Tatler Heroes: Filipinos Leading The Fight Against Covid-19
- Hans SyHans Sy
- Abba NapaAbba Napa
- Manny PacquiaoManny Pacquiao
- Leni RobredoLeni Robredo
- Isko MorenoIsko Moreno
- Vico SottoVico Sotto
- Francis ZamoraFrancis Zamora
- Abby BinayAbby Binay
- Angel LocsinAngel Locsin
- Fashion DesignersFashion Designers
- Brian CuBrian Cu
- Angeline ThamAngeline Tham
- GET PhilippinesGET Philippines
- Dr Raul DesturaDr Raul Destura
- The FrontlinersThe Frontliners
- Project FoodProject Food
- Towns Foundation, Inc.Towns Foundation, Inc.
- Frontline FeedersFrontline Feeders
- De La Salle UniversityDe La Salle University
- Andrew and Kevin TanAndrew and Kevin Tan
- JG SummitJG Summit
- MVP Group of CompaniesMVP Group of Companies
- National Grid Corporation of the PhilippinesNational Grid Corporation of the Philippines
- Tony Tan-CaktiongTony Tan-Caktiong
- George YangGeorge Yang
- Ramon AngRamon Ang
- Ayala CorporationAyala Corporation
- Ricky Razon Jr.Ricky Razon Jr.
- Ben ChanBen Chan
- Victor CosunjiVictor Cosunji
- Mara Sy CosonMara Sy Coson
- Belo Medical GroupBelo Medical Group
- The Aivee ClinicThe Aivee Clinic
- Bayanihan MusikanBayanihan Musikan
- Philippine Red CrossPhilippine Red Cross
- Lockdown Cinema ClubLockdown Cinema Club
Crisis begets heroes. In this COVID-19 pandemic that continues to cripple the nation, Filipinos—from people in power, mighty tycoons, and idolised celebrities to courageous frontliners with the greatest to sacrifice—are stepping up. Meet some of our heroes
Director, Philippine conglomerate SM Group
As the nation continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing becomes a norm, the whole country and its economy have ground to a halt with the implementation of an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) declared by President Rodrigo Duterte in the capital to combat the spread of the virus in the region. Top conglomerates in the country are doing their share of donations and assistance to those in need during the outbreak and quarantine period.
Business Empire SM Group is one of the first few conglomerates in the country to give aid and support in the wake of the outbreak, allocating PhP100-million (US$2M) in assisting government-owned hospitals. The corporation has also equipped health workers on the frontlines with personal protective equipment (PPEs) such as johnny gowns, masks, gloves, visors, and hospital shoe covers, as well as medical supplies. The group has also waived retail rents for all the tenants of its SM Supermalls during the nationwide lockdown. Mara Sy Coson, the daughter of Teresita Sy-Coson, is also helping out as the head of the team in distributing medical equipment, PPEs, test kits, and ventilators nationwide to over 50 hospitals and groups such as TOWNS, Xavier School Alumni and PAL PNP-AVSEGroup—as well as ensuring logistics and warehousing of supplies and equipment. SM Foundation has also donated over P170-million to help fight against the COVID-19 pandemic to provide additional PPEs and other supplies to frontliners. It has also orchestrated the delivery and distribution of over 6,700 relief packs to depressed communities nationwide.
SM has also reached out to Manila HealthTek Inc to help distribute test kits for free to government health institutions and provided ICU-grade ventilators to hospitals that manage severe coronavirus cases. In addition, SM has also assured its employees working on the frontlines, such as security guards and janitorial staff, emergency financial aid. Frontline employees will receive P5,000 during the quarantine period. “In these trying times, we are in uncharted territory. Let’s be mindful of our frontliners and help with their need to be alert so they can continue to do their best in working for the safety and health of our communities,” said Hans Sy, chairman and director of SM Prime
Co-founder, The Moment Group, Philippines
The Moment Group, founded by Napa with Eliza Antonino and Jon Syjuco, has made its mark on the restaurant industry by way of unique homegrown concepts. The company is actively responding to requests for food aid on several fronts, including the preparation and delivery of more than 1,500 meals to hospitals and clinics on a daily basis. Moment has expanded its efforts to include donations to patients and construction workers building emergency quarantine facilities.
