By Raymund Antonio
It was supposed a day of rest for Dr. Serge Aclan after a grueling week as a medical intern at the country’s largest state hospital.
But with the spirit of bayanihan (collective cooperation), Aclan has taken it upon himself to help fellow frontline health workers in spite of very difficult circumstances due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
So when another opportunity came to be involved in volunteer work, he didn’t hesitate to seize it again.
Aclan volunteered to staff the free shuttle service for health workers when Vice President Leni Robredo’s office opened the applications for bus conductor as its staff can’t work beyond schedules due to health and safety reasons.
A conductor is tasked to check the hospital ID of health workers and ensure their logbook entry, as well as to make sure other precautionary measures such as temperature checks and social distancing are observed upon boarding.
“Kasi kung walang gagawa, sino pa ba? So might as well volunteer na lang din. Tulungan na lang natin ang mga kababayan natin,” Aclan, who was a guest at Robredo’s weekly radio show, said.
(If there is no one else, who will do it? So might as well I just volunteer. Let us help our fellow citizens.)
“Alam naman natin na we are short of not only medical personnel, but also ngayon iyang transportation na puwedeng magdala sa ating mga health workers. Isang malaking tulong na rin iyon,“ he added.
(We know that we are short of not only medical personnel, but also the transportation that will transport our health workers. That’s a big help to them.)
Aclan was among the 214 medical interns who signed up to stay on duty at the state-run Philippine General Hospital (PGH) in Manila.
They were ordered to go home, but Aclan said they can’t leave their fellow frontliners in the fight against COVID-19.
“When were still on a regular internship, of course we really wanted to take a day off or to be off-duty to sleep and stroll, but despite the pull-order, the interns, especially Nick [Tan], immediately think of those who will help the doctors left behind,” he said.
Like other health workers, Aclan was forced to walk to work from his residence in Pasay City following the suspension of public transportation.
While he was a volunteer in the shuttle service, Aclan said this experience made him realize his walk was nothing compared to the sacrifices of other frontliners to reach their workplace.
“I walked myself from Pasay to PGH, but I thought the 30 minutes was too long. When I volunteered yesterday, we had countrymen coming from Bacoor going to Fairview,” he shared.
“So when they were walking for several hours, I’m not complaining anymore,” the medical intern said.
The government is battling the spread of COVID-19 — which the World Health Organization (WHO) declared as a pandemic — that so far has 396 confirmed cases in the country and 33 deaths.
President Duterte declared a state of calamity in the Philippines and enhanced community quarantine on the island of Luzon as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to rise.