Just a day after I wrote about the Australian bushfires and the need for protective face masks for residents in the southeastern towns and cities of that continent, here at home Taal Volcano emitted ash and necessitated the use of similar face masks in Batangas and many neighboring places. This week’s drop in air quality in and around the affected areas has pushed up the demand for face masks. The Department of Trade and Industry has stepped in to ensure that the price of this much needed item does not increase more than 10 percent of what it’s normally sold for.
I look inside my medical bag and find three kinds of masks which I keep in stock. I have the rectangular-shaped ones in four different colors on one side; these are light blue, green, pale pink or white. The other side is just all white. The second kind I have in my medical kit is the child-size mask, a smaller version of the rectangular one. I am told by friends in the medical field that these rectangular ones do not filter the air as much as the N95 mask because they do not have a snug fit and allow air to leak in. I’ve also got this N95 in my emergency bag. This “is a safety device that covers the nose and mouth and helps protect the wearer from breathing in some hazardous substances.”
I am so proud of Balay Mindanaw Foundation, a non-government organization. Even as its resources have been strained with recent calamities that have hit Mindanao, it has lent its helping hand to Luzon by donating 3,000 much needed face masks. Balay Mindanaw is a nonstock, nonprofit organization that articulates “a sense of fierce pride for Mindanao and a passion for transforming this poorest and most conflict-torn of the country’s region into a balay, a true home for its peoples.” Living proof, yet again, that humble gestures done with great compassion and love become inspiring ones and that no help is too little.
I am celebrating the Sinulog Festival, the feast of Sto. Niño here in Cebu this weekend. This festival is celebrated annually on the third Sunday of January in thanksgiving to the Infant or Child Jesus and the many graces received or prayed for.
I am certain there will be many prayers of petition and gratitude that will be made at the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu. Not least of which will be thanksgiving for the help extended among kin, neighbors, between cities, the international community and from Mindanao, Visayas and Luzon. That’s one of the reasons we have survived and risen from many calamities of years past and how we hope to survive the many more that will come our way.