By Jeff Canoy
“Finally, the heroes are home.”
This message echoed in the halls of the Philippine Air Force Museum Wednesday, as relatives watched the video feed of the peacekeepers arriving in Manila from an 11-month duty in Ebola-hit Liberia.
Cheers filled the room, but unlike balikbayans greeted by family members at the airport, the relatives were only allowed to see their loved ones from screens set-up by the Armed Forces of the Philippines as part of protocols set by government to ensure that the country remains Ebola-free.
The families were understanding of the situation, saying what’s important is that the peacekeepers arrived safely. But as the buses carrying the peacekeepers left Villamor Airbase, the relatives rushed to the streets and waved to their loved ones, to say hello and to say goodbye.
It was only a glimpse, but for relatives, it was more than enough.
The peacekeepers were brought to Sangley Point in Cavite, where they will take a military vessel to Caballo Island. The Island will serve as their home for 21 days. On the island, they will be monitored for any symptoms of Ebola.
Last Saturday, the peacekeepers tested negative in the Ebola screening conducted before they left Liberia.
The Philippine government has said it will make the peacekeepers’ stay on Caballo Island as comfortable as possible.
They have internet facilities as well as a videoke machine, and they can even hold a sports fest, among others.
A hero’s welcome from the AFP awaits them after their mandatory 21-day quarantine. But for relatives, what they look forward to the most is the day when they finally welcome their heroes back in their own homes.