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Award-giving body recognizes COVID-19 heroes

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This year’s Ginebra Ako Awards was special in two ways—first, it pushed through despite the global health crisis, albeit virtually, and second, it recognized individuals and organizations who work to unite the country and uplift our countrymen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a time when Filipinos look up to real-life heroes for inspiration, the “Ginebra Ako Awards Year 3: Pagkakaisa sa Gitna ng Pandemya,” held on Dec. 18 via Ginebra San Miguel’s Facebook page, recognized Filipinos for their contributions to COVID-19 efforts. 

The awardees recognized for their contributions during the pandemic were Martin Xavier Peñaflor, chief executive officer of Tangere for Pilipino Ako Award; Minnie Pascual Klepacz, a nurse based in the United Kingdom and one of the proponents of Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Network and Filipino Nurses Association United Kingdom (FNA-UK) for Matapang Ako Award; and the Emergency Quarantine Facility project led by Dr. Glenn Angeles and Architect William Ti for Lalaban Ako Award. 

App maker extends help

Pilipino Ako Award recognizes those who emphasize the value of unity in advancing their causes. This year’s awardee, Peñaflor, 35, mobilized his market research mobile application to accurately and quickly understand the situation on the ground and to figure out how to get help for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as by the Taal Volcano eruption and typhoons Rolly and Ulysses. 

Young CEO Martin Xavier Peñaflor (right) wins the Pilipino Ako Award for mobilizing his market research mobile application to help those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The young CEO also attributes the success of their efforts to the community of Tangere users who donated their points for the purchase of essential goods.

“We also reached out to fisherfolk and farmers during the pandemic who could not sell their goods. We did a quick survey and sent it to the right people who can help them out,” added Peñaflor, whose dream is to help more SMEs to have a competitive advantage with market research by giving them insightful and real-time data.

A nurse and a leader

A person or a group who goes beyond their call of duty in uniting their fellowmen for a common purpose receives the Matapang Ako Award. And this year, it went to 40-year-old Klepacz, who has been working in the UK as a nurse for 20 years. 

Nurse Minnie Pascual Klepacz (right) wins the Matapang Ako Award for her efforts in providing assistance to healthcare workers in the United Kingdom. 

A matron for ophthalmology at University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust, she leads the BAME Network that provides risk assistance to healthcare workers. At the height of the pandemic, she also formed the FNA-UK to address the concerns of Filipino nurses and provide support to them outside of work including cooking meals for colleagues who were recovering after being in intensive care due to COVID-19. 

“Kahit na pagod hindi mo mararamdaman ang pagod ‘pag nakikita mo silang masaya tapos kapag nakikita mong gumagaling at bumabalik na sila sa trabaho. ‘Yun ang talagang nagbibigay sa akin ng lakas ng loob. Kailangan mong tapangan ang sarili mo,” shared Klepacz. 

Designers for frontliners

Those who get the Lalaban Ako Award use their talent and exemplify excellence in their craft to help those in need, which exactly what childhood friends Dr. Angeles and architect Ti did in creating the Emergency Quarantine Facility (EQF). 

The facility provides hospitals more space to safely and effectively treat COVID-19 patients, as well as space for healthcare workers to rest and recuperate or even isolate if they have been infected. The EQF can be built within five days using standard materials and tools found in hardware stores. Singapore even adapted the EQF design, proving Filipino ingenuity.

The Emergency Quarantine Facility team (right), led by Dr. Glenn Angeles and Architect William Ti, wins the Lalaban Ako Award for their design of the isolation facility. 

The duo also gathered other friends and colleagues Engr. Dan Quiaoit, Prim Paypon, Maj. Carmelo Jaluague, and Lt. Col. Banjo Badayos to form the core team of EQF. 

In four months, the group, with the help of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, was able to build a total of 75 EQFs that can accommodate over 1,200 patients or frontliners. It is also equipped with Wi-Fi, providing isolated patients ways to entertain themselves as well as connect with their loved ones through virtual interactions. 

“We decided on the temporary facilities to help the hospitals decongest the overwhelmed healthcare system of Manila, and at the same time to prevent families from being broken apart by the virus,” said Angeles.

The awardees per category each received P100,000, a certificate, and a trophy. Runners-up per category, meanwhile, each bagged P25,000 and a certificate.


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