(Updated 9:33 p.m.) A huge LED billboard along EDSA with the message “Pray for Wuhan” against a backdrop of the color and elements of China’s national flag caught the attention of the local online community.
The billboard, a photo of which was taken by BBC News Philippines correspondent Howard Johnson, was mounted by the walkway bridge connecting to MRT Boni Station.
The hashtags “pray” and “wuhan” could also be spotted below the message.
LOOK: An LED ad billboard along EDSA shows China’s flag with the words “Pray for Wuhan.”
The Philippines so far has 3 confirmed cases with one death.
📷Howard Johnson/BBC News Philippines Correspondent
— Philstar.com (@PhilstarNews) February 6, 2020
The billboard caught the attention of some Filipinos who pointed out that a similar display was not put up during times of calamities and conflict in the country.
“Walang masama to PRAY FOR WUHAN. Pero sana may billboard ding ganito noong nilindol ang Batangas, Zambales, Samar, Batanes, Cotabato, Bukidnon, Davao, Surigao, Ilocos, Leyte. Noong pumutok ang Taal. Noong nagkaroon ng measles/dengue outbreak. Noong nagkagyera sa Marawi. Di po ba?” humanitarian activist and Palanca Award-winning writer Ogie Rosa said.
“Hmm, I don’t remember seeing any LED billboard saying ‘Pray for Marawi’ or ‘Pray for Taal’ dati…” another Filipino online user wrote.
The country, particularly residents of Batangas, are still on high alert over Taal Volcano which is currently on alert level 3, where “sudden, steam-driven” and “weak phreatomagmatic explosions, volcanic earthquakes, ashfall and lethal volcanic gas expulsions can still occur.”
Meanwhile, there are still thousands of internally displaced Filipinos in Marawi who have yet to return to their homes after almost three years after the siege has happened.
Amid concern that the billboard may have been paid for as a form of Chinese propaganda, Interaksyon has at least two confirmations that it was not.
The gesture was initiated by Alvin Carranza, owner of a major digital billboard business in the Philippines, who did it out of good faith and solidarity with the people in Wuhan who are greatly affected by the virus outbreak.
Veteran journalist Inday Espina-Varona, a friend of Carranza’s, said he mounted the display “for humanity.”
(Thread) I know who did this and have permission to confirm. Alvin Carranza was not paid anything to mount that.
He is the owner of a big digital billboard business. There was no client for this one.
Gratis. “For humanity.” pic.twitter.com/LFyWFXIjSC
— inday espina varona (@indayevarona) February 10, 2020
“In today’s world, with all our people scattered to the winds, we’re all family. We can fight governments and still stand side by side with peoples,” she explained, adding that his intentions were void of politics.
The Wuhan coronavirus
Wuhan, a Chinese city believed to be the ground zero of nCoV that has killed more than 500 people globally, is home to about 11 million people.
It has been placed on virtual lockdown for more than a week in a supposed bid to quarantine the respiratory virus, reports noted.
Trains and other modes of public transportation were shut down while roads have been completely sealed off, excluding established checkpoints at city toll gates in and around Hubei province.
Chinese authorities have also told farmers to “step up vegetable production” as they open roads for delivery trucks and monitor cases of price hiking.
In the Philippines, over 200 patients are under investigation for potentially contracting the virus while 3 people—all Chinese nationals—have tested positive.
The novel coronavirus has prompted several event cancelations in the country, both local and international, to purportedly contain and spread the viral disease that has affected several nations.
The new strain of coronavirus initially attacks the respiratory system and is highly communicable in nature, although its symptoms are said to be constantly changing.