(UPDATED) The country's first line of defense against the novel coronavirus consists of fearless men and women who brave the pandemic to protect Filipinos against the deadly, fast-spreading disease.
Many of them have had to deal with the severe shortage of personal protective equipment and face masks, with some resorting to making their own improvised gear and kicking off donation drives just to keep their hospitals afloat. Some go to the COVID-19 front lines without even seeing their family for weeks. (READ: How poor is the Philippine health system? Many hospitals not qualified to test for coronavirus)
They battle fear, homesickness, and heartbreak in this pandemic that has claimed thousands of Filipino lives. Despite their struggles in the field, these modern day heroes still show up to work every day.
Rappler spoke to some of the country's frontliners against COVID-19. These are their stories, told in their own words:
Less than a year since Quitos' first son was born, he found himself leading the charge to protect's Iligan residents against COVID-19. It's an "elaborate nightmare" for this young doctor, who had to undergo isolation after developing symptoms.
The pandemic brought unimaginable darkness to Abu's family. She acquired the disease, and days later, she lost her mother-in-law to COVID-19. Her community even discriminated against them for testing positive. Yet Abu is determined to continue treating COVID-19 patients.
When the pandemic broke out, Del Prado was tempted to go back home in Pangasinan. But the young doctor decided to stay in Manila and help the hospital fight COVID-19.
De Luna knew what she was getting herself into when she became a doctor in the ER. But nothing prepared her for the grief and heartbreak caused by losing patients to COVID-19.
Lero is scared of COVID-19, but he decides to volunteer as a shuttle driver for medical professionals so he could help his countrymen. He said there is no time to think about risks when he has a family of 5 to feed.
Flores is proud to be a garbage collector. He says it is his duty to help keep homes safe from disease. They are frontliners against COVID-19, too, he says, and he hopes more people would appreciate the work that they do.
Despite her fears, Dr Judith Jimeno's clinic in Leganes town, Iloilo remains open for non-coronavirus patients. It's part of her passion to save lives.