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Directory Of Year 2020, Issue 405
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HELPING HANDS

Year:2020 Issue:0405

Column: UNITED FRONT

Author:

Release Date:2020-04-10

Page: 18,19

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“COVID-19 is a global challenge, and no one is immune from being affected by it,” proclaims Sun Hu, head of a Filipino-Chinese voluntary action team. In early March, the Philippines saw rapid jump in the outbreak with a growing number of confirmed cases. In Manila, capital of the country, several major quarantine hospitals grappled with a troubling shortage of protective clothing, masks and other supplies, while at epidemic prevention checkpoints across the city, police struggled to continue their day-to-day duties. Upon seeing the new situation unfold, Filipino-Chinese volunteers, represented by Sun Hu, began to act.

“Everyone is working hard, and we want to play a part,” Sun asserts. Gradually, their voluntary services attracted participation from more and more Filipino-Chinese people desiring to do something to support the epidemic fight in the Philippines.

Generous Support

At the turn of 2020, un unexpected coronavirus outbreak presented a major public health challenge for China before spreading beyond its borders. Like overseas Chinese people living in every corner of the globe, Filipino-Chinese pooled their passion, energy and resources to offer a helping hand in the battle against the virus—first in China and then in the Philippines.

Upon learning about the outbreak spreading in China around the Spring Festival, the Filipino-Chinese community sprang into action. The Filipino-Chinese Amity Club Inc., Overseas Chinese Alumni Association of the Philippines, Filipino-Chinese Shin Lian Association, World News Daily Inc. and several other Filipino-Chinese organizations collected more than 200 pallets of preventive materials and chartered a plane to transport them to Quanzhou, Fujian Province, on January 27. Quanzhou public health authority promptly delivered the supplies to Wuhan. The Filipino-Chinese community also donated 2 million yuan (US$280,000) in cash to assist anti-epidemic efforts in Wuhan. According to incomplete statistics, as of late February, the Filipino-Chinese community had donated some 5 million pieces of medical supplies as well as 420 million pesos (US$8.3 million) in cash.

The Philippine Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (PCCCII) donated a considerable quantity of direly-needed medical supplies to China. “The spread of the epidemic touched every heart in the overseas Chinese community, and we were quite concerned about the health and safety of our brothers and sisters in the motherland,” notes Hong Jixiang, president of the PCCCII. “Answering the call of the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines, we collected a huge volume of medical supplies and some money within two days, with hopes to do something for epidemic containment.”

A 93-year-old businessman donated 3 million pesos (about US$60,000) from his pension to support Wuhan. He moved to the Philippines from Fujian at the age of 14 and had some savings after many years of hard work. In his message to the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines, the senior wrote, “I would like to donate part of my pension to my compatriots in Wuhan who are in great distress!”

Tough Battle

As the number of coronavirus cases rose rapidly around the world, many countries have announced COVID-19 emergency procedures. After declaring a nationwide public health emergency, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte proclaimed a state of national emergency for six months on March 17. The entire metro Manila region was put under lockdown on March 15, and the entire main Philippine island of Luzon was placed under “enhanced community quarantine” in a forceful attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Again, the Filipino-Chinese community jumped to action. On March 11, the PCCCII announced allocation of 100 million pesos (US$1.97 million) from its disaster relief fund to support the Philippines’ fight against the epidemic. President Hong Jixiang set the bar by donating 3 million pesos (US$60,000) which was followed by enthusiastic responses from PCCCII chapters and members. As of April 13, over 120 million pesos of cash donations had been raised.

“The sudden worsening of the epidemic in the Philippines and the lack of direly-needed medical equipment and protective supplies are seriously threatening people’s health and safety,” Hong notes. “We donated 600,000 face masks to Philippine governmental institutions, hospitals, media organizations and citizens with hopes of helping the nation defeat the virus and overcome the distress.”

The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines has also rendered active help. On April 2, Ambassador Huang Xilian attended a videoconference with representatives of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII), the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Association of the Philippines (FFCAP), the PCCCII and Chinese General Hospital. They jointly decided to establish an anti-epidemic committee with PCCCII disaster relief fund to support the COVID-19 fight. The anti-epidemic committee consists of four working groups dedicated respectively to logistics, emergency hotline services, coordination of inpatient treatment, and communication with the Philippine government and medical institutions and is staffed by the three associations and the Chinese General Hospital.

The largest Chinese hospital in the Philippines, the Chinese General Hospital in Manila has assumed an active role in combating the epidemic, admitting as many coronavirus patients as possible. To tackle a shortage of beds, the hospital innovated means to expand medical premises such as converting parking lots into temporary treatment facilities. It has also maintained communication with relevant hospitals in China through video conferencing and phone calls to draw on frontline experience.

Embracing Hope

Because of the epidemic, many temporary workers in the Philippines who were surviving on meager wages have lost their source of livelihood as the social and medical systems in the country are facing tremendous pressure. The PCCCII teamed up with Chinese media outlets in the Philippines to launch the “Php10 Relief Donation” campaign. The campaign funnels donations from around the country to PCCCII which transfers the money to the Office of the President and other relevant anti-epidemic departments. “As Chinese-language media operating in the Philippines, we share the responsibility and obligation to deliver action amid this epidemic, however much money it costs,” goes their advertising slogan.

Alongside materials and cash donations, epidemic-hit areas have also received strong spiritual support from Filipino-Chinese individuals and organizations. When the epidemic climaxed in China, Chinese anchor Zhuang Linlin from Chinatown TV organized other Filipino-Chinese figures to jointly produce a music video to support the fight against the epidemic. When the Philippines was struck, Zhuang and her colleagues at Chinatown TV again used music to cheer up and encourage people. Following her suggestion, numerous time-honored restaurants in Manila’s Chinatown have donated box meals to frontline medical workers.

“In the face of the epidemic, Chinese-language media organizations are doing everything we can to encourage more people to contribute money or whatever resources they have until the virus is completely eradicated and the storm is over,” Zhuang adds.

Indeed, in the face of unprecedentedly daunting challenges caused by the pandemic, overseas Chinese, including the Filipino-Chinese, are united to wage a war against the common enemy of all mankind, anticipating bathing in sunshine after the long rain.

The Philippine Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (PCCCII) donates face masks and other anti-epidemic supplies to Philippine society.

The Philippine Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (PCCCII) donates face masks and other anti-epidemic supplies to Philippine society.

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