Covid 19 Sparks Filipino Generosity

September 4th, 2020 · No Comments

By Benjie de Ubago

We went to sleep one night and woke up in a parallel universe stricken with the corona virus. And it had nothing to do with crowns on heads!  It was a health crisis – a pandemic of global proportions that knew no boundaries nor did the virus discriminate.  No amount of planning could have prepared us for this. Slowly the domino effect took effect as one by one, shops were closed, and businesses were shut down. Shutdown – lockdown became the norm.  Suddenly, we were on self-imposed locked downs – locked up from the world.  It was an unfamiliar world, one which we never imagined. Isolate – isolate and introverts found a little  bliss.  People were dropping like flies.  The whole world was crying for help!  In the abyss of isolation, some cried for help.

Australia, is one of the luckier countries with numbers kept at an all time low. The Australian government jumped to action to resuscitate and provide aid for their citizens.  The medical front liners braved the elements and exposed themselves to the invisible enemy. However almost forgotten were thousands of Filipino students and overseas workers who were out on a limb, on survival mode at best.  For them, there were no saving graces – no government entitlements. Not to mention the Pinoy crews aboard cruise liners were stuck in limbo as government officials scrambled to facilitate repatriation.

“It’s unfathomable and absolutely overwhelming” said one volunteer.  For those who were lucky enough to have kept their jobs had the ethical dilemma of who  to help.  “Who and how can you help?”  Everybody is affected.  Anyone with a little something to help had to think of themselves first as the future remained uncertain; second their extended families; thirdly, relatives from the Philippines were also begging for help.  Limited movement and imposed lockdown regulations compounded the logistic problems of providing assistance.  Some risked the outdoors elements to collect and distribute relief goods with masks on and keeping the prescribed distance.  Giving is easy for those who have, but at times like these when everybody is affected in one way or another, genuine altruistic attitudes shined.

Demand was at an all time high, but supplies were at an all time low as production and deliveries also came to a halt.  And those who gave without being asked should be acknowledged for their generosity.  Here are some of them: 

  • HANDOG PINOY – headed by Mao de Vera along with the HaPi team (Ferdi, Dennis, Atoy, Cora, Tess and Marivic) who were quick to respond and distributed relief goods and gift cards on weekends to families with children. 
  • AUSTRALIAN PHILIPPINE STUDENTS ASSOCIATION (APSA) –  Vida Aquino took to the Go fund Me page to help out students. With the assistance of other organizations like FILSPARC  –  BICOL  and PCC –NSW.
  • The collaborating efforts of Damayan/Migrante/PACSI who have taken food collections and distributed them to 457 visa holders and students.
  • APCO under the leadership of Cora Paras.
  • Filipino Australian and Multicultural Community Association (FAMCA) headed by Grace Liston.
  • Australian Philippine Business Council (APBC) in collaboration with Gawad Kalinga and University students have also come to the aid of students with a $25,000 donation from companies.

To the many retail outlets who shared whatever they could – Panlasang Pinoy, Mama Lor, and Burger Mate who have even  opened their doors for free meals.

Filipino organizations in all States were mobilized.  In Adelaide, Aida Garcia headed her team from Filipina South Australia and hand out goods to students and overseas workers who have lost their jobs.

Likewise, to the many unnamed individuals who shared the contents of their pantries and gave whatever they could, your kindness will long be remembered. (Note:  We regret not having a full list of the givers. However, please advise and we’d be happy to add your organization.)

Who knows what tomorrow will bring but hope still lingers. In these times of social distancing, one thing is for certain – we’re not distanced from each other and the bayanihan spirit thrives.


September 4, 2020

Tags: Features