Sustaining frontliners and communities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic

Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. (PSFI)’s COVID-19 initiative Para sa Bayani (For our Heroes) bagged a Silver in the prestigious Anvil Awards, dubbed as the “Oscars” of the public relations industry in the Philippines, held virtually last 19 February 2021.

Para sa Bayani program was a consolidation of PSFI’s various efforts for today’s brave heroes—from the frontliners who continue to work hard in healing the sick, to the Filipino citizenry who by staying at home is helping flatten the curve.

Naomi Celino, a vegetable farmer shared how the initiative helped her to have hope amidst a pandemic, “Noong nagkaroon ng COVID, nawalan na kami ng pag-asa na mabenta ang mga produkto naming gulay dahil wala nang bumibili dahil lahat ay naka-lockdown. Kailangan din namin ang pera dahil may iba pa rin kaming pangangailangan. Pero noong dumating ang PSFI, nabuhayan ako ng loob, nabunutan ako ng tinik dahil binili nila ang aming mga produkto. The best talaga ang Plipinas Shell.”

(When the pandemic hit, we’ve given up hope because we can’t sell our produce due to the lockdown. We needed money [from our livelihood] for our daily needs. But when PSFI came to help, we were uplifted and relieved because they bought our produce. Pilipinas Shell is the best.)

Naomi Celino, vegetable farmer and one of the beneficiaries of Ani para sa Bayani

While the COVID-19 pandemic adversely affected many Filipinos, PSFI brought various people and organizations (public and private) to work together at the onset of ECQ last March 2020, to successfully implement the program’s three (3) sub-components:

Ani para sa Bayani (Harvest for the Heroes) was focused on procuring and transporting fresh produce from struggling farmers and distributing to vulnerable communities and frontliners. It enabled smallholder farmers to sell their produce of 200 tonnes during the ECQ and avoid wastage and sustaining the livelihoods of 4,000 farmers and fisherfolk. With these produce, it nourished heroes providing 480,000 meals to frontliners and 43,000 households with meals and food packs.

Melinda Janoras, a malaria Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) volunteer worker of Candelaria, Palawan shared, “Naka-paskil pa ang poster sa purok para magsilbing alaala dahil sobrang di malilimutan ng purok volunteers, leaders, at ng community members ang Ani para sa Bayani at Kusina sa Barangay. Doon daw nila naramdaman ang tunay na spirit ng volunteerism lalo kapag may mga beneficiaries na umiiyak kapag aabutan nila ng food. Every 6pm, kapag oras na para maghatid ng pagkain, naka-abang na sa mga pintuan ung mga mag-re-receive –  mga senior citizen, mga PWD, mga single parents. Wala na sila halos maasahan noong lockdown pero dahil sa PSFI, nabawasan ang pangamba nila.”

(The poster that was used for the program is still on display and seen in the community as it serves as reminder of Ani para sa Bayani and Kusina sa Barangay. The volunteers, leaders, and community members won’t forget the positive impact the program had given them. Through the programs, we’ve witnessed and felt the true spirit of volunteerism when we would see emotional and teary-eyed beneficiaries as we hand them their meal. Every day at 6pm, we would see beneficiaries – senior citizens, PWDs and single parents waiting by the door looking forward to the meals that we would give out. Because of the lockdown, they have given up hope as their livelihood is affected but PSFI [through Ani para sa Bayani] has helped ease their worries.)

Health workers and medical practitioners who work tirelessly to fight COVID-19 were the focus of Proteksyon para sa Bayani (Protection for the Heroes). Through this program, PSFI was able to give medical frontliners with the necessary and appropriate PPEs through sourcing out materials and equipment from rightful suppliers, donors and wage workers whose daily income has been affected by the ECQ.

Tulong para sa Bayani (Help for the Heroes) was launched to further extend help and reach non-health workers. PSFI launched this program to provide food and grocery items to vulnerable communities and daily wage earners and transports necessary goods and items. PSFI coordinated with Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (SPEX) to provide chartered flights for Palawan government to transport relief goods and medical supplies which were left in Manila during suspension of flights brought by the ECQ.

PSFI is the social arm of SPEX, the operator of Malampaya Deepwater Gas-to-Power Project. The first oil and gas platform designed and built in the Philippines, the Project signaled the birth of natural gas industry in the country. One of the most successful Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) in the history of the Philippines, Malampaya fuels up to 20% of the country’s power needs and has contributed over USD 11bln in government revenues. Malampaya has been producing cleaner-burning natural gas since 2001.

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