The city government of Bacolod, led by Mayor Evelio Leonardia, hosted an appreciation ceremony for seven volunteers of the Emergency Operations Center Task Force at the Bacolod City Government Center lobby Thursday night.
The volunteers include Drs. Chris Sorongon and Hector Gayares Jr. – deputy medical cluster, Dolores Rommela Ruiz – president of the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases-Western Visayas, and Michael Thomas Salvador – president of the Philippine College of Physicians-Negros Occidental Chapter, John Dave Dueñas – deputy for data management, Noelle Ibarra, and Jinky Besana.
EOC executive director Em Ang said these volunteers have greatly contributed to the EOC, in particular, and the city government, in general, in sustaining the harmonized and synchronized strategies and activities geared towards containing the spread of Covid, a press release from the city said.
They initiated the information and education campaign, data management and analysis, and consolidation of hospital data.
“We really want to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts. That’s the least and the most that we can do,” Leonardia told the volunteers at the ceremony.
He added, “We started from scratch — not only that, we were also in the dark, which is also same with other cities. If not for you, then where do you think we would be now?”
Bacolod, like any other LGU, suffered from the impact of the pandemic but this struggle became bearable when the volunteers showed up and helped. He said this is the advantage of the city.
Bacolod had once recorded an average of 86 cases per day, or 2,500 cases a month. But recent data showed that the city’s daily fresh case count is only at single digits.
Ang said the volunteers were invaluable in the planning and running of the initiatives toward curbing the spread of the virus.
“Our dedicated volunteers pulled us through the toughest times. Thank you for being our guiding light in those dark days of the Covid crisis. The EOC is proud of all of you. You are the best expression of who we are as Bacolodnons. You saw the need and you responded,” Ang said.
With the help of volunteers and the functional EOC, Bacolod is ready to face any challenge or public health emergency that may come, she also said.
“In the words of retired Major General Mel Feliciano, what makes Bacolod City different from other cities is that there are volunteers like you who make things happen without expectations of reward,” Ang also said.
She also told them of how the volunteers started to take part in government actions to save the lives of Bacolodnons when Leonardia established the Covid-19 Technical Working Group.
The first project of the TWG was the operation of the Bacolod Respiratory Outpatient (BRO) Center, where Salvador and Sorongon rendered consultation services free of charge.
“Both of them risked their health while other doctors closed their clinics because of the fear of infections,” Ang said.
Sorongon and Salvador also donated supplies to help the frontliners at the BRO Center, while Gayares and Ruiz supervised the BRO operations.
The two helped train and retrain the nurses and personnel deployed by the health department.
Dueñas helped in the information technology-related matters, and in the data management.
Ibarra, on the other hand, set up a crisis communications strategy at a time when the city was bombarded by criticisms from the public for its Covid-19 response.
Besana designed the now iconic logo of the EOC.
The seven volunteers received plaques of appreciation from the city government, presented by Leonardia – EOC Task Force head, Ang – also EOC deputy for administration and operations, Councilor Renecito Novero – chair of both the Quarantine Centers Action Team and the Vaccination Centers Action Team, and Councilor Ayesha Joy Villaflor – chair of the Action Team on Authorized Persons Outside Residence.
Gayares, Sorongon, Salvador, and Dueñas also received plaques from the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency and the National Economic Development Authority 6 as “Outstanding Covid-19 Volunteers”.
Present at the appreciation ceremony were executive assistants George Zulueta and Teresa Manalili, and Col. Manuel Placido, OIC director of the Bacolod City Police Office.*