Captain Andres Bacal : Cagayan’s Forgotten War Hero

My interest in our local world war history started six years ago. But studying it with the absence of written primary sources compounded with the dying population of veterans was a hard task to do.

Our local historians were silent about it perhaps because word-of-mouth and pass down stories were hard to validate without written primary sources. Yet Cagayan de Oro is blessed with so much written history. Our local heroes were properly documented starting with the arrival of the Spaniards. But after the Fil-Am War the trail suddenly turns cold.

Therefore I considered World War 2 as the missing link of our local history.

I grew up listening to my father’s war stories. It is still vivid to me how his eyes would shine when he talked about the heroic battles of guerrilla legend like of Maj. Angeles Limena and Capt. Fidencio Laplap.

These brave guerrilla leaders gave them so much hope. Their names became bywords which travelled far and wide across Mindanao. People made songs of their battles and triumphs. They were there when the defeated Filipino people needed a hero.

My 16 year old father ran away from home to enlist in the guerrilla army in Alubijid, Misamis Oriental led by Maj. Limena. He fought the Japanese with few ammunition and no shoes – barefoot for 2 ½ years. They fought against all odds rather than live on bended knees, my father said.

The heroics Tiano brothers, better known for a street named Tiano Brothers, was another story worth telling.

Their stories were so grand. The patriotism was meant to be told. It was a shame to let them take their stories to the graves.

Somehow I always felt that there are more stories of local heroes waiting to be told. My intuition was proven right when I was given the task by the City’s World War 2 & Veterans Studies Committee headed by former Congressman Tinnex Jaraula to research the actual date of Cagayan de Oro’s liberation from the Japanese occupation.

Fortunately, 2 years ago I was led to a website of declassified World War 2 documents. The drought finally ended and I found myself flooded with declassified documents – all primary sources. I felt like kid in a candy store.

Declassified records show that Cagayan was liberated on May 12, 1945, after a four day general offensive against 650 Japanese troops.

My intuition for Cagayan’s forgotten hero was proven true. The research led to the discovery of another Kagay-anon hero.

In the History of Mindanao Guerrillas compiled by 10th Military District, Capt. Andres Bacal, a Kagay-anon from Carmen, was cited in the battle report for his prominent role in the liberation of Cagayan.

Capt. Andres Bacal (photo courtesy of Faye B. Enteria)

Capt. Andres Bacal was the commanding officer of 1st Battalion, 109th Regiment, 109th Division based in Talakag, Bukidnon. His regiment was assigned to lead the frontal attack against 650 well- entrenched Japanese troops.

120th regiment of 108th Division from Iligan covered the left flank while the 111th Regiment of 109th Division supported the right flank.

When lead element of Capt Bacal’s 109th regiment started the general offensive, they encountered slight resistance at Dipnoan but the Japanese put up a stiff and almost fanatical defense at Dipnoan Bridge when reinforcements of 100 Japanese soldiers arrived.

But after an hour of heavy fighting the 1st Battalion commanded by Capt. Bacal was able to capture Patag Airstrip.

Aerial Photo of Patag Airstrip just before World War II (courtesy of the MacArthur Memorial, Norfolk, Va.)

The rest of the troops were able to reach the west side of Cagayan River on the same day. The three regiments of all Filipino guerrilla troops were able to liberate and occupy Cagayan after four days of fighting.

Inspired by the heroic story of another Kagay-anon, I dug a little deeper. I wanted to know more about our latest uncovered local hero. Thru my network of Kagay-anon friends I contacted Dr. Eric Bacal. He told me Capt. Bacal was an older brother of his father but died before he was born. Dr. Bacal said Capt. Bacal has a son now living in Cebu.

In a long distance call, William Bacal told me his father died of stroke in 1965. He was 48 years old. At the time of his death, they were living in Manilla where father worked for the government.

Col. Adecer of the Phil. Air Force, also a Kagay-anon, was his father’s best friend and classmate in Flying School. He brought them and the body of his father to Cagayan de Oro in a C-47 plane for the wake and burial.

He was the 4th child in the brood of 10 by Mariano Bacal and Aquilina Daba Bacal. Before the war he married Portia Chaves, the daughter of Roque Chaves of Cagayan. William is the second of five children.

William said his father was a graduate of flying school in Manila and was inducted into USAFFE.

Before the surrender of the Philippines, Capt Andres Bacal came home to Cagayan in a PT boat as one of the escorts of General Douglas MacArthur in his famous Breakout from Corregidor, William added.

But that’s another story

May 12, 2020 – 75th Anniversary of Cagayan de Oro’s Liberation during WW2

May 12, 2020 is the 75th Anniversary of the liberation of what was then known as Cagayan (or Cagayan de Misamis to the older folks) from the Japanese Empire during World War II.

US Army forces conducting clearing operations against Japanese troops at the Sayre Highway, Bukidnon.

Unfortunately, due to restrictions enforced by the city government according to the IATF general community quarantine guidelines, no public ceremonies are still allowed to mark this milestone in our local history.

According to the account documented in “The History of the Mindanao Guerrillas” shared with us by the late president of the American Guerrillas of Mindanao (AGOM) Virginia Hansen Holmes, Cagayan, Misamis (as Cagayan de Oro was then known) was wrested from the Japanese by the US forces and guerrillas under the 10th Military District, US Forces in the Philippines (USFIP) on 12 May 1945.

However, as early as May 9, 1945, operations were already underway for the liberation of the city.

Iponan-Cagayan Operation

9 May 1945

St Augustine Cathedral was bombed by the Americans during the battle to liberate Cagayan on May 9-12, 1945.

“Just before the landing of American forces in Mindanao on 10 May 1945, there were still Japanese pockets totaling about 300 men in the area west of the Cagayan River.”

“In coordination with the plans of the American Forces, the guerrilla troops launched a general attack on these isolated Jap pockets with the end in view of driving the enemy from this area, occupy Cagayan proper, and afford protection to the right flank of the beachhead established by the American forces in the Bugo-Agusan area.”

“Units participating in the operation were the 109th Infantry Regiment, composed of 39 officers and 350 enlisted men, and 120th Infantry Regiment, 108th Division, composed of one officer and 350 enlisted men. The 111th Infantry Regiment, 109th Division joined the operation on 10 May 1945. The attack began 9 May 1945 as planned and ended 12 May 1945.”

Patag Airstrip Captured

The 1st Battalion of the 108th Regiment under Capt Andres Bacal, captured the Patag Airstrip around noon
of May 9, 1945.

“The general offensive of Iponan, Bulua, Patag, Bonbon and Bayabas, started on 9 May 1945. On the same day, the enemies at Iponan were reinforced by approximately 100 Japs at 10:00 in the morning. The enemy reinforcements possibly came from Carmen or Calinogan.”

