First week of June, it was? Hmmm..
It was June when I first set foot in the mountains of Tapaz, Capiz. When I was invited by a friend from their NGO to help them out and facilitate their Brigada Skwela program by the SILAW Inc. (Saving Innocent Lives Amidst War) to their two adopted barangays (.. or was it three? considering the bunkhouse?) These are the Brgy. Tabon and Brgy. Daan Norte.
It was memorable. Well, aside from the thought of such a noble deed, the mere experience of 6 hours of hiking, climbing and sliding in the mud with all the supply load you can carry, just so we can get it pass on and distributed to the residents of the said villages. The terrain is difficult, I tell you. There were some instances that we’re actually treading a cliff. Just an enough space for you to walk through but one wrong move then.. Bam!
Still, it was fun. I get to meet good people, from here in Iloilo and also some who flew from Manila to help out and connect with the kids and the locals.
Recently, as you all know, Philippines was hit by the strongest typhoon ever recorded in history, the typhoon Haiyan or locally called as “Bagyong Yolanda”. As it passes through the Visayas region which is the heart of the Philippine map, the northern part of Panay such as Antique, Estancia, Concepcion etc. and of course, Capiz.
With all the hype of disappointment with the government I’m getting from my facebook and other social media, I was so vigorously on a drive to go to these places, to help out. I contacted SILAW and asks them the status of the two barangays we went into few months back. They said a lot of the houses been swiped clean. The school, especially the one that we painted and fix up just June is badly damaged. They haven’t receive any relief operations yet and they were asking for anyone to help them out. With all these controversies from DSWD and the national government, I was doubtful that they would even notice these places. So I talked to SILAW and set-up an event for the relief operation.
I was expecting that we’re going to traverse mountains again so I made an extra preparation. I bought ropes, 3 lighters, 5 packs of Marlboro red (.. it’s so cold out there and the last time we went, I only bought 1 pack), personal clothes, flashlight, plastics (.. for cellphone storage. We need to cross more than 3 rivers, I think, to get there.)
I also told my mom about the relief operation and I urged her to donate some hardware materials at least just for the school. So I brought wires, nails, sealants etc. My brother even told me to bring saw, bars and other stuffs but I don’t really want to burden myself much because it’s going to be a long hike and I’m not even sure the volunteer count who are going to help us out to carry it all.
So anyway, it was around 7 when SILAW picked me up here in Lambunao and from there they told me that we’re not actually going to traverse the mountains and we’re just going to meet the people from the Bunk house. So that’s a mix of relief for me and a bit of disappointment (.. just a bit :P) but I understood why. The loads are just to heavy for us and we really can’t able to carry it all at the same time to the two baranggays.
As we enter Capiz province, you can still feel and see the mark of the typhoon Haiyan’s destructive power: remnants of the blown houses, electrical posts on the streets, big trees lying on sidewalks, brown hills that’s been swiped off with crops. The people, seems they’re recovering as some are smiling and cheerful despite that there’s no electricity. The locals said it would take a year for them to able to gain back their electricity.
So the jeep that the SILAW rented, drop us off near the market place and from there we need to switch to motorcycles. With all the loads that we have, we repack all and put it all in sacks so we can able to economize for some drivers will charged you for every box or sacks that you bring. In order for us to save a bit, we mix it up and put them in a sack. So that took us awhile, though the funny side is from where we are repacking our goods, there’s some cockfighting going on. Hehehe.. I watch how it goes and took some pictures.
Anyway continuing on, we rode the motorcycles along with the goods. As we cruise along, I can see the damages done by the typhoon to the surroundings, a lot of trees have been uprooted and some crops been washed out from the hills but it’s good to see some houses are already repaired and being repair. We arrived at the place they called bunkhouse and rested for a bit.
I asked Jarrah how would the distribution go and she said that she already informed the representatives from three baranggays to meet us there for there’ll be not enough time if we’re going to bring the goods personally to their respective villages. So after we’re done resting, they organized the distribution as I and the few others facilitate on unpacking the goods. It went smoothly, only minor problems but it’s manageable like some packages fell off. Hehehe. But anyway, here are some pics:
Anyway, after we’re done with the program, we assure them that more help will come and we bid them farewell. We went back to the main town and wait for a bus at the plaza.
I decided to be drop off in Lambunao while Jarrah and the rest went back to the Iloilo City. It was a successful operation all through out . I guess the next operation should focus on rehabilitation of the communities.The damages done are not only limited to their houses and properties but it also greatly affected their livelihood. Though, it may seem be so little, we did our part to help them out to start once again. Hopefully, the government or other institutions will follow up what we’ve started.
On the aftermath of the typhoon, people have been posting motivational pictures and stuff on the net and keep on stressing that Filipinos have this so-called indomitable spirit like as if it’s sort of superpowers. Well, I’m not against that. Yolanda really beaten us down and aside from that, the government’s corruption really kicking us some more back to the curb, as in really face flat to the pavement. In short, morale’s really down. But still I’m thankful to our few fellowmen who took the initiative, to the few who really empathize and really took action however great or small. In this event, not only did I witness the I-thought-was-a-myth indomitable spirit of a Filipino but also the “Bayanihan” or heroism values.