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Leadership at an appointed time

The isolation facility sits along the main road of barangay San Luis in Malitbog, Bukidnon. Its doors are open where people go in and out to attend to their duties. It’s not always like that a few months ago. The five-room facility was incessantly occupied by travelers and returning overseas Filipinos required to undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine. It also accommodated COVID-19 positive patients with mild symptoms. “Sagang gyud mi.” (We really need to tighten up), said one barangay official.

Her name is Felinita P. Venus, barangay kagawad, who chairs the Committee on Social Services. A retired midwife, little did she know that her experience as a health personnel will play a key role as she holds public office for the first time. The pandemic hit and the barangay council faced an ordeal.

“Manguli man gyud ang mga tawo. Katong mga naa’y gibati, asa man nimo ibutang? dili man nimo siya pwede ibutang bisan asa. Isolation facility gyud ang kinahanglan karong pandemya.”

(People would eventually travel back home. And for those who are sick, where will you accommodate them? They can’t just be lodged anywhere. An isolation facility is the primary need during this pandemic)

The municipality of Malitbog is under the KALAHI-CIDSS National Community-Driven Development Program (NCDDP) extension in 2020. Using the Disaster Response Operations Modality (DROM), 11 barangays in the municipality, including San Luis, implemented COVID-19 response sub-projects geared towards health, water and sanitation, and economic recovery.

Establishing the isolation facility did not come easy. Some were apprehensive about its location while others wanted a different project. “i-fight gyud ninyo na isolation [facility]. Kay sa musugot ta’g sa dili, atong problema is pandemya man” the Municipal Health Officer advised Felinita.

(Push for the isolation facility project, because whether we like it or not, we are facing a pandemic)

Barangay San Luis covers half of the entire municipality, and despite having a high number of population, they have kept their COVID-19 cases at bay. “Katong panahon nga daghan pa kaayo ang kaso, gamit gyud kaayo ang facility. Nahimo siya’g usa ka simbolo nga naka-away ang San Luis sa COVID-19” Felinita said.

(At that time when there was a surge of cases, the isolation facility is ready for use. It became a symbol of how San Luis fought against COVID-19.)

Today, the barangay is seeing high vaccination turnouts as people have been educated on the importance of vaccines. Along with rehabilitation of the old barangay hall turned isolation facility, KALAHI-CIDSS also provided personal protective equipment, supplies, and a set of audio speakers to aid their information, education, and communication activities.

“Sayo sa buntag mag announce na mi sa mga pahimangno ug mga advisory, kay farmers baya ang mga tawo diri. Naa mi mga trumpa bisan sa mga lagyo nga sitios.” Shared Felinita.

(We do public service announcements and advisories early in the morning because residents here are mostly farmers. We have set up speakers as well in faraway sitios.)

There are only two isolation facilities in Malitbog. The municipal isolation unit and the one in San Luis. In retrospect, Felinita shared how difficult it must be for their community to handle the COVID-19 situation without the isolation facility.  Felinita faced many crossroads in life, and fighting for the establishment of the isolation facility was one of them. A decision that she and the people behind her did not regret.

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- who has written 30 posts on DSWD Field Office X Official Website.


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