The COVID-19 pandemic is resulting in unprecedented hardships on communities around the world. As of March 21, 2020, there are 3017 confirmed cases and 19 deaths in the Philippines.
In the USA, COVID-19 has spread to all 50 states and its 4 territories with 14,366 confirmed cases and 217 deaths, as of March 20, 2020. New York state has the highest total number of cases (5,712), surpassing Washington (1,377) and California (1,060) combined.
Both in the US and in the Philippines, impacted communities not only suffer from health concerns, but also from loss of livelihood and income. The lockdown in the Philippines has increased unemployment and poverty among the poor. And in the US, hundreds of thousands of workers lost their jobs because of city or state lockdowns, “stay home” policy, and other travel restrictions. Unemployment, however temporary, means no income to pay for basic needs such as food, medicine, and threats of eviction for those paying rent or monthly amortization.
The US Department of Labor, in a statement issued on March 19, 2020, noted the following:
“During the week ending March 14, the increase in initial claims are clearly attributable to impacts from the COVID-19 virus. A number of states specifically cited COVID-19 related layoffs, while many states reported increased layoffs in service related industries broadly and in the accommodation and food services industries specifically, as well as in the transportation and warehousing industry…
In the week ending March 14, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 281,000, an increase of 70,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 211,000…. The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending February 29 was 2,087,182…”
Given this situation, there is an urgent need to provide essential resources and services to impacted communities in the US as well as their families and health workers in the Philippines .
It is in this light that the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns is launching a national health and wellness campaign Bayanihan Response to COVID-19 to respond to the urgent and long-term needs of impacted Filipino communities in the US and the Philippines, especially the most vulnerable.
Through this campaign, we aim to:
- Deliver resources and services urgently needed by impacted communities
- Disseminate accurate and reliable information to our community
- Engage the community in the campaign with the collective Bayanihan spirit
- Collaborate with grassroots organizations, service institutions, private entities, and government agencies
This campaign has four components:
- Research and Education (R&E)
- Action and Advocacy (AA)
- Resource Mobilization (RM)
Research and Education
We will assess and identify the needs of the people, as well as services and resources available to them. We will gather accurate and reliable information and make these accessible to the public. Some examples of information are locations of testing as well as hotlines and locations of agencies that provide services. We will hold regular webinars and meetings to disseminate relevant information to the public.
We will work with various organizations, agencies, and local businesses to deliver material and educational needs of kababayans and others in need. For example, through webinars and video conferences, we will help workers file for unemployment. We will organize an emergency response team to deliver meals to families that need them. We will compile data of Filipinos infected with the virus across the US, and ensure they receive the services they need. We are also assisting our communities in filling out the 2020 Census to make sure we are counted and receive appropriate funding for community resources and services.
When it is safe and appropriate, we will continue to provide free health services to communities in the Philippines by mobilizing health professionals and other volunteers from the US to medical missions.
Action and Advocacy
We will take action to protect the rights and well-being of undocumented folks, workers, elderly, and most vulnerable communties. We will advocate for free testing, access to health services, financial relief, and other services and resources that our community needs. We will study local and national legislation such as the Families First Act to understand its potential impact and advocate for our community.
We will mobilize resources (i.e. donations) and gather other material resources for relief of impacted communities in the Philippines and kababayans in the US. We will write to sponsors and foundations and apply for grants to ensure funding for the provision of much needed services and resources.