Inquirer Super

Artwork by Carlo Vergara

50 ways people are making a difference during the pandemic

By Pam Pastor
03/28/20 5:05 PM

One of the most beautiful things about Filipinos is they always, always step up in the midst of a crisis. Despite the quarantine, people have been finding ways to help their fellow citizens. This outbreak has proven that no virus is strong enough to kill the spirit of bayanihan in the Philippines. 

Elsewhere in the world, acts of generosity abound as well, like beacons of light during this time of darkness. 

Here are fifty things people are doing here and abroad to make a difference during the COVID-19 pandemic. And you can make a difference too.

They’re laying their lives on the line.

Health workers are the soldiers in this war against COVID-19. It hasn’t been easy for them, with the lack of public transportation, personal protective equipment running out, and inconsiderate buffoons breaking protocol, and yet they persist, despite the risks, devoting their time and energy to taking care of patients in hospitals that are packed to capacity. We salute them.

They still go to work.

The supermarket people, the cashiers, the baggers, the bank tellers, the pharmacists, the men and women at gas stations, the shuttle drivers, the security guards and many others still leave their homes day after day, often with great difficulty, with many having no choice but to walk to work, to give the rest of us access to essentials and a semblance of normalcy.

They’re feeding the front-liners.

There are so many of them it would be impossible to list them all. And that’s a beautiful thing. There’s #FrontlineFeedersPH, headed by Rock Ed Philippines founder Gang Badoy Capati, Commune CEO Ros Juan, Dr. Gia Sison and Candy Gatmaitan Bernardo, which has a core group that’s now grown to about 20 people and countless other volunteers who have been feeding thousands of health workers each day. “You were the miracle we needed,” health workers at FEU’s Dr. Nicanor Reyes Medical Foundation Medical Center posted on a particularly difficult day.

There are other groups, individuals and so many restaurants like Jollibee Food Corporation which is donating 100 million worth of food for health workers. There’s also Yabu, Binalot, Rue Bourbon, Franco’s Friends, Mimi & Bros, PAUL, Marugame Philippines, Kanto Freestyle Breakfast, McDonald’s and more. We wish we can mention them all. What they’re providing is more than just food—it’s fuel for our front-liners.

They’re giving free coffee to health workers.

Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf has pledged free coffee for Asian Hospital and Medical Center employees until the end of the month.

They’re feeding the hungry.

Chef Jose Andres has turned eight of his restaurants in New York and Washington D.C. into gourmet soup kitchens for people struggling during the pandemic. Here in the Philippines Covid19 Food Drive launched an Adopt a Barangay on Community Lockdown to help affected families in Manila and Taguig. Actress Pokwang cooked for checkpoint officers. There’s also Project: Pakainin and Buong Barangay.

They’re taking care of their employees.

Companies are taking a hit and yet many of them have made sure that their employees are secure and are paid during the quarantine period. One great example is the Ayala Group which adopted a COVID-19 emergency response package of P2.4 billion that consists of wages, bonuses, leave conversions and loan deferments for the extended workforce of their partner employers. P600 million was allotted for the salary continuance of displaced workers from construction sites, shuttered malls and retail spaces of Makati Development Corporation and the Ayala Malls group. Ayala’s own employees have a salary continuance and financial support and their employee loan payments have also been postponed.

Manny Pangilinan announced advanced 13th month pay for the employees of PLDT, Smart and Meralco, continuation of their salaries and benefits, their vacation and sick leaves will be untouched and employees will also be provided with vitamins and maintenance medicines.  A huge chunk of the P500 million McDonald’s Covid-19 response fund will go to its employees. Belo Medical Group has committed to giving their employees full pay and full benefits despite the work suspension.

Many other companies have released their employees’ 13th month pay as well to ease their burden. In the U.S., companies Amazon, Target and Walmart raised the wages of their workers for the duration of the quarantine.

They’re lending health workers their bikes.

Life Cycles PH and its generous donors and volunteers have been providing doctors, nurses and other essential workers with bikes so they can get to work despite the lockdown.


They’re lending health workers their cars.

Yes, for real. If you can trust them with your life, you can trust them with your car. One funny post read, “Kung wala akong kaibigan na gumustong humiram ng karumba ko, pwedeng hindi ko na kaibigan. Basta doktor na pogi at may abs. Hindi naman ako mapili. #LandiSaGitnangKrisis Chos!

They’re driving health workers to work.

#RockEdCarpool has been organizing this while some individuals do it on their own as well. JAC Liner has provided free shuttle services for health workers as well.

They’ve opened their doors to health workers so they won’t have to travel far to go to work.

“I have 2 empty studio units in BGC that I offer to any health workers/front-liners stationed near or in BGC who may need temporary accommodation. This is free of charge,” wrote Luigene Yanoria on Facebook. And on March 25, health workers from nearby hospitals had moved in. Rock Ed’s #RockEdHousingHealth project has been doing this as well, giving shelter to nurses from the Philippine General Hospital and Makati Medical Center in condo units lent by different owners. People with empty rental units or AirBNB hosts may contact Gang Badoy Capati or Gia Baquiran Sison if they want to offer their units. Hotels have provided rooms for health workers to sleep in too. 

