Why Bono wants to deliver blood to needy in Philippines

Arlene Burgos, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 10 2019 10:25 PM | Updated as of Dec 11 2019 11:30 AM

Bono, the frontman of Irish rock band U2, speaks to the media during a press conference at the Philippine Red Cross headquarters in Mandaluyong City on Tuesday. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines -- Irish band U2 frontman Bono said on Tuesday his previous humanitarian work fighting global health issues such as HIV AIDS has made him want to provide lifeline access to needy in the Philippines. 

"I felt that space between the need, and I wanna supply that need, and I 100-percent agree... that where you live should never decide whether you live," Bono said as he led in the unveiling of a drone-based blood supply delivery service in the country, especially for ones living in far-flung areas. 

Bono, whose real name is Paul Hewson, referred to his experience in global movements he established. 

"I have a little bit of background in global health, fighting the HIV AIDS pandemic in particular, (through) the Red companies and the One campaign, and i saw up close what it was, and to not get access to lifesaving retroviral drugs," he said, referencing non-profit initiatives he helped put up. 

The initiative for on-demand and emergency blood deliveries by drone is a partnership between humanitarian organization Philippine Red Cross (PRC) and California-based automated logistics company Zipline, of which Bono is a board member. 

Bono's appearance during the initiative's announcement at Red Cross' Manila headquarters placed spotlight on those needing access to health intervention, as he told the world that one's location should not make access to lifelines impossible. 

"More than 2 billion people across the world cannot access medicine they need to stay healthy and alive" over transportation challenges, and the Philippines, with its 105 million, have millions of rural dwellers in more than 4,000 geographically isolated disadvantaged areas, organizers said in their brief. 
 
Bono also paid homage to volunteerism during the Red Cross-Zipline project announcement, calling himself a volunteer with a day job. 

"Music's my passion but actually, Zipline is where all my other passions come together, which is the idea that commerce should serve people, not people serve commerce; the idea that the brightest of minds shining brighter when they work for the vulnerable lives... This is why i am excited about Zipline," he said. 

Bono praised PRC chairman, Sen. Dick Gordon, calling him and other Red Cross volunteers extraordinary, and thanked US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim who also graced the event. 

He revealed Zipline co-founder and CEO Keller Rinaudo is a rock climber who "likes to do difficult things," even the "steep climb" that is allowing people access to health intervention. 

Rinaudo said they planned to work with the local Health department in a bid to allow state facilities access to the services. But Bono had been clear from the start the project's purpose is not just to earn. 

"We wanna believe that you can serve purpose beyond mere profit," he said. 

The announcement of the blood-by-drone delivery project comes a day ahead of U2’s concert that is expected to draw tens of thousands to the Philippine Arena north of the capital, where the band is playing for the first time in the country. 

Before the Philippine leg, the Asian tour of U2's 1987 album "The Joshua Tree" attracted mammoth crowds in New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea. The last stop is India. 

Bono is the lead vocalist of the band that also features Adam Clayton on bass, Larry Mullen Jr. on drums, and The Edge on lead guitar and keyboards.