Niño reports to the dreaded COVID Ward.

As a newly minted nurse, Niño Jan Miole began his medical career at the cusp of a global pandemic as one of the many healthcare workers who take care of critically ill COVID-19 patients. It was a life-changing way to begin a career.

The decision to work at the COVID Ward was his. A decision, he later shares, that was rather striking.

“I was one of the few who braved this pandemic-stricken year by deciding to work at a ward where the unperceivable enemy lurks in the crevices of the human body or the vicinity around – the infamous COVID Ward. My life radically turned 360 degrees and that’s when I experienced all sorts of paradoxes: In my hardships, wisdom was born. In my failings, I gained valiance. In my misery, there was a spark of joy. When the public hailed me as a hero, I embraced my humanity,” said Niño.

Work in a COVID Ward is far from easy. With the dangers of the virus, the work remains unnerving and grueling.

When Niño found himself first reporting to the COVID Ward, it was his first time to don a PPE suit. Wearing appropriate PPE is critical during these times, to avoid any transmissions.

“It was my first time to wear PPE and it has to be donned for the entire 12 hour shift or more,” shared Niño. He adds that getting hazy vision and struggling through his own asthma added to the challenge of wearing a PPE on days on end.

Despite the challenges, Niño walks the halls of the hospital in a full-on PPE suit making sure that patients under his care receive the critical care they need. His patients are often critically-ill patients: intubated, attached to mechanical ventilators and a cardiac monitor with numerous peripheral lines.

When a patient requires CPR, the task is a laborious process when done in a stuffy PPE suit. Niño and other nurses may find themselves performing CPR twice or thrice a day.

The work Niño and all other healthcare personnel do during these times are critical and oftentimes life-saving. Yet the demands of work are taxing.

“The physical demands of stress were surmountable, but the accompanying emotional and mental stresses were unrelenting,” shared Niño.

To ensure the safety of his family, Niño keeps a safe distance from people at home. It was all the more difficult when he couldn’t even embrace his newborn niece, in fear of unknowingly bringing the virus home. As reports on infected healthcare workers continued, the fear of potentially getting infected was gripping.

However, despite the worries and fears, his spirit remained strong. This, shared Niño, helps him and many other healthcare workers power through daily challenges and continue to serve.

“Fear was crippling but the tenacity of our spirit was greater than any adversaries. The healthcare professionals who were discharged returned back to work like nothing happened,” shared Niño.

What keeps Niño going is his family. While the fight against COVID-19 continues, Niño draws inspiration and strength from his family. “I couldn’t afford to lose my life and leave them behind. I was working for their sake and for the sake of my dreams, too,” said Niño.

To help him de-stress and relax, Niño reads novels, works on new art (he’s an excellent artist!), writes poetry, and continues learning by attending webinars and studying past lessons.

His experience at the RAFI Center for Leaders has also helped him get through the challenges he faces now. Having attended one of the camps in 2019, the experience has prepared him for what lies ahead.

“KAC taught me that pauses in life [are] crucial to making life-changing decisions. It [is] brave to think many times before you venture [on] your journey,” said Niño, who is better known through his camp name Cicatrix.

Niño, like many other healthcare workers, continues to serve in the frontlines, despite the many challenges and struggles they face. Their spirit of tenacity and love for service runs deep within them and helps fuel them to continue to serve others.

“The greatest impact that KAC ingrained in my memory was to be sharply awake and reasonably disturbed. I stood up to the oppressions my profession is currently facing and I honed myself looking for the root cause of every problem I encounter. I couldn’t turn a blind eye to the sufferings of others. In those moments, I use my talents and abilities to connect with people who also have the heart for service and create projects to those in need,” said Niño.

At the RAFI Center for Leaders, we continue to celebrate frontliners across the Philippines, and the globe, who continue to share so much of themselves in the service of others. For the month of August, the RAFI Center for Leaders will feature frontline heroes who work tirelessly at the frontlines in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Text by Elisabeth Baumgart; Graphics Edits by Marlon Perilla, RAFI Center for Leaders

The RAFI Center for Leaders provides learning and development programs that equip leaders and enable communities through world-class, safe, powerful learning experiences. The RAFI CFL headquarters are located in the scenic mountains of Balamban, Cebu at the Kool Adventure Camp, the country’s first and fully-dedicated adventure education facility.

Gabii sa Kabilin will hold its third online activity about “Visayan Tattooing and Tattoo Designs” on Friday, August 28 at 3 p.m. It will focus on the art of tattooing in pre-colonial Visayas and the significance of tattoos in pre-colonial society.

The webinar will feature guest speaker Mr. Piper Abas who is a Bukidnon native and descendant of the Higaonon tribe. He is a researcher of ancestral tattoos in the Philippines and has been practicing ancestral tattooing for two years.

