It had been an incredibly sad week for the city of Manila, its citizens, and for me, personally and most specially.
Well, first off, three of our key officials at the Manila City Hall got infected with COVID-19 over the weekend last week. These are officials who do play significant roles as we grapple with the onslaught of problems resulting from the pandemic crisis.
Apart from them, some of our personnel were also found to be positive for the virus. These personnel are also at the forefront of our efforts in the continuing fight against the dreaded virus.
Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna and I were inevitably exposed to these key officials since we work with them day in, day out. Fortunately, and I do really thank the Lord for this, the results were negative after we underwent swab testing, along with other city officials who had been in contact with the three who have tested positive.
And then, just a couple of days after this, came the news about a metro mayor who was also found to be positive for the coronavirus. That mayor happens to be a close friend of mine, who would not have gotten the virus had that mayor opted to just sit in an airconditioned office instead of doing the rounds day in, day out, just to make sure that the city government is still functioning fully well and that all problems resulting from the pandemic are being taken care of. My mayor-friend, I’m sure, thinks it was worth the sacrifice and if only for that, a snappy salute is in order.
The saddest news is the passing of Dr. Reino “Nong” Palacpac, a doctor from one of our city-run hospitals who had been serving the city for a good number of years as a pediatrician.
Loved by his colleagues in the medical field, Dr. Nong had been among those frontlining in the continuing fight that the city had launched against COVID-19, until it got him.
Dr. Nong, who is assigned at the Justice Jose Abad Santos General Hospital, succumbed to the virus last July 7 and we are just at a loss for words to describe the vacuum he had left and how to console his loved ones. He was only 50 years old. Just like all other hospitals, the JASGH also had its hands full as patients sort of surged during the lifting of the enhanced community quarantine and as the nation opens its economy little by little.
Dr. Nong was among those who bravely faced that surge, unmindful of the risks involved and the possibility of him getting infected and of his loved ones being exposed to the same danger. He was truly a professional and a man for others.
His dedication to his sworn duty and attitude toward others are such that his co-workers all felt the loss and yet became more inspired to continue his work and even do better in their respective duties, knowing this is what Dr. Nong would have wanted.
Dr. Nong is the first medical frontliner that we actually lost to COVID-19. Before him, a lady doctor also working with the city government amid the pandemic also died but this was when a reckless truck driver hit her while she was on her way to work aboard a bicycle.
He is a pioneer in the hospital where he served, got infected, and passed on. Dr. Merle Sacdalan, director of JASGH, intimated that even while getting treatment for the coronavirus, Dr. Nong was raring to go back to work, knowing that the service of doctors is highly valuable these days.
Lamentably, he no longer made it through.
I and the entire officialdom and rank-and-file of the Manila City Hall, along with the people of Manila, express our heartfelt gratitude and admiration for Dr. Nong, for his display of utmost dedication and selfless service to his fellowmen. He offered his very own life in the service of others. Truly, Dr. Nong is worthy of emulation by those in public service.
I ask all Manilans to join me in offering our sincerest condolences and prayers to his bereaved family and to do their share in the fight against COVID-19 simply by following basic health protocols like wearing of facemasks, frequent handwashing, and social distancing. This way, the exposure to the virus of medical frontliners like Dr. Nong will be lessened.
Gaya ng paulit-ulit kong sinasabi, kailangan ko ang tulong ninyong lahat. Walang magmamalasakit sa Maynila kundi tayo ding mga Batang Maynila. Manila, God first!
For updates on latest developments in the city of Manila, please visit my Facebook account – “Isko Moreno Domagoso.”