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Young Employees of The Manila Bulletin Aided the Evacuees of the Taal Eruption

Compiled by JULES VIVAS and JORDAN TAN

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One of the most endearing Filipino values, the bayanihan spirit, shone bright moments after the first phreatic eruption of Taal Volcano and before the ashfall subsided. The tragedy forced families in the surrounding areas to evacuate. Many, including staff of The Manila Bulletin (MB), went out of their way to help, extending their generosity to hundreds of residents from different towns in Batangas.

We interviewed some of the young staff of MB who joined the relief operation, asking them what they did to help, what their struggles were with the program, and what they felt at the moment, to learn the motivations, mindset, and the role of the youth in civic unity.

Pam Rances

Through the initiatives of MB, I was able to offer my help by volunteering in our relief operation. More than the goods that we distributed, I think the most appreciated effort was the comfort we gave them. As in every evacuation center, there’s a system enforced to properly handle things like the distribution of donations to families, not every family could be a part of the list for a couple of reasons. The hardest part was to say no because we were there to help as much as we could. If I were in their shoes, I’d honestly not know what to do. But if there were someone out there who was willing to help, it would be a huge relief. That day, I wasn’t in need but instead, I could offer relief. They have lost a number of things, and if I had enough for myself or even more, it’s something that I should do.—Pam Rances, Social Media

Charles Lu

“I did personal relief operations because of my innate desire to help others. I am grateful I could be in a position to help. My friends and I—one from high school, two others during my OJT in Sta. Rosa, and one from The Manila Bulletin—all have sentimental connections to the province of Batangas. As soon as we heard about what happened, we all felt we needed to help, a feeling one cannot easily brush off. So we decided to take action and pool our resources to quickly mobilize aid. I organized and coordinated donation drives and relief operations. The hardest part was the logistics. We received inquiries and donations from various places and people from all walks of life. Because of this, we opened three drop-off sites at key destinations to provide convenience to the donors. There were, however, loads of donations that couldn’t be dropped off, so we decided to arrange pick-up for these items. I believe that people truly have this innate desire to help, given the chance and the opportunity, especially when there are convenient options. That’s what we were trying to do: to be the middle men who made sure that help directly reached from the donor to the communities in need. Another key aspect was correctly determining which evacuation sites to reach out to. There are many catering to evacuees hailing from different towns within the 14-kilometer radius, each with a number of people, and with their own needs. Some are easy to reach, thus they get more donations, while others get none at all. That’s why it was crucial to select the right community. We wanted the right help to reach the right people. We also wanted to try to make everyone have fair access to help. As long as there are communities who need help, my team will continue to do everything we can to help them. ‘Ika nga, marami pang pwedeng i-tulongMarami pa ang kailangan tulungan. (There are various ways to help and more people who still need help).’—Charles Vinson Lu, Purchasing

JohnLegaspi

Batangas has been a home for me and my friends. We have gone a year without visiting the province, especially Calaca, Lemery. It is the people there who made it home for us. I could not think of a better way of going back to the province than providing the help they needed through MB. I helped carry relief goods and assisted in the distribution. Another part of our task was to be with the community. We asked them how they were doing, made the people smile, and even did Zumba with them. There were some setbacks, like trucks that arrived late, narrows roads, and time constraints. Because of the growing number of evacuees, however, our prepared goods could not accommodate all of them. More help is needed for the people of Batangas.—John Legaspi, Lifestyle

Jenny Cua

Helping out was never a decision for me. I consider it an instinct. Whenever there is an opportunity to help or reach out, there is no need to think twice. My parents always taught me to share whenever possible. For the relief operations for the victims of Taal Volcano’s eruption, I helped out in the packing and loading of relief goods, as well as quantity control. During distribution, I acted as the mini event coordinator. The hardest part for me was getting things organized, especially for the unloading of goods from the truck to the evacuation center. The route was not passable to our bus and truck, so the group had to talk to the person in-charge at the area to help us by providing transportation that could deliver the goods from the truck to the center itself, in and out several times. Other than that, the activity went on smoothly.—Jenny Lynne Cua, Executive Office

Vernisse Lim

I participated in the outreach program of the Makati Hope Fellowship in partnership with Buan Bible Christian Church. It was compassion for the people in need that urged me to help my fellow Filipinos. My mother and I donated some of our clothes to the charity, and gave financial support to fund the feeding program of my church. I was taught to live in a way that followed how Jesus showed compassion to the hurt, the wounded, and the lost.—Elica Vernisse Lim, MBrand



Source: Manila Bulletin

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