THERE is no better sense of fulfillment than seeing the multitude of smiles in gratitude and the opportunity to help those in need in this time of pandemic, where uncertainty and anxiety loom in every corner.
In this time of crisis, counting your blessings is something worth reflecting on to realize how blessed we are that we are not part of the roster of the unemployed, and that we still have a roof over our head because we can still afford to pay the rent, or enjoy the luxury of eating the food we crave because we can have it delivered on our doorstep.
But beyond merely counting our blessings, the most selfless service we can actually do during this pandemic phase is to share our blessings, no matter how little we can spare, because this "little" can actually mean so much to those who have lesser in life.
Such is the call of the Association of Regional Executives of National Agencies (Arena) 7 to the public to make the Bayanihan spirit alive, especially during hard times. Arena-7 is a group composed of directors of regional line agencies based in Cebu.
"We want to knock on the hearts of everyone, that they may in their small way be able to bring a smile to the weary faces of our frontliners and the poor in whatever means possible," said Director Efren Carreon of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda)-Central Visayas who heads the Arena-Central Visayas.
When the pandemic broke out and demand of personal protective equipment (PPE) was critical, the Arena-7 came up with a Bayanihan project to provide PPE supplies and packed meals to medical and government frontliners, including at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC), the primary Covid-19 treatment facility in the province.
Arena members shelled out at the very least P5,000 each from their own personal pocket to raise funds for the Bayanihan project, and solicited a total of P99,000, according to Director Imelda Laceras of the Department of Budget and Management, the association's secretary.
"The basic objective is to assist in the local efforts being done in response to the pandemic. Our Arena President Carreon sent the advisory to all regional directors (RD), asking for voluntary assistance. The minimum amount collected was at P5,000, but there were other RDs who gave more," said Laceras.
The money collected was initially spent for packed meals for 100 medical frontliners at the VSMMC and for government frontliners doing duty at the emergency operations center located at the Department of Health, checkpoint officers and barangay officials around the government center in Ecotech, Lahug, Cebu City, said Laceras.
Laceras said the PPE donation consisted of surgical masks, alcohol, KN95 face masks and face shields.
The Arena-7 also worked with the "Usa Ka Gasa Duha Ka Pamilya" Project, which is supported by a non-government organization called "Impact," that helps Cebu farmers and selected families in the different urban neighborhoods amid the pandemic.
"We gave a donation of P35,000 to help buy vegetables from rural farmers and then distributed these to Cebu urban poor families and prison centers. The beneficiaries were identified through the NGO Impact," said Laceras.
"I was very happy about this arrangement because we were able to support our vegetable farmers and urban poor families. We thank all the regional directors who helped in this project for helping provide the budgetary support," said Carreon.
But Carreon added that the Arena funds are exhausted and that the donation was already spent and liquidated.
"I do not know if we can have a second round, but at least, we were able to share something. But if there will be a second round of projects, maybe we will think of something that can help, especially those people who still cannot work in this pandemic," said Carreon.
Carreon called on fellow Filipinos to make the Bayanihan spirit a way of life, ingrained in our culture, by sharing and continue sharing our blessings.
"For those who have nothing to spare, your prayers and appreciation to our frontliners are enough to sustain as we all work together to overcome the crisis faced by humanity across the world," Carreon ended.