Iloilo City, where our VMAs are located, trended online for its collective efforts to keep the community together. City Mayor Jerry Trenas and Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. ordered the suspension of flights early March. A declaration of a community quarantine and mandatory wearing of masks followed. There’s an outpour of donations from private companies and individuals. Mayor Trenas’ transparency in the distribution of goods and medical supplies and initiatives in providing for the needs of hospitals and frontliners won the hearts of many.
Local fashion designers and textile shops worked together to create PPEs and masks instead of waiting for supplies. Institutions like the University of San Agustin and the University of the Philippines-Visayas utilized their respective chemistry laboratories to produce ethyl alcohol. Scientists from different universities volunteered to man COVID-19 testing centers. John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University, a well-known school for seafarers, offered unconventional assistance by housing frontliners in their anchored ship at the Iloilo River Wharf.
Also known for its robust business sector, Iloilo City was placed under national light after purchasing $108,000-worth of rapid test kits directly from South Korea using donations from prominent Ilonggo businessmen. Local bakeries Uygongco Flour Mill, Great Harvest Commodities, Carlos Uy, and Angelina Bakeshop distributed bread and pastry. Xilium contributed to the efforts by donating food and relief packs to frontliners, public transport drivers, checkpoint personnel, and the less privileged.
The concurrence and overflowing help from local private sectors, organizations, and individuals bring light to this dark time. This only proves humanity will always find a way to rise up amidst isolation and negativity. As Mayor Trenas always say, “Buligay lang kita! Bató Iloilo! Kaya ta ni.” (Let us help each other! Fight Iloilo! We can do this.)