MANILA — Manila Archbishop Jose Cardinal Advincula on Wednesday offered a thanksgiving mass for frontliners in different fields — medical, local government, security, services, and members of the media — for what he calls their heroism amid the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.
The mass, held at San Felipe Neri Parish in Mandaluyong City, was live streamed through the Facebook page of the parish and was aired through TV Maria.
Only priests and representatives of frontliners were physically present at the church.
During his homily, Advincula expressed gratitude to the country's modern day heroes and for their selfless service.
"Kayo ang mga bayani. Maraming salamat sa inyong walang sawang, walang pagod at buong katapatan paglilingkod ngayong panahon ng pandemya... Thank you for saving many lives," he said.
(You are our heroes. Thank you for your unending and tireless service during this pandemic.)
God sees their service, he said, noting that they are fulfilling their own forms of calling.
"Pero hindi lang kami ang nagpapasalamat sa inyo. Ang Diyos din, nagpapasalamat sa inyo. You are not only doing us a favor, you are also doing God a favor... Ang ginagawa ninyo ay hindi lamang trabaho. Ang ginagawa ninyo ay misyon. Ibig sabihin, pinili kayo ng Diyos para gawin ang nararapat ninyong gawin," he said.
(The Lord is also thanking you. You are not only doing your jobs, you are doing your mission. The Lord chose you for your calling)
Prayers were also offered for the deceased frontliners, including ABS-CBN Radio News Gathering Head Edwin Sevidal, veteran journalist Melo Acuña, former lawmaker Reynaldo Umali, former Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr., among others.
Rev. Fr. Hans Magdurulang, San Felipe Neri Parish's parochial vicar, said the Church would continue praying for the people at the frontlines of the pandemic, that they remain safe while fulfilling their vocation and that they continue to grow in faith.
"Ang dasal namin, kaligtasan nila. Kaligtasan hindi lamang sa katawan nila, kundi kaligtasan ng kalooban nila... Sana hindi sila talunin ng takot nila, ng pagod nila, ng lungkot nila. Matatakot, mapapagod sila, magpahinga sila. Pero sana huwag silang tumigil," he said.
(We are praying for your safety physically and for your strength. We pray that you will overcome your fears and sadness. You may be scared or tired, but remember to rest and don't stop fighting)
Virginia Rey, a nurse for 28 years at Mandaluyong City Medical Center, shared she continues to be scared and anxious as she goes to work every day.
But she said she does not let these emotions triumph over her mission to help others.
"Kailangan nandoon tayo para magsakripisyo, para tumulong sa mga nangangailangan," said Rey, who represented the medical frontliners during the Mass.
(We should be there to sacrifice and help the needy.)
She hopes for three things: that the pandemic would end soon, that her fellow medical frontliners would be able to receive their benefits, and that the public would listen to health authorities.
The government late last month released P311.79 million for the Special Risk Allowance of health workers in the country after they threatened to quit due to its delay.
Thousands of medical workers have reportedly resigned during the pandemic, complaining of low pay and poor working conditions. Some have sought better jobs abroad.
"May solusyon naman: iyong bakuna, iyong pananampalataya natin... Marami tayong frontliners na hindi pa nabibigay iyong mga benepisyo nila. So sana naman, sa mga hindi pa nabibigyan, ibigay. Kasi kawawa naman, talagang nagsasakripisyo para sa bayan," said Rey.
(There's a solution and that's the vaccine and our faith. Meanwhile, so many frontliners have yet to receive their benefits so we hope that they will receive it soon and it will be released.)
Mandaluyong Mayor Menchie Abalos, who represented frontliners in the local government, thanked frontliners who have been tirelessly doing their duties since the start of the pandemic.
The Philippines is battling a new wave of COVID-19 cases due to the community transmission of the more transmissible Delta variant, which is currently stretching the country's health care capacity.
As of Wednesday, the country has recorded a total of 2,283,011 confirmed COVID-19 cases, of which 170,446 are active. The death toll stood at 35,742, while 2,076,823 have recovered.