Capt Andres Bacal, the CO of 109th regiment which retook Patag airstrip on May 9, 1945.
(photo courtesy of Raul B. Ilogon)

“The enemy resisted the fight, but at 11:00 of the same day, the 1st Battalion of the108th Regiment under Capt Andres Bacal, captured the strip at Patag and the enemy was reported to have withdrawn to Carmen Hills. In the afternoon of the same day, the 120th Infantry Regiment was able to cross Iponan River as planned.”

Planes Strafe

The St. Augustine Cathedral and Bishop’s Residence were bombed by American planes during the May 9-12, 1945 battle to liberate Cagayan (Jesuit Archives)

“Fighting continued at the Iponan River from early morning of 10 May 1945 till 10:00 AM. At 2:00 PM of the same day, the entire 120th Infantry Regiment was  moved out West of Iponan River, per instruction of higher headquarters, leaving the three battalions of the 109th Inf Regt across the river without support from the left rear of the enemy. CO of the 109th Inf Regt was odered to pull out his troops west of Iponan River and fighting continued.”

“At the same date, at about 7:30 in the morning, American troops landed between Cagayan and Bugo. Planes were seen flying low strafing Patag strip. Instruction was received that the plans of the troops clearing the areas west of the Cagayan River still stood. So the CO, 109th Inf Regt was directed to move out immediately with Kauswagan and Carmen as the objectives. Fighting continued and at noon of 11 May 1945, our troops occupied Kauswagan and Carmen. The 111th Inf Regt met them in Carmen the same day.”

Casualty of War. The residence of Pastor Ilogon took a direct hit from a bomb dropped by US planes on May 10, 1945, the second day of the Battle for the Liberation of Cagayan. (Ilogon Family Archives)

“The Japanese numbered 300 at the west bank of the Cagayan River, stationed at Balulang, Carmen Hill, Carmen, Patag, Bulua, and Iponan. 200 of them immediately moved east of Cagayan River. They withdrew passing Balulang, Indahag, Kili-og, Libona and proceeding to Santa Fe.”

“On 11 May 1945, the 109th Inf Regt was ordered to push toward west side of Cagayan road. Route of approach was made at three points: 2nd Battalion from beach to highway, 3rd Battalion and Combat Co. in National Highway, and 1st Battalion from highway to Patag.”

“Movements started at 8:00 AM and with initial point at Iponan River. At 10:00 AM, the entire Regt was at its objective  – Cagayan River. The while west side of the Cagayan River bank was occupied by this Regt without opposition.”

Cagayan Occupied

The Ateneo de Cagayan administration building after the Battle for the Liberation of Cagayan on May 9-12, 1945 (XU Alumni Office)

“On 12 May 1945, this regiment was ordered to occupy Cagayan and at 9:00 in the morning of the same date, the109th Infantry Regiment (US Army) crossed Cagayan River in three points, namely: 2nd Battalion at Julao-Julao (present day Consolacion), 3rd Battalion at Jap wooden bridge(connecting Lirio St., Carmen to Yacapin street)), and the 1st Battalion at steel bridge (present day Ysalina Bridge at Carmen).”

“The whole town was occupied at 9:30 AM on 12 May 1945.”

Lucas Hall Ateneo de Cagayan May 1945

“All ground defenses were established. The defenses were as follows: 2nd Battalion from Macabalan to Old Provincial Building to Ateneo; and the 1st Battalion with the Combat Co Attached from Ateneo to Macasandig to east bank of Cagayan River.”

“Strongholds were made at Camaman-an and at Macasandig for a possible route of Jap counterattack. Mopping operation was ordered and after the search, Cagayan was declared clear from enemy occupants.”

“The mission as stated in the first paragraph was completed successfully. The enemy casualties were undetermined, while on our side, one Cpl Bonifacio Jabonan was wounded. “

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DA-10 brings Kadiwa on Wheels to Oro barangays

Elson Jalapong, a sari-sari store owner in Barangay 23 is thankful to the Department of Agriculture – Regional Field Office 10 (DA-10) for bringing the Kadiwa Market direct to their barangay.

A Sari Sari store owner thanks DA RFO-X for bringing the Kadiwa on Wheels to Barangay 23 (Tom Udasco Photography)

Since the city-wide implementation of the community quarantine, his family has been making do with little income to provide for their daily needs.

“I am thankful that DA brought the Kadiwa Market to our barangay. The products sold are cheaper and affordable that helps us save, especially now that our daily earnings are much lesser under the quarantine,” Jalapong said.

The Kadiwa on Wheels offers cheaper and more affordable necessities that help residents save especially now their earning are curtailed under the quarantine. (DA RFO-X)

“I am looking forward for the next round when the Kadiwa Market visits our place,” he added.

For the Northern Mindanao Federation of Dairy Cooperatives (NMFDC), better known for its brand name, Highland Fresh Dairy Products, the Kadiwa Market has helped their group get by the pandemic by maintaining steady sales.

“Our production has been affected since the implementation of the quarantine. Our sales have dropped significantly. One of our strategies is to continue joining DA’s Kadiwa. This helps us to maintain our daily sales,” Jhuryvie Sardovia Highland Fresh accounting staff-turned-saleslady shared.

Kadiwa on Wheels buyers in a barangay observe social distancing and COVID-19 protocols with face masks. (DA RFO-X)

“More importantly, the Kadiwa Market has helped me keep my job during the quarantine,” she added.

Barangay 23 Chair Mario Balsarza said his constituents not only saved money because of the Kadiwa Market, but it also kept them from going to congested places like the public market, a precautionary and safe measure against COVID-19.

The Kadiwa on Wheels keeps barangay residents safe by keeping them from traveling to far and crowded public markets. (DA RFO-X)

“I will look into inviting the Kadiwa Market some other time to our barangay. This is very helpful to our people during this time. I am very thankful that DA has considered our barangay as one of its display areas,” Balsarza said.

The Kadiwa Market also enabled barangay residents to display their homemade products, he added.

The Kadiwa Market also enabled barangay residents to display their homemade products.

DA-10 aims to bring together individual farmers, farmer-groups, small, medium and large enterprises and corporations in Cagayan de Oro as vendors and suppliers of the Kadiwa Market as it roams around the city, supplying fresh and cheap food products to Kagay-anons.

The agency provides logistics and links Kadiwa vendors to target barangays to sell their products.

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Local inventor rolls out green disinfection innovations vs. COVID-19

There’s no stopping the Magus of the Seven Seas, Cagayan de Oro’s Pride and representative to the Parthenon of game changing inventors like Nikola Tesla and Thomas Alva Edison.

The younger generation knows Engr. Elpidio M. Paras better as the man behind two of the region’s most popular tourist attractions, Dahilayan Adventure Park in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, and the Seven Seas Waterpark and Resort at Opol, Misamis Oriental.

But they have no idea how the magic started long before he graduated as a mechanical engineer from De La Salle University in 1974 thanks to a scholarship from Del Monte Philippines, how the ideas came thick and fast to eventually bring the wonders of satellite TV to Cagayan de Oro and later cable television, both firsts in Mindanao.

