STA Action re-Typhoon Yolanda Victims
Three days after the destructive Typhoon Yolanda hit the Visayan parts of the Philippines, some members of the SSJ Community – Gloria Evangelista, Luz Siana, Dahlia Alcala and Naty Maravilla went to Cadiz to survey which part of the city needed assistance. Residents in the coastal area were the most affected. We wanted to give assistance directly to the recipients without involving any politician (mayor, or barangay officials). We were advised however, by a member of the BCBP, Silay to coordinate with DSWD, Cadiz, after their experience of being mobbed and some people going violent because of hunger. We went to Purok Paraiso, Brgy. Daga where a former maintenance personnel of STA, Joemarie Llanera and family lived. We interviewed his wife as he was out seeking for shells to sell the next day. Ninety-five families lived like a community there. Some houses’ roofings were blown. Residents appealed for something to eat. For them, food was what was most important and urgent.
Before November 15, 2013, a call was made at the morning assemply for donations to typhoon victims. In as much as foreign and local aid to Tacloban was overwhelming, the STA community agreed to assist our suffering sisters and brothers in Cadiz City, in the northern part of Negros Occidental, which was among the hardest hit.
On November 15, we had the Eucharistic celebration presided by Fr. Roy Christian Gesulgon from the Parish of San Diego, Silay. It was so touching to see the longest offertory procession ever in STA. Everybody, from the pre-school to high school, faculty & staff, parents had something to share in cash or in kind. Immediately after the mass, we requested an alumnus, Roy Catugas, (son of the school’s official photographer), who works in Tacloban as a med-rep and a SURVIVOR to share his experiences at the height of Yolanda’s wrath. In a very still atmosphere, everybody listened attentively. He shared that he and his group, because of too much hunger, entered an open warehouse and looted anything that could be eaten. He was able to escape from Tacloban by telling a white lie, to the airport guards that he is the son of a retired Air Force official and so, he was allowed to board and in fact, the last passenger taken in.
After Mass, was all the offered goods were deposited in a vacant classroom where students & teachers started to sort out the goods. More and more donations came with alumni from different batches bringing their donations in.
With the excessive donation of goods, we moved everything to the wide and spacious St. Bonifacia Hall. Staying parents and guardians were invited to assist in weighing the rice from the sacks to ensure that the right kilos would be received. Teachers who had free time from class would just come in to help in the packing of goods; students in their free time, also came. It took all the volunteers 5 days to finish everything before our target date, November 23 to deliver the goods. When we were done, however, DSWD Cadiz called to ask if we still had excess goods. They requested if we could also share with residents of Purok Baybay, Brgy. Daga, which we happily accommodated.
We sat down to think how to transport the goods to Cadiz (259 packs). God is truly good! Unexpectedly Nenia Coronel, Parents’ Council President came to offer her dump truck which stayed overnight at the St. Joseph Court, STA. We transacted with a parent alumnus to hire his vans for the volunteers but he told us to simply take care of paying one driver. Thankfully, though his sister wanted to come and some of us were accommodated in his van with him on the wheels. The vans were offered rent-free; some of us rode in the other van. There were 35 of us volunteers altogether. Nenia also facilitated the ride for the others in her car; the male teachers drove in their motorbikes, and all the rest with the goods in the dump truck. HOW GOD FACILITATED EVERYTHING!
On the eve of November 23, at 9:30 p.m. goods were loaded in the dump truck again with the volunteers.
November 23, finally, all were set to go. We departed at 7:30 a.m. from STA. We dropped by DSWD Cadiz to get a social worker assigned to accompany us. The venue assigned to us for distribution of goods is the Day Care Center, Purok Baybay. People were there ahead of us, with a signboard saying, “Salamat gid, SSJ and STA.” Goods were unloaded in a systematic and orderly manner from the truck. Everything went well, people were organized and disciplined. We really felt and saw the joy of each one among the recipients. We thanked one another, they, for visiting them, making them our target and for the goods, and we, on our part, for the opportunity to have met them and shared with them. We departed from Cadiz at 10:30 a.m. and arrived STA close to lunch time.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!!
Reported by Naty M., SSJ