Senator Manny Pacquiao’s story began when he was a stowaway on a boat bound for Manila with nothing but dreams of becoming a boxer to lift his family out of poverty. Now at the pinnacle of his career, Pacquiao remains committed to helping those in need through his foundation with continuous donations to charitable organisations.
The boxing champ and senator, who was elected in 2016, was quick to send aid, having loaned five buses for the use of frontliners to the Metro Manila Development Authority and pooled money to donate 700,000 face masks.
Through his foundation, Pacquiao joined forces with Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma, who pledged to bring in PHP400 million worth of test kits. The 57,000 kits were turned over to the Department of Health on March 27, and were received by San Lazaro Hospital infectious disease head scientist Dr Rongente Solante and representatives from the Philippine General Hospital.
Ma also donated an additional 500,000 face masks. “Not only is Ma a true friend, but he is also a kind and compassionate person who never fails to help people in times of need,” says Pacquiao. “We had to work on special provisions for the shipments to clear local customs, but given the necessity, we were given immediate government clearance.”
Pacquiao promises these resources will be prioritised for the poor. Says the senator, “Because of my humble beginnings, I know what it’s like to be poor. And to be poor during such a crisis is a serious matter that needs to be immediately addressed by the government.”
Vice President of the Philippines
Actively doing her part to be of assistance to those in need is Vice President Leni Robredo. In the face of the pandemic, her office took swift and practical action. The Office of the Vice President’s (OVP) efforts began with little under six million pesos, and have gone on to amass over 55 million pesos as of this writing in donations through its Angat Buhay partner, Kaya Natin. The funds went to the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPEs) and food packs for the frontliners, with a total of 33,375 PPE sets and 2,320 care packages having gone out as of writing. The distribution of these supplies was not limited to Metro Manila; PPEs were shipped to other areas of Luzon as well as Visayas and Mindanao. Support from private donors ensured continuous distribution of meals to health workers. The OVP also provided free shuttle services and dormitories (two in Quezon City and two in Manila) to ease the burden on health workers, medical professionals, and other personnel essential to the fight against COVID-19. In addition, Robredo’s office donated 5.3 million pesos worth of extraction kits to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).
Via e-mail, the vice president shares: “Amid this pandemic, we find sparks of hope in the true spirit of bayanihan. So many of our people have stepped up— from corporations and businesses that share their resources, to ordinary citizens who take part in donation drives or volunteer in various initiatives. The Office of the Vice President has focused its efforts mostly on helping health workers and other frontliners. Private citizens are taking part in our efforts through a donation drive started by our Angat Buhay partner, Kaya Natin! Movement. We expect this amount to grow, as we continue to receive inquiries from our kababayans [compatriots] here and abroad.
“Some of our PPE sets, hot meals, food and care packages, and other assistance make it to hospitals with the help of people who volunteer to bring them there for us. We were able to start, and expand, our free shuttle services with companies lending their buses to us, and citizens volunteering to help us run our routes. We have partners who offered their commercial spaces so we could open dormitories for our frontliners. And we hear more stories like these from all over the country.
“After the pandemic, we hope to work in the rebuilding of our people through our flagship anti-poverty programme, Angat Buhay.”
Mayor of Manila
In Manila, Mayor Isko Moreno implemented his Code Red COVID-19 action plan: Contain and Delay. A 227.5 million-peso budget was set aside for food assistance, while a 12.9 million-peso budget was used to purchase medical supplies. Hotels and motels in the city provided a number of rooms for frontliners to use free of charge. The city has also benefitted greatly from the services and knowledge of its vice-mayor, Honey Lacuna, who is a doctor. Live updates are given to the constituents on a regular basis via the mayor’s social media channels.
Mayor of Pasig City
Vico Sotto was thrust into the political limelight when his victory put an end to the political stronghold that had been governing Pasig City for nearly three decades. He calmly rose to the occasion, proving himself decisive, efficient, and ingenious—particularly in this time of crisis. Mobile kitchens were set up. To decongest crowds in marketplaces, a roving market was rolled out. To address issues caused by the closure of mass public transport, electric buses, bikes, and e-scooters were sourced out for rent, specifically to ferry frontliners to their destinations. Much raved about were the drones he purchased for disinfecting purposes.