Now at this time of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Magus of the Seven Seas has again risen to the occasion with three innovations to help mitigate the adverse health and economic effects of the coronavirus on the populace.

UC-1 Pres Elpie Paras has repurposed 7 Seas Waterparks’ Chlorinsitu IIa machine to produce Sodium Hypochlorite solution when diluted can be used as a surface disinfectant.

Practical Magic

First off, last March 31st, Paras announced in a Facebook post the successful commissioning of the Seven Seas Waterpark’s Chlorinsitu IIa machine to produce 815 liters daily of Sodium Hypochlorite (NaOCl) solution daily.

“While it was intended to keep our wave pool sanitized for the summer, it is now repurposed to supply a good quantity of chlorine-based disinfectant for use by the community,” Paras said.

When its daily output of NaOCl is diluted with water, the machine can produce the equivalent of 7,000 Liters of surface disinfectant in a day.

“We are working with the XU Chemistry department to properly mix this into a safe and effective product for use by our frontliners, hospitals and community checkpoints,” Paras said.

Then, on April 13, Paras rolled out two more innovations with a post on his social media page.

“In light of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in the Philippines and the worldwide transmission of this pandemic, the safety of both patients and medical frontliners has always been the subject of intervention and studies on how to best reduce the occurrence of infection in medical facilities, hospitals, isolation rooms and the like,” Paras noted.

Engr. Elpie Paras presents his latest innovation the ParaSafe Transportable Ultraviolet Disinfection Chamber

Green Disinfecting

There have been a number of proprietary solutions and products for disinfection based on UV-C radiation used for cleaning and disinfecting hospitals over the last decade as epidemics like SARS, MERS CoV, and H1N1 affected several countries.

Although UV treatments have been used for disinfection since the mid-20th century, this technology become more reliable only recently as a consequence of the longer lifespan of UV lamps. The use of UV-C is a chemical free and low-cost procedure, which represents a green alternative method for disinfection.

“The contribution of this equipment to the conditioning of hospital areas makes these systems useful for other kinds of spaces that require periodical disinfecting. The spaces which require control of the presence of microorganisms need effective, fast and economical controls, and also, that can be used on a frequent basis,” Paras noted. “When the growth of microorganisms and pathogens is not under control, they can increase the severity of infections and morbidity.”

To address this urgent need, Paras constructed a prototype low cost, portable room disinfection device based on Ultraviolet-C Irradiation technology, using locally available materials.

“The state of community quarantine in many localities including our own (Cagayan de Oro City) has affected the sourcing of more sophisticated devices and components that would be used for automated or remote control of the proposed device,” he noted further. “The system here described is easily built using common tools and materials and is scalable to generate higher ultraviolet dosages by adding more UV-C lamps.”

Dubbed the “ParaSafe Transportable Ultraviolet Disinfection Chamber”, the collapsible cabin measuring 2m x 2.5m can be located near isolation facilities in hospitals so that PPEs, gowns, footwear, masks and medical devices can be sterilized quickly, safely and economically in minutes.

ParaZap portable wheeled UV-C Room Disinfection Unit

“The well known ultraviolet sanitizing method employed by this device affects a very wide range of microorganisms and it has advantages compared to chemical based-sanitizing methods,” Paras said.

To avoid or minimize the use of chemical agents that may be harmful to the surfaces of hospital rooms and minimize the impact on the environment, Paras built a mobile device which permits periodical irradiation of rooms with UV-C, to eliminate and prevent biological contaminants.

UV-C radiation inactivates microorganisms causing DNA damage by producing cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers (CPDs), altering DNA structure, and thus interfering with DNA replication. This has been effective and requires less personal than the manual cleaning and disinfection based on chemical agents.

Older methods of disinfection for large areas include the use gaseous agents (formaldehyde, ethylene oxide, etc.) which are hazardous and require an air flow pattern. Likewise, liquid agents, such as sodium hypochlorite that are also used for disinfection must be carefully removed after being applied and may damage exposed materials such as delicate electronic devices.

However, Paras cautioned UV is not suitable for disinfecting humans since it can harm the skin and eyes under prolonged exposure. It is intend solely to disinfect PPEs, masks, surgical gowns, and footwear.

“The external tower signal light with buzzer indicates Active status of UV-C lamps, minimizing unnecessary prolonged exposure of uncovered skin and unprotected eyes to UV rays which could produce sunburn-like exposure. An emergency stop button is also available to turn off the lamps if needed,” he added.

The second innovation, dubbed the “ParaZap” is a portable wheeled UV-C Room Disinfection Unit (RDU) which reduces the turnaround times for operating theaters, Intensive Care Units (ICUs), delivery rooms and facilities requiring a germ-free environment to operate.

“In minutes of exposure to UV-C light, pathogens, bacteria and viruses can be rendered inactive,” Paras noted. “A surprising side effect of using mercury based UV germicidal lamp tubes is the production of minute quantities of Ozone, a scientifically known oxidizer which breaks down bacteria, amoeba and the like.”

He added that UV technology, Ozonization and onsite Chlorine production using salt, are some of the state-of-the-art sciences currently used at the Seven Seas Waterpark and Resort (dubbed “Mindanao’s Showcase of Sustainable Tourism”) to keep customers safe while they enjoy the facility.

Paras has written Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) Chief Dr. Jose Chan about his intent to donate the ParasSafe disinfection cabin and ParaZap RDU to NMMC and is just waiting for a response.

NMMC in Cagayan de Oro City is the sole apex referral hospital for the treatment of COVID-19 patients in Northern Mindanao (Region X).

Should the situation call for it, Paras said they can fabricate more UV solutions to close the supply gap although the supply of UV-C germicidal lamps may need to be imported since there are hardly any available in Cagayan de Oro. (RMB)

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Post COVID-19 Scenario: PCCI submits proposals for resumption of Economic Activities in Mindanao

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry has endorsed to the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases a resolution from its regional chambers in Mindanao detailing suggestions for the resumption of economic activities in the island.

Residents observe social distancing in queueing up for the Bayanihan Rolling Store of Tago Chamber of Commerce, Tago Business Club & LGU Tago.

Previously, PCCI Mindanao submitted recommendation to mitigate the spread of COVID 19, as well as mechanisms to cushion the impact on MSME’s of business disruptions in the two (2) Resolutions endorsed by the PCCI National Board.

Ma. Teresa R. Alegrio, PCCI Area Vice President for Mindanao, noted how the Mindanao chambers have been in the thick of the fight against the novel coronavirus since the pandemic started.

“Our LCCIs (Local Chambers of Commerce and Industry) in Mindanao have contributed to the distribution of food packs and supported the production of PPEs for health care workers and frontliners, and local Universities in the production of rubbing alcohol and sodium hydrochlorite (disinfectant) for key hospitals and offices,” Alegrio said.

“On top of this, our LCCIs initiated Rolling “Kadiwa” Stores in key cities and provinces which have enabled barangay residents to have access to basic commodities without needlessly exposing themselves in crowded super and public markets, thus helping LGUs enforce Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ)” she added.