 

Resilience in the face of adversity, an undertaking that the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. (RAFI) has been carrying out especially during this trying time of the COVID-19 pandemic. RAFI continues to prove its resilience through adversity by adapting to the new normal.

RAFI had their first Virtual General Assembly held last August 24, 2020 via Zoom. RAFInians remain to be on a work-from-home arrangement. The assembly aimed to bring hope and give everyone a deeper knowledge on what to expect as the “new normal” awaits. Over 1,700 employees gathered virtually in celebrating RAFI’s milestones.

Chief Operating Officer (COO), Riella Christa Mae Guioguio highlighted how RAFInians continued to remain steadfast in fulfilling its mission to the community. She introduced new strategies to be cascaded across all its program units and support teams. “RAFI with the approval of Board of Trustees shall implement these three new major strategies to cushion the impact of the crisis. This will enable us to adapt successfully, find opportunities to grow, and evolve through: Digital Transformation, Empowering Employees, and Strengthening Partnerships,” shared Guioguio. RAFI’s overall mission to support economic, social, and physical well-being is the core structure and framework of these new strategies.

Various program units presented their accomplishments, plans, and initiatives for the year 2020 through audio-video presentations with various virtual collaborations. It showcased another skillset of creativity acquired over the quarantine period.

President Dominica Chua closed the morning celebration with a message of hope and wisdom, welcoming openness as we change our lifestyle, routine, and perspective. “It is my belief that RAFInians will put their best effort forward to pivot our mission to an unparallel level. We will not retreat, but instead we will come back stronger than the setback,” she shared.

The second half of the general assembly was filled with fun and entertainment. Virtual activities such as: online photo contest and online singing contest was led by the RAFI Engagement Team. Winners of the online photo contest were Paul Aldrin Villamora (individual category) and RAFI MFI Sorsogon Branch (group category). Meanwhile, Jojo Santiago from the RAFI MFI Calbayog 1 Branch won the online singing contest.

The ability to bounce back from adversity is the greatest shift one can make in these challenging times. With the #1HappyRAFI culture, RAFI remains optimistic and stronger to building more resilient community that is ready to BUGSAY!

Theirs is a story of true love and service.

Glenn Mark Hamili is an Emergency Medical Technician-Nurse who more often than not finds himself within reach of the dangers of COVID-19. Based in a private hospital in Dubai, Glenn transfers patients via an advance life support ambulance to various isolation families and hospitals in Dubai. Glenn and other nurses work tirelessly in ensuring the safety and care of their patients.

Thousands of miles away from him is his wife, Ma. Theresa “Mathet” Masong- Hamili, who used to also work as a nurse along with Mark in Dubai. Ma. Theresa, better known by her camp name Matitoy, returned to Cebu in 2019 to take care of their child. When the pandemic hit the Philippines and Mathet saw the dark effects of the pandemic on both frontliners and the community, she knew she had to do something.

“When the pandemic struck, [I felt] there was something inside of me that I wanted to do – to go back to the hospital [and serve]. But I couldn’t do this because no one could take care of our baby. She doesn’t have a father right now because he’s working abroad, and [should I start working in a hospital again], I’d have to be on quarantine. Sometimes I feel guilty not being able to help, since we need nurses more than ever. So I had to think outside of the box to help others,” shared Mathet.

Working closely with organizations that supported frontliners, Mathet threw herself into the work of making sure that frontliners had enough meals and the right personal protective equipment. She worked with other nurses in raising funds to purchase and deliver PPEs to hospitals for their colleagues in the field.

Glenn, whose camp name is aptly named Medic, also works as a triage nurse in the emergency department when he is not transporting COVID-19 patients. Glenn shares that it was a challenge to carefully isolate suspected COVID-19 patients. To ease the process, their team was able to set up a protocol would help in the isolation process and ensure the safety of all staff.

As frontliners navigate through the rough winds, it’s the support Glenn receives that help him through these uncertain times and enable him to continue to serve.

 “Support in every aspect in our life is one [thing] that helped me get through the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis,” said Glenn. “I am pleased with our team for the professional support they (hospital) provided in our area. I am grateful to my family in the Philippines for the emotional support they provided. The constant communication (shout out to Zoom Video Communications) and [helped] the sense of belongingness since the start of the lockdown in this country. Because of my family, I was able to beat the depression of a frontline worker,” he added.

For Glenn and Mathet, true love knows no distance.

“Being far from my husband who is also in the battlefield challenged me on how to support him. I’ve provided emotional support through constant communication,” said Mathet, who shared the struggles of discrimination and exhaustion her husband had to go through. “Setting aside my personal stress and struggles has helped me to listen to and provide support to nurses, especially my husband.”

