In just a course of 48 hours, a group of friends had raised enough to pledge personal protective equipment to seven medical facilities in the Philippines. However, this donation campaign is taking a different direction now. They intend to reroute the bayanihan to where they believe relief operations can hardly reach: the South. Last April 16, they started their call on social media behind the name “Project Dambalasik”.
As they define themselves on their Facebook page, “dambalasik” is a Caviteño expression rooted from ‘balasik’, meaning ‘rigor’ or ‘ferocity’, and the contraction of ‘dang’ (another expression); hence, ‘dambalasik’ (as in “Dambalasik n’yo!”). They refer to the frontliners as “dambalasik” to pay homage to their fierceness and being malupit during these trying times.
“I was amazed by how fast the number grew,” Samantha Alerta shares. “Maybe [this was] because we had a clear goal [and it was seen by the donors]. It was everyone’s effort that made [this].” By ‘everyone’, she means her Caviteño graphic artist friends and college best friends.
Alerta, a frontlining airline employee, gave birth to this campaign when she felt the need to do something during the lockdown. She started to get anxious for the people she cares for the most, especially her beau who is another frontliner (a medical practitioner). She found herself looking for drives to donate to until she spotted something.
“Everyone’s trying to help the Metro (Manila). [But what about Cavite]? So I told my best friend about it. We [initially] laughed [at the idea] but…I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Then I told another friend—he [got] enthusiastic…[especially when I presented the concept].”
The primary goal was to fundraise for one beneficiary: the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa City for undeniable reasons. RITM is at the vanguard of the health crisis and it sits in the South. However, two days after their first call for donations, the group disclosed the total collection of a whopping Php104,000, posting, “This means we will be able to move forward to our next beneficiary…”. On April 29, 50 pieces of cleanroom suits were personally handed over to RITM.
More of their selected beneficiaries received their donations over the following weeks: General Emilio Aguinaldo Memorial Hospital in Trece Martires, Cavite (pictured on top with Alerta), Our Lady of Caysasay Medical Center in Lemery, Batangas (pictured below), and Royal Care Dialysis in Tagaytay City, Cavite (pictured below).
“We will try our best to keep it going and I am thinking of collaborating with other donation drives. But to be honest, I want it to end soon,” Alerta admits, “because that only means the numbers are [going down]. Hospitals won’t be needing [any more of it]…. It may mean we have flattened the curve. Ending Project Dambalasik may mean we [won the fight against COVID] and for me that’s a good thing.”
Next on their list of recipients include another hospital in Batangas and two in northern Cavite. Project Dambalasik is still open for donations (now both monetary and in kind in the form of gloves and face masks) to keep their aspiration alive of reaching more outlying hospitals in the South of the Metro.
For inquiries, Project Dambalasik’s Facebook page is open anytime of the day.
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