Gonzaga relishes chance to serve country as Army frontliner during pandemic
MANILA, Philippines—As an athlete, Jovelyn Gonzaga has served the Philippines several times, becoming an integral part of national volleyball teams including a captaincy role in the 2015 Southeast Asian Games.
Considered as one of the best opposite hitters in the nation, Gonzaga wore her no.8 jersey with pride be it with her club teams or with the national team. But now, she’s donning a different gear—her own set of personal protective equipment.
As enlisted personnel in the Philippine Army, Corporal Gonzaga is stationed at Special Service Center inside Fort Bonifacio where she is currently assigned to tend to needs of the locally stranded individuals (LSIs) amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Hindi naman ako napapagod dahil mahal ko ginagawa ko eh, dahil nga siguro nakapagtraining na ako sa military kaya alam ko na trabaho na napuntahan ko,” said Gonzaga. “Call of duty ko ‘to. Military professionalism.”
(I’m not tired because I love what I’m doing. I’ve been through military training so I already know what I got into. This is my call of duty, this is military professionalism.)
Gonzaga said her group is made up of athletes including her teammates with the Lady Troopers Honey Royse Tubino and Mary Jean Balse-Pabayo, several medalists during the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, and players from the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League.
Gonzaga, who also plays for Cignal in the Philippine Super Liga, is usually on duty from 12 am to 6 am, helping assist the LSIs, who are temporarily staying at the Army facility while waiting for their flights amid limited domestic travel.
“Every time nag che-check kami sa kanila kung okay lang sila or may masamang nangyayari, may mga nade-depress na rin so kailangan mag watch out rin kami every time, para secured lahat,” said Gonzaga, who said that they also take personal information of the LSIs to help them in securing their flights back home.
(Every time we check up on them if they’re okay, or if something bad happens. There are cases where some of them are getting depressed so we have to watch out for that every time.)
Serving her nation, no matter how tiring, is satisfying for Gonzaga, who also does her own sports training on the side to maintain her health during the lockdown.
She said that she’s been injury-free after a string of injuries in 2017 kept her out of the game for a huge chunk of her prime.
“Nakakatuwa kasi very catered sila (LSIs) dito, may libreng meals, plus yung laundry nila sagot na rin. Concerned kami sa welfare nila and sana wag sila ma depress kasi ang tagal nga nitong lockdown,” said the 28-year-old Gonzaga. “Free wi-fi dito, may TV sila, so kung anong pwedeng kaaliwan pino-provide namin para di sila ma low morale.”
(It’s very heartwarming because they’re well-catered here. There are free meals, plus we take care of their laundry. We’re concerned about their safety and I hope they won’t get depressed because this lockdown has been taking so long. There’s free wi-fi, there’s a TV, and whatever they need to keep themselves entertained we provide it so they won’t have a low morale during their stay.)
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