Glenn and Mathet are alumni of the youth development programs during the early years of the RAFI Center for Leaders, back then better known as Kool Adventure Camp. Their experience from over a decade ago, has helped them through these challenging times.

“Having met the dragon years back when I was a participant in one of the KAC youth programs has helped me in significant ways. Because of that pamper pole, High-Y and the great climbing wall, I fearlessly am able to face the uncertainty of this pandemic. Initially, everyone was scared about COVID-19. There was no definite system to follow in our department, everyone got flustered as the number of cases increases and everybody is worried with their health and as well as their loved ones. Then I remembered what I learned from one of KAC activities that, “Fear is a successful limiting factor”. That being said, our team then created a plan to be able to continue our purpose in this situation with safety and security on our part,” shared Glenn.

The trust within yourself, your team members and the system is the key to overcome fear, he added.

As he reflects on his work and the life-critical service they provide, it is the trust and sensitivity that everyone offers to each other that helps frontliners like himself in their service.

“Every team member in our department take turns in belaying each other as we face this pandemic every day. This boosted our self-confidence knowing that our team is at your back while we carry out our duties and responsibilities as a healthcare worker,” explained Glenn.

As the threat of COVID-19 remains real, Glenn highlights the importance of sensitivity during these times. Keeping proper social distance and practicing required hand and overall hygiene must be observed at all times.

“Being sensitive to others will help reduce the chance of increasing the number of cases,” stressed Glenn.

Glenn vows to remain at the frontline and provide the critical care and support everyone needs at these times. “Since my camp name is Medic, it is my duty and responsibility to help others and stop spread of this virus in my own little ways,” he said.

At the RAFI Center for Leaders, we continue to celebrate frontliners across the Philippines, and the globe, who continue to share so much of themselves in the service of others. For the month of August, the RAFI Center for Leaders will feature frontline heroes who work tirelessly at the frontlines in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Text by Elisabeth Baumgart; Graphics Edits by Marlon Perilla, RAFI Center for Leaders

The RAFI Center for Leaders provides learning and development programs that equip leaders and enable communities through world-class, safe, powerful learning experiences. The RAFI CFL headquarters are located in the scenic mountains of Balamban, Cebu at the Kool Adventure Camp, the country’s first and fully-dedicated adventure education facility.

 

These days, news and updates are critical.

As many rely on the latest news and developments to make informed decisions, John Carlo Toleza actively volunteers for Barangay Tisa in Cebu City to go out and capture local and provincial news.

John Carlo, known by RAFI Center for Leaders camp name “Narnia”, is just one of the many volunteers of Barangay Tisa who help in delivering time critical updates and news to fellow residents in the barangay. Narnia and the rest of the team makes sure the news they deliver are relevant and updated regularly for local residents.

In a time where communication strategies need to be fast and efficient, this assistance helps barangay officials reach local residents easily.

Narnia and his team are volunteers. They go out, capture stories and updates, and deliver these to their followers. Despite the risks of COVID-19, they continue with their mission.

On a typical day, Narnia meticulously covers relevant COVID-19 updates and news within their community. He and the rest of the volunteers manage and publish their news through the Tisa Daily Bulleting Facebook page, which has gained a following of more than 47K+ subscribers.

“The page also hears the concerns of our Tisaanons and address them accordingly,” shared Narnia. The concerns they receive through the page he relays to the barangay and ensures that these are addressed in a timely manner.

Building communities and connecting with others online has become a growing trend throughout the quarantine period.

As more families face the dangers impact of the pandemic on their livelihood, Narnia and other volunteer friends set up the Tisa Daily Bayanihan. The project serves as a hub for individuals to donate to the vulnerable sectors within the barangay.

Narnia and other volunteers ensured that those working tirelessly on the frontlines are assisted too. He and the rest of the team provided meals to posted law enforcement personnel, those serving aid to affected communities, and other frontliners in service.

Despite the dangers of COVID-19, Narnia and his friends continue to help and volunteer in their barangay. While there may be threats, they continue to serve.

“The demands of my work feel less daunting because it truly is an essential job so it cannot be done half-heartedly. Sa akoa pa nga isulti sa akong mga kaubanan nga volunteers, “Mag-uban ta sa pagmugna og maayong ugma sa Tisa,” shared Narnia.

Reflecting on his RAFI Center for Leaders experience, his time at the camp has prepared him for the volunteer work he does now.

“[CFL] has helped me not to shy away from any experience and to welcome any responsibility that comes my way. I learned to stay in the moment. When we are focused on the task at hand, our fears take the second seat. I am grateful for my [CFL] experience because it helped me stay centered and to have trust in my abilities,” said Narnia.

As COVID-19 continues to stick around, the work for Narnia and the rest of the volunteer team remains. However, no matter of big of a task their work may be, they continue to help.