They’re donating personal protective equipment.

Individuals, companies and organizations have been doing this. There’s Rock Ed, there’s also Belo Medical Group which donated all the remaining stocks of PPEs they had in their clinic to different hospitals with the promise to donate more when remaining shipments arrive.

They head out to bring you news.

And we’re not just saying this because we work for a newspaper. We say this about all the brave men and women of the media, the reporters, the photographers, the cameramen, the ones deemed part of the skeleton staff who couldn’t work from home even if they wanted to. They do this to keep you updated, to be your eyes and ears at a time when credible news is so crucial, when the correct information can save lives.

They’re helping those who can’t make a living.

The Lopez Group donated P100 million to kick off Pantawid ng Pag-Ibig, a fundraising effort for Kapamilyas who cannot earn money during the quarantine period.

They’re reallocating their funds.

Ligo Sardines has reallocated their advertising budget for the year to give food and supplies to affected families and communities, assist health workers and equip them with PPE. Coca-Cola is doing the same thing.

They’re extending the due dates of bills.

With people’s incomes taking a hit because of the lockdown, banks and utility companies have shown mercy and extended their payment deadlines. It’s a list that includes Meralco, Smart, Sun Postpaid, PLDT Home, PLDT Enterprise, Cignal, Globe, Sky, Maynilad, BDO, BPI, Security Bank, UnionBank, EastWest Bank, RCBC, Metrobank, Robinsons Bank, PSBank and CIMB. 

They’re taking care of security guards.

Security guards are among those who do not have the luxury of working at home. They have no choice but to go out to work, with some of them staying indefinitely because there’s no public transportation. Cathy Sanchez Babao wrote about how neighbors in Rockwell pooled funds to give their building guards food. Others have been making sure guards have access to masks and alcohol as a way of protecting them from exposure to the virus. Ge Madriaga Mapa wrote about a middle-aged woman who gave masks to a bank teller and guard who weren’t wearing any.

They’re waiving rental fees.

To give businesses relief, Ayala Malls is providing a rent-free period for malls that are not operating during the quarantine period. SM Supermalls is waiving the rental fees of all tenants from March 16 to April 14. They’re hoping this would mean their tenants can give their employees assistance during the quarantine. Robinsons Land Corp. is doing the same thing. It’s not just big companies that are doing this. Even individual landlords have waived the rental fees of people’s apartments in these uncertain times. Bless your kind, kind souls.

They’re using art to inspire.

Carlo Vergara, the brilliant artist behind Zsazsa Zaturnnah, creative an absolutely beautiful artwork inspired by the health workers fighting COVID-19. (see above) In it he makes them look like superheroes in a battle–and that’s exactly what they are.

They’re offering medical consultations over the internet.

With people avoiding going out and going near hospitals, some doctors are offering to do free consultations online.

They’re using science.

Dr. Raul Destura and his UP-NIH team developed a COVID-19 test kit that’s affordable and fast.

They’re holding online dance parties.

Ben Platt’s #Quarantunes was fun.

They’re holding concerts at home to entertain people.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B92JWkMFBmI/

Coldplay’s Chris Martin did it and so did John Legend.

They’re teaching art lessons.

Robert Alejandro has been holding free drawing classes for kids and adults on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/kuya.robert). The next class, which is for adults will be on March 30, 2 p.m.

They’re donating money.

Metrobank and GT Capital Holdings Group have pledged over P200 million in response to the COVID-19 crisis. SM Foundation is donating P100 million to hospitals. Individuals have been making donations as well to different NGOs that have been helping front-liners and those in need.

They’re using their brewery and distillery to make alcohol.

Liquor producers big and small have been making more alcohol to make sure the country has enough disinfectant. Wicked Ales & Spirits used their brewery to make Spray for Manila which they handed out to customers and to hospitals while San Miguel has been producing alcohol round-the-clock and has donate at least 30,000 liters of 70-percent ethyl alcohol to hospitals, local government units, law enforcement agencies, the Department of Health and other institutions.

They let the penguins roam.

Okay, this one’s weird but hear us out. The Chicago Shedd Aquarium was closed so they let the penguins roam around and see the other animals. Watching the little guys waddle around was a ray of sunshine during the first week of quarantine. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-BEmyHjJPf/

They’ve designed a COVID-19 sanitation tent.

SaniTents PH, which is made up of volunteers from UP Diliman College of Fine Arts, College of Science and College of Engineering, have created a design for a sanitation tent that they will give to LGUs for free.

They’re helping people with their bills.

Knowing the financial strain the pandemic and the quarantine can cause, Patti Malay offered to pay a couple of bills for other people. What she did set off a chain reaction and inspired other people to donate as well.

They’re sharing alcohol. With alcohol running out in many places and stores imposing a limit on the amount you can buy, it’s become precious commodity. There’s a photo on reddit of someone in a car along Ortigas Extension spraying alcohol onto the hands of a man in a jeep. Some do it on a bigger scale, like Dr. Andrew L. Tan’s Alliance Global Group which will donate 1 million liters of alcohol to help fight the outbreak.

They’re teaching piano lessons.

