Bayanihan culture is the Filipino art of working together to attain a common goal and make any job easier. This community spirit has been shown traditionally by helping a neighbor who is relocating; traditional houses called Bahay Kubo or nipa hut are lifted and carried with the help of volunteers in the neighborhood. This trait of community support recurs whenever a neighbor is in need, especially in times of unfortunate events and disaster.
Due to modern advancement, Filipino house structures and lifestyle have been refashioned, slowly erasing this traditional societal cooperation. In the age of COVID-19, the Bayanihan spirit ignites again as Filipinos have seen their fellowmen in need. Ordinary individuals have risen up to volunteer and assist those who are badly affected by the crisis. Physical distancing, and being confined at home did not stop Filipinos to prove that Bayanihan culture is still at the core of every Filipino. Here are some expressions of Bayanihan amid the COVID-19 crisis.
1. Kids create homemade cards for COVID-19 patients
Filipinos have very tight family relations, and emphasize with COVID-19 patients in the hospital and currently isolated from their loved ones. Since kids have a way of effortlessly cheering up adults, Dr. Nicole Perreras from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa, Philippines has asked children to create hand-made “Get Well Soon” cards. These can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. The team behind the initiative will then print the cards and distribute them by putting them on patients’ meal trays.
2. The letter project for medical front liners and patients
Filipinos have been sending words of comfort to patients and front liners through handwritten letters. Each person can send as many as they can and can opt to remain anonymous. The letters can be sent through email and the group behind this project will forward it to their hospital contacts and will be given to front liners and their patients. For online dissemination, the team will also be posting the handwritten letters on their Facebook page. This pursuit is organized by Arellano Law Handwriting Advocates.
3. Home-confined condo residents pay tribute to medical front-liners
Even under home confinement, residents of La Verti Residences condominium in Pasay united to express their support for health workers in the nearby Adventist Medical Center Manila. The doctors, nurses, and medical staff were asked to go to the hospital’s facade, and the residents went to their balconies and held a noise barrage. The residents cheered, whistled, banged some pots and pans, and even waved some clothes. They also clapped in unison and hanged a big thank you banner. The teary-eyed medical front-liners clapped three times and shouted “Maraming Salamat Po” (Thank you) altogether as a response to the residents’ gesture.
4. A community sews face mask while in isolation
In remote places in the Philippines, medical equipment is not readily available. Marie Grace Molina, a resident of Bato town in the province of Catanduanes, initiated a community project when she observed that alcohol and masks were out of stock, and buying it online can be too expensive. Since many of the locals are having difficulty purchasing protective face masks, Molina invited her relatives and friends through Facebook to help to make at least 10,000 washable face masks. Molina’s friends and other villagers joined and sewed the masks for free while under home quarantine. She goes to volunteers’ houses when she’s been texted that the masks are ready for pickup. These face masks are distributed to the sick and the elderly in their town and nearby villages.
5. Doctors offer free COVID 19 online consultation
To enable Filipinos to have easier access to medical experts while under community quarantine, a group of doctors launched an online consultation. The team is called Lung Center COVID Ask Force and is composed of a diverse group of doctors from different fields from different institutions in different parts of the Philippines. Around 700 volunteer doctors have joined to give free COVID-19 consultation online. Since most Filipinos have Facebook accounts, the group agreed that a Facebook page would be the best platform to communicate with the people and make their service reachable. Filipinos of all ages and social standing have become the patients of the online consultation.
6. Facebook live concert to support the urban poor
Amidst the virus crisis, different local musical artists used their talents to entertain Filipinos as well as encourage them to donate to various funds for COVID-19 response and relief efforts. The fundraising concert series called ‘Bayanihan Musikahan‘ was launched by Philippine’s National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab with the help of Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP). The nightly online concert highlights the best of original Filipino music via Facebook, YouTube, and other streaming channels. Donations are used to purchase nutritious food and medical and health supplies to be given to the urban poor of Metro Manila. Also, some are used to create quarantine spaces to avoid community spread. Different famous artists have participated including the international musical theater actress and singer Lea Salonga.
7. Artists give away commissioned artworks in exchange for donations to COVID-19 front-liners
One of the world’s top social media users is Filipinos, hence a social media movement #ArtForMedPH was initiated to do online art for a cause. Artworks can be expensive in the Philippines, but this season, artists give away commissioned artworks in exchange for donations to COVID-19 front liners and the most affected sectors. Artists can join by using the hashtag and posting samples of their artwork. Meanwhile, those who are interested can choose an artist they would like to commission and donate the minimum amount depending on the artwork requested to one or more of the officially recognized recipients. The #ArtForMedPh thread started on Twitter on March 15, 2020, and since then many artists have joined the fund drive initiative.
8. Order hero to save food delivery riders
A public Facebook group Order Hero was created to save the efforts and money of riders whose original clients canceled on them. Filipinos’ “pakikiramay” (empathy) was triggered after a picture of a tired Grab Food delivery guy went viral where it was shown that he ended up eating the food he was supposed to deliver when the customer canceled his order. Through the page, delivery riders can post their canceled food orders for anyone in the group to buy. The group is responsible for the trending tag #NoToCancelledOrders.The group has grown fast and now has over 3,000 members.
9. Donate bikes to front-liners
Despite the lockdown, front-liners still need to get to work to ensure that their service is still available for Filipinos. Since public transport is suspended and many of these workers don’t have cars, their only alternative is to walk. A local group called Lifecycles PH encourages Filipinos to donate or lend their bikes, to be used by front-liners. This will aid in ensuring that front liners have something to use for transportation as well as allow them to practice physical distancing. The team has paired up with hospitals, groceries, drugstores, and LGUs to help their front-liners get to work.
10. Share shelter for medical teams
Airbnb owners and condo lessors are requested to lend empty condo units near hospitals for medical teams who live outside the Metro. A medical team with members that live far from the hospital will be matched to a particular accommodation. To call action to Filipinos, Therese “Gang” Badoy Capati of RockEd Philippines posted on her twitter account about the initiated project. Currently, some Filipinos generously lent their unit and sheltered PGH Manila and MMC nurses in Makati.
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