While many work sectors in the Philippines continue to reel from the economic effects dealt by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the PBA and its players, coaches and even those in upper management have banded together to help gameday personnel who are not regular employees.
These include the statisticians, table officials, venue announcers, parking attendants, and other operations staff who only get paid when the games are played.
The Office of the Commissioner acted swiftly and granted a relief fund for these displaced workers by virtue of a financial package that on the average covers the would-be salaries of the games that had been postponed since the enhanced community quarantine went into effect two weeks ago.
PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial released the emergency fund within the first week of the ECQ and the beneficiaries were elated.
"This is a huge help for our families in the middle of this crisis," said senior table official Jiorg Atutubo. "I'm very thankful to Commissioner Willie and the PBA for looking after us always."
"My wife had just given birth," said venue announcer Rob Evangelista. "I'm so happy the league stepped in so quickly. This is such a blessing."
PBA's member franchises also came to their aid with additional funds gathered from a "pass-the-hat" initiative. Spearheaded by Alaska Aces head coach Jeff Cariaso, the donations surpassed P800,000 and were distributed evenly among those displaced.
"(We've) decided on giving an even amount amongst the 25-27 people (affected by the work stoppage)," Cariaso explained to ESPN5.com prior to the release of the funds. "We're all just happy to help the guys who help us do our jobs during the games."
Each individual received more than a month's wages from the extra contributions.
Last week, the collections ended and Cariaso painstakingly distributed the funds to selected point persons for distribution.
"It's a little difficult because (my bank) only allows a transfer of P50,000 per day," he said. "So it will take a while to get the money to everyone but we'll get it done."
In a process that took just under two weeks from the initial campaign to the disbursement, the gameday personnel all got the additional benefits from Cariaso's noble initiative with the last remnants settled over the recent weekend.
In the end, over 40 PBA personalities had a hand in the bailout (in alphabetical order):
Kevin Alas (NLEX)
Coach Franco Atienza (Alaska)
MJ Ayaay (Alaska)
Richard E. Bachman (Alaska Governor)
Mark Barroca (Magnolia)
Aaron Black (Merlaco)
Coach Norman Black (Meralco)
Harvey Carey (TNT)
Coach Jeff Cariaso (Alaska)
Coach Aboy Castro (formerly of TNT)
Coach Tim Cone (Barangay Ginebra San Miguel)
Jericho Cruz (NLEX)
Michael DiGregorio (Alaska)
Coach Tony de la Cruz (Alaska)
Joe Devance (Barangay Ginebra San Miguel)
Poy Erram (TNT)
June Mar Fajardo (San Miguel Beer)
Abel Galliguez (Alaska)
Coach Monch Gavieres (Alaska)
Cliff Hodge (Meralco)
Gabe Norwood (Rain or Shine)
CJ Perez (Columbian Dyip)
Jason Perkins (Phoenix)
Von Pessumal (San Miguel Beer)
Marc Pingris (Magnolia)
Stanley Pringle (Barangay Ginebra San Miguel)
Coach Olsen Racela (Barangay Ginebra San Miguel)
Nikko Ramos (former PBA broadcaster)
Troy Rosario (TNT)
Chris Ross (San Miguel Beer)
Nico Salva (Meralco)
Jeron Teng (Alaska)
Sonny Thoss (Alaska)
Paolo Trillo (Meralco Team Manager)
Dominic Uy (PBA broadcaster)
Wilfred Steven Uytengsu (Alaska Team Owner)
"A lot of guys really wanted to help," he said. "I just got the ball rolling.
The beneficiaries were pleased with the outpouring of support from the league's member teams and sent their messages of thanks through Cariaso.
"I'm overwhelmingly thanking you (all) for your generosity in helping us," table official Anthony Redoña said in Filipino. "(This is) a big blessing and a gigantic assist (for my family). May you and your family be given all the graces by God (for your kind gesture)."
While the PBA reached out to help its people, San Miguel Beer guard Terrence Romeo and PBA broadcaster Chuck Araneta have also been at the forefront in helping the frontliners by virtue of assisting in the procurement of much needed items such as masks, PPEs and other equipment that are needed in their fight against this invisible enemy.
The COVID-19 illness causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems. The majority of people recover from the virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, and those with more severe illness might take three to six weeks to recover.