The coronavirus has had an enormous impact on the 104-million strong Filipinos with many of the citizens under ‘enhanced community quarantine’ featuring business closures and severe restrictions on movement, including checkpoints and the suspension of public transport.
Coronavirus testing capacity is low and hospitals are under-resourced and struggling to fight the pandemic.
Social distancing is difficult in high-density urban areas and the closedown of businesses from the extended lockdown has devastated families. Without government support, some cannot pay for the basics.
Stepping in to assist has been overseas Filipinos’ bayanihan spirit – the traditional value of families working together to assist family members and members of the community who are in need.
Ella Magallanes Martirez is a senior registered nurse in Sydney and for her, it’s normal to have constant interaction with family members all over the world to help those in need: “I am on the phone and texting other family members in Australia and America to make sure we are working closely together. When we do that, we make sure our family has what they need to get through lockdown.”
For Ella Martirez, the attitude is to help out for as long as it takes:
“There appears to be no end in sight to the lockdown so it is very stressful, but our bayanihan will get us through.”
For overseas Filipinos like Ella, the support often comes down to supporting individual family members who have special needs: “I have two people specifically we are helping at the moment.”
“The first is my granddaughter Isabella who was supposed to graduate from year 6 but the graduation ceremony was cancelled due to COVID-19 lockdown.”
“We want to give her everything she needs including a good living allowance and paying for school fees so she can study hard, get her nursing qualifications and join us in Australia.”
Ella’s other family member in need is part of the most vulnerable group in Manila – senior citizens, many of whom live paycheck-to-paycheck: “My brother Sedre is 70 this year and his little grocery store business is closed. He is a polio victim with heart disease and I help him pay for his medication. He also gets the basics – kilos of rice and sardines and that’s how he is living. I tell him to please take his medication regularly – if coronavirus don’t get you then heart disease will!”
“A good thing about sending with WorldRemit is he doesn’t have to get out of the house to pick up his money. It lands straight into his account.”
For families in the Philippines, coronavirus has driven the growth of payments via non-cash methods, such as mobile and online transfers. Under lockdown, it is difficult for citizens to leave their home, travel long distances or queue at money transfer agents. In addition, there is the risk of coronavirus disease transfer through transacting in cash.
Ella agrees with the need for extra safety with cash handling: “Before, there was not much card use but now there is a lot more and I encourage my granddaughter to use the card for safety.”
This trend is being felt globally with digital money transfer provider WorldRemit experiencing more than a 100% increase in digital sends from around the world.
For Earl Melivo, Country Director for WorldRemit Philippines, it is an honour for him to help WorldRemit to play its part: “For those Filipino-Australians sending to their loved ones in the Philippines, especially in these challenging times, it is important that we continue to ensure that the needed financial support is delivered safely and quickly.”
“WorldRemit is committed to ensuring this together with our Philippine partners. Senders can make money transfers from the comfort and safety of their homes and importantly, recipients do not need to leave their homes to collect their money.”
“I’m also thrilled to offer a coronavirus fee relief offer for sends to the Philippines. We know now more than ever that every dollar counts.”
The WorldRemit coronavirus offer means all fees are waived for new customers for their first three transfers to BDO accounts. To access this promo, new sending customers (abroad) need to register via www.worldremit.com or the WorldRemit mobile app and use the code 3FREE. Promo period is until May 31, 2020. Terms and Conditions apply.
Also, to provide greater connections between senders and their recipients, WorldRemit is also offering top up boosts to customers to help them stay in touch. When a sender tops up PhP500 or more to any Smart mobile numbers, their recipient will receive a boost of PHP100 allowing them to talk much more – crucial when distances feel greater than before.
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