Mayor of San Juan City
Mayor Francis Zamora of San Juan found himself in charge of a city with the second highest number of cases—and figures are continuing to rise—per capita. Aside from aggressive disinfecting practices, strict observance of the quarantine, and fast- tracked contact tracing, Zamora also mobilised relief goods distribution for his constituents and provided free transport to frontliners. His office helped facilitate the opening of a COVID-19 ward at the San Juan Medical Center. Through the support of Xavier School, Zamora was also able to turn a new and unused building within the San Juan Science High School into a much-needed 100-bed overflow isolation facility.
Mayor of Makati
Mayor Abby Binay of Makati turned to tech-driven initiatives to assist her constituents. The Makatizen App, which was specially developed to help users keep abreast of city-related news, offered access to swift responses from authorities for COVID-19 concerns. Assistance has also been extended to those whose livelihoods are put on hold. Jeepney, tricycle, and pedicab drivers each received two thousand pesos worth of cash assistance. Eighty-two thousand food packs were distributed to students. In addition, senior citizens received essential medication via door-to-door delivery.
A hero on and off the screen, Filipina actress and philanthropist Angel Locsin has raised about 11-million pesos (as of writing) through her fundraising initiative #UniTENTweStandPH. Through this, she aims to provide tents to hospitals in cities facing overcrowding due to the continued rise of COVID-19 cases in the country. The tents will be used as sleeping quarters of frontliners such as health workers and law enforcement personnel. Locsin has been internationally recognised for her philanthropic works, landing her on Forbes’ Asia’s “Heroes of Philanthropy” list last year for charitable efforts such as the donation of one million pesos to the victims of Mindanao earthquakes, and her efforts for relief and rehabilitation concerning Ondoy and Yolanda typhoons and the Marawi siege.
One of the biggest dilemmas in the fight against COVID-19 was the shortage of PPEs. The demand far exceeded the supply, heightening the risks that health workers all over the world already faced— and the need would only grow with the increasing number of high-risk patients requiring treatment. To help, members of the Filipino fashion design community stepped up to the plate, harnessing their talents and resources to help equip our front liners with urgently needed gear.
“My friend Cynthia Diaz posted on Facebook that she had a supply of cloth that she wanted to use to make PPEs,” said designer and activist Mich Dulce, who spearheaded this initiative. “I then reached out to friends in the medical field to ask if they could loan me a PPE suit so I could draft a pattern, but, understandably, there was none they could spare. This led me to Vice President Leni Robredo’s office. My sewers were able to reverse engineer the sample she lent.” Taking into account that this was a global crisis, Dulce decided to digitise the pattern and guidelines, making the collated information available for free online. This effort led to the founding of the Manila Protective Gear Sewing Club, which works in partnership with the OVP for distribution.
Her designer colleagues, too, rose to the occasion. Rajo Laurel sought approval for his team to work from his Makati factory, following stringent hygiene and social distancing protocols. “We are moved to do everything we can with the limited resourced we have to produce PPEs and hazmat suits for out frontliners,” he said. “Amidst all the challenges, we succeeded in creating samples to distribute to those who would also like to help in production.” Puey Quinones also stepped in to help, emphasising design execution, because the pattern must be followed precisely. RJ Santos, too, came in, donating masks made from fabric scraps. He also uploaded his pattern online as a reference. Patty Ang mobilised her in-house team of tailors and sewers, and sourced donations for appropriate materials through her social media channels, saying, “I am in awe of everyone’s generous spirit. We are ready to provide for as long as the need is there.”
President, Grab Philippines
The pandemic has had a significant impact on ride-hailing transport service companies, as the movement control orders have hampered the very core of their business. But Grab found ways to be of assistance to the country in such difficult times, mobilising its community as a force for good. Thorough its community-driven initiative GrabBayanihan, Grab formed a specialised fleet of GrabCar vehicles and GrabWheels e-scooters, which provide free-of-charge transportation to health workers. Through its mobile app, users were able to donate their GrabRewards points to the Philippine Red Cross, which raised over five million pesos in a matter of days. And through partnerships with Ronald McDonald House Charities and Caritas Manila, users can help supply meals and food bags to frontliners and indigent kababayans.
