'Fit for ice candy?' Puerto Galera ultra-low temp freezer for COVID vaccines remains empty

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 29 2021 11:24 AM

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MANILA - The local government of Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro on Wednesday said the ultra-low temperature freezer that they bought to store vaccines against COVID-19 remains empty as no supply came for almost two weeks now.

“Halos dalawang linggo nang walang dumarating na bakuna dito sa amin at halos araw-araw tumatawag po ako. Nakukulitan na po siguro sa akin si RD. Halos lumuhod po ako para magkaroon kami ng bakuna dahil kapag hindi kami nagkaroon ng bakuna, hanap-buhay namin kasi talaga ay turista, almost 30 to 40 years na,” said Mayor Rocky Ilagan.

(It’s been almost 2 weeks but no vaccines arrive and I am always calling our Regional Director, pleading to him to send us more vaccines because our livelihood depends on tourists.)

Ilagan said only about 20 percent of their population have been inoculated; 4,000 have been fully vaccinated and over 1,000 received the first dose.

“Bumili nga po kami ng sarili naming ultra-low temperature freezer kaso wala pong lamang bakuna. Sabi ko nga po nung isang araw kay RD, ‘RD lagyan ko ng iced candy ito para mabenta ko pambayad man lang sa kuryente. Mahal ang kuryente dito sa atin,” he said.

(We bought our very own ultra-low temperature freezer but it’s empty. I said to RD the other day that I will put iced candy to sell to at least offset the cost of electricity. Electricity is expensive here.)

He said they provided a standby generator for the freezer in case of a power failure. 

"Mahirap ang buhay dito sa Puerto Galera pero ginawan namin ng paraan na makabili ng ganung klaseng ultra low temperature. Nagbabaka-sakali kami na ma-prioritize dahil alam niyo naman na ang hanapbuhay namin turista," he said.

(Life is difficult here but we managed to buy that kind of ultra low temperature freezer hoping that we will be prioritize as our livelihood depends on tourists.) 

Ilagan said they receive about 300 tourists on a weekend but that is still not enough.

He also received information that some people are conducting house-to-house among residents and load them in a jeepney for Calapan City where they will be vaccinated.

“Ipinagtataka ko yung taga Puerto Galera nagha house-to-house sila dito tapos dinadala nila ng Calapan doon nila binabakunahan. Hindi nila iniisip na mas ine-expose nila yung aking kababayan sa virus. May narinig po ako hinihingan ng P100 pang gasolina daw,” he said.

He said many residents take their chances because they want to be vaccinated.

The mayor said the DOH regional director in their province has promised to send more vaccines to their town by next week. 

“Ako naman po ay gumagawa ng lahat ng paraan para magkaroon tayo ng bakuna dahil alam ko na kailangang kailangan natin yan para din po makabalik tayo sa hanapbuhay ng ligtas sa ating sarili at sa atin pamilya at ganun na rin sa mga darating na mga turista,” he said.

(I am doing everything I can for us to get more vaccines because I know that we need it to resume our livelihood safely for ourselves, our families and for the tourists.)