A rolling store reaches the municipality of Taraka. The store offers basic goods and commodities at DTI-suggested retail prices. (PLGU Lanao del Sur)

Not the least, Alegrio noted how the Regional Chambers and LCCIs established a Trade Information Exchanges and logistic network for communities under ECQ to provide basic commodities such as rice, vegetables, wet meat products, canned goods and alcohol to LGUs outside the main urban centers.

Resolution # 2020-003 noted how the LCCIs in Mindanao have been actively participating in the local Disaster Risk Management and Mitigation Councils and have advised their members across all sectors to prepare a rapid impact assessment on the displacement of workers as well as business disruption losses arising from the enforcement of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).

Furthermore, the LCCIs have also been advised to prepare their respective Contingency and Recovery Plans on the following scenarios:  1) Extension of Enhance Community Quarantine (ECQ); 2) Selective Lifting of the ECQ; or 3) Lifting of Travel Restrictions;

Among the measures endorsed for adoption under the resolution are expanding the membership of the  IATF-EIto include private sector groups in the planning and formulation of specific guidelines on how  the ECQ should be properly lifted in a manner that will not compromise the life and livelihood of the people;

Surigao Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. donated 38 imported medical-grade PPEs and 100 face masks to Caraga Regional Hospital. (Boyet Go)

For the IATF-EID to strictly enjoin the LGUs to enforce the quarantine measures to be consistent with the national directives, specifically on the exemption of vital and essential services like food, utilities and health in the areas where the ECQ cannot yet be lifted;

For  the DOH, DA, & DTI  to ensure the protection of the food supply chain in Mindanao – from production, manufacturing and logistics by giving workers in this sector first priority in mass screening, contact tracing, provision of quarantine facilities and eventually provision of vaccines;

For the DOF to prioritize funding allocation and procurement of services for all pending DPWH-DTI ROLL-IT projects to efficiently transport raw materials from agricultural areas to the main processing or manufacturing centers;

For DICT to make available to local/Private Telecommunications Companies, Cable TV, Internet and Value Added Service Providers their existing tower facilities and infrastructure including unused internet bandwidth, to fast track deployment of broadband internet services to the underserved areas of the country, thereby fulfilling its mandate of bringing information and communications technology to all Filipinos;

A resident of Marantao in Lanao del Sur buys two loaves of bread from the rolling store. (Photo courtesy of PLGU of Lanao del Sur)

For DICT to enjoin NEA to roll back its recent rate increase in Pole Rental Fees collected through rural electric cooperatives, thereby reducing the costs for Telcos, Cable TV and Internet Service providers in the deployment of essential information and telecommunications services in the country;

For the Board of Investments and the LGUs to provide incentives to companies that will invest in health care-related projects including conversion of commercial spaces to quarantine facilities and construction of  sanitary  landfills, and for the importation of special equipment for the proper disposal of infectious and pathological wastes of hospitals and households;

For the DTI to engage LCCIs in the development, implementation and harmonization of economic stimulus programs in their respective localities and adjacent regions;

For Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to encourage commercial banks to allow restructuring and rescheduling of Current Loan Payments for both private and government banks, and to extend the due dates of Credit Card payments without penalties for a 3-month duration, irrespective whether the account is updated or not;

For the DOF to allocate funds from The Bayanihan to Heal as One Act for the purpose of absorbing the cost by the banks to lower the interest rate for new commercial loans to encourage new economic activities related to food production and manufacturing of health related equipment;

For the DTI to increase the Loan Availment Cap of the  Small Business Corporation’s Enterprise Rehabilitation Facility from P500,000 to P25,000,000;

For the DTI to extend technical assistance and financial support to LCCIs in the preparation of Business Continuity Plans so that the same can be disseminated to MSMEs in their localities who may wish to apply for commercial loans through the Small Business Corporation;

For the DTI, DOST and DOLE to immediately implement Retooling and Re-Training Programs for MSME companies and workers of sectors belonging to non-essential goods and services;

For the DILG, DTI and DA to encourage LGUs in rural areas to give preference to the agricultural products of local farmers, fisher folks, and livestock producers over the usual processed food (canned goods and noodles) in the food assistance packs distributed to their constituents;

For the DOST to extend  funding and technical support for Research and Development to City and State Colleges, Universities and Technical schools related to health care efforts that may directly impact the area’s COVID-19 response;

Iligan Chamber donation of face shields to ICPO personnel

For the DOLE and POEA to subsidize the hotels and restaurants that may utilized as quarantine facilities for incoming OFWs once the travel restriction is lifted;

For the Department of Tourism (DOT) and its aligned agencies like TPB (Tourism Promotions Board) and TIEZA (Tourism Infrastructure Estate Zone Authority) to create a Technical Working Group composed of tourism stakeholders/organizations to study and develop a Business Recovery Plan focusing on the domestic tourism market.

“Additional inputs may be considered in the next resolution once the IATF has released guidelines on the extension or selective lifting of ECQ,” Alegrio noted.

The resolution was signed in behalf of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry affiliate Chambers in Mindanao on 15 April 2020 by Ma. Teresa R. Alegrio, PCCI Area Vice President for Mindanao; and the following PCCI Regional Governors with their respective areas: Arturo Milan (South Eastern Mindanao); Pete Marquez (Central Mindanao); Cioney Paqueo (Eastern Mindanao); Roderico Bioco (Northern Mindanao); Paul Gudmalin (Western Mindanao); Loreta Sy (South Western Mindanao); Aldrin Ibbo (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Mindanao) and Elpidio M. Paras, President of Promote NorMin Foundation.

There are about 45 PCCI local Chambers of Commerce (LCCIs) in Mindanao, around 90 percent of whose members belong to the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) whose capitalization range from P3M-100M with large companies making up some 10 percent of chamber members. (RMB)

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Marawi Suicide Squad back in action vs. COVID-19

ILIGAN CITY —– In 2017, they risked their lives dodging bullets to save those trapped inside the city by the siege.

The Lanao del Sur Suicide Squad of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office on COVID-19 burial detail. (PDRRMO)

These days they brave an unseen enemy to provide a decent burial for the dead and spare the rest of the population from infection.

They are employees of Lanao del Sur Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO).

On March 17, they conducted their first burial of a COVID-19 patient who died on that same day in Amai Pakpak Medical Center in Marawi City.

Amer Hussein Lucman, head of Lanao del Sur PDRRMO, said they had mixed emotions when they were told to bury the dead at Maqbarra Public Provincial Cemetery in Barangay Papandayan, Caniogan.

Maqbarra is the same cemetery where over 200 unidentified fatalities recovered from the Ground Zero battleground during the Marawi siege in 2017 are interred.

The Lanao del Sur PDRRMO team earned the Suicide Squad moniker when they recovered some 200 bodies from Ground Zero while the batlle raged around them. (PDRRMO)

Lucman’s group was the same group, better known as the Suicide Squad, who retrieved the remains while the battle between government troops and the insurgents raged around them.

