By KERRY TINGA

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On April 28, two trucks rolled into the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) compound with a donation of 10,000 isolation coveralls, roughly a month’s worth for the frontliners risking their lives to battle the Covid-19 pandemic. The logistics of the donation took a few weeks, but few realized that behind it was nine decades of brotherhood.

TWO TRUCKLOADS

TWO TRUCKLOADS Donations of 10,000 isolation coveralls brought to Philippine General Hospital, one of the Covid-19 referral hospitals in Metro Manila.

Formed in 1929, the UP Beta Epsilon fraternity is open to students at the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Engineering at UP Diliman. For a decade shy of a century, this brotherhood of engineers has quietly risen to the occasion whenever their college, their country, and their fellow men needed assistance. In recent years they have been steadfast in their goal of bridging the gap of education quality for disadvantaged youth, focusing on building and supplying classrooms in provincial areas.

When the challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic started to get a hold over the country, there was no hesitation by the alumni that they had to help. But then it got personal, with three senior fraternity brothers becoming infected with the virus. One brother, unfortunately, passed away, another is on the road to recover, while the third is currently in a coma.

Upon consultation with Dr. Leni Fernandez, chair of PGH Pulmonology, and Dr. Grace Ann Herbosa, chair of PGH Anesthesiology, the Beta Epsilon Alumni Inc. (BEAI) came to understand the desperate need for high-quality isolation coveralls, part of the frontliners personal protective equipment (PPEs). The Covid-19 referral hospital’s supply was rapidly decreasing, with frontliners required to change multiple times a day for their safety, as well as the safety of the people they come into contact with.

To bring the project to fruition, 365 brothers, fraternity sweethearts, family members, and friends from all over the world mobilized. Wilfredo Mejia, Brothers in North America president, and Alberto Selorio, Beta Epsilon Australia president, stirred the overseas brotherhood into action. With donor companies also extending their corporate resources to the project, 20 UP associations, charity groups, and military associations partner with the fraternity.

The BEAI, with the approval of PGH, selected Medpurest, a verified supplier. One of the association’s directors, Ace Castillo, who is based in Shanghai, undertook an on-site inspection of Medpurest’s facility in Anhui, China. No matter where they are in the world, no matter what they are doing, the brotherhood runs deep, and every brother has a part to play.

“It is our fraternity’s hope and my personal wish that various groups stand up among those who have given their own contribution to help our frontliners in these dangerous and difficult times,” said Mike Chanco, a fraternity member since 1978. His own son is a resident doctor, who recounts to him the difficulties they face on the battlegrounds. Proud but worried, like any parent would be, Chanco continued, “We have to equip and protect those whose lives are dedicated to care for our medical needs.”

THE TURNOVER Text

THE TURNOVER Representatives of UP Beta Epsilon turn over the 10,000 isolation coveralls to representatives of Philippine General Hospital. Since PPEs cannot be reused, a steady supply of PPEs is necessary for frontliners.

When the 10,000 isolation coveralls were ready, UP Beta Epsilon Most Exalted Brother Irwin Jacob Serrano, BEAI president Alex Ibasco, and BEAI executive director Joselito Alzona turned them over to PGH director Dr. Gerardo Legaspi and PGH Covid-19 Response head Dr. Dennis Serrano.

With hospitals understaffed, and frontliners overworked, it was reported on May 17 by the Department of Health (DOH) that over 2,300 healthcare workers have contracted Covid-19, with a death toll of 35. The healthcare workers account for 19 percent of the total cases of Covid-19 nationwide. But the majority are on the road to recovery, being cared for by their fellow healthcare workers and being cheered on by the rest of the nation.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2020/05/18/the-brotherhood-that-binds-us/)