BATANG MAYNILA

It had been an awfully busy, albeit, fruitful week for us in the city of Manila despite the continuing battle against COVID-19.

We kicked off the week with the inauguration of our first walk-in COVID testing center at the Ospital ng Sampaloc, followed by another at the Gat Andres Bonifacio Memorial Medical Center in Tondo a couple of days later.

These two walk-in test centers complement the two drive-thru centers that I and Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna had earlier opened the week prior, one in front of the Bonifacio Shrine beside Manila City Hall and the other in front of the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta. All in all, we can test for free over 1,000 people daily.

With our city-run hospitals now full to the brim with COVID patients which rose sharply when the community quarantine eased up a bit, we now see the need to build another quarantine facility, this time in Quiapo. This will be the latest addition to the 12 quarantine facilities we already have in the city, whose bed capacity of nearly 600 are also now in full use.

This week also saw the arrival of the “Architecti2000 SR machine” we ordered, which has a double load capacity compared to the Architect i1000 SR machines we currently use for analyzing the blood samples taken from the drive-thru and walk-in COVID testing centers.

Let me stress that our machines are made by the reputable Abbott Laboratories and offer nothing less than 99.6 percent specificity and 100 percent sensitivity. Unlike rapid tests, our machines do away with “false positive” and “false negative” results and are therefore farmore accurate, reliable and efficient.

Just like in swab tests where the samples taken from the nose and mouth are put in a machine for analysis, our drive-thru and walk-in centers collect blood samples and these are also tested using a machine. While the machine used in swab tests is the reverse time-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), the one used in the blood samples we take is the “Architect i1000 SR” serology machine which, by the way, is already being used in our country’s posh, private hospitals.

Alongside all of these, I am also happy to announce having been able to fulfill two of the promises I made during the campaign period.

First is the establishment of the “Manila Muslim Cemetery” on a 2,400-square-meter-lot at the Manila South Cemetery. It will serve as an exclusive ground for the burial of bodies and bones of Muslim residents of Manila where all the traditions that attend every Muslim burial will be taken into consideration. 

There are only a couple of Muslim cemeteries in Metro Manila and these have become congested, so that members of the Muslim community are left with no choice but to transport their dead to Mindanao which is costly. Manila hosts a huge Muslim community whose members have been very cooperative and helpful partners of the city government when itcomes to community building and doing business, all over the years and providing them a burial site is our simple way of giving back to them, giving recognition as our Muslim ancestors, and letting them know that they belong.

Second is the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction in Del Pan of the “Binondominium,” a 15-story condominium building that will give housing units to informal settler families from the third district of Manila. This is part of the our in-city vertical housing project and followed the earlier groundbreaking for the “Tondominium 1” and “Tondominium 2” in Vitas, Tondo.

 All of the condominium buildings will house units measuring 40 square meters each, complete with two bedrooms — one for the parents and one for the children. We want to show how to give a quality, honest-to-goodness, liveable, and decent housing and I will not accept anything that is substandard.

A former squatter myself, I know exactly how difficult it is to live under the constant fear of being booted out of a box you rent and which you call “home.” I have lost count as to how many times our family experienced demolition and this is something I would not want childrenof Manila like myself then, to go through, as much as possible.

Fate may have had it that a smelly, filthy squatter kid like me was given a chance to lead this city as its mayor, as its “father.”

This now gives me the opportunity to give kids from poor families to have something I never had in my entire life as a child and a young adolescent — the security of knowing you still have a home when you come back from school or a day of eking out a living in the streets. With God’s continued blessing and the cooperation of Manilans, we will achieve this and more.

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Gaya ng paulit-ulit kong sinasabi, kailangan ko ang tulong ninyong lahat. Walang mag mamalasakit 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 – “IskoMoreno Domagoso.”