(Clockwise: K-Healing packages, Marikina Filipino-Chinese Fire Brigade Volunteers, MRT security
guard Percival Ubaldo, and teacher Evelyn Setias and Mae Joy Cruspero)
Text and photos by KCC Public Relations
A resounding success, the Korean Cultural Center’s (KCC) Overcome Together campaign brought to the fore the champions of this ongoing global pandemic. Through this meaningful initiative, KCC hopes to offer inspiration and much-need healing through K-Healing Packages given to our brave frontliners.
These men and women across the country were nominated by fellow Filipinos. And by the end of November (nomination period was from October 5-31, 2020), KCC had received an overwhelming 156 nominations for over 900 frontliners all over the archipelago – some even as far as Puerto Princesa and Davao.
The nominations were diverse – from nurses to doctors, janitors, drivers, military men, security guards, and firefighters, among others. And each was well-deserving to receive a K-Healing package. Truly, many Filipinos came together to honor our tireless heroes.
After a careful review of each nomination, KCC was able to choose winners and deliver K-Healing packages to 15 nominees in the Individual Category and 314 individuals for 15 different group winners in the Group Category.
Here get to know more about some of the most inspiring Filipinos chosen.
MAE JOY CRUSPERO: DUTY ABOVE ALL
Among the most touching stories was from Divine Cruspero, a Filipino based in New Zealand who nominated her sister, Mae Joy Cruspero, a nurse in Davao.
Mae Joy was supposed to follow her sister and seek greener pastures in New Zealand. But due to the pandemic, she decided instead to put her dreams on hold and serve her community at the local hospital. “There were many times throughout the pandemic that I had asked my sister to quit her job because of the danger and the risk,” says Divine. “But she simply said, ‘This is my passion, this is the job that I’ve chosen for myself. I’m here to serve the people, give back to the community, and serve my parents.’’
“My sister is truly a hero,” says Divine.
ROMEO SUBIO: HOPE, NOT DESPAIR
Another inspiring nomination was from Romelynn Subio, who wanted to honor her father, Romeo Subio, a PUJ Driver from Butuan City. He was one of the affected drivers of the pandemic. Since he was not able to drive and work due during the lockdown, her father did simple carpentry work for some households and also vehicle repair.
“When we would talk, he was worried about the loss of income and how to sustain our family’s needs,” shares Romelynn. “But as a daughter, I know why he felt that way. He has always been a good provider for the family. Despite that, I encouraged him that everything he felt then was normal and that he was doing well in everything that he does for our family. Laban lang (fighting)!”
Through her nomination, Romelynn wanted to assure her father and all his other colleagues that things happen for a reason and that “we should use this chance to grow as individuals and to find strength in each other as we all cope as one.”
EVELYN SETIAS: PROTECTING THE NEXT GENERATION
Evelyn Setias, a teacher of West Fairview Elementary School, is a mom of three kids and is taking care of all of them by herself because her husband works abroad. While managing a household and raising a family, she also devotes her time to helping her students – making sure that no student is left behind during this most difficult time.
Evelyn was nominated by her eldest son whose love and admiration for his mother grew over these past months. “My mom spends a lot of time preparing for school. She chooses to work for hours, even losing sleep, to accomplish her tasks for class. Often, she has also had to skip meals in order to help out her students. My mom is a hero because she shares her knowledge and is helping nurture future nurses, police, local government officer doctors and more,” he wrote in his nomination letter.
BEVERLY MAE MANANSALA: A MOTHER’S SACRIFICE
During the pandemic, the last place anyone wants to be is in the hospital. But this is where Beverly Mae Manansala, a nurse from the OB Department of Adventist Medical Center Manila, has chosen to go every day. Despite the risks, she chooses the ultimate sacrifice to be in service for others.
“Nursing is not only a profession, it’s a passion,” she says. “It is not an easy job. Due to the nature of our work, we’re not allowed to make mistakes because we are dealing with lives.” In addition she says, every day brings new uncertainty and is physically, emotionally, and mentally draining, especially for those working in the field like her.
Beverly has two kids and takes care of her 65-year-old mother, and so the guilt and fear of bringing them harm is persistent. For their safety, she took them home to the province and I hasn’t seen them for over half a year now. “To do our jobs well, my colleagues and I have had to isolate ourselves from our loved ones for weeks and months.” But her work as a nurse, and helping other mothers bring new life into the world is a privilege. “Their smiles make it all worthwhile,” Beverly beams.
ROGER PY: PROTECTING THE COMMUNITY
Volunteerism is about commitment without expecting anything in return. This is how the Marikina Filipino-Chinese Fire Brigade Volunteers describe their philosophy. The group, led by Fire Chief Roger Py, is going above and beyond the call of duty to keep their communities safe.
In addition to participating in civic and social activities related to COVID-19 relief efforts, the brigade must still attend to the daily dangers that wreak havoc across the city such as fires and other rescues operations due to natural calamities.
In fact, more is being asked from them now as they work nonstop in disaster evacuations, medical missions, and cleaning operations, especially after the back-to-back typhoons having debilitated numerous communities. “The pandemic and the recent calamity that hit the Luzon capital is something we didn’t expect, but we vow to continue doing what we have committed to do in order to serve the community,” shares Py.
MORE STORIES TO HEAR AND WITNESS
Moreover, as part of the Korean Embassy’s partnership with the Department of Education for the Special Program for Languages, KCC also recognized the teachers at the frontlines of their partner schools like Kalayaan National High School in Pasay and Makati High School.
There are many more stories from our brave frontliners that have touched our hearts. Watch their stories of courage and sacrifice as KCC will be capping off the meaningful campaign with a mini online concert streamed on KCC’s official YouTube Channel on December 12, 3pm. The show will feature exciting performances by Korean crossover vocal group and winner of the JTBC Phantom Singer 2, Forestella, and Lim Kim, the singer sensation who made her debut in 2011 after appearing on Mnet Superstar KR and Amazing Arirang.
It has been a difficult year to say the least, but we are welcoming 2021 with renewed hope and optimism, inspired by the heroes who live amongst us and who have selflessly given themselves to protect the nation. By their example and through their own stories of hope and healing, we are inspired to help in our own little ways and to become heroes just like them.
Spread the love and the positivity by subscribing to KCC’s official social media accounts: @kccphil on Twitter and Instagram and watch the full heartfelt stories of our KCC winners on youtube.com/kccphil.
Take a sneak peek of the mini-concert here.