(photos credit to: Ram Silva & JP Penol)

While the rest of the country is in an uproar because of the delays in medical equipment, testing kits & relief goods to combat the COVID-19 crisis, Ilonggos step up their battle plan by protecting and helping one another.

Even before the national government implemented flight suspension on international carriers, Gov. Toto Defensor and Mayor Jerry Trenas sent a letter to the management of Cebu Pacific to halt direct flights from Hong Kong and Singapore. The preemptive measure was beneficial in controlling the transmission of the virus from overseas, given the high volume of Ilonggo OFWs from these Covid-hit countries.

The Province of Iloilo and Iloilo City government did not wait for the aid coming from Imperial Manila. They immediately mobilized their local funds and distributed relief goods to respective barangays. Community kitchens were opened so that not a single Ilonggo goes to sleep hungry. People from Iloilo felt secured. I haven’t seen a single complaint in social media about their local leaders, but rather all praises and support.

When people feel secure, they’re not afraid, they don’t panic, they begin to feel the need to look after each other. This is probably the reason why many ordinary Ilonggos have taken the challenge to do their part in helping the community. OFWs from the United States and other countries despite being greatly affected by the crisis never failed to send their help. On top of that, millions of donations coming from Ilonggo businessmen poured out like heavy rain; from testing kits, masks, PPEs, food supplies, services, and among others. A group of young designers responded with a heart to serve by making special PPEs for hospital frontliners that come in different relevant themes; such as the Money Heist inspired PPE on the photo, which made the gesture even more personal.

Iloilo today is dubbed by many as the “Wakanda of the Philippines” for being a stronghold in this war against COVID-19. Some netizens call it “another country outside the Philippines”. At times like this, it is inspiring to see how one community has united to fight a common invisible, dreadful enemy. Just as people from Iloilo fondly cry: “Bato Iloilo!”.

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