LONDON - Daisy Esguerra, 49, is the wife of frontliner nurse. Every Thursday at 8 p.m., she’s perched on her window in their East London home to join the weekly tradition of honoring frontliners by cheering or clapping.
The successful campaign, dubbed as Clap for our Carers, involves applauding the National Health Service (NHS) doctors, nurses, cleaners and healthcare staff across the country who are on the frontline in the battle against coronavirus.
“It’s touching. Our neighbors also regularly ask me about my husband, if he is okay," said Daisy.
Clap for a Cause has given the much-needed boost to the morale of frontliners that include Filipinos. It is also a way to unite communities during the pandemic as they show support for the estimated 1.3 million NHS staff.
Filipinos comprise the second largest foreign workers, with over 18,000 in the NHS.
“I feel appreciated, motivated that people acknowledge all our hard work. I’m grateful for that," said Richard Esguerra, 50, a nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital Paddington.
Esguerra, who came to work as a nurse in the UK in 2001, has just recovered from mild coronavirus-like symptoms. He is yet to be tested but he is out of the woods.
He battled the flu symptoms for two weeks.
He self-isolated and relied on traditional remedies with plenty of rest, under the care of his wife, Daisy.
He has completely recovered and is now back at work.
“It was horrible. I was unwell for two weeks. I was nauseated. I was also vomiting. All parts of my body ached and I was really weak. I’d like to thank my wife who looked after me and thank God I have recovered,” said Esguerra, who has an adult daughter with Daisy.
After recovering, going back to work is worrisome for him because of possible re-exposure.
“Of course, I’m worried for myself and my family because every time I go on duty, I am exposed. But I took oath and I have to do my duty,” he said.
According to the Philippine Embassy in London, 22 Filipino frontliners have died due to COVID-19.
Various media outlets in the UK reported that over 100 NHS workers have already died from the disease.
“Reading the news that so many doctors and nurses have passed away or are fighting for their lives, and some of them I know personally, yes, I am scared,” said 43-year-old nurse Jay Jane Calderon Abagatnan.
Abagatnan has been a nurse for the NHS for the last 17 years. She now works for Guy’s and St. Thomas Hospital NHS Trust.
Like Esguerra, she is aware of the danger of acquiring the virus from the workplace, but she has to carry on.
"I'm just trying to eat healthy as much as I can. I’m taking my vitamins and supplements, which I didn’t do before, and drink lots of water,” she said.
Abagatnan said she has always been proud to be a Filipino nurse, more so now.
“Even before this pandemic happened, my patients would usually tell me - what’s with you Filipino nurses, you are all good in your job’ or they will say—I’m only trusting you Filipino nurses,” she shared.