The Department of Tourism over the weekend released a tribute video dedicated to today’s heroes, the COVID-19 frontliners.
“As a tribute to our modern-day heroes, we made a short video sourced from captures of everyday kindness; guided by the same spirit in its making,” the DOT said.
The tribute video, that used the Eraserheads’ “With a Smile” as background music, showcases the Filipinos’ resiliency amid the COVID-19 outbreak as it features heartwarming scenes on hospitals and in places with essential services.
“Filipinos are known for their smiles. Even if we can’t see them behind our masks, their warmth can be felt in acts of compassion and kindness,” the DOT said.
“As we wait out the end of this challenging time, let us never forget to show the world who we truly are: a nation of kind, caring and compassionate people,” it added.
The music video was crowdsourced from social media users, filmmakers and other contributors.
Eraserheads’ former frontman Ely Buendia who composed the “With a Smile” lent the song to singer Bea Lorenzo whose grandfather and father are medical doctors.
The DOT thanked Buendia for allowing the use of his composition and likewise thanked Lorenzo.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat also thanked the production team behind the video, director Joel Limchoc, producer Steve Vesagas and music arranger Malek Lopez.
The tribute video was uploaded last Saturday and has earned 2.9 million views on Facebook, 115,000 views on Twitter and 38,900 on YouTube, as of writing.
The Department of Health shared the video and likewise saluted the COVID-19 frontliners.
“May mga ngiting hindi kayang pawiin ng kahit ano pa mang unos, kahit na ng mga pinakamabagsik na mga pagsubok,” the DOH said.
“Ito ang ngiti ng ating frontliners. Ang ngiti ng Pilipinong nagmamalasakit at nagmamahal, ang ngiti ng Pilipinong nagsisilbi sa bayan,” it also said.
“Isang malaking saludo sa ating modern-day heroes. Layu-layo ang katawan, sama-sama sa puso’t isipan. Together, we smile as one. Together, we heal as one,” the health agency continued.
The Philippine General Hospital, one of the designated COVID-19 referral hospitals, shared that Puyat personally sent this video to their community. She accompanied it with a message from the lyrics of the song “With a Smile:” “Lift your head, baby don’t be scared, of the things that could go wrong along the way…”
PGH said the lyrics uplifted the COVID-19 frontliners.
“These lyrics from the Eraserheads’ classic anthem ‘With a Smile’ have provided solace and comfort for many Filipinos over the years. It is a much-needed anthem for these times,” PGH wrote on a Facebook post.
“Filipinos are known for their smiles. During this time though, we have had to hide them from view. But through our acts of compassion and kindness, you can feel the warmth of those smiles, even behind a mask,” it added.
Some online users said they were moved by the tribute video and likewise praised the health workers who are risking their lives during the COVID-19 crisis. They also sent messages of hope.
“This almost me cry. Hard to hold it in,” an online user said.
“Wow… can’t hold my tears… Prayers to all frontliners and to those in need is more than a big help… in times like this, prayer is the strongest weapon and ‘WEAR A SMILE…’” another online user tweeted.
— Acienda Designer Outlet (@AciendaOutlet) April 7, 2020
‘Romanticization of resiliency?’ ‘Toxic positivity?’
While some users were inspired by the tribute video, others lamented how it romanticizes Filipinos’ resilience.
A Twitter user called this “toxic positivity.”
“Filipinos love to romanticize Filipino resiliency. Tiis lang ng tiis. But you don’t see this same agenda in asking for our government’s accountability kaya okay lang pulpol silang lahat. Matiisin naman tayo,” the online said.
Filipinos love to romanticize Filipino resiliency. Tiis lang ng tiis. But you don’t see this same agenda in asking for our government’s accountability kaya okay lang pulpol silang lahat. Matiisin naman tayo #ToxicPositivity 💁♀️ https://t.co/WFfzQwa8AG
— 🗣🗯 (@daffodilcat9429) April 5, 2020
Another online user said that the Philippine crisis “wouldn’t be complete without a montage of Filipino ‘bayanihan.'”
Meanwhile, some Filipinos are calling on the government to translate this optimism into actions.
Online user @mandyrek said that until the supreme leaders buy into the action, the tribute video is just “plain old advertising.”
“Unless Brand Pilipinas turns this positive ideology into authentic services that people can touch or experience to change their reality. Imagine these images replaced with scenes of abused and disenfranchised citizens in the past few weeks, would you still smile? Or would you rather cry?” the Twitter user asked.
“Our frontliners and marginalized citizens need more concrete solutions that work than mere video tributes from the Tourism Dept who holds a large chunk of the emergency funds. Sorry to burst your bubble kids but I’m not smiling until I see results and action from this government. Eye-candy advertising without product truth is just plain storytelling. Let’s stop romanticizing our workers’ resiliency. You owe them more than this,” he added.
Independent writer Katrina Stuart-Santiago also dared the government to tell those who are suffering from hunger due to the enhanced community quarantine to smile.
— katrinastuartsantiago (@radikalchick) April 5, 2020
Filipinos are known for resiliency during natural disasters.
In recent years, however, there were several calls to end the so-called romanticization of resiliency.
This was evident during past typhoons, earthquakes and the Taal Volcano eruption last January.
Government’s COVID-19 response
As a response to the COVID-19 outbreak, President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire Luzon under enhanced community quarantine. It was extended until April 30 in a bid to curb public movement and spread of the viral disease.
He also signed into law Bayanihan to Heal as One Act or Republic Act 11469 last March 24 that placed the country under a state of emergency effective for three months unless extended.
This also granted Duterte special powers to allocate P275 billion funds for COVID-19 response that called for budget transparency.
On Monday, Duterte said these funds were not enough as he ordered Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III to “generate more funds.”