantly monitoring their condition. They have been very cooperative and following our advice,” Dr. Ma. Mercedes Ballarta, municipal health officer, told the Inquirer.
Ballarta said it was better for the family to be on quarantine together so they could support each other.
“They are very determined to get well,” she said.Last week, Lambunao, a town of 73,640 (2015 survey,) was rocked by reports that an unidentified person threw stones at the Wongs’ residence.
“We did not hear it because we were praying at that time, but one of our neighbors said somebody threw stones twice,” the family member said.
Local officials led by Mayor Reynor Gonzales condemned the incident and any form of discrimination against the family.
The Wongs said they were more overwhelmed by the outpouring of support of friends and Lambunaonons.
“Every day, food is left in front of our house. Friends, school batchmates, and even townmates that we don’t know have been sending rice, bread, sacks of calamansi and [grocery items]. When we hear the sound of our doorbell, it usually means that someone has left something for us,” a family member said.
She said the expression of support had alleviated their grief from the loss of their father. “We are very sad but happy in a way as well,” she added.
The remains of their father were immediately cremated at a funeral parlor in Iloilo City. No family member was present.
“We last spoke to Papa in a videocall on the day he died. His ashes are still at the funeral parlor because we all cannot go out of our house,” she said.
She said the family had been sustained by praying and the support of friends and townmates.“When [we recover], we plan to hold a Mass for Papa and give him a decent burial,” she said.
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