Pianist, composer and activist Chloe Flower (you saw her badass piano-playing skills when she performed with Cardi B at the Grammys last year) has been giving free piano lessons on her Youtube channel www.youtube.com/ChloeFlower. “While the entire world is holed up, there’s really no better time to learn an instrument.” In one video, she teaches beginners how to play Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/B9xkABMgi8G/

They’re supporting other artists.

@artistsupportpledge, an initiative in the UK, aims to get artists to help other artists who are struggling during the quarantine. 

They’re actually doing their jobs.

Some people complain about the praise that’s being heaped on Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto. They ask: why praise someone who’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing? Because not all politicians have been doing what they’re supposed to be doing—serving the country. So yeah, we will continue to praise those who are actually doing their jobs and are doing it damn well.

They’re using their fame for good.

Actress Bela Padilla raised P3.3 million for street vendors affected by the quarantine.

Actress Maine Mendoza has been giving cash to people who currently couldn’t work because of the quarantine.

Angel Locsin raised over P900,000 to be used for air-conditioned tents so hospitals can accommodate more patients.

They’re giving away their work for free.

Abbey Sy is letting people access the ABC Toolkit for free until March 31. Visit Abbeysydigital.store to download it. Neil Gaiman’s website has plenty of offerings to keep you busy too.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B93UJzgHkSJ/

They’re making masks.

Swimsuit designer Domz Ramos made face masks that he handed out to hospitals and to nuns.  

They’re making face shields.

Moms are doing it with their kids at home. The artists and craftsmen of Subida, a company that usually produces native crafts, have also been producing face shields.

They’re making protective suits.

Mich Dulce and other designers have formed the Manila Protective Gear Sewing Club which will make protective suits for front-liners.

They’re making aerosol boxes.

Jao Achie, who works in the acrylic fabrication industry, responded to a doctor’s pleas for someone to make aerosol boxes that can protect health workers from exposure to droplets when they intubate COVID-19 patients. His prototype has been tested for final modifications and he and his wife are working on getting more materials and pledges so they can make more boxes for more hospitals.

Printlink Media Advertising is doing the same thing and they are looking for more acrylic sheets.

They’ve provided shelter for the homeless.

Popburri transformed their store into a homeless shelter. De La Salle University and the College of St. Benilde opened their doors to the homeless as well.

They are making it easy for other people to help.

MVP Rewards makes it easy to help. Use mvprewards.ph or the MVP Rewards app and your donation will be used to send care packs to the families of front-line health workers, checkpoint officers, communities in need and emergency response teams. Want to donate meals to front-liners but don’t know how? Go to www.cloudeats.ph. Your good deed is just a few clicks away.

They’re using their talent to raise money.

To raise funds, Ryan Cayabyab launched a free concert series featuring different artists. Ben&Ben held an online showcase too on March 27 to launch puhon.ph where people can contribute to the ongoing efforts.

They’re giving their attention.

Actress Jennifer Garner posted on Instagram, “This time of year has so many people, from preschoolers to professionals, working their tails off to perform. And now—the games, the meets, the recitals, the productions, big and small—are shut down. Well, the show must go on, people!!! Show us what you’ve been working on and we will show it to the world.” She launched the hashtag #heyjenlookatme. “Because I want to see,” she wrote. She and actress Amy Adams also launched Save With Stories to raise money for Save the Children and No Kid Hungry.

They’re focusing on people’s mental health.

In these uncertain times, caring for one’s mental health is so important and groups like Mental Health PH realize this. The group has launched the #RecoverTogether initiative. Some people are also offering free online counselling. UP Diliman’s Psychological Services is offering free tele-psychotherapy to health workers.

They’re raising money to buy testing kits.

Art fair and auction house Art Rocks raised over P10 million to be spent on buying 10,000 testing kits to be donated to hospitals.

They’re building a community.

This pandemic will end #BounceBackPH wants us to be ready for it. #BounceBackPh (which you can find on Facebook) is a mix of entrepreneurs, freelancers, professionals and other Filipinos who want to help out, give each other advice and support the front-liners during the crisis.

They’re offering creativity workshops.

The Philippine Educational Theater Association is offering different workshops during the quarantine period—creative moment, music exploration for kids and more.

They’re finding ways for people to earn.

Angkas launched Angkas Food as a chance for their riders to make some money at a time when there are no passengers. When you order, the delivery fee and commission all go to the Angkas driver. We like that.

They’re using their tech knowledge.

Martin Gomez and his former students from Xavier have created Dashboard Philippines which provides you with essential data during the quarantine period. The site gives you info on free shuttle routes, checkpoints, gas stations, groceries, banks and more. They’re looking for tech guys who want to join the dashboardphilippines.com team.

They’re thinking of pets and their humans.

Teena Ramos worked on a map (https://tinyurl.com/openvetmap) that shows pet owners vet clinics that are currently in operation. Super important info for us pet lovers. 

They’re staying at home.

After all that, this one sounds pretty simple, right?


Know about other ways people have been making a positive impact during the COVID-19 outbreak? Email super@inquirer.com.ph or reach out to us on Facebook (http://facebook.com/inquirersuper).