“We experienced mixed emotions because at first, we were told that the PDRRMO is there only to support, and that they (Marawi City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office) is supposed to lead but the APMC told us no one wanted to handle the deceased. We are ready anytime because we, in the PDRRMO, are here to help,” Lucman said.

 Two immediate family members, with the help of two hospital personnel, helped carry the remains of the COVID-19 fatality from the hospital isolation room to the vehicle waiting at the back of the hospital.

Noong malapit na sa vehicle, doon na kami nag take over, hinawakan na ng mga tao ko ang remains. We tried our very best to carry it kasi alam mo naman ang belief namin sa Islam, dinahan dahan namin ang pag-carry,” Lucman said.

(When the cadaver was near the vehicle, we took over, my colleagues held the remains. We tried our best to handle it carefully because you know our belief in Islam, we carry the deceased with care and respect.)

All team members were wearing protective suits which were all later properly disposed off according to the protocol mandated by the Department of Health (DOH).

 Lucman said it was his first time to assist in an Islamic burial so unlike the previous ones he attended. 

While he and his colleagues tried to make the burial solemn given the unusual circumstances, they just smiled and tried to make light of it afterwards while disposing of their hazmat suits.

In reality, they all were scared of getting infected. This battle was different.

“Noong nagdadamit na kami, siyempre virus yan, mas delikado kumpara sa siege, idinadaan nalang namin sa tawa, nagbibiro na lang kami ng mga kasama naming na parang ‘eto, tayo na naman ang nagtatrabaho, walang tutulong’. Hindi na naming masyadong pinu-problema para hindi mawalan ng lakas ng loob ang mga members namin,” Lucman said.

(When we were wearing our hazmat suits, of course we are dealing with a virus, more dangerous than the siege, we just laughed, we joked with our colleagues and I said “here we are again, working, no one will help”. We did not take it seriously so that our team members would not get discouraged). 

Sa siege kasi, maririnig mo ang putok ng baril, puwede kang magtago muna bago dumiretso. Unlike nito, hindi mo nakikita ang kalaban mo. Puwedeng anytime dumapo sa iyo kahit naka-protective suit ka, hindi 100% na hindi kakapit sa iyo,” he added.

(During the siege, you could hear the gunfire and explosions, you could take cover before proceeding. Unlike now, you cannot see your enemies. Anytime, you could get infected even if you wearing a protective suit because it is not 100% you won’t get infected.)

To make sure they are safe when they get back to their office, they disinfect  three times. The vehicle used in transporting the cadaver was also disinfected. Then they underwent quarantine until they were again called to bury another COVID patient on March 20.

At the cemetery, no Islamic rites were conducted since the immediate family members already did these at the isolation room. They had to be very quick.

Sa normal na libing namin, lahat nga pamilya na nasa paligid ay hahawak sa bangkay bago ilagay sa hukay, pasa-pasa yan. Maraming mag-volunteer na maglibing. Hindi ka natatakot. Pero ito, kahit immediate family ay nag-aalangan na humawak sa bangkay. Masakit isipin na ganoon ang naging impact ng sakit na ito.”

“Alanganin kaming humawak kasi baka mapunit ang PPEs namin,” Lucman added.

For the March 28 burial, the PDRRMO decided not to bring along the immediate family members of the deceased because the nearest relatives were living in Iligan City.

The Lanao del Sur PDRRMO Suicide Squad had to do burial detail for COVID-19 fatalities because no one else dared to bury the victims. (PDRRMO)

The Inter-Agency Task Force COVID-19 in Iligan City did not allow the relatives to go out from their house because they were classified as Persons Under Monitoring (PUM). 

On our end also, pinagbawal na namin na may family member na sumama kasi walang problema sa amin, we can always go on a quarantine. Pero mga family members, hindi natin alam kung may disiplina sa pag-quarantine. So imbes na mababawasan ang problema, baka mas lalong lumaki,” Lucman said.

(On our end, we prohibit family members from joining the burial. It’s no problem for us because we can always go on quarantine. For the family members of the deceased, we are not sure if they have the discipline to undertake the mandated quarantine. Instead of easing the problem, it may only worsen the situation.)

“We understand the weight of the problem. We are not sure of the other people because there many who are still in denial once they got infected  with the virus,” he added.

It was hard for Lucman’s group to prohibit family members from burying their loved one, but the group prefers it that way rather than risk further spreading the virus.

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CCIFII Rolling Stores enhance ECQ in Iligan

Iligan Chamber Rolling Stores

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation of Iligan, Inc. has launched its rolling stores in a bid to enhance the effectiveness of the Enhanced Community Quarantine in Iligan City.

As defined by the Iligan Chamber, a Rolling Store is a “One-Stop-Shop” where consumers can buy their groceries, vegetables, fish and meat items within their barangays without going to public and supermarkets to lessen their risks of infection from the COVID-19 coronavirus.

When Iligan Mayor Celso G. Regencia declared an Enhanced Community Quarantine throughout Iligan City from March 20 to April 30, 2020, it raised the issue of how social distancing could be enhanced with only two public markets serving Iligan City: Tambo and Wet Market in the City proper.

It also made life more difficult for people who did not have private transportation and had lacking access to buy their daily needs such as the dry goods, vegetables and fruits, meats and other household needs.

Iligan’s barangay residents enjoy basic & prime commodities at low prices at the CCIFII Rolling Stores without having to commute or travel far from their residences. (photo Rene B. Pernia)

Rolling Stores to the rescue

On April 7, the Iligan Chamber of Commerce launched its Rolling Stores Project in coordination with the Local Government Units (LGUs), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), City Agriculture Office, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and other stakeholders to address the issues of social distancing, encouraging to stay home indoors and assisting certain sectors to mitigate the big impact of the ECQ in Iligan City.

 “We have 10 rolling stores every day, they have different schedules and diff barangays to cater to,” said Ms. Reggie D. Punongbayan, CCIFII President. “So far, the rolling stores have already covered about 90 percent or 40 of the city’s 44 barangays.”

“We have been consistently been urging buyers to strictly comply with the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). Buyers should provide their own ecobags, prepare their shopping lists in advance to avoid delays, always wear face masks and maintain social distancing in accordance with Joint Memorandum Circular No. 1, Series of 2020, R.A. 11469,” she stressed.

To get the stores rolling, the Iligan Chamber of Commerce requested the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) President to identify which barangays would be interested to participate in the project.

“The barangays were divided into clusters composed of various puroks,” Punongbayan explained. “The identified barangay will be divided into sectors with designated spaces where our Rolling Store will standby on agreed days and times, assuring that all barangay residents can access the rolling store at least two or three times a week.”

Once the designated spaces for the rolling store had been identified, barangay officials assisted in securing the area by marshalling buyers to assure the proper social distancing and health protocols are observed during the 4-5 hours the rolling store would be selling in a barangay.