“For me it is important to always be grounded and remind yourself why you chose to volunteer. The spirit of volunteerism is that it’s directed action. There has to be a picture of the people we that we are volunteering for. It had already become a habit to add my barangay among my responsibilities. This pandemic merely heightened that sense of responsibility. I am proud to say that the Tisaanons who have been my home and my people are the reason I continue to serve in this pandemic,” said Narnia.

At the RAFI Center for Leaders, we continue to celebrate frontliners across the Philippines, and the globe, who continue to share so much of themselves in the service of others. For the month of August, the RAFI Center for Leaders will feature frontline heroes who work tirelessly at the frontlines in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Text by Elisabeth Baumgart; Graphics Edits by Marlon Perilla, RAFI Center for Leaders

The RAFI Center for Leaders provides learning and development programs that equip leaders and enable communities through world-class, safe, powerful learning experiences. The RAFI CFL headquarters are located in the scenic mountains of Balamban, Cebu at the Kool Adventure Camp, the country’s first and fully-dedicated adventure education facility.

Margie Pinton’s days begin and end by making sure that individuals in need of assistance get the timely care and support they need in these critical times.

Margie, better known through her camp name “Earth”, is a social worker who works tirelessly in providing social welfare programs and services to indigent, marginalized, and disadvantaged individuals. As the COVID-19 pandemic affects communities and individuals, Earth and her team provide psychological first aid, distribute relief goods, and facilitate other aids to individuals in need of medical, food, burial, and transportation assistance during these times.

Despite the dangers of the pandemic, Earth and her team report to work daily and travel across Cebu to deliver social services to individuals and families in crisis. As part of their duties with the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations program, Earth and her team are on-call 24/7 and respond to the needs of others without fail.

“We are not just here because we are called to serve but we’re here and we sustain because we commit for the betterment of everyone. We are here to serve and be of service,” shares Earth.

Because of their high exposure risks out on the field, Earth and her team are drawn away from their families most of the time. “Having this kind of new normal, we had to make much of adjustment because of the kind of work we’re doing even, to the extent of not seeing our love ones for their safety and security considering that we are mostly exposed to the public and probably with the virus,” said Earth.

The days are long and taxing for Earth and her team yet she remains committed to serving individuals in need of their service. Her family provides her all the inspiration she needs to fuel her through the trials and dangers of work. “I am most thankful for my husband and family for the joy they bring amidst the work challenges,” shared Earth.

She also draws strength and inspiration from the team Earth works with. The pandemic has drastically changed the way their agency can deliver social services and support to its beneficiaries. With the transitions, Earth and her team are quick on their feet in delivering social services in the most strategic and safe way possible.

“There were times when I felt physically and emotionally tired but the agency’s vision of helping the vulnerable and disadvantaged is what will keep me going because I want to be part of it. I still believe that in my own little I can contribute and I am contributing,” sheared Earth.

An alumna from the RAFI Center for Leaders, known as Kool Adventure Camp (KAC) during the program’s early years, Earth shares that her KAC experience from 20 years ago has helped her through the new and challenging circumstances she is facing.

“The pamper pole has always taught me to find my inner strength and be confident in conquering my own fears while always recognizing and appreciating the efforts of the supporters or those people on the ground who are there willing to tighten or loosen their support whenever I need it,” shared Earth, an alumna of Camp 19 from the Cebu City Don Carlos A. Gothong Memorial National High School in 1999.

As the pandemic continues to affect the lives of many, Earth remains ready to serve. “Truly, Kool Adventure Camp’s experiences allowed me to be adventurous and to enjoy the challenges in front of me. Poles won’t be too high to climb if we will try to embrace it, go along to with the direction where it shakes, and step on it as if we are totally not worried of balancing it. There is no wall that cannot be conquered if the team works together as one no matter how high or difficult it would be. Finally, the high wire was a symbolic reminder that in one’s successes, there will also be significant other or others who will always be the person’s strong supporter,” said Earth.

At the RAFI Center for Leaders, we continue to celebrate frontliners across the Philippines, and the globe, who continue to share so much of themselves in the service of others. For the month of August, the RAFI Center for Leaders will feature frontline heroes who work tirelessly at the frontlines in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Text by Elisabeth Baumgart; Graphics Edits by Marlon Perilla, RAFI Center for Leaders

The RAFI Center for Leaders provides learning and development programs that equip leaders and enable communities through world-class, safe, powerful learning experiences. The RAFI CFL headquarters are located in the scenic mountains of Balamban, Cebu at the Kool Adventure Camp, the country’s first and fully-dedicated adventure education facility.

As the impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt worldwide, the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. (RAFI), after its first successful phase of implementation on its interventions, continues its response to the situation caused by the pandemic by activating its second phase of its Humanitarian Disaster Preparedness and Response (HDPR) interventions.