Feature: Home-cooked meals warm hearts of Philippine health frontliners



Four Chinese-Filipino siblings have been delivering free packs of home-cooked meals to nurses and other health workers for weeks at the frontline in the fight against COVID-19 in the Philippine capital.

The siblings, aged from 13 to 19, said they thought of donating food parcels to express their gratitude to the doctors and nurses who cared for their 70-year-old grandmother, Teresita. She was diagnosed of coronavirus on March 28.

The siblings’ mother, Stella, said her children cooked meals for their sick grandmother while she was confined at the Metropolitan Medical Center in Manila City for 15 days. The family delivered home-cooked meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner to her every day.

“My mother prefers home-cooked meals so we regularly send her food. But it has to be in plastic containers because you cannot bring home things from the hospital,” Stella told Xinhua in a telephone interview.

While delivering food to the elderly, she said the family also made sure to share bread and coffee with the nursing staff in the coronavirus ward.

Simone Alexa Sy, 13, said her family is grateful for the healthcare workers especially the team that took care of her grandmother. To Simone and her three siblings, the healthcare workers are heroes, she said.

“We want to give back to the people who helped our amah because during those times we had a hard time,” Sofia said.

The Metropolitan Medical Center and its staff are special to the Sy family, as it was the only hospital that admitted her coronavirus-positive grandmother after seven other hospitals turned them away due to lack of vacancy.

After their grandmother was discharged from the hospital on April 13, Simone and her siblings decided to “convert” the Sys kitchen into a production line for packed home-cooked meals for frontline medical workers.

To show their appreciation for the healthcare workers, Simone and her siblings decided to cook more meals for the healthcare workers not only in Metropolitan Medical Center but also to other hospitals and coronavirus facilities in Metro Manila.

Sophia cooks while Joff and Josh help prepare the ingredients and pack the ready-to-eat meals for distribution to the health workers in different hospitals.

Since April, the Sys have distributed nearly 8,000 food packs to around 15 hospitals and coronavirus facilities.

Their good deed has also garnered support from the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines.

Last week, the Chinese Embassy handed over 10 bags of rice, 100,000 pesos (roughly 2,000 U.S. dollars) cash, 400 pieces face masks and Ambassador Huang Xilian’s personal letter to the Sys to show his appreciation for their volunteering.

In his letter to the Sy siblings, Huang “expressed his appreciation for their spontaneous and warm-hearted actions to provide meals for the medical frontliners.”

Stella said the family will continue to do so to the frontline medical workers while classes are still suspended due to the coronavirus lockdown imposed since mid-March to stop the spread of the virus.

Asked what lessons she learned from the coronavirus crisis, Stella said, “It was a humbling experience. Coronavirus does not discriminate. It deepens your perspective on things.”

The Philippines now has 12,513 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 2,635 recoveries and 824 deaths.


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