Stronger as Juan: United response to the COVID-19 crisis

Over a year since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country continues to grapple with the challenges, which include the imposed quarantines and limiting of movements. Throughout this critical time, countless individuals and organizations have worked together and volunteered to provide support to those who needed it the most.  

Among these is the Philippines’ leading carrier, Cebu Pacific, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Driven by its mission and purpose, CEB immediately answered the call to join other partners in mounting extensive relief and humanitarian efforts towards helping those affected by the pandemic. Truly, the collective spirit of bayanihan shone through, and Cebu Pacific sincerely thanks its partners who went above and beyond the call of duty at an undeniably difficult time.

Aiding in the transport of much-needed supplies

The lockdowns resulted in restricted movements across cities and provinces, which then posed quite a challenge in ensuring essentials, such as food, medical supplies, and other humanitarian aid, are still delivered in a timely manner all over the archipelago. Thankfully, major players in the industry offered to help, while CEB as a public service volunteered the best way it knows how.

The carrier, with the support of its hero frontliners, such as its cargo, passenger, and ramp agents, along with its pilots and cabin crew members— has provided free-of-charge cargo deliveries across various cities in the Philippines. CEB’s fleet of Airbus and ATR aircraft were utilized to address the demand for logistics support to areas such as Cebu, Puerto Princesa, Iloilo, Bohol, Butuan, Davao, and Zamboanga. 

Throughout the year, the airline also flew a number of sweeper flights to aid the Philippine government and its attached agencies in flying stranded tourists home. It has also mounted flights for OFWs in partnership with various organizations, such as the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

Just recently, CEB has also carried life-saving vaccines to Zamboanga and Tuguegarao, in support of the national government’s efforts to wipe out COVID-19. 

Ground crew of Cebu Pacific load goods into an ATR cargo plane as part of a COVID-19 response mission.
Boxes containing relief goods from the Office of the Vice-President’s Angat Buhay initiative is received and inspected by Cebu Pacific cargo personnel. 
With the extensive logistics and cargo capabilities of Cebu Pacific, the airline’s COVID-19 response partners were able to maximize CEB’s vast network, allowing them to reach out to other organizations while delivering much-needed humanitarian aid to vulnerable communities.
Representatives from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), one of the key partners of Cebu Pacific in responding to the COVID-19 crisis, receive boxes of humanitarian aid transported by the airline.
A dedicated team from Cebu Pacific secures vital relief goods in place in preparation for a humanitarian cargo mission.
Cebu Pacific ground crew proudly pose beside one of CEB’s ATR cargo planes that were used in volunteer relief missions.

Heeding the call of partners

From the onset of the pandemic, numerous organizations, both from the government and non-government space, rallied for assistance and support as they sought out potential private-sector partners for their respective relief efforts. CEB was quick to commit assistance in any form possible as it flies to the widest domestic network. 

“Through Cebu Pacific’s generous support, we were able to distribute PPEs to the health and security sectors, to our staff and volunteers—timely and efficiently,” says Jerome Balinton, Humanitarian Response Manager, Save the Children Philippines, the world’s leading independent organization for children, protecting and supporting children in need.

For George Morales, Volunteer Mover of the Mindanao-based non-government organization (NGO) Bulig Kontra COVID-19 Koronadal, he appreciated how Cebu Pacific “was more than helpful when it waived its delivery fee.” Meanwhile, Melody Cosep, Member and Volunteer of Puksain ang COVID-19 sa South Cotabato, another Mindanao-based NGO, said the money saved that was supposed to be spent for logistics was instead “coursed through and utilized for the purchase of more PPEs, alcohol, and other essentials for frontliners.”

Among the major organizations Cebu Pacific partnered with and extended vital support to include the Angat Buhay initiative of the Office of the Vice-President, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, among others. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the airline also officially became a partner of the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF) and the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), both of which are backed by some of the largest companies and businesses in the Philippines.

As the delivery of relief goods, medical supplies, and humanitarian aid is mission critical, having a partner from the airline industry can help a great deal when a disaster or crisis—especially one of immense magnitude—strikes. As specified by the partners of Cebu Pacific, the airline’s inter-island connectivity amidst the lockdown was maximized as this allowed them to reach more destinations and individuals without having to allocate budget for transport costs. 

“We’re immensely grateful to the Cebu Pacific management and its employees for their immediate and positive response to our request for blood augmentation,” says Romarie Sanchez RN, Donor Recruitment Officer of the Philippine Red Cross Iloilo Chapter. “They also helped in transporting Rh negative blood units to patients with rare blood type needs as well as facilitating in the transport of Convalescent Plasma Therapy (CPT) to COVID-19 patients in need of CPT transfusion. Physicians, families, and patients were very pleased with the results.”

“You’ve always been there. Transporting beds, water, tents, to Mindanao and so many other areas. Cebu Pacific is giving a gift of love today and hopefully tomorrow,” says Butch Meily, PDRF President.

To date, Cebu Pacific has already transported 124 tons of humanitarian goods, all free-of-charge. At present, CEB is the only Philippine carrier with dedicated freighters – two ATRs capable of carrying as much as seven tons of cargo in one uplift, along with one recently-converted A330 freighter.

“As we continue to weather this pandemic, we at Cebu Pacific are driven by our purpose and mission to serve others in this time of need,” said Candice Iyog, Cebu Pacific Vice President for Marketing & Customer Experience of Cebu Pacific Air. “We are always more than ready to help in any way we can, as have been and always will be committed to serve our fellowmen– indeed when like-minded partners come together, we truly become stronger as Juan.” 

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