Wednesday, April 24, 2024

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BEYOND SIGHT! ‘Bayanihan’ in the time of COVID

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By Monsi A. Serrano

While the whole world contends with the coronavirus pandemic, and even if our own country is badly affected, there are some companies still doing their part to help the community without fanfare or headline-grabbing. Today, I’m giving props to five companies that have been easing the burden of Filipinos in need and frontliners tasked to essential duties.

For us in THEPHILBIZNEWS, they are what we call “The Silent Bayanis” that are doing their share to help the country without blowing their trumpets. They are not exempted from the economic woes or business challenges, but the spirit of Bayanihan is very much alive in them and in their people.

The companies are listed here in alphabetical order.

ALC Group

This company name may not ring a bell. But the ALC Group of Companies is founded by a low-key tycoon named Antonio L. Cabangon-Chua who founded various companies like Fortune Life, City State Bank, City State Hotels, Brown Madonna, Manila Grand Opera House,  BusinessMirror, Cook Magazine, ALIW Broadcasting Corporation (97.9 Home Radio and DWIZ) Sandari Batulao, Philippine Graphic Publication, Isuzu Gencars, Eternal Plans, Eternal Life, and many more.

Since the start of the pandemic, the chairman of ALC Group of Companies D. Edgard A. Cabangon has opened its doors to the medical frontliners. They provided free accommodations in their various hotels in Metro Manila to ensure that our health workers have a temporary home while attending to the patients with COVID-19.

CDO Foodsphere

Jerome Ong, President of CDO Foodsphere intimated to me that while its plant operations have stopped, it has been helping out in the various communities of Metro Manila and the provinces. The food packs it deploys make sure various frontliners have something to eat. Many of them do not have time to buy their food since most of their time is spent in the hospital and even have to work beyond the call of duty and working hours.

This is a commitment of CDO Foodsphere to the Filipino people, to always be there when they are needed.

Lydia’s Lechon

The Lechon Queen, Lydia Pasion-De Roca never forgets her humble beginnings of Lydia’s Lechon. They provided food to medical frontliners at the National Kidney Institute when called to help by THEPHILBIZNEWS in the first week of March. Immediately, the De Roca family and Lydia’s Lechon operations manager, Bong Cu, prepared something not only for the NKI frontliners but also to the police and military contingent manning the community quarantine checkpoint. On a regular basis, they continue to provide food.

Last March 22, Benigno De Roca, a.k.a. “Boy Lechon,” husband of Lydia Passion-De Roca, dubbed as the country’s Lechon Queen, passed away. But this never hindered the De Roca family from providing food to the frontliners.

Mekeni Food Corporation

The Garcia family of Mekeni Food Corporation composed of Tatay Felix, the late Ima Meding and five children Adrian, Pruds, Lito, Doods and Nards are no strangers to challenges as they endured 3 major setbacks when they were starting their backyard business and until they built their world-class plant and facilities, the first in the Philippines and in Asia. First, when Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991. Then, in 1995, the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) that affected piggery and meat processing companies in the Philippines, and then in 1997, the Asian financial crisis. On those occasions, Mekeni did not stop helping out to the community who come to ask for their help.

In this time of COVID-19, Mekeni has been providing food, personal protective equipment or PPEs and other assistance to the frontliners in various areas in Luzon, believing that these frontliners need more support and moral encouragement through the simple act of kindness as they continue to put their lives on the line to stop the enemy they cannot see.

Okada Manila

The hospitality industry is one of the major sectors affected by the COVID-19 as hotels and restaurants and attached industries are not allowed to operate.

But as early as mid-March of 2020, the management of Okada Manila doled out P50 million to the Philippine General Hospital for three much-needed testing machines, testing kits, and other medical supplies. This is to ensure that the hospital would be able to provide help to the patients who need COVID-19 testing and treatment.

While Okada Manila is a Japanese company, it is their “magokoro” (sincerity of heart) and “omotenashi” (anticipating the need) philosophies that made Okada voluntarily give their little share to the people affected by the COVID-19 even of no one came to them to ask for their help.

Bayanihan Spirit, We Heal As One

There are many Bayanis out there. The food delivery drivers, workers in the groceries and supermarkets, line personnel in Meralco, Telcos, and other utility industries. They are real heroes, too, and unsung ones at that.

This is the kind of formula we need for us to rebound and adjust to the transition period, which I do not personally want to call a new normal. To my mind, the healing of the heart and spirit are “a priori” for those who lost their loved ones, their jobs, business and even their sanity. This kind of setup is depressing, especially for the ones who are not used to solitude. The call for empathy for all of the victims, would not be enough, without a genuine intention to help.

We have seen how the whole world sympathizes with us, as they are also affected by the virus, lost their loved ones, business, and a lot more. This virus permeated in the whole world breaking the distance, country, religion, race, interest, and all possible barriers. The world has shown so much anger against China, but it’s the great love for the Philippines and for our fellow Filipinos that made us all Bayanis in our own little ways.

Let us just wish and pray that the government will do its share to uphold and value the love, help, and sympathy to our people. Filipinos are touched by all kinds of morale-boosting support from various groups and personalities. In these trying times, we know who our real friends are and who are those cashing in opportunities from the pandemic.

Looking at this overwhelming love and support, it is high time to use this as a springboard to come up with a “Holistic Bayanihan Rehabilitation Program”, not just the cliché  “We Heal As One” for the victims, but more so to be WHOLE AS ONE.

We Heal As One will never happen if there is no transparency, and sincerity from our leaders. It is more than putting together the scattered pieces of our being and praying for those who have lost their loved ones, jobs, business, and other treasure left in them like their dignity.

Thus, politics and proselytization have no place here. No political prep or jockeying for 2022 by taking advantage of the vulnerable sectors. This is what we need to do now, a Holistic Bayanihan Spirit.

We want to make it easier for them. We want everyone to bounce back and live a new life with hope and zest to live their life to the fullest as they begin their journey to pick up the scattered pieces of their being. We are Filipinos, and the Bayanihan Spirit is just particular to our culture. Shouldn’t that make us proud?

I am personally dreaming that our renowned architects, engineers, doctors, bankers, psychologists, tycoons and other professionals would work together “gratis et amore” for the victims while others like myself and ordinary citizens will continue to contribute in whatever capacity we can. Some of us might not have been able to give to the victims the material things that we wanted to give. But that is just fine. As long as we contribute and support the “Holistic Bayanihan Spirit”, that is more than enough.

As the Greek physician Hippocrates, dubbed as the Father of Western Medicine said, “Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.” Also, the great American industrialist Henry Ford said: “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is a success.”

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