21 December 2020 | Cynthia M. Villamor (IPPAO, UP Manila)
Various materials have come out on the science of the COVID-19 pandemic but very few, if at all, have been published on its effects on people’s humanity or being.
The PGH Human Spirit book projects, a trilogy of e-books on the experiences, struggles, challenges, and inspiration of UP Manila and PGH members and even those outside during the crisis, delves into the “heart” of their journeys. The books were launched and turned over on 21 December 2020 via Zoom after 10 months of planning and preparation.
In his foreword where he highlighted the integrated and systemic response of UP to the crisis, UP President Danilo Concepcion stated that the books highlight the strength of the human spirit and the courage and tenacity of the human soul in dealing with the crisis.
The first book, Pagkalinga: Ang Pagtugon sa Pandemya ng Pagamutan ng Bayan, contains five chapters of the feats of the healthcare workers and volunteers in PGH as a COVID-19 referral center from the lockdown to the nation’s recovery and healing. It was edited by Dr. Amanda Chiong.
The second, Paggunita: Mga Saloobin Ukol sa Paglilingkod at Pagkukusang-loob sa Panahon ng Pandemya, focuses on the narratives of faculty, staff, student, and alumni volunteers within the UPPGH Bayanihan Na! Operation Center. Its editor, Dr. Johanna Patricia Canal, describes the pieces here as “the soft side, the tales of tears, fears, apprehension, courage and redemption.”
The third, Pagninilay: Hinga, Hingal, Hingalo sa Panahon ng Pandemya, includes essays, poems, and photographs capturing the human spirit in communities outside of PGH. Book editor Dr. Joey Tabula describes the 67 write-ups and 22 photos from contributors to this book, thus: “Kung saan nagtatapos ang hangganan ng agham ng medisina, doon nananahan ang pinaka puso ng bisa ng sining at panitikan. Ang hindi malalapatan ng agham ay malulunasan ng puso ng sining at panitikan" (Where the limits of the science of medicine ends is where the heart of the art and literature of medicine abides. What science cannot treat, art and literature can heal).
UP Manila Chancellor Carmencita Padilla explained that the books go beyond science and directives and document not only reports of events but also the experiences and feelings that are important for the future. “As this war is not over yet, let us continue writing the stories. This equally monumental effort will add color and depth to our larger-than-life mural representing the UP Manila COVID story.”
For his part, PGH Director Gap Legaspi told the writers: “As you write them down, we all learn from them and aim to impart these to the next generation. I hope we do not experience another challenge of this kind but if we do, we hope that these writings will prepare us a little better.”
Lead editor and project leader Dr. Alvin Caballes stated that the books bear witness to the need to use art and literature to pay tribute to the human spirit in the documentation of the journey and response to the pandemic.
As one book deals with the experiences of those outside PGH, he said that the books cover a “spectrum of the sentiments and occurrences at the time of the outbreak.” The project started in March 2020 with a few volunteers that slowly grew into many who shared their time and talents in contributing articles and preparing the three books. He thanked the leadership of UP Manila, PGH, and other partners for their support to the project and expressed hope that similar publications on the human spirit of the fight
against the COVID-19 outbreak will follow.
Published by the Social Medicine Unit of PGH and Mu Sigma Phi Sorority, the books are available below.
The printed versions will be released in early 2021.
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