Meet this Cebuano family of frontliners in New Jersey

By: Immae Lachica - General Assignments Reporter/CDN Digital | March 31,2020 - 12:47 PM


The Fuentes’ during one of their family trips. From left, Clarissa, Noemi, and Ricard Benjamin (far left), Ricard (middle), Shelfer, Vanessa and Cornelius (far right.) | Photo from Clarissa Fuentes’ Facebook account

CEBU CITY, Philippines– For more than a decade now, the Fuentes family from Cebu City have been living away from the comforts of their motherland.

The Fuentes family from Punta Princesa here is not your ordinary migrant family as they are a family of frontliners who are now all based in Hazlet, New Jersey in the United States.

The family is composed of six nurses and one medical technologist.

Although they spent some time in Ozamis City where their father is from, they have spent most of their lives growing up in the Queen City of the South before they migrated to the States.

“My family the ‘A team,’ composed of my mother, Noemi Fuentes, 53 ICU nurse, my father Ricard Fuentes, 53,  Blood Bank, Medical Technologist my sister Vanessa Villalon, 28, ICU nurse, her husband Cornelius Villalon, 29, Stroke/telemetry unit nurse, my brother Ricard Benjamin Fuentes, 27, Covid/step down unit, and his wife, Shelefer Fuentes, 27. ICU nurse, and me, Clarissa Fuentes, 23, Emergency Department,” said Clarissa the youngest member of the family.

Clarissa told CDN Digital that working in the medical field at this time when the world is battling the spread of the deadly coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) is a bit more dangerous than the usual.

“The world knows that all the first responders, police officers, and health care professionals are facing a shortage of personal protective equipment. We are giving care to our patients yet having a hard time protecting ourselves. But for me, my number one challenge is mostly fear and anxiety. The fear of me acquiring it and especially the fear of my family getting sick. I’ve witnessed first hand how this virus does to people of all ages and it’s terrifying to see how fast one deteriorates from it,” said Clarissa.

She also said that it is not just the fear of acquiring the virus that’s making her and the entire family scared, but also the amount of workload they all have to face after this pandemic crisis came to be.

With all this in mind, Clarissa is still very confident and happy that she belongs to the family who she likes to dub  “The A Team” family.

The Fuentes family taking time to take a photo on New Year’s Eve. They are (from left) Cornelius, Vanessa, Ricard, Noemi, Ricard Benjamin, Shelfer, and Clarissa. | Photo from Clarissa Fuentes’ Facebook account.

“I can honestly say that my family’s the ‘A team’ and I am extremely proud to be a part of it. There is so much uncertainty, the situation is very scary and I am constantly afraid for all of us but not one of us has even thought of backing down. We go to work, help out when we can and always give our best,” she said.

There are a lot of things that had to be canceled for this family of frontliners for this year, one of which is the chance to come home and enjoy the warmth of Cebu. But they are willing to put that on hold to help those in need.

“When most of the world are at home, all of my family are on the front lines and we’re trying our best,”  Clarissa said.

As of March 31, 2020, data from the John Hopkins COVID-19 interactive map shows that cases of Covid-19 cases in the US has reached 164,274. Of the total number of cases, 3,164 have died while 5,847 have recovered. /bmjo

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