According to the United Nations, the coronavirus pandemic is the most challenging crisis the world faces since the Second World War. Here in the Philippines, the impact of the crisis is very prevalent in that thousands of Filipinos are already infected by the disease. Some have died but thank God, many are recovering.
The health crisis had made a big change to our lives that led us to start living in a new normal that I didn’t even imagine. But we need to comply and follow. This is not just for our safety, but for the safety of our family and the whole community.
But this pandemic is much more than a health crisis. As it devastated our social life and our economy making thousands of people lose their jobs, business, and income specifically those who are in Manila. The considered epicenter of the pandemic where the highest number of COVID-19 cases is recorded in the Philippines.
The disease spreads rapidly that I, my self, fears for my health. But this could not be compared to how my heart broke when I learn about the clamor of the Antiqueños who were stranded in Manila fearing for their health and worrying about their financial situation. And I know and my heart tells me so that I need to help those Antiqueños to go back home.
Many had questioned my decision. But like a mother who always wants to make sure that my children are in good condition especially at the time of a health crisis I prefer to follow my heart. Carefully, with the help and cooperation of all the mayors in Antique and of course of our dear Congresswoman, Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda we started the Libre Uli Antique Program. While making sure that every COVID-19 protocol was strictly observed and followed.
Through the program, I am happy to share with you that hundreds of Antiqueños are with their families now. From the very start of the process of bringing them home, we followed the strict and every step of the COVID-19 safety protocols. And when the LSIs or locally stranded individuals arrived here in Antique their faces were covered by a mask. But I can see in their eyes the smiles, the happiness of being finally they are at the comfort of their home. They can be with their family. They have nothing to worry and at least, because family is their sanctuary. And for me, that is priceless.
Months have passed and until now we are still fighting COVID-19, but it is my pride and pleasure to share to you that despite the number of LSIs who came home to Antique, the COVID-19 cases in the province remains at the lowest rate. Kudos to our front liners who left their families at home to serve for the benefit of each every Antiqueños in the middle of this crisis. I would also like to thank private individuals and companies who extended their help and donation, even the farmers from the uplands of Antique who offered their produce to feed the hungry. The same goes for the business owners that continued to provide their services to satisfy the essential needs of the province when we are under the enhanced community quarantine.
They say, a leader carries her team but, on this fight, it was the other way around. The commendable discipline and cooperation of each and every one of you inspired me. And I realized how blessed I am to be leading a province with people who are always willing to extend a helping hand for each other.
The wounds brought by this pandemic will take time to heal. But I am sure that with your help and through the initiative of the provincial government we can make it look easy. We can fight and overcome COVID-19. And we can look forward to a more positive, healthy and united Antique.