Because RS operators buy direct from suppliers of meat, fish and vegetables, residents enjoy low prices from the rolling stores. (photo by Rene B. Pernia)

Opportunities in adversity

The City Agriculture Office (CAO) has been supplying at least ten (10) basic agricultural products from local farmers which are delivered to the City Slaughterhouse where the CAO is located, and where participating entrepreneurs get their orders repacked based on their needs.

“We collaborated with chamber members who were interested to operate the rolling stores in the 3-4 barangays assigned to them,” Punongbayan said. “A Halal operator has also been tapped to serve our Muslim communities.”

CCIFII Pres Reggie Punongbayan observes the operation of one of the chamber’s 10 rolling stores. (photo by Rene B. Pernia)

 “The fish, meat, groceries, rice, and dried fishes which are considered basic priority needs of our people are taken from our selected participating outlet members arranged by CCIFII to get the best prices which comply the suggested retail prices set by Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry under the present price freeze of basic and prime commodities,” she added.

To further keep prices down, the chamber coordinated with the Department of Agriculture which coordinated with local farmers to have their produce delivered to a “bagsakan” where RS operators buy directly from them, and where meat products like pork and chicken can also be likewise bought direct from piggery and poultry operators.

In addition, grocery store owners give wholesale price for canned goods and other grocery items to RS operators while donors shoulder like DPWH and the CAO donated gasoline allowance of 10 liters twice a week for each RS operator.

Residents observe social distancing as they await their turn to buy from the Iligan Chamber Rolling Stores (photo by Rene Pernia)

Public-Private Partnership

Through the Rolling Stores Project, the Iligan Chamber of Commerce aims to assist the local and national government enhance health measures such as social distancing, help curb the spread of COVID-19 by limiting the number and distance residents need to travel to purchase their daily needs, keep down the prices of basic and prime commodities, and further expand opportunities for synergy and cooperation between the public and private sectors. (RMB)

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CDO Filipino-Chinese Community donations to NMMC breach P4.3-M

NMMC Chief Dr. Jose Chan receives the 5th batch of donations from the CDO Filipino-Chinese Community headed by Pres. Sonny Choi April 7 at the Cagayan Town Center. (photo courtesy of Jeffrey Ang)

Cagayan de Oro’s Filipino-Chinese Community showed its unequivocal support for the city’s battle against the CoVid-19 coronavirus with its biggest donation yet to the Northern Mindanao Medical Center on April 7.

The group headed by President Sonny Choi and COVID-19 Response Committee Chairman Efren Uy turned over to NMMC Medical Director Dr. Jose Chan 1,980 sets of PPEs each worth P1,500 with a total value of  P 2,970,000.00 and 500 pieces of N95 face masks each worth P130.00 valued at P65,000.00 for a total donation of P3,035,000.00.

Northern Mindanao Medical Center Chief Dr. Jose Chan expresses his thanks to the CDO Filipino-Chinese Community for their continued support to NMMC Frontliners (photo courtesy of Jeffrey Ang)

With this latest donation, the community’s collective donations to NMMC comes to a total of P4,304,000.00, excluding donations also made to the city owned and operated J.R. Borja General Hospital (JRBGH).

The NMMC is the only hospital in Region X with the capability to test and treat CONVID-19 Patients Under Investigation (PUI).

Under the strategy adopted by the Regional and City Health offices, COVID-19 patients are exclusively referred to NMMC, while JRBGH and other private hospitals take in as many non-COVID cases as they can accommodate to give NMMC’s personnel and facilities as much slack as possible to deal with the outbreak.

From March 23 to April 6, the CDO Filipino-Chinese Community had previously donated to NMMC on four separate occasions urgently needed PPEs and medical supplies collectively valued at P1,269,000.00.

NMMC Center Chief Dr Jose Chan receives from the CDO Filipino-Chinese Community PPEs and N95 face masks worth P3.035-M for NMMC frontliners.
(photo courtesy of Jeffrey Ang)

The initial shipment consisted of 60 cartons rubbing alcohol and sanitizing gel, two units knapsack sprayer, 12 pails disinfectant solution (chlorine), safety goggles, rubber boots, protective raincoats with pants, face shields, and 50 cartons disposable water tissues/paper towels collectively valued at P365,00.00

This was followed on March 28 by 480 set plastic rain coats worth P250.00 each valued at P120,000.00.00 and 800 locally made face shields worth P80.00each and valued at  P64,000.00 for P184,000.00 for the entire batch.

On April 3, the group turned over 250 sets of PPEs made in Korea worth P1,800.00 each valued at P450,000.00 followed on April 6 by 100 sets PPEs made in China worth P 1,300.00 each valued at P150,000.00 and 200 sets of 5M brand PPE kit worth P600.00 each valued at P120,000.00 or P270,000.00 total.

The fifth batch of donations to NMMC worth P3.035-M from the CDO Filipino-Chinese Community consists of 1,980 sets of PPEs and 500 pieces of N95 face masks.
(photo courtesy of Jeffrey Ang)

The Filipino-Chinese Community of Cagayan de Oro includes 21 community organizations, including family associations, chambers of commerce, schools, martial arts, civic and religious fraternities. 

These including the following: Misamis Oriental Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Inc.;  Mindanao Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China in the Philippines; Cagayan de Oro Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Inc.; Cagayan de Oro You We Tong Civic & Religious Fraternity, Inc.Oro Christian Grace SchoolMisamis Oriental Liong Tek Fraternity Association, Inc.; Sejo-Lim Family Association-Northern Mindanao ChapterCagayan de Oro Bell Church Foundation, Inc.Kong Hua SchoolCagayan de Oro Volunteer Fire Brigade, Inc.Phil. Wushu Federation-Cagayan de Oro ChapterPhil. Kim Mun Association-Misamis Oriental Chapter Cagayan Gospel Church Cagayan de Oro Filipino-Chinese Amity Club;  Cagayan de Oro San Lorenzo Filipino-Chinese Catholic CommunityPhilippine Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc.-Misamis Oriental ChapterPhilippine Chinese High School Alumni Association-Cagayan de Oro ChapterMisamis Oriental Progressive Mason Temple, Inc.; Kong Hua School, Inc.; and the Chee Kung Tong Chinese Free Mason Misamis Oriental Branch.

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Academe mobilizes urgently needed supplies for front liners

Three of Northern Mindanao’s leading universities are in the thick of the fight versus the COVID-19 pandemic through their campus laboratories.

Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan (Xavier Ateneo) in Cagayan de Oro City, Central Mindanao University (CMU) in Bukidnon, and Mindanao State University (MSU) through College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at its main campus in Marawi City and  the Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) in Iligan City, have mobilized their available resources to supply hospitals with urgently needed medical supplies like alcohol and disinfectant.

We start this four-part series with the COVID-19 Response of Xavier Ateneo in Cagayan de Oro City.

