#MyCovidStory: Oplan Bente Pesos

·3 min read

By Patrick Zyrille Alvarado

My name is Patrick, 28 and I'm from Mindanao but now based in Cebu. #MyCovidStory started when I decided to take a step forward creating a local movement to help remote communities in Cebu affected by the health crisis through a donation drive called "Oplan Bente Pesos."

I thought it was the best time to make a change and impact for others most importantly for those who are living remotely that have limited access to relief operations. This started when I posted a hype online about raising funds through a startup donation of P20.

At first, it didn't get significant traction but that didn't stop me. I personally messaged people one by one and finally started getting support.

Through the help of my friends, we were able to come up with an initial location target and allocated food packs. We raised about P15,000 during our first distribution and able to distribute around 200-300 food packs in a remote area somewhere in the mountains of Cebu city.

A lot of people got fired up and continued donating, even sharing the campaign with their friends. So, we went for more. Our second and third batches of donations went over P30,000 from local and international supports. We were able to distribute around 600-700 food packs in some remote areas in Barangay Pit-os and a few households in Barangay Hippodromo.

To leverage the efforts of our donation drive, I personally started an online podcast/live information drive called Quick Talks by inviting local people to talk about certain topics that are timely in this crisis. The support and expansion of our reach went far and was able to share informative discussions about Mental Health, Social Responsibility, Entrepreneurship, Faith, and Relationship issues. Now, the podcast/recorded interview can be replayed on Facebook for those who want to gain insights and inspiration.

I was all caught up with constantly making efforts to make the campaign work. I didn't mind the risk of getting exposed to the virus when we were out preparing the distribution of food packs. As I look back and think why I was able to do all these, I realize it was all because of my own experiences. It was an inspiration. I knew how it felt to be in a difficult situation - to have nothing. When you feel hopeless, someone would be there to help you.

My entire pandemic journey turned out to be an experience to remember. A lot of people came together in unity through their small donations, prayers and social media support to make a change and to ease the suffering of those who suffered much than we do. This is very close to my heart because I think just by knowing that we still have a roof over our head, water to drink, and food on the table during these dark days, we are more than blessed and we deserve to share that.

Today, Oplan Bente Pesos continued to be a vessel. Encouraging people from all walks of life that there is no little or small help. Every single bit of kindness and generosity is equally important. I started another round of donation drives called Tabang Bisaya for the flood victims in Cagayan Valley and the support is overwhelming.

This inspiration translated every single day of my life. No matter how small we have, we can always give. May this be an inspiration for others too, for younger generations to emulate - because no one else will be there for others than we do.