Cotabato City (April 7, 2020)—Humanity is facing an enormous challenge after the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) was declared pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).
COVID-19 challenged governments’ capacity in dealing with emergency situations. Most were affected, especially those in the health and socio-economic sectors.
The COVID-19 threat has forced business operations to shutdown, countries and cities to implement lockdown and/or community quarantine, disrupting people’s lives.
With the rapid spread of the virus to at least 183 countries worldwide, it has caused people illnesses and took thousands of lives. The virus is not selective with its victim—whether ordinary citizens, celebrities, or government officials. Even medical practitioners succumbed to death because of COVID-19.
“We go to work for you, please stay home for us”—this is the outcry of the Philippine frontliners as they bare the challenges in combatting the virus.
As of writing, the Department of Health (DOH) has recorded a total number of 3, 764 confirmed cases with 84 recoveries and 177 deaths.
Meanwhile, in the southern part of the Philippines, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s (BARMM) Ministry of Health (MOH) has recorded 8 confirmed cases with 3 recoveries and 3 deaths.
Together with the national government, the Bangsamoro Government is exhausting all its efforts in fighting the virus and flattening the curve. Emergency interventions were also conducted to address the needs of the affected population.
This World Health Day 2020, as we honour the contributions of nurses and midwives who are at the frontlines in fighting COVID-19, it is also consequential to learn how the young Filipinos in BARMM cope with the COVID-19 crisis and how they stay optimistic.
MENANG, 22, VOLUNTEER
Janjalani L. Menang, a resident of Cotabato City, is a volunteer for the relief packing and distribution led by the Office of the Chief Minister (OCM-BARMM).
He said, “sobrang hirap kasi naapektuhan ang pag-aaral ko at ang daily needs namin nang dahil sa COVID-19.”
“But I am always positive despite this crisis, because our government, especially the Bangsamoro Government and the LGUs, is doing its best to beat COVID-19,” he added.
“I volunteered in the relief packing and distribution of goods during this crisis to help other workers who are at the frontline. By helping them, relief goods will be swiftly delivered to the people, especially the needy ones,” Menang noted.
During his shift as a volunteer, Menang would always observe proper precautionary measures, including wearing of mask and gloves, regular hand washing, and social distancing.
“For me, it is important that as we deliver the services to the people, we also take care of ourselves so that we can perform our duties without compromising our health and other people,” he stressed.
ESMAEL, 26, VOLUNTEER
Dari A. Esmael, a resident of Cotabato City, volunteers for the crisis communications team in the Bangsamoro Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) on COVID-19.
He confessed that during this crisis, aside from financial restraints, food supply is the most pressing issue amongst citizens.
“Mahirap mang aminin ngunit nakikita natin na sa gitna ng pagsisikap ng gobyerno na matugunan ang pangangailangan ng mga tao, hindi pa rin ito ganoon kasapat. Madami pa ring hirap makakain ngayon,” he uttered with anguish.
He said his role as volunteer in the crisis communications team in the BIATF would help the people in getting accurate information about the dangers of COVID-19 and how to fight and stop its spread.
“My role being a volunteer for this crisis is to make sure that the vulnerable residents of our communities could receive proper information and avoid fake news. With this, they could avoid the risks of acquiring the virus,” Esmael added.
“I stay calm and positive amid this COVID-19 crisis by just remembering the Almighty Allah and following the rules faithfully. I also take cautions to avoid possibilities of transmission or infection,” he said.
With all the guidelines issued by the government, Esmael said, “we must always wash our hands, take frequent bath, stay healthy, do not skip meals, and pray five times a day.”
He also wants to remind the people to obey the rule of law and to stay home to minimize the risk of infection and further spread of the virus.
TAGO, 23, LAW STUDENT
Sittie Khairon S. Tago, from Maguindanao, is a law student at Notre Dame University in the city.
She said this pandemic has paralyzed most of human activities. “In my case, our school’s final examination was deferred. This is crucial because this will determine if I will graduate or not. Now, I am left hanging. I know this is the best time to open and read my reviewers.”
“Nevertheless, this is better said than done. Because of this pandemic, I became anxious. I have two little children—the oldest is 4 and youngest is only 7 months old. They are most vulnerable in terms of being easily infected by the disease,” she said.
“There are various cases of COVID-19 in the city. How can I think of scanning my notes while being anxious?” She added.
However, Tago is looking through the brighter side of the situation, saying “this might have been a blessing, in some other way. I get to spend more time with my family. My husband who gets up early in the morning and goes home late, finally have more time with us.”
“This is where I have realized that the simplest things are usually the most important. This lets us reflect on some of the things in life which we take for granted,” Tago said.
Although, not a frontliner, Tago believes that following the guidelines of the government will make a difference.
“If we only cooperate, we stay home, we could help prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in the community. Let us go hand in hand with the government. Furthermore, we should not also forget those who are in dire help at this time—those who are the impoverished in the community.”
She believes in the saying that “prevention is better than cure.”
“Washing hands, disinfecting the surroundings, boosting immunity, social distancing, and adhering to government orders: these are the things that we should bear in mind during this crisis,” she added. (Bureau of Public Information)
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