We need more Good Samaritans and philanthropists
By ROGER M. BALANZA
There are angels who appear to bring kindness and compassion and help in man’s hour of need.
I had this experience as the country staggers from the onslaught of the New Coronavirus Disease aka Covid-19.
On Sunday, March 29, I supervised distribution of about one hundred food packs in the small village of Maisan in Malatabis, Lizada in Toril district in Davao City.
Consisting of families of pedicab drivers, jeepney drivers. fishermen, vegetable farmers, construction workers and others who are mostly daily income earners, Maisan is just one of the many villages in Davao City hit hard by the economic impact of the coronavirus tragedy.
A day before, a friend, Nene Berato, called by phone to inform that a “friend” of hers wants to donate foodstuffs to families who lost income as government declared a nationwide state of emergency to stave off the further spread of Covid-19.
Could I handle the distribution?
The state of emergency imposed a community quarantine that practically closed down businesses in the city and immobilized the Dabawenyos forcing them to stay at home.
For daily wage earners, the lockdown was catastrophic and rendered kitchens without any food to eat.
For the people of Maisan, the small packs of rice, canned sardines and groceries our team distributed could at least drive away hunger for a day or two. The most that I could do was bring to them the aid.
As a senior citizen in semi-retirement from journalism, I have imposed on myself a forced quarantine in my small ornamental fish farm not far from Maisan, following to the letter admonitions against Covid-19 infection by health authorities: staying at home, wearing face mask, social/physical distancing, more vitamin C. vegetables in the diet and all.
My children advised me not to bite Nene Berato’s request for a morbid reason: At 72, I am a potential candidate for a Covid-19 assault based on World Health Organization (WHO) statistics: Most of fatalities in the coronavirus infections were aged 60 years old and upwards.
The ongoing battle against Covid-19 is a war with morbid figures: In the Philippines, more than a thousand infected, with deaths nearing 50 and spreading in the provinces; worldwide, more than half-a-million cases and growing, thousands dead and the disease gnawing at almost all the countries of the world.
“Bayanihan To Heal As One,” the battle cry of unity that President Rodrigo Duterte used in an edict he issued urging Filipinos to unite against the deadly disease, rings nationwide as Filipinos contribute to the effort to fight Covid-19 in whatever they can.
I thought about the health workers – doctors, nurses and volunteers — who are in the frontlines risking their life and health in the battle against the deadly virus.
I thought that distributing food packs in Maisan entails a small risk compared to what the health workers faced.
I should be, nay, I must be, part of the President’s “Bayanihan To Heal As One.”
Also, I must not disappointment an angel who wanted to help his fellowmen in this hour of need.
And so, off I went to Maisan with a team to bring the pre-packed food aid donated by Jun Bacolod, the friend of Nene Berato.
I came to know of “Jun Bacolod,” whose personal circumstances I am ignorant about, as an “anonymous philanthropist” who years ago donated a sizable sum to the House of Hope, a center for children with cancer, located at the Southern Philippines Medical Center, a project supported by then Mayor Duterte.
With business closing down and economic activity at a standstill, the Covid-19 attack is now more than a health security crisis, hitting most the poor who lost jobs and livelihood because of the lockdown.
Hunger is staring at us.
I write this story about an angel coming to the succor of the needy, not in praise of Jun Bacolod.
There are are many companies who, out of benevolence and compassion, help their displaced employees with emergency cash and food aid. There are many companies rolling into play their corporate social responsibility (CSR) to assist communities.
There are many individuals, with wealth to spare driven by compassion to help those in need, packing rice and groceries for distribution.
Good deeds beget good deeds.
I write this story of Jun Bacolod, the heroic health workers and the many others who march in unison with President Duterte’s “Bayanihan To Heal As One” battle cry, so that more of them would be inspired to help those in need in this most trying of times for the Filipinos.
The administration of President Duterte is doing its best to make life less painful for the Filipinos amid the Covid-19 tragedy but it should not be left alone in the fight against the deadly disease and the horror it inflicts on the people.