“This GrabBayanihan initiative is not only a testament to our willingness to help our communities, but also underscores our deep relationship with our partners," said Grab Philippines President Brian Cu. “It was just very natural for us to band together and identify what we could offer. Thousands of our driver- partners volunteered their services despite knowing the health risks that they will face on the road. During this ‘Quarantine Economy,’ services such as ours have become vital in keeping cities running. We are optimistic that as soon as the public health situation de-escalates, ride-hailing will help re-energise the economy. From transporting workers to providing livelihood opportunities, mobility is an indelible part of our DNA as Filipinos."
With its ride-hailing services put on hold due to the quarantine and need for social distancing, Angkas forged on with Angkas Padala, a delivery service to get essential items to one’s doorstep. It also launched the Angkas x Restos, a temporary food delivery initiative where 100 per cent of the delivery fees go directly to the rider. The company is also accepting monetary donations both for the bikers under its employ (assistance goes to those most affected by the pandemic) as well as food and PPEs for the front liners, which Angkas will deliver to hospitals.
Mobility Management Company
Being in the business of electric mass mobility, GET (Go Electric Today) Philippines is solidly committed not just to building better vehicles, but better lives. When news of the crisis broke, GET Philippines knew it had to do its part to help through the provision of electric powered shuttle services to frontliners. The company offered its services to Pasig City, where two of its COMET vehicles are currently in use. Services operate twice daily, and front liners and approved personnel can embark and disembark at assigned stops. The current route goes from Pasig City Hall to Sheridan, passing by Rizal Medical Center then back to Pasig proper and Pasig City Hall. GET Philippines will also be deploying additional vehicles to other areas in the coming weeks.
“We have seen the incredible kindness and tenacity of the human spirit,” says GET Philippines Sustainable Transport Specialist Kyle Tinga. “Here in the Philippines and all over the world, people and organisations alike are working hard to keep everyone healthy and happy. We must carry this generosity and compassion forward into the future to help the planet get back on its feet.”
Dr Raul Destura
Microbiologist and Infectious Disease Expert
The director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, deputy executive director of the Philippine Genome Center, and consultant-director of the Molecular Diagnostic and Clinical Microbiology Laboratory of The Medical City has made noteworthy contributions to research and development in his field of expertise. His work puts emphasis on low-cost, low-technology driven diagnostic kits for infectious diseases, such as the Lab-in-a-Mug device, a faster and more affordable diagnostic kit for dengue.
“Before the end of December,” the doctor recalls, “there were already some observations of weird respiratory diseases reported in China. Then, the Chinese authorities released the whole genome sequence of the virus to the public, for everyone to be able to prepare. This triggered my confidence that my team can come up with a test kit. In the diagnostic world, if you know the genome sequence, you can design diagnostic tests.”
Destura assembled a team of scientists from the University of the Philippines National Institute of Health (UP-NIH) and the Philippine Genome Center to begin developing what would become the GenAmplifyTM COVID-19 rRT-PCR Detection Kit. Funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Philippine Council for Health, Research, and Development, work on the kit involved two weeks of laborious processes, with each step repeated from 40 up to 60 times to confirm effectiveness.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first granted the kit a Certificate of Exemption, permitting field testing with gene sequencing from 1-10 March. It was green lit for commercial use on 3 April, when the FDA issued a certificate of product registration following the submission of the necessary requirements. This kit can accommodate up to 120,000 tests, which employ a single step multiple detection system with a short one- to two-hour turnaround time, ensuring fast- er transmission of results. Prioritised for manufacturing are 1,300 test kits which will be distributed to several institutions across the country. The remaining kits will be sold by Manila HealthTek at 1,320 pesos per kit—much more affordable than majority of its foreign counterparts—making mass testing more accessible.
Life has come to a halt (at the time of writing) with the enhanced community quarantine and social distancing measures being enforced due to the rapid rise of coronavirus-related cases in the country.
At the front of the outbreak stand all the frontliners, real heroes who put their life at risk just to perform the sworn duty of their profession. While most of us are cooped up in the comfort of our homes, they work round the clock to help flatten the curve of this global pandemic.
