What the Covid-19 heroes are made of

Column box-Dr. Carl E. Balita-Entrepreneurs’ Footprints

Thirty-five health professionals and 43 health teams from 35 medical institutions were nominated to the Gawad Bayaning Kalusugan, a national search for the best benchmarks of medical care amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The Gawad Bayaning Kalusugan is presented by the PCCI and was initiated by the Association of Allied Health Organization of the Nation (AAHON), the Health Educationalist, Advocates and Leaders Philippines (HEAL PH) under this writer’s leadership.

The two judging nights that spanned a grueling seven hours each night were some of the most enlightening moments for the business leaders who served as judges along with health organizations leaders.  Being up close and personal with the frontline health workers gave the business leaders a joyride through the roller-coaster of emotions that concluded to their greater appreciation of the sacrifices of and greater respect for the roles that frontliners of the health-care battle against the unseen enemy.

To Ambassador Benedicto Yujuico, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the judging nights are historical moments citing the honor to be in the presence of today’s most important heroes. He acknowledged that there are no words that can alleviate the pain and suffering of these frontliners. He promised that the business sector will tell their stories and honor their lives and legacies. He noted that those with bruises on their faces and tragic images in their hearts and minds are reasons for the highest tribute that health workers deserve.

The Gawad Bayaning Kalusugan raised P1,400,000 in prizes divided among the 24 winners who will be awarded during the National Convention of the Philippine Hospital Association.

Four areas of excellence

These heroes are screened and nominated by their respective institutions from all over the country. The commitment to respond beyond the call of duty were documented from the story of the first team that managed the first case of Covid-19 in the Philippines to educators and resource persons who continually engage in various endeavors to educate health-care workers and the public.

The value of personal sacrifices became the central theme of stories from the Covid-19 survivors and the vulnerable high-risk professionals to a seminarian-nurse who went on-leave to be able to volunteer. The nominees share influence and power by standing for what needs to be done from the leaders who brought about institutional changes in spite of the scarce resources, to managers who stood to assert against violations of protocols by prominent personalities. The nominees exhibited professional qualities embracing lifelong learning from the specialists who also found themselves in the quandary of the pandemic, to the researchers who diligently were looking into scientific evidence to understand the novel virus better.

There were four distinguishable areas of excellence established in the life stories of the nominees.

First is that they distinguished themselves conspicuously by courage and fearlessness at the risk of their lives above and beyond the call of duty to care for patients with Covid-19.  Some turned out to be survivors of Covid-19, while others were vulnerable persons by their old age yet chose to still be in the frontline to serve.  They demonstrated exemplary and outstanding performance of duty as competent and compassionate health-care providers to Covid-19 patients.

Second is their display of extraordinary leadership to effect sustainable team-dynamics and processes for effective measurable results. They have leadership qualities that engaged collaborative teams in the direct care management of Covid-19 patients or in an advocacy that led to effective performance of the institution.

Third is that they initiated or pioneered and successfully contributed to the adoption or implementation of policies and strategies that enhance the positive practice environment benefitting self, their teams and many others. They were resourceful in change management that contributed to the safe and productive environment in the direct care management of Covid-19 patients. Some of them operated with very scarce resources but with creativity and innovativeness.

Lastly, they engaged in self-directed or self-initiated high-impact lifelong learning activities like conducting research, engaging in publication, facilitation of workshops and conferences during the crisis.

Leaders humbled to judge

From the business sector, the esteemed members of the Board of Judges include: Ambassador Benedicto Yujuico; Dr. Alegria Limjoco of the PCCI and the Philippine Franchise Association; Mr. George Barcelon of the Asean Business Advisory Council;  Dr. Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. of Philexport;  Dr. Francis Chua of the Philippine Silkroad International Chamber of Commerce; Dr. Alberto Fenix of the PCCI Human Resource Development Foundation; Engineer Eunina Mangio; Atty. Jess Varela of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines; Ms. Rosemarie Ong and Atty. Paul Santos of the Philippine Retailers Association; Mr. Jeffrey Ng of the Federation of the Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry; Atty. Alex Cabrera of the PwC Philippines; and Mr. Mon Abrea of the Asian Consulting Group. These organizations are awards co-presentors.

From the health sector, the judges include former Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Jean Ubial; Dr. Jose Rene De Grano of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines; Dr. Mario Panaligan of the Philippine College of Physicians; Dr. Benito Atienza of the Philippine Medical Association; Dr. Linda Buhat of the Association of the Nursing Service Administrators of the Philippines; Dr. Florminda Tejano of the Philippine League of Government and Private Midwives; Dr. Ed Salud of the Philippine Hospital Association; nurse-priest Fr. Ronilo Ordenes, SVD, and nurse-Sister Agnetia Naval. These organziations are regarded as partners in the award.

Take-aways from the heroes

The judges became humble admirers of the nominees. PCCI Chairperson Alegria Limjoco experienced difficulty in judging the best from among the best. Atty. Alex Cabrera observed that the appreciation derived by these frontliners from society will keep the spirit up and will give them more reasons to sustain their sacrifices. As Mon Abrea puts it, these professionals deserve all the respect and appreciation.

Rose Ong said the heartfelt stories from desperation and exasperation in saving lives are truly heroic and inspiring.  “Awakening and rewarding experience,” is how Engr. Nina Mangio described the encounter, which, to Dr. Bert Fenix, is a privilege and an honor. Ambassador Francis Chua and Mr. Jess Varela in unison said that all of the nominees are heroes and winners.

Ambassador Benedicto said there should be more investments to strengthen the medical sector and for the welfare of the healthcare workers, from doctors, nurses, and all other medical support staff. He added that proper pandemic preparedness should be instilled in order for the country to respond accordingly to the next disease.

The business leaders recognized the leadership of medical leaders both in the public and private sector as they continue to assist the government in crafting policies to address this pandemic. They echo that the business community is in solidarity with the health and medical sector from now and even after we Filipinos defeat this Covid-19 pandemic.

Time and again, humanity has shown that our drive, our perseverance, and our willpower to endure is stronger than any virus. Acting with compassion and love, we will heal the sick, care for those in need, reopen our economy, help our fellow citizens and emerge from this pandemic stronger and more unified than ever before.  And we will leave the footprint of victory to become better human beings.



  1. I am very touched by your writeup.thank you on behalf of my staff and colleagues. How i wish i could have such a beautiful turn of phrase to describe what we are going through but you said it all. And it has been worth it. Again, our thanks for all your efforts to uplift our morale.

  2. CONGRaTULATIONS DR. CARL! An excellent descriptive write up. The work of a genius! More power! And God Bless…

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