Dad of PH's youngest reported COVID-19 survivor appeals for help: 'Walang-wala kami'

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 29 2020 06:05 PM | Updated as of Apr 29 2020 07:51 PM

“Baby Kobe,” a 16-day-old baby boy, is cheered on by health workers at the National Children’s Hospital as he is discharged and handed to the arms of his father on Tuesday. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Miracle and science helped Baby Kobe Manjares survive the dreaded coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Now, the infant's father is looking for another miracle to help them battle on after he lost his job as a construction worker due to the lockdown implemented to stop the pandemic. 

“Walang-wala talaga. Nakikitira lang po ako dito,” Ronnel Manjares told ABS-CBN in a phone interview, using a borrowed phone.

(We have nothing. We are only living in someone else’s house.)

He said the contractor he worked with had sent them food but he needed to find a more sustainable source of income. His wife was also not able to supply enough breastmilk for Baby Kobe, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 when he was only 5 days old.

“Sana mayroong tumulong sa aking pamilya. Para sobrang hirap po talaga. Walang makunan ng panggastos namin sa pang-araw-araw ngayon,” he said.

Though they did not have to pay hospital bills as it was covered by Philhealth, Manjares said daily expenses remained a problem.

Those willing to extend help may contact ‭(0907) 565 9016‬.

YOUNGEST COVID-19 SURVIVOR

Kobe was only 5 days old when he was rushed to the hospital due to constipation and fever. Manjares initially refused to bring the baby to a huge hospital, as they were afraid of contracting COVID-19. 

"Friends and neighbors started looking for other options and brought the baby to the National Children’s Hospital."

At the hospital’s emergency room, health workers immediately took samples from the baby for various tests. 

“Nakipag-usap sa akin yung doktor kung gusto daw gumaling ang bata wala akong magagawa kundi ipasok sa ER,” Manjares told ABS-CBN News. “Sa sobrang ano ko rin ho nataranta na rin ako kasi yung bata hirap na rin, ipinasok ko na rin po.”

(When we arrived we were brought to the emergency room. They did some tests. The doctor told me that if I want my child to get well, he has to be admitted. I panicked but since the baby was already suffering, I decided to have him confined.)

Kobe was given antibiotics, and eventually recovered from constipation and fever. On the 9th day, they were told that the newborn was COVID-19 positive. 

“Kasi nakakapagtaka naman. Kasi kaaanak lang tapos paano nagkaroon ng sakit na COVID,” he said, wondering if the baby was infected en route to the hospital.

(It’s unusual. Because he was just born and then he suddenly has COVID.)

He said Baby Kobe, who was born at their house, might have been infected while they were transferring hospitals. He said the baby did not get the virus from the NCH since his samples were taken as soon as they arrived there.

Manjares and his wife Trisha also relied on other people to be able to communicate because both of them did not have cellular phones. 

Manjares, who had to stay at home with their eldest child, a baby girl who was only over 1 year old, checked on the doctor through a friend’s phone. His wife also borrowed phones from fellow patients.

On Tuesday, Kobe was discharged. He and his mother were immediately brought to the Ospital ng Muntinlupa, as part of the Department of Health protocol, to undergo another 14-day quarantine.

When asked how he feels now that Baby Kobe is well, Manjares said, “Masaya na naiiyak din. Kasi syempre ho napaka himala ho talaga na nangyari yun sa anak ko.”

(I am happy and emotional. It’s really a miracle, what happened to my son.)

Manjares said he considers Baby Kobe a blessing since he was born on April 12 “Araw ng Pagkabuhay” or Easter Sunday.