There are the doctors and the nurses who try to save lives amid the most risky of conditions. Members of the media make sure correct information is disseminated. Policemen and the military try to enforce quarantine rules for the good of everybody. Government officials, both local and national, make sure communities are safe, becoming the citizens’ first line of assistance. Countless others go about every day, exercising their profession that make life more bearable for the many more whose only responsibility is to stay home.
To all of them go our collective gratitude. As Vice President Leni Robredo said in a letter: “To our health workers and frontliners, thank you very much. We salute you for serving our countrymen with your whole heart and courage.”
In partnership with Hizon’s catering and Manila House kitchen, Lizzie Zobel and Charlene and Johnny Escaler teamed up to spearhead an initiative called Project Food that helps feed the poor who are facing great difficulties during the government-imposed lockdown.
The initiative aims to provide 1,200 packed meals a day to residents of Barangay Pitogo and Barangay Southside. It has delivered 36,000 meals as of writing. In the span of a week, the initiative was able to raise 3.5 million pesos, plus in-kind donations of eggs, rice, and other food items.
Towns Foundation, Inc.
The organisation brings together a dynamic group of women who are transforming the lives of Filipinos through their skills, interests, and programmes. TOWNS Foundation, Inc began its donation drive and delivery service in mid March, sourcing out PPEs and other medical supplies to deliver to frontliners in need. The group reaches out to potential donors via its social media channels, which are regularly with statistics and photo documentation of the relief efforts. Ford Group Philippines and the Philippine Navy have aided in the delivery of supplies. As of 1 April, over 240,000 pieces of PPEs have been sent out to 298 hospitals across the country.
“What can we do to help?” This was top of the mind for Millie Reyes and Karla Reyes, the mother-daughter team who runs The Plaza Catering, when the quarantine measures set in. Almost as if on cue, Ros Juan of Commune Cafe reached out to Karla, asking for help in getting meals delivered to the frontliners at Makati Medical Center. Juan was also soliciting support for this initiative; her Facebook post quickly went viral, and many responded with the intent to help. Recognising that they would be able to help more people by pooling their resources, the group fused into the Frontline Feeders. The influx of assistance allowed them to expand operations to 10 other hospitals, as well as come up with monetary donations to purchase PPEs and other medical equipment (which is handled by Gang Badoy Capati of RockEd). The initiative continues to snowball as more volunteers come forward to help.
De La Salle University
Some schools have opened their doors to offer shelter to the homeless and frontliners. The campus of De La Salle University, for one, is a temporary sanctuary for the homeless in Manila, housing people on the second floor of the Enrique Razon Sports Center. Its sister university, De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB), also now houses displaced individuals of the community quarantine period and frontliners from the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) under its Project Safe Shelter, converting some of its classrooms into sleeping quarters. La Salle Green Hills (LSGH) has followed suit and welcomed the homeless and frontliners of The Medical City. The schools are accepting in-kind donations—food, medicine, health kits, linens, pillows, towels, disposable utensils, etc—to help them sustain their safe shelters.
Andrew and Kevin Tan
Alliance Global Group Inc and Megaworld Corporation
The power pair behind Alliance Global Group Inc (AGI) and property giant Megaworld Corporation, Andrew Tan and son Kevin, have thrown the weight of their companies behind the fight against the coronavirus. AGI, and subsidiaries Emperador and Megaworld, donated 1 million litres of disinfectant alcohol worth Php250-million to institutions and frontliners and P100-million to “Project Ugnayan” for food vouchers to about one million families in poor communities. Emperador converted its stock of 86 per cent alcohol into sanitising products that can be used in hospitals and clinics. Megaworld Corporation conducted massive disinfection in all its properties nationwide and waived the rent of its mall tenants during the quarantine period. It also deployed its Citylink buses to transport healthcare workers; donated P60-million to Philippine Red Cross for four COVID-19 test laboratories; and, with its foundation, distributed P3-million worth of food packs to the frontliners. The foundation also distributed washable face masks to several charity houses such as Cribs Foundation and Hospicio de San Jose. Megaworld Hotels distributed shower caps and dental kits to medical workers around the metro and Boracay. Resorts World Manila and its partner companies distributed P125-million worth of PPEs for medical frontliners and grocery bags to poor communities in Metro Manila. The group has also made P65-million donation to various LGUs and non-government organisations for pro- grammes related to the virus.
