As kids, we would often watch cartoon characters gliding across cities with their capes flowing in the wind. We would see them wearing contrasts of red and blue, and in some cases, black. For years, we were made to believe that heroes are those who possess supernatural powers—may it be superhuman strength or the power of invisibility.

However, as we grow older we become more aware of life’s nuances. We become more aware of fiction and reality—and how they co-exist.

Photo: Police personnel stationed at checkpoints in Cebu City checking the documents presented by drivers. This response measure is done to help “flatten the curve.” (Photo by PRO-7)

Today, as our nation grapples with the threats of a villain—an invisible enemy that is the COVID-19 – we realize that being a hero does not necessarily mean having superpowers. We realize that our modern-day heroes no longer wear capes but rather they wear lab suits and personal protective equipment (PPE). Our modern day heroes are those who choose to work despite the danger of the pandemic, those who continue to serve the Filipino people.

Our heroes are the frontliners – the health authorities, military and police personnel, journalists, food delivery drivers, government employees, bank employees, janitors, garbage truck collectors, and traffic personnel. They are the people who choose to remain in the frontlines.

This COVID-19 pandemic calls for an understanding of each other’s stories. We all have different stories of how we are dealing with the crisis. For our frontliners, their journey to work and while doing their work feel like being in a battle with the enemy, only that they do not have superpowers.

A nurse in a public hospital also fears for the health and that of her family. Walking home at night makes her worried that she might have contracted the disease.

The motivation

Our COVID-19 frontliners and the fictional superheroes we know are both brave and passionate. They may not have superpowers like that of Superman, but their knowledge, skills, and bravery are what make them heroes.

Fighting against COVID-19 is not an easy feat. It requires grit. Some of the COVID-19 frontliners in Cebu share where they get their strength.

“My inspiration as of the moment is having the big responsibility to be called a frontliner. It inspires me in a way that I know a lot of people are looking up on me. My family, my friends, and even strangers in my life are considering me to be an essential human being,” shares Chaya Rei Alico, a registered medical technologist working in a hospital in Cebu City.

For Police Master Sergeant Madelon Mangarin of the Police Regional Office (PRO-7), he draws his inspiration from the support and assistance given to cops like him by the public and of his superiors. What he finds rewarding is knowing that each day shall pass and in the end, they will have the time to rest before taking on another day at the frontlines.

Meanwhile, it is a different story for a billing clerk working in a public hospital who draws motivation from her family. An administrative aid working in a hospital who asked not to be named, she shares how difficult it is to go to work. She shares how she has to walk for about three kilometers just to be able to report for work. She added that her schedule makes it hard for her to avail of the free buses that the government offers. But she thrives on in order to feed her family and to be able to pay for their daily expenses.

Police Senior Master Sergeant Ernesto Regidor, an Investigator of Discipline Law and Order Section of the Regional Personnel Records and Management Division of PRO-7, remains resolute in doing his duty as a policeman. Regidor’s source of motivation comes from his faith and the support his family gives him.

Indeed, these frontliners may not have the power to read our minds nor the power to teleport from one place to another, but what they have is beyond that. They have the dedication to serve against all odds, they have the resiliency to withstand everyday challenges.

Moving forward

“Stay at home.”

This is the call of the frontliners to the public. As the virus continues to be a deadly threat, the fight becomes fiercer. Thankfully, we see how the spirit of our frontliners never falters.

In its effort to extend support, the national government is providing added benefits to frontliners. Some health workers are given COVID-19 Special Risk Allowance on top of the hazard pay. The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) has also offered COVID-19 packages in case these health workers will be infected with the virus. More PPEs are also being deployed to protect our front liners along with free transportation.

Courage, dedication, and passion coalesce the essence of a superhero. While we continue to fantasize about these fictional characters, may we be reminded of our real modern-day heroes – our frontliners. (Patricia Candaza, PIA7)