Filipino nurse May Parsons was the first person in the world to administer a Covid-19 vaccine on December 8, 2020. The first recipient of a Covid jab was 91-year-old Margaret Keenan of the UK. The historic moment, which was accompanied by considerable press reporting around the world, highlighted the crucial role that nurses play in the global Covid-19 vaccination campaign.
Parsons, who worked in Britain’s National Health Service for 20 years, got the honor of giving the first Covid jab because she was the best in the hospital’s vaccinator program. She set the record for the most vaccines given by a hospital nurse for three years running. “I’ve managed to do 140 vaccinations in a day by myself. We celebrate it as a team though,” she said.
For her role in shaping history by administering the first Covid jab in the UK, Parsons was awarded the prestigious George Cross Award from Her Majesty, the late Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness then Prince Charles, “for her courage, compassion, dedication, and bravery in the face of grave and mortal danger.”
“We Give the World Our Best—The Philippines” is a branding campaign rolled out in 2022 by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Creative Communications in line with the desire of President Marcos to lift the Filipinos’ reputation around the world. OPACC coordinated with various government agencies to ensure the long-term success of the branding initiative. The agencies include the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, Department of Migrant Workers, the Department of Tourism, and the Department of Trade and Industry.
The campaign, according to OPACC Secretary and Presidential Adviser on Creative Communications Paul Soriano, started in the third quarter last year, directed towards foreign investors and employers to highlight the extraordinary talent of overseas Filipinos.
The team’s first project was a London bus ad, which featured Parsons holding a syringe. The ad described her as the nurse who gave the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine. The copy reads: “A Filipina. WE GIVE THE WORLD OUR BEST. THE PHILIPPINES.”
The bus ad came out in time for King Charles III’s coronation in London, where a large international crowd was anticipated to attend the historic event.
OPACC said similar ads are being planned, intended for other countries such as the US and the Middle East, which will likewise focus on OFWs making a name for themselves, thus bringing honor to the country.
The London ad was misconstrued as part of the Philippine tourism promotion campaign, prompting Soriano to issue a statement to clear the confusion.
“Please allow me to reiterate that this project is not solely a tourism campaign. At its core, the project intends to let the whole world know how good, compassionate and competent our overseas workers are. Filipinos bring their ‘best’ through daily actions that touch lives all over the world,” he said.
Unfortunately for Parsons, she became an unwitting victim of harsh criticism and an object of ridicule, particularly from netizens bashing the ad on a London bus. For example, a newspaper report quoted a leader in the tourism sector saying, “I can live with GIVING THE WORLD OUR BEST but, in my opinion, they used a wrong example. It’s not as if our nurse invented the Covid vaccine or had something to do with the research appended to it. Nautusan lang siya, THE BEST na kaagad?”
We have millions of migrant workers all over the world who are considered economic heroes of the country because of their significant contribution towards the growth of the Philippine economy. A government campaign that seeks to show the world the best traits and the extraordinary talent of our OFWs deserves our support. We should be proud of our migrant workers who excel in their line of work. President Marcos exemplified this when he praised Filipino workers in Europe for their dedication, generosity, and kindness, all of which contribute to the positive reputation that their compatriots enjoy in many countries of the world.