Headed by Lance Gokongwei
The son and successor of the late Filipino billionaire businessman and philanthropist John Gokongwei Jnr, together with his siblings, now runs The Gokongwei Group. Their foundation, the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation (GBF), has put up a PhP100-million fund to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. This will benefit national and local health workers on the frontlines and communities that were under the various businesses that the group operates. Its property arm, Robinsons Land Corporation (RLC), has also agreed to waive the rentals of its mall tenants during the Luzon-wide lockdown. Their food production unit, Universal Robina Corporation (URC), also donated a list of food products to the frontliners such as bottled water, cup noodles, crackers, and coffee to name a few.
MVP Group of Companies
Headed by Manny V. Pangilinan
The MVP Group of Companies—which includes PLDT, Smart, and Meralco—stands with the nation as it copes with the pandemic. Led by business magnate Manny V Pangilinan, the group is implementing a work- from-home scheme and assuring its employees with continued monthly salaries as well as early 13th-month pay for some. It has donated face masks, personal protective equipment (PPEs), and 14,000 litres of 70 per cent ethyl alcohol to frontliners and govern- ment-owned hospitals. It has also distributed over 1,000 grocery packs to help families of health workers and personnel of V Luna Hospital, and families of military officers manning the checkpoints in the city. Its service provider, PLDT, is continuing its services to provide internet access to all its customers to keep people connected and give them access to websites containing vital information on COVID-19. PLDT, has donated 30 service vehicles to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) frontliners. 17 of it will be assigned to AFP health services and the remaining will be de- ployed to other tasks force units. PLDT in partnership with the University of the Philippines Manila Philip- pine General Hospital (UP- PGH), has also launched a hotline service for its COVID-19 Bayanihan Operations Center, aside from its COVID-19 hotline with Smart and the Department of Health. Smart Communications has donated free SIMs and load cards to AFP frontliners and smartphones and loads to medical personnel of Philip- pine Government Hospital. Pangilinan’s Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) has waived the fees of its emergency towing services aside from providing free toll to all medical frontliners during the quarantine period. Customers of Meralco and Maynilad are also allowed to pay their bills at a later time due to the lockdown and are given a 30-day payment extension.
National Grid Corporation of the Philippines
Headed by Henry Sy Jr. and Robert Coyiuto Jr.
The Monte Oro Grid Resources Corp led by Henry Sy, Jr and the Calaca High Power Corp led by Robert Coyiuto, Jr, through the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), and its technical partner, State Grid Corporation of China, allocated Php1billion relief assistance for frontline healthcare workers in the fight against the coronavirus health crisis. PhP500 million were allocated for goods and medical equipment while the other half, for other COVID-19 response purposes. The two business giants are members of the consortium of the NGCP.
Founder, Jollibee Foods Corporation
The famous bee, Jollibee, first took care of its family. Through its chairman and founder Tony Tan-Caktiong, Jollibee Foods Corporation allocated PhP1billion as its emergency response fund amid the coronavirus pandemic. The fund will cover the wages as well as the 13th- month pay of its employees and partner employers. Its charitable arm, the Jollibee Group Foundation, has donated P220million worth of its food products—that include Jollibee, Chowking, Mang Inasal, Red Ribbon, Greenwich, Burger King, to name a few—that were distributed to frontliners and families in need during this health crisis.
Founder and Chairman, Golden Arches Development Corporation
McDonald’s Philippines has issued a PhP500-million response fund to aid its employees and communities. The fund covers the salaries of restaurant managers and crew members during the community lockdown, a pay package, and care kits to employees who are working in selected areas during the enhanced quarantine to serve the community. The company has also pledged to distribute 50,000 meals to frontliners such as medical workers, LGU workers, NGO volunteers, and the marginalised sector through its McDo Kindness Kitchen.
