MANILA, Philippines - When the deadly coronavirus struck the world, the health ministries were empty-handed. No one was ready for it. Doctors and nurses have had to work overtime to fill the gaps with only a few hours of rest.

Beat and exhausted, they still hold their head high that the crisis will soon abate. In the Philippines, doctors and nurses are tirelessly fighting this faceless foe to keep the Filipinos safe — even if it means not seeing their families for months.

Described by his son as a strict but very cool person, Dr. Leandro Resurreccion III, a Pediatric Transplant Surgeon at the Philippine General Hospital, succumbed to coronavirus on March 31.

Leandro Resurreccion IV, Dr. Resurreccion’s son, saw his dad for the last time when he visited the hospital room, where his dad peeked at the door window, smiled at him through his face mask, and made a peace sign.

During his confinement, Dr. Resurreccion told Leandro IV that every medical procedure was for close monitoring and precautionary measures, including intubation. “I told him I love him, the day after, I never got a reply,” Leandro IV said.

They spoke through text messages but lost contact the last few days before his death. Leandro also said that his dad’s “last few messages were slurred, probably due to being sedated.”

“He was my number one fan, support system, and critic. He was always there throughout the way, even in bad times,” said Leandro IV. “One time, I wanted to run away. He told me that wherever I am in the world, he would support me in whatever I do. He would find me, even if I’m mad. And he would support me.”

A father of four, Dr. Resurreccion was the head of the Pediatric Surgery Division at the Philippine Children’s Medical Center. Now 26, Leandro IV said he was only 13 years old when his dad was certified as a pediatric transplant surgeon at the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children in Sydney, Australia. He was offered work in the same hospital, but he chose to go home to the Philippines as the country didn’t have other surgeons in his specialty at that time.

Dr. Resurreccion was a boy scout, always prepared to accomplish every mission. In the operating room, he always emphasized care for children and got angry when “people settled for routine or mediocre work during surgeries.”

As a son of a medical worker who fought the pandemic, Leandro IV thanked all the frontliners for their heroism. “I wanna say I’m sorry. I’m sorry that right now, you are carrying the brunt of the situation. And I’m sorry that you will continue to do so. But I pray that you continue the fight, because we need you now, more than ever,” he said. “And thank you. Thank you for your service.”

Dr. Resurreccion was 57.

Dr. Resurreccion

Medical experts had warned that there would be a surge in cases of Covid-19 in the Philippines, which has already happened. The medical facilities in the country are insufficient for those who are Covid-positive. Like most other countries struggling to fight the pandemic, the Philippines also has a shortage of medical staff and personal protective equipment.

Moreover, people are not telling the truth about their travel history, making it even more difficult for medical workers to tackle the disease.

Despite these challenges, the doctors and nurses in the Philippines remain hell-bent on winning against coronavirus. They have no plans to stop fighting, even after losing their colleagues.

The medical frontliners are still fighting for the patients despite pleas from their families to just come home.

29-year-old Elvies Duque, a registered nurse who worked at Centerlife in Taguig City, insisted on fulfilling his job duty before he died of coronavirus.

He was a nurse for seven years. His brother, Mark Duque, said that it was the profession Elvies loved the most, describing him as dedicated, generous, and “loved everybody equally.”

Elvies Duque

At first, Elvies kept his condition from his family as he didn’t want them to worry.

Mark said that the hardest part was not being able to see Elvies when he passed away. Elvies would never come home to a family that has been waiting to tell him how proud they feel.

“It’s hard to accept what happened. I don’t know when would this pain end,” Mark’s last message to his brother read. “You gave your all just to be true of your sworn duty to protect lives. You sacrificed your life and we will forever be proud that you left this world as a hero.”

Mark urged people to give the medical frontliners words of encouragement if they ever run into one. “Lastly,” he said. “Don’t ever discriminate our frontliners, they are not the virus, they are our saviors from the virus."

As of May 21, 2020, the Philippines Department of Health has recorded a total number of 2,315 Covid-positive health care workers. 35 have died.

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TNL Editor: Daphne K. Lee, Nicholas Haggerty (@thenewslensintl)

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