Xavier Ateneo-Cagayan de Oro

From March 24-April 6, Xavier Ateneo’s #XUKontraCOVID19 headed by Vice President for Social Development Roel Ravanera distributed 105 bottles of isopropyl and ethyl alcohol produced by the XU Chemistry Department to various beneficiaries such as the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC), J.R. Borja General Hospital, Bukidnon Hospital, Maria Reyna-Xavier University Hospital, PNP Misamis Oriental, Cagayan de Oro Police Office (COCPO) and the Loyola House, official residence of Jesuits in Northern Mindanao.

“Soc Dev (SD) Cluster is coordinating #XUKontraCOVID19, XU’s institutional response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ravanera said. “We have formed various committees and Gail Galarrita handles the Information Consolidation and Sharing Committee.”

Preparing alcohol for front liners at the Xavier Ateneo chemistry laboratory. (R.L. Flores)

“The alcohol formulation by the Chemistry department of Xavier University immediately started upon hearing that the NMMC had limited to no supply of alcohol due to the increasing number of referred CoVid-19 patients,” said Analyn C. Asok, Ph.D., chair of Xavier Ateneo’s Chemistry Department.

“Knowing that commercial alcohol in the market was nowhere to be found, we thought of ways to help and that’s when our profession as chemists came into use,” she added.

Initially, the lab used its analytical grade absolute ethyl and isopropyl alcohol available in the Chemistry and Biology departments.

Later, additional absolute ethyl alcohol was bought using the chem department and the university’s fund. XUCCCO, a campus-based cooperative also donated absolute alcohol. 

 “We also received a number of calls from people willing to donate but sad to note that even the supply of absolute alcohol is now depleted. At present, we are still waiting for the next batch of absolute ethyl alcohol to arrive,” Asok said. “We are also expecting the arrival of absolute ethanol donated by Xavier University Chemistry Alumni Association (XUCAA) and ICP-X/XII/BARMM/CARAGA Chapters within this week.”

 “Please note that the alcohol formulation from absolute alcohol is indeed very expensive. But in these times, to save lives is more important,” Asok stressed.

 The all-volunteer team of the XU Chem Lab headed by Asok includes Higinio R. Barros Jr, Ann Marian Lou O. Eslopor, Renebelle L. Flores, and Don Vic L. Obaob, who designed the labels for the final product working from home.

 The team is also working to produce surface disinfectant with two partners.

 Through former Academic VP and  retired Chem Dept faculty Dr. Lina Kwong, Chemisol Inc. through General Manager Jerry Dy donated calcium hypochlorite for use as a surface disinfectant (not to be used as spray).

 Mr. Dy needed a chemist to accept the donation so that the correct concentration of the disinfectant could be provided to LGUs and CDO hospitals. The donated disinfectant was earlier transported from Davao by Robert De la Serna.

 “The chlorine content of calcium hypochlorite may deteriorate over time, especially when it is exposed to heat. So it’s necessary to determine the actual chlorine concentration to calculate the exact mass for the proper final disinfectant concentration. Since it is in solid form, we don’t need to dissolve it before distributing it to hospitals and LGUs. We will repack it following specific mass and label it accordingly so even non-technical people can easily understand how to use it properly and safely.”

Alcohol products produced by Xavier Ateneo’s chemistry laboratories have been donated to the Northern Mindanao Medical Center. (R. L. Flores)

 Asok said the analysis for actual chlorine content will be conducted by DOST-X personnel at their lab this week. If the materials need for repacking would already be available after the analysis is completed, the surface disinfectant can already be distributed by Xavier Ateneo’s SocDev headed by Roel Ravanera next week.

 The team is also working on another disinfectant project with former Xavier Ateneo Board of Trustees President Elpie Paras.  However, Juliet Q Dalagan, PhD., XU Vice President for Higher Education and also a faculty of XU Chem Dept. said the project with Paras has not yet officially started since the Chem Dept is still discussing with Paras how to best move forward.

CMU-Bukidnon

The CMU Ethanol Production Team with their Hand Sanitizer products distributed to LGUs, provincial offices, chekpoints and hospitals in Bukidnon.
(CMU Public Relations & Information Office)

Higher up at the University Town, in MusuanDologon, MaramagBukidnon, the Central Mindanao University (CMU) has been producing hand sanitizers, disinfectant solutions and PPEs like face masks and face shields for hospitals, government offices, parishes and checkpoints.

CMU is a research state university and is one of the oldest premier universities in southern Philippines.

Dr. Melania Enot, Director of NPRDC, disclosed that this is a collaborative effort of CMU’s faculty researchers and science laboratories to formulate an alcohol-based hand sanitizer as a preventive measure to curb the spread of the virus.

Enot said that the hand sanitizers are based on the recommended formulation of the World Health Organization (WHO) of 80% alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, double distilled water, and glycerol.

On the first wave of CMU Cares campaign, CMU distributed hand sanitizers to the cities of Malaybalay and Valencia; and the municipalities of Don Carlos, Impasug-ong, Kadingilan, Manolo Fortich, and Maramag.

Campus made CMU hand sanitizers (Joy Jamago)

As of April 2, 2020, some113 liters of hand sanitizers have been distributed to the Bukidnon Provincial Medical Center, Bukidnon Provincial Hospital-Maramag, Bukidnon Provincial Hospital-Manolo Fortich, Impasug-ong Municipal Hospital, some hospitals in Valencia, and CMU University Hospital.  

Hand sanitizers were also distributed to the Office of the Provincial Governor, Provincial Veterinarian, , Municipal Agriculture Office-Impasug-ong, San Isidro Parish, LGU-Dologon, Maramag and checkpoints in Valencia City.

“CMU is always a partner of the country and the surrounding communities. The expertise of the faculty and staff become more valuable in situations like what we are currently in. We are here to serve because we absolutely care,” she added.

The CMU Ethanol Production Team  producing ethanol from molasses includes Dr. Gina Barbosa, Dr. Melania Enot, Prof. Ailene May Ang, Dr. Florfe Acma, Dr. Myrna Pabiona, Dr. Melania Guiang, Dr. Queenie Ann Curayag, Engr. Emmie Reyes, Chemist Leonar Jun Gabiana, Chemist Rainear Mendez, and Dr. Joy Jamago.

According to Jamago, the production of hand sanitizers can be sustained when the team can produce its own absolute alcohol.

Since the distillation systems at the university are not designed for large scale production, the team suggested fabricating a large-scale distillation unit in partnership with the Bukidnon Sugar Co. (BUSCO) and Dr. Rodolfo Espinosa, an alcohol expert from Guatemala (through Ms. Jasmin Tan-Lao, BS Chemistry alumna) who provided the team with a method and design to fabricate the distillation set-up.

While fermentation and distillation efforts are still on-going, the team continues to source ethyl alcohol within the university to sustain the production of hand sanitizers. The team is accepting donations of raw materials like ethyl alcohol (95%), glycerol, hydrogen peroxide, and distilled water to maximize production.

The CMU Team is willing to extend technical assistance to other municipalities provided they supply their own raw materials.

