It’s been eight months since the quarantine began and the lives of people have drastically changed. While some have managed to ease into a new normal life at home, others are still out there risking their own lives to either save other people or make life much more comfortable for those who are staying at home.
In medical institutions under the MVP Group’s Metro Pacific Hospital Holdings, staff under the COVID-19 crisis teams run the risk of contracting the dreaded disease themselves. While the hospitals take every possible precaution to shield its healthcare workers from the virus—including the appropriate PPEs (personal protective equipment), stringent hospital safety measures, and meticulous airflow management—the frontliners still have a non-zero chance of infection.
Staff nurses Roselle Gale Arranz of the Manila Doctors Hospital and Glyza Cris Iguban of St. Elizabeth Hospital in General Santos City are among the many brave men and women in the medical field who have unfortunately contracted COVID-19 in the line of duty. Roselle shares her fears and frustrations when she found out about her COVID-positive status, “Naiyak ako, siyempre. Inisip ko: All this time, nag-aalaga ako ng may sakit, pero ngayong ako na ang may sakit, mag-isa lang ako.”
“Natakot din akong bumalik sa work. Ang hirap na nga maging nurse, tapos baka ikaw pa yung maging dahilan kung bakit magkakasakit ang mga mahal mo sa buhay. Pero pangako ko po ito sa Diyos. Ang sabi ko sa kanya bago mag-test sa nursing, kung pumasa ako, ibig sabihin nun, tinatawag niya ako. Alam kong mahirap maging nurse. Maraming sakripisyo: katawan ko, pagod ko, magkakasakit ako. Sa abroad lang kami magkakapera. Pero iniisip ko, ito na talaga ang way ko para mag-serve sa kanya. Kaya andito pa rin ako.”
The harrowing experience, however, only strengthened Glyza’s faith and even renewed her passion for her work that makes a huge impact on many patients. “Ngayon, mas marunong na ‘kong tumulong sa COVID patients. Halimbawa, malaking bagay sa kanila ang may makakausap. Kasi kung ikaw lang mag-isa, ang dami mong iniisip. Depression. Nakaka-mental stress siya, so pag nagpasok kami sa mga patient namin, always tinatanong namin kung kumusta sila. Sasabihan namin sila na dapat lumaban. Dapat uuwi.”
Meanwhile, due to the increased demand in network connections at home, engineers of PLDT-Smart had to work double time amidst the strict health protocols during the quarantine to ensure that customers still get the service they deserve. Especially after the series of typhoons that hit the country recently, which made the already inconvenient situation even worse, two PLDT-Smart engineers resolutely flew to Catanduanes to establish connectivity in the typhoon-ravaged island.
Engineers Orland Cubacub and Orlando Liangco took on the challenging task of restoring connectivity to the island province and set up the 1st VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) or satellite communications system that provided urgent help and relief to the residents who seeked to reconnect with friends and family outside Catanduanes.
“We used our own aircraft to bring our crew to Catanduanes to begin repairing downed equipment so we can immediately connect the province to the rest of the country,” said PLDT Chief Revenue Officer and Smart President Alfredo S. Panlilio. “The first mission order was to set up IP (Internet Protocol) VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) in Virac site to fire up signal. We established signal at 8:42 am on November 4. We were the first to restore mobile services after Super Typhoon Rolly,” Cubacub said.
“Everybody at the airport was looking at me and asking, ‘may signal na?’ I said, ‘Opo, sa Smart po.’ Nakakataba ng puso na makita ang mga tao na naka-smile habang tumatawag,” recalled Liangco, who was also a first responder to Super Typhoon Yolanda’s victims back in 2013. Along with the service restoration in Catanduanes, Libreng Tawag and Libreng Charging stations were also established in typhoon-hit communities, including other provinces that have suffered the wrath of Rolly such as Aurora, Bataan, Batangas, Bulacan, Camarines Sur, Marinduque, Pampanga, Sorsogon, Tarlac, and Zambales.
Amidst all challenges and difficulties, Frontliners of the MVP Group have shown steadfast dedication to their work, in spite of all the risks, and their heroism and bravery won’t go unnoticed. In some of his recent posts on Twitter (@iamMVP), Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan of the MVP Group honored those who sacrifice their own health and lives in the service of others: “We salute you, our brave men and women across the MVP Group, for tirelessly helping our fellow kababayans. In a pandemic, that is heroism. Salamat po sa inyong malasakit. Stay safe po.”