Frontliner Story #8: Enrico Canaleja

Public Father

By Benidict Prodon

Edited by Phoebe De Leon and Dana Eunise Cruz

Frontliner sourcing by Jana Reynaldo

Knowing the risks of his job during the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Enrico Canaleja still does his job despite the odds.

Enrico, a 54-year-old councilor of Brgy. Sta Cruz in Palo, Leyte, is one of the many people who we now call frontliner. However, aside from serving his community, he is also a father of three children.

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Poster by Aimary Aurora Rubio

Before the pandemic, Enrico was able to go home safely to his family after monitoring Zone 7 of their barangay. Back then, he could still balance his time between family and public service, he could still hug his family without any worries or anxiety but today, his duty has been harder than he’d expected.

Today, Enrico is now on a 12-hour duty schedule, he starts at 7 AM and goes home at 7 PM. He is responsible for securing the checkpoint of their barangay to prevent further spreading the virus. In addition to this, he also helps the contact tracing team of their municipality which inadvertently puts him at risk of getting infected. As more people return to their provinces with the “Balik Probinsiya Program”, frontliners like Enrico, must ensure the safety of their community from the disease.

Every time Enrico returns to his home, he always worries about the health of his family. “Lagi akong kabado sa bawat pag-uwi ko baka kasi mamaya may dala na pala ako.” (I am always afraid every time I go home because I might be already carrying the disease), he said during an interview. When Enrico was asked if he ever thought of quitting, he responded: “Hindi pa pumapasok sa isip ko iyan. Ayoko rin, dahil ito iyong sinumpaan ko.” (I never thought of quitting because I do not want to break the oath I took.)

Noon, magaan lang ang trabaho, puwede mo yakapin ang pamilya mo na walang takot pero ngayon mahirap na.” (Before, the job was simple and I could still hug my family without fear but now everything has changed.) He further added, “Ngayon hindi ko lang ginagawa ito para sa barangay kung ‘di para sa pamilya ko na din ang laban na ito” (I do my job not only for my community but this fight is also for my family.)

Enrico Canaleja is only one of the thousand frontliners out there who are fighting the pandemic. He is no longer a father of one family, because now he also shoulders the well-being of more than 80 families of his community as he carries out his duty. In the end, Enrico said, “Sa mga kapuwa ko frontliner, sana wag kayo sumuko dahil kung susuko kayo, sino ang lalaban?” (To my fellow frontliners, I hope you do not quit because if you do, then who will fight this pandemic?)

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