CMU community is grateful for the efforts of the following individuals and offices: Natural Products Research Center (NPRDC) headed by Dr. Melania Enot; National Science Research Center (NSRC) headed by Dr. Gina Barbosa; Food Research Development Center (FRDC) headed by Dr. Queenie Ann Curayag; Soil and Plant Analysis Laboratory (SPAL) headed by Dr. Myrna Pabiona; Chemistry and Biology Department; Agricultural Engineering Department headed by Engr. Emmie Reyes; Dr. Joy Jamago of Agronomy Department; Prof. Ailene G. Ang; and Tuklas Lunas Development Center headed by Dr. Reggie Y. Dela Cruz.

CMU formulated chlorine-solutions as a surface disinfectant. (Iyren Dalipe-Neri)

Aside from hand sanitizers, CMU will also be providing chlorine solution for foot baths and tire sprays in checkpoints and hospitals.

Through the efforts of Dr. Rolito G. Eballe and Dr. Alan P. Dargantes, CMU received gallons of purified water, and bulk amounts of chlorine powder from private companies like MGM Resort of the Panganiban Family.

The donated raw materials have  been forwarded to the Natural Science Research Center and will be handled by CMU chemists to formulate a chlorine solution  following the preparation protocol mandated by the WHO.

As of April 1, 2020, ten 18 liter containers of chlorine solutions have been forwarded to the University Hospital ready for distribution. Eballe advised municipalities who wish to avail of the  chlorine solutions to bring their own containers. (Report by Iyren A. Dalipe-Neri, PRIO-CMU)

MSU-Marawi City

THEY GOT THE SOLUTION Answering a call for help posted online, chemists at Mindanao State University produced sanitizers, a much-needed medical supply in the fight against the coronavirus.

Faced by a shortage of disinfectants, the provincial government of Lanao del Sur has tapped chemists from Mindanao State University (MSU) in Marawi City to formulate alcohol-based sanitizers to be used by health workers in the fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Provincial Board Member Jeff Adiong, president of the Sangguniang Kabataan provincial federation that initiated the project, said the shortage prompted his office to post an online call for local chemists to come forward and help the provincial government produce sanitizers.

A netizen responded by putting a link that immediately connected them to the MSU chemists.

“Our post on social media caught the attention of the Department of Chemistry of MSU Marawi,” he said. “We immediately had a meeting with the university president and the four chemists willing to help us,” Adiong said in a phone interview Wednesday.

After the MSU chemists agreed to produce the sanitizers with funds from the  provincial government, several hurdles remained before actual work could begin.

For instance, the chemists first had to wait for two days before the  approval and guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to formulate the compound was secured.

Then the laboratory had to be disinfected  but some of the needed raw materials like glycerol, hydrogen peroxide and ethanol were in short supply as well, so these had to be secured from suppliers in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro cities.

A LGU worker sprays disinfectant on the road in Saguiaran , Lanao del Sur where a check point on the road to Marawi City from Iligan City has been set up.
(Divina M. Suson)

The workers who picked up the supplies had to pass through tight checkpoints on their way back to Marawi.

“They had to hurry to avoid getting caught with the curfew hours. Supplies of raw materials are limited,” Adiong said.

“We need distilled water for dilution and [water] supply is not a problem,” Jomarie Seclon, one of the chemists, recalled. “If all the materials are available, we can formulate 240 liters in five days.”

But finally, on Tuesday, the chemists finished formulating the first 50 liters of the disinfectant, Seclon said.

The provincial government plans to distribute the finished product to each of the 39 towns in the province and in Marawi. Twenty liters has been allocated for Amai Pakpak Medical Center (APMC), the only public hospital in Marawi caring for COVID-19 patients.

As of April 1st, Lanao del Sur has six confirmed coronavirus with six fatalities. All of the patients were confined at the APMC. (Report by Divina M. Suson)

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Waterpark repurposes machine to produce surface disinfectant

Seven Seas Waterpark & Resort (image courtesy of Project LUPAD)

Since the Seven Seas Waterpark and Resort was shuttered on March 17 in response to the government’s plea to help curb the spread of COVID-19, the facility, hailed as “Mindanao’s Showcase of Sustainable Tourism” has lain idle except for a skeleton crew cleaning and maintaining its various attractions.

However, that wasn’t going to stop UC-1 President and CEO Engr. Elpidio M. Paras from using its facilities to help in the war against the virus. UC-1 is the holding company which owns and manages the family’s various enterprises in the hospitality industry, business process outsourcing (BPO), internet service provision, and cable television.

On March 31st, Paras announced in a Facebook post he had successfully commissioned the Seven Seas Waterpark’s Chlorinsitu IIa machine to produce 815 liters daily of Sodium Hypochlorite (NaOCl) solution.

UC-1 Pres Elpie Paras has repurposed 7 Seas Waterparks’ Chlorinsitu IIa machine to produce Sodium Hypochlorite solution when diluted can be used as a surface disinfectant.

“While it was intended to keep our wave pool sanitized for the summer, it is now repurposed to supply a good quantity of chlorine-based disinfectant for use by the community,” Paras announced.

When its daily output of NaOCl is diluted with water, the machine can produce the equivalent of 7,000 Liters of surface disinfectant daily.

“We are working with the XU Chemistry department to properly mix this into a safe and effective product for use by our front liners, hospitals and community checkpoints,” Paras said.

Already, the disinfectant is being used in a prototype disinfectant misting apparatus which Paras designed for use by their Parasat HD technical service vehicles as extra protection as they go about their daily duties in response to the demands of their cable and internet business.

A Parasat payment booth protected against contamination on both sides.

“Our frontline technical and CSR staff are in constant exposure to possible CoVid-19 infections, so we go to extra lengths to keep them safe in their daily rounds,” Paras noted. A short video of the apparatus can be viewed  here.

In addition to these measures, UC-1 has also implemented a comprehensive package of  measures as recommended by authorities to help curb the spread of the CoVid-19 virus including social distancing, staggered work schedules with a skeletal work force, shorter office hours (8am-4pm), and plastic curtains for their payment centers.

The company has also taken advantage of the Holy Week break to implement  sanitation and disinfection procedures of its various offices and payment centers which have already been provided with alcohol sanitizers and disinfecting foot baths for its customers and employees, and has disallowed the entry of all people not wearing a face mask.

As a further measure to comply with the global edict for social distancing, the company suspended all scheduled deactivations for March and encouraged all its customers to take advantage of the faster processing times for their payments at any Savemore/SM store, 7Eleven stores, or through online banking (BDO, Metrobank, BPI, Landbank), and ECPay Merchant Partner including 7Eleven (Nationwide); GCASH; TrueMoney (Nationwide); ExpressPay (Nationwide); Oro Graphic Inc. Main (Graphics); RD Pawnshop (Nationwide); ALP Tickets and Bills Payment; Triple MG Business Center; Top Online Provider Deals (App) or NATCCO (Coop).

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