In Liloan, COVID-19 relief comes with nationalist, inspirational twist

/ 05:09 PM April 08, 2020

Colored bags with relief goods form a Philippine flag in the town of Liloan, northern Cebu province. PHOTO FROM MAYOR CHRISTINA FRASCO

CEBU CITY—The municipality of Liloan in northern Cebu gave a nationalist twist to what could have been another run-of-the mill distribution of relief goods to help its people cope with the COVID-19 pandemic—put these in colored bags that were laid out to form an image of the Philippine flag.

Officials said the extra effort aimed to show the people there’s hope in difficult times.


Photos of the goods, forming a Philippine flag, had gone viral on social media.

Liloan Mayor Christina Frasco said the added effort sought to inspire her people, especially those on the front line of the battle against the disease and local government employees who continued to work despite threats of infection, at a time of uncertainty.


Forming a Philippine flag using bags with relief goods, she said, “was not originally our intention as we were very focused on finishing the packing of the food kits.”

“But seeing the red, white and blue bags and the yellow sacks of rice, it gave me the idea of forming a Philippine flag,” the mayor told the Inquirer through Facebook messenger.

“Our flag is a symbol of our national pride and identity as a people,” said Frasco. It was “a commonality that we share and can identify with,” she added.

“In these times of great uncertainty and division, I felt it important to convey that we have something in common, something to hold on to, to keep us going and to get us through this: our identity and our soul as Filipinos,” the mayor said.

Frasco said she did not expect people outside of her town to be drawn to what she had done.

“I felt it important to remind our people on the ground that no matter the adversity we face today, our country will still stand — just as the flag will wave through every storm, and come out tattered but unbowed,” she said.

The flag assembly was done at the repacking area for the goods at the Panphil B. Frasco Memorial Sports Complex.


The bags had different colors based on their intended beneficiaries.

On April 4 and 5, at least 5,000 of these bags were distributed in 14 villages of Liloan.

The priorities were drivers of public utility vehicles, motorcycle-for-rent, tricycle and trisikad, or bicycles fitted with sidecars, and also fishermen and senior citizens.

Frasco said municipal employees were still preparing an additional 10,000 to 15,000 bags for distribution on April 11 and 12 to other beneficiaries.

The bags were labeled with the words “Keep Calm” to remind people there’s no reason to panic despite the lockdown as “they could rely on their government to help them get through this crisis,” said the mayor.

Funds for the goods came from the town’s coffers.

Each Keep Calm food bag contained 5 kg of rice, 5 cans of sardines, 5 packs of noodles, 5 packs of powdered energy drink and milk, 5 packs of coffee and one bottled water.

Keep Calm hygiene bags, which are given mainly to senior citizens, contained 20 tablets of vitamin C, 2 bars of soap, 1 hand sanitizer made by the local government, 1 surface sanitizer made by the local government and 1 roll of toilet paper.

The local government also prepared Keep Calm bags for frontline health workers that each contained a mask, body suit, vitamin C tablets, bottled water and hand sanitizer.

Edited by TSB

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