The Colors of XU: A Frontliner Story
White, green, blue—these are the common colors that greet us as we enter the University. We see it in the white buildings, green trees, and blue-themed Ateneo banners. Beyond that, we also see it in the security guards, the physical plant personnel, and the health personnel.
It seems almost nostalgic now, reminiscing about the campus and the people working to keep it running. It is even more surreal to imagine the work these said people are doing now that they are at the frontlines in the University’s fight against Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). However, this pandemic is as good a time as any to tell their stories. After all, they are the pigments that make up the University’s current scenery.
The security white
Manning the gates are the security guards from the Campus Safety, Security, and Information Office (CSSIO). They don the white and black uniform as they protect the community and actively respond to threats and hazards.
However, due to the pandemic, there has been a paradigm shift in their duties. “Now, they are frontliner guards who are tasked in [sic] implementing the health protocols—sanitizing our hands, scanning our body temperature, and whatever additional health protocols that are deemed necessary,” says CSSIO Chief Security Officer Col. Danillo P. Sotto.
In addition, there have also been changes in their personal lives. “Pre-pandemic, our guards, when they still have the luxury of time and chance, used to drop by at their relatives and friends after their duties, go sightseeing whenever and wherever they wanted to, spend time inside Cogon or Carmen markets. Now? As much as possible, they go straight home and perform their own version of enhanced personal hygiene routine to avoid being infected with the virus,” Sotto shares. As the people in the University’s actual front lines, security guards are now implementers of the new normal in the community. They are not just tasked to protect the campus from hazards but also to execute health protocols set by authorities.
The PPO green
Working the engines and gears of the campus are the personnel from the Physical Plant Office (PPO). They don the green polo shirt as they ensure that the campus is clean, functional, and attractive. However, due to the pandemic, the PPO has cut down on its workload. “We only do essential work such as repairs,” says PPO Director Engr. Fred S. Casiño Jr.
This cut down is not just because of the learn-from-home mode of education set in this school year. According to Casiño, because of the reduction in enrollees, the University’s funds are limited. Thus, the PPO experiences difficulties in acquiring materials and attending to repairs. Moreover, it has experienced laying off personnel due to the retrenchment. Despite these difficulties, the PPO soldiers on with its duties. “It’s pretty scary doing our work in this pandemic but we need to do it because we need money and we don’t want to lose our jobs. But we are hoping for the best that this pandemic will end very very soon and that everything will go back to a better kind of normal,” Casiño adds.
The medical blue
The personnel from the Health Services Office don the blue and white uniforms as they provide annual physical and dental examinations for the University’s students, faculty, and staff. However, due to the pandemic, they have shifted to online medical and dental consultations and limited face to face consultations.
The Health Services Office also enforced a protocol wherein people must accomplish a COVID-19 health questionnaire, wear personal protective equipment (PPE), and sanitize their hands before entering for a consultation. “We are health personnel at the school level only and there are currently no local cases in the University, but we are always vigilant. That is why we follow protocol,” says Health Services Office Director Dr. Augusto C. Guitarte Jr.
Moreover, the Health Services Office assisted in crafting the COVID-19 guidelines in the University in the hopes of mitigating the spread of the virus in the school community. “The kind of quarantine we are under does not matter—what matters is the behavior of the individual. This means that we should be wearing PPEs properly, observing social distancing, and as much as possible, staying at home,” Guitarte advises.
White, green, blue—these are the colors that represent the cogs that keep our school running. They are our frontliners who work tirelessly to aid the University in this time. Their stories remind us that, although troubled by the health and economic repercussions of COVID-19, they go above and beyond to fulfill their duties and responsibilities.