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Bayanihan is a Filipino value of upholding the spirit of community work for the better good. In the ongoing crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, many have risen up to the challenge of making sure that society is intact until the virus is contained. As governments mandate social distancing to prevent the rapid spread of the disease, there are brave souls out there who have gone over and beyond for their fellowmen.
All over the Philippines are several civilian Bayanihan efforts. In response to the immediate lack of testing kits, the University of the Philippines with funding from the University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) Project and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), developed a COVID-19 test kit to conduct more aggressive testing. Mayors and other local chief executives, like the viral Mayor Vico Sotto of Pasig City, have rolled out initiatives to assist medical efforts during the quarantine period, such as transportation and mobile markets. A cafe owner in Quezon City earned praises for transforming their shop into temporary housing quarters for the homeless.

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.)

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Kate Vergara

Kate is a Xilium writer and a former lifestyle and business assistant editor at a local Philippine newspaper. She holds a degree in pharmacy and literature, so her writing spans holistic and alternative health, medicine blog articles, and advertising and legal services. She enjoys blogging, poetry, and short fiction and has published in indie zines and anthologies.
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