Why is Iloilo Called the Wakanda of the Philippines?
Lory Joyce Andagan | April 08, 2020
Photos courtesy of Iloilo City Government Facebook Page
In the fight against COVID-19, the City Government of Iloilo headed by Mayor Jerry P. Treñas is making online waves because of its initiatives during this difficult time. Iloilo City is now dubbed as the Wakanda of the Philippines or The Country within a country with good reasons.
Through the donations of prominent Ilonggo families and businessmen in Iloilo City, the local government purchased 2,500 FDA- approved test kits from South Korea. They coordinated with medical professionals in Iloilo to establish a local testing center at Western Visayas Medical Center and asked medical technologists to go to RITM for proper training. Last March, the Department of Health accredited the WVMC as the first COVID-19 testing center in the region, giving the province the capability to diagnose PUIs and PUMs faster, instead of sending the documents to RITM in Luzon.
Mayor Jerry Treñas always says that in Iloilo, no one should be left behind. When the enhanced community quarantine was implemented, many were affected, especially the daily wage earners. In response, the local government established 240 community kitchens in barangays to feed those who cannot afford to feed themselves. Iloilo City also deploys kitchen patrols to supply the food of the frontliners, giving them free lunch and dinners while on duty. Iloilo City also partnered with a group of businessmen and a bakeshop to launch ‘Ilonggo pan de sal’ which is distributed among the poorest communities in the city daily.
The local government unit is also implementing a Frontliners First’ policy. After one confirmed COVID-19 case in the city surfaced, numerous medical staff from the hospital were discriminated against and were denied entry into their boarding houses. Mayor Treñas then opened the Iloilo City Community College to be house the frontliners who lost a place to stay. A local maritime university also offered its anchored ship to house the city’s frontliners with a 200-bed capacity. Local designers and tailoring shops also offered their help to producing face masks, face shields and hazmat suits for the frontliners for free. Ilonggo creativity shone in the colorful PPEs designed by a local resident for the medical frontliners. These were inspired by beloved cartoon characters and the sight of the PPEs radiate positivity to those who see it. Schools were also converted into dormitories to accommodate the PUIs and PUMs in the city, giving them free food and assistance from the city government while they fight this pandemic.
Private sectors also joined the city government in the fight by donating a large amount of money, PPEs, and goods while restaurant owners are offering free food to the frontliners. The city government maintains transparency in everything they do by posting all the donations from different groups on their official Facebook page. With this, even individual Ilonggos were inspired to do small acts of kindness to those in need. Despite the commendations that Iloilo City has been receiving, Mayor Treñas does not take all the credit. Instead, he says that all these efforts are through the cooperation of everyone in Iloilo. Being the City of Love, Ilonggos proved that it is love that makes even the impossible possible. Ilonggos show that compassion for everyone is crucial and hand in hand cooperation is the key to success. If Iloilo can do it, the whole nation also can. Let’s work together to heal our land.