Mildred Caranto/The Santiago Times Staff
SANTIAGO – The coronavirus outbreak was initially concentrated in the wealthiest parts of the Chilean capital but has since pushed into poorer neighborhoods. As a spike in COVID-19 cases has forced the authorities to extend a total quarantine in Santiago and dozens of other communes, many people are forced to use up their limited savings, borrow money, or survive with whatever they are left with.
Last week, few members of Filipino community in Chile responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with an outpouring of the Bayanihan spirit manifested in a beautiful act of kindness: the provision of food packets – bought for a “very fair price” from Santiago’s La Vega area – to their compatriots who were laid off from job, even before the pandemic started, amongst other Philippines nationals who are working part time and cannot support their basic needs.
“Today we are facing truly a challenging situation, and this pandemic invokes the bayanihan spirit (communal unity) of every Filipino,” Arlyn Sagario, acting auditor of the group, told TheSantiagoTimes.
Slashing from their own pocket, a small portion of their salary and some help from generous employers, a bunch of Filipinos made it possible to distribute several food packs among those who were in need – all this at a time when there is restriction on movement and work remain suspended, affecting large numbers of foreign and local workers in the South American country.
“With this bayanihan spirit of every one who choose to work away from home, we will win this battle,” Rita Alberio, a member of the group, said.
Sherwin Calindas, another group member, said that despite having limited funded donations, they are aiming to operate continually until the pandemic is over.
He added that the chance that they might be fined for violating the quarantine “won’t stop him doing this for his countrymen.”
“We are not defiant but only helping our brothers and sisters in this time of crisis,” he explained.
There are approximately 800 OFWs in Chile, with the majority residing in the country’s capital, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
So far, Chile has reported a total of 138,846 cases of coronavirus and 2,264 deaths from COVID-19 infection.