JUVENTUS: Bayanihan amid the pandemic

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Is the Bayanihan spirit dead or alive?

Filipinos are known for their hospitable and helpful nature. In the true Bayanihan sense, people help without expecting something in return.

Rommel Azucena. Social worker, tireless humanitarian, writer, artist.
Rommel Azucena. Social worker, tireless humanitarian, writer, artist.

People answer to their neighbor’s call for help because it’s the right thing to do. People help because it’s a way of life.  And this pandemic opened my eyes to a lot of things – made me realize that no matter how hard things get, there is always a solution.

I am lucky to work under a strict but always get things done leader in an institution’s External Affairs Office. We launched CHMSCyanihan Kontra COVID-19, a project wherein students, faculty members, administrators, and groups from our academic institution get to exchange and share data related to activities, interventions, initiatives, and projects people undertake, whether on a personal, group, organizational, or departmental capacity, to help and reach out to marginalized and underprivileged people or communities during the enhanced community quarantine and beyond.

During the duration of our project, we initiated a donation drive. And it amazed me, because despite the fact that we are facing the same threat and uncertainty, the number of people who are willing to help is countless.

There are those who wanted to be recognized, not because they wanted the fame or recognition, but because they wanted to be an inspiration and example to people they know who might also share a little of their blessing. There are those who wanted to remain anonymous because they believe that sharing and helping must be done quietly and must not be a publicity stunt. And there are those that donate their time, those who volunteer to help reach out to communities, those who help pack the goods, those who help lift the heavy load in the food aid caravan.

Of course, suspisions and questions on our projects are inevitable.

“Will the donations really go to those people?” “What’s the point of asking for donations if we are all suffering just the same?” “Aren’t you afraid that you will get the disease because of going to different places and facing different types of people every day?”

But we didn’t let the doubts and questions dissuade us from doing what we must do, responding and answering the call for help of people; the people who are not as privileged as some, the people who are hit the hardest during this pandemic due to the stoppage of work and loss of livelihood, the people who even before the pandemic are struggling to put foods in their mouth on a regular basis.

Being a part of this endeavour is quiet scary yet fulfilling. Scary because you never know what lies ahead, that every passing hour may be your last because the threat, the enemy is invisible. Yet fulfilling because you know that deep within yourself you did your best to help, that you answered the people’s call without asking anything in return, and you did something good in your life.

Is the Bayanihan spirit dead or alive?

Well, it is very much alive.

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