President, San Miguel Corporation
San Miguel Corporation (SMC) President Ramon Ang has made major contributions to the coronavirus relief efforts. The diversified conglomerate has distributed alcohol to hospitals and local government units for free. SMC has also donated PhP500-million worth of personal protective equipment (PPEs) for medical frontliners and P100-million worth of food to communities in Metro Manila and Luzon. The magnate himself has made an additional personal donation of P100-million to help combat the pandemic. Ang, together with his family, also donated another P100 million to the “Project Ugnayan” initiative to help poor families that were displaced by the lock- down. The company has now surpassed P1.147 billion worth of aid.
Led by Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and Fernando Zobel
Ayala Corporation, led by brothers Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and Fernando Zobel de Ayala, sets the bar high for corporate support, contributing a PhP5.5-billion response package to the COVID-19 crisis in the country. The package comprises monetary and in-kind donations, employee support such as wages, bonuses, leave conversions, loan deferments, and waiving the rent for tenants of its shopping malls during the crisis.The corporation has also distributed in-kind donations including N95 masks, alcohol, PPEs, ultrasound machines, ventilators, and mobile x-rays to key hospitals and health institutions in the metro as well as to its partner institutions outside the city through its Ayala Healthcare Holdings under Ayala Foundation. The Philip- pine General Hospital (PGH), Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM), Lung Center of the Philippines, and Philippine Heart Center, were among its recipients.
Ricky Razon Jr.
Chairman, International Container Terminal Services
The chairman of the country’s leading terminal operator International Container Terminal Services (ICTSI), port magnate Ricky Razon, has called on his construction firm Prime BMD to provide aid to the country’s COVID-19 task force. The firm has temporarily transformed Rizal Memorial Sports Complex into a COVID-19 facility for patients and health workers as some hospitals in the Metro are already in full capacity. The port and casino magnate’s Bloombery Cultural Foundation, Inc funded and oversaw phases 1 and 2 of the project comprising 224 cubicles, two nurse stations, and several common areas. Razon’s group of companies has also donated around Php500-million worth of medical supplies alone to better equip health workers and frontliners in the country.
The man behind successful brand Bench, Ben Chan, and his Suyen Corporation has set up a team to support frontliners such as health workers, policemen, security guards, and janitors. They distribute supplies of hand sanitisers and alcohol to health institutions, government offices, LGUs, military camps, and Malacañang. Bench also joined top businesses in the country to raise PhP1.5 billion to help feed the poor communities in Metro Manila.
Read also: The Curious Case of Ben Chan
CEO, Victor Consunji Development Corporation
Real-estate developer Victor Consunji Development Corporation (VCDC) has made a meaningful donation of Php10 million for coronavirus relief to help provide frontline healthcare workers with certified and medical grade personal protective equipment (PPEs). The company has also launched a fundraising drive, The VCDC Frontliner and Workforce Fund, to further support frontliners and health institutions such as Philippine General Hospital, Philippine Lung Centre, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, and Dr Jose Rodriguez Hospital. “As of today, a total of P19.4 million has been raised, P17million of that donated by VCDC and the rest from private donations such as family and friends,” a group report says.
Mara Sy Coson
The granddaughter of the late mall magnate Henry Sy Sr of SM Group, Mara Sy Coson, heads the family corporation’s team in charge of distributing medical equipment, PPEs, test kits, and ventilators nationwide. Her efforts have helped over 50 hospitals and groups such as TOWNS, Xavier School Alumni Association, and the PAL PNP-AVSEGroup. This young heiress’ team has also provided the necessary logistics and warehousing of supplies and equipment.
Belo Medical Group
Dermatology and Surgical Center
Beauty giant Belo Medical Group is actively showing its support to help the country through its multiple contributions. The company owned by doctor to the stars, Dr Vicki Belo, has gathered all its remaining personal protective equipment (PPEs) and medical supplies worth Php3 million to donate and distribute to various hospitals and health institutions in the city. The group has also pledged to provide daily meals to 21 hospitals and two LGUs (to date have sent out 25,000 meals) until the quarantine period is lifted. It is also providing a no-work, with-pay scheme to all its employees and early release of employees’ 13th-month pay during the current work suspension because of COVID-19. The company has also urged other beauty and wellness centres to do the same in distributing their remaining PPEs and medical supplies. The group has also helped fund 8,000 testing kits and have helped fabricated intubation cubes that were sent out to 10 under-equipped provincial hospitals. In addition, Belo’s two daughters, Scarlet Snow and Cristalle, did their part in helping during the crisis. Scarlet Snow, through her social media account and with the help of her followers, raised over P1-million to help purchase additional PPEs. While Cristalle, who gave birth to her first child Sienna Victoria last 31 March, has sent out 31 care packages to neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) babies to commemorate the special day of her newborn.
