Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Neri: Facing challenges


To cap off International Women’s Month, we are featuring Liloan Mayor Christina Frasco and vice president-VisMin of SM Prime Holdings Inc. Marissa Fernan, two lady achievers who have faced the challenges that came their way during the past year with grit and grace. For the two super efficient ladies, it was primarily a question of coming up with innovative solutions to the problems that cropped up and seeing to their implementation.


The overarching challenge that I faced as mayor at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic was to ensure the protection of the lives of over 150,000 Liloanons while cushioning the impact of the loss of livelihood as a result of the economic downturn. Due to months of quarantine restrictions, public access to basic services was also severely limited.

Faced with a crisis we had never experienced before, we looked to proactive innovations in governance We established an online health platform providing free medical consultations and services called Gugmed. We rolled out the weekly Liloan Mobile Market to give the community access to fresh produce and provide local vendors, farmers and fisherfolk continued income, as well as provide vegetable seedlings to families to promote food security.

We launched Project Lupad, an aerial drone monitoring system to encourage discipline and ensure strict compliance with health and safety protocols across all barangays. We launched Liloan Art Thrive, using the arts to aid in mental health and as a way for children and families to cope with the stresses of the pandemic.

Harnessing technology to benefit the population, we launched our very own mobile application called LiveLoveLiloan, which provides frontline government services online, contact tracing measures, an online marketplace for local vendors, access to emergency services, and an electronic transport system providing convenient and predictable public transport, with all public utility vehicles in Liloan being installed with its own global positioning devices.

Cushioning the impact of the global economic downturn upon our population, we launched and continue to implement Liloan Works, an economic recovery program that provides rice and cash in exchange for community work such as planting trees, growing produce, street and coastal cleanups, and the like.

— Liloan Mayor Christina Frasco


With the nationwide lockdown announced sometime in March last year, our malls had to close on short notice and the initial challenge was how to ensure that our employees would feel confident that whatever the outcome, the company would try to help prevent any major disruptions in their lives. Thankfully, our management was quick to react and immediately communicated a reassuring message that guaranteed their salaries up to a specific period of time and subject to adjustments as the situation would unfold. Through the months, despite many developments, certain aspects of our organization have stabilized.

The next major challenge was working with both mall employees, tenants and their own employees to ensure that the malls could reopen safely. Head office was quick to issue guidelines and safety protocols to implement so that everyone could be assured that we were focused on making the malls as safe for people to come to work and shoppers to visit.

Another innovation that we have encouraged and assisted our tenants to work with is to synchronize with our online platforms to enable those who are hesitant to venture out to continue shopping from the comfort and safety of their homes. This innovation and the strict implementation of protocols have allowed our malls to function as best as possible as shopping destinations, both physically and virtually. These efforts will be of big help to steadily revitalize the businesses of our tenants.

To this day, the challenges continue and what is important is that we can readily make adjustments as we move along. We are hopeful that with vaccines coming in the next few months, businesses can operate more normally and our tenants will be able to survive the effects of the pandemic.

— SM Prime Holdings Inc. vice president-VisMin, Marissa Fernan


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