Filipina chemist in Quezon City makes disinfectant alcohol to give away for free

Photo: Meg Reyes-Sy
Photo: Meg Reyes-Sy

As panic-buying goes into overdrive as the number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines steadily ticks upward, disinfectants like ethyl alcohol are disappearing from store shelves, sometimes reappearing online at an exorbitant markup. With many Filipinos now struggling to find such goods, a licensed chemist from Quezon City has started making ethyl alcohol at home to give away for free to those in need.

Chemist Meg Sy wrote in a now-viral Facebook post that her act of generosity was born out of dismay at the current situation.

“Why? Because I am honestly heartbroken as to how selfish other people could be. I’ve been seeing posts about those people WHO ACTUALLY NEED ALCOHOL and couldn’t buy them anymore because it’s out-of-stock in groceries,” she wrote in her post, which has been shared almost 3,000 times.

Sy said that her disinfectant will be given away to families with elderly members, infants, or relatives with auto-immune diseases who have been unable to buy alcohol.

“I will only give out 250mL per person so I could give to a total of 100 people. I only bought a limited number of stock because it’s kind of expensive to make. So the more people I could help, the better,” she said.

“We are living in a time where fear leads us to be selfish — where humanity is almost non-existent,” she said. “I’m not doing this to be famous!… I’m doing this because it is the humane thing to do and I hope this random act of kindness can be an instrument for us to help each other in these hard times.”

In a follow-up post that appeared a day later, Sy wrote that she had been able to give alcohol to complete strangers, and thanked netizens for their “overflowing support and love.”

“[But] at one point, I became sad because it seems kindness is really rare these days. We commend people for doing kind things but in reality, that should be the norm. So I hope that I’ve inspired people to be kind to strangers [and] not just to the people that they know,” she said.

In a Facebook Messenger interview with Coconuts Manila, Sy said that her work as a chemist enabled her to produce the alcohol.

“I’m a chemistry graduate so I already have a background on how to make it. Eventually, I was able to do my own formulation based on my research,” she explained.

She bought raw materials for PHP2,400 (US$46.95) and started making the disinfectant over the weekend.

She said she didn’t expect that her post would blow up, and added that people’s reactions were “overwhelming. I was touched with other people’s testimonies, those people who wished me more blessings. I am grateful from the bottom of my heart for those.”

She said her supply has almost run out and that there’s a possibility she might make another batch. However, she said, regular hand-washing is still superior to using alcohol.

“It’s a good way to disinfect but it will only be effective after washing your hands. Proper washing of hands is still better,” she said.

Thanks for the advice, and for helping out, Meg!


Have you heard of similar stories? Tell us by leaving a comment below or tweeting to @CoconutsManila.

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