The Aivee Clinic
When President Rodrigo Duterte implemented the enhanced community lockdown, husband-and- wife team Drs Z and Aivee Teo of Aivee Group decided to close all their clinics shortly after. “Bayanihan is something that resonates with us, which is why we refocussed our energy and manpower to helping hospitals and our frontliners,” they shared. “During this pandemic, our team and clients were eager to help and donate time, effort, and resources. This is the reason we can be of service to many. Our joint efforts have helped us mobilise and send aid as early as 16 March.” The Aivee team provided aid by packing sanitisers, soaps, and other PPEs to be given out to hospitals in the city. Through its Aivee Café, the group has also stepped up to distribute meals to frontliners in over 50 health institutions.
Home Furnishing Company
Luxury home furnishing company Kuysen supported the initiative of Architect William Ti of WTA Architecture and Design Studio and his industry friends in designing and constructing emergency quarantine facilities for persons under investigation (PUIs). Kuysen distributed and donated finishing materials such as toilets, sinks, and faucets to around 60 quarantine facilities, which can each accommodate 15 beds and come with features such as sanitation and disinfection areas, a testing box, and a nurse’s lounge. “We believe that it is our duty to help in times of need and Kuysen is in solidarity with the Filipino people in the fight against this disease,” says Jensen Go, president of Kuysen.
As of writing, the daily concert fundraiser organised by National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab has raised over 52 million pesos for the benefit of the communities that were hard-hit by the Luzon-wide lockdown.
Over 80 artists have performed in the series, including Tony Award winner Lea Salonga, whose one-hour performance amassed a bit under two million pesos. The Blue and Green Fund, spearheaded by the De La Salle Brothers and the Society of Jesuits via the alumni of De La Salle University and Ateneo de Manila, donated 10.5 million pesos. Funds will be used to procure food packs, which are to be distributed to poor families in inner-city pockets.
Philippine Red Cross
Philippine Red Cross tapped into technology to help combat the coronavirus pandemic in the country with the launch of its mobile application called RC143. The app uses wireless, geo- location, and sensory capabilities, allowing Red Cross to trace contact events between people. The app will also help its users to navigate away from high-risk areas and allow them to be notified if they had any contact (direct and indirect) with a COVID-19 infected person or are asymptomatic. It also allows users to contact Red Cross directly regarding questions and concerns about the virus. The app is available to users with an active Philippine mobile number and is downloadable for free on Google PlayStore. It currently works for Android users (version 6.0 and above) and is expected to be on iOS as well. Philippine Red Cross is currently working in cooperation with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to deploy the app to its communication and computing resources.
Lockdown Cinema Club
Carl Chavez was in the process of putting together an online catalogue of films by Southeast Asian directors when news of the lockdown hit. A director himself, Chavez knew that such circumstances would have a major impact on the livelihoods of freelance workers in the industry due to the suspension of filming projects. Most of them are in a no-work, no-pay situation. He, together with producer Alemberg Ang, cinematographer Mackie Galvez, and producer-actress Camille Aragona decided to band together with other directors and producers to launch a watch-what-you-can- pay-what-you-can initiative. Said Chavez, “We are offering these films to people who are on lockdown to watch for free in the safety of their own homes. While doing so, we are inviting them to give what they can so they have flexibility with their donations. Charity should not come with pressure.” It has expanded its offerings to include Q&A sessions with esteemed directors such as Jerrold Tarog and Matthew Libatique, where viewers are encouraged to participate and donate. Lockdown Cinema Club has raised close to four million pesos, with hundreds of beneficiaries receiving Php2,000 in financial assistance. The group has partnered with organisations such as .giff, Cinema One, and ABS-CBN Film Restoration Project to widen its reach.