By EDD K. USMAN
Twitter: @edd1819, Instagram: @bluestar0910, Facebook: SDN — Science, Digital & Current Affairs
BAUAN, Batangas (SDN) — LOLA (grandmother) Milagros Apiol, 84, her daughter Gloria, 53, and two other family members.
Annie Enriquez, 58.
Rikki Martin, 18.
They and 270 other evacuees or internally displaced persons (IDPs) — elderly, men, women, children, PWDs — have been calling home the Manghinao I Elementary School here since dawn of January 12.
Aside from the pain of forcibly abandoning their homes, their properties, animals, livelihood, and the gnawing yearning to return, the IDPs are not really that hard of the material things they need for their daily sustenance. That’s at least for the short term. At least for IDPs at the school.
Short-term and long-term needs of evacuees
As Batangas Gov. Hermilando Mandanas pointed out over a GMA7 Thursday morning interview, many individuals, a number of them kindhearted people from the province, have been unselfishly sharing and helping the displaced families.
Mandanas said in the interview that around 600,000 people have already evacuated from towns of Batangas, but many are not visible in evacuation centers because they are staying with their relatives.
Others have gone to their kins in Cavite, Laguna, Quezon, Mindoro, and even in Metro Manila.
Aldrin E. Hernandez, principal of the six-classroom school now an evacuation center, also acknowledged in an interview with Manila-based reporters the abundance of assistance now with the school.
More than 70 sacks of rice, clothes, toiletries and other hygiene supplies, canned goods, water, etc.
But that’s for the short term, he said.
For the long term, Hernandez, 49, principal for a decade, apparently was worried about the sustainability of the assistance. And that includes viands for the evacuees here.
Another is their needs for their life after the evacuation, after Taal Volcano has ceased its violent activities. (The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology or Phivolcs is looking into a two-week observation to see if the volcano ceases its eruption.)
Also helping out is the Ayala Corporation’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) arm, the Ayala Foundation, Inc.
From the ranks of corporate citizens, the Ayala Foundation led by its president, lawyer Ruel T. Maranan, responded to the humanitarian crisis. Maranan is a product of the University of Santo Tomas (UST), a native of Batangas.
In an interview with SDN — Science and Digital News and other media representatives from Manila, Maranan called on other corporations to come together to help the Taal Volcano evacuees.
Citing the foundation’s collaboration with GMA Kapuso Foundation, he said “our call is this the time to go beyond our respective identities or individualities and beliefs.”
The Ayala Foundation president, added: “So, this is a wake-up call. It takes nature to give us a wake-up call, that we need to set aside everything and collaborate. We can overcome this trial.”
Maranan noted that this is just the relief phase of the situation. “We have to plan this well because our countrymen need much bigger (resources) so they can get back on their feet, return to normal life.”
“We need to respond to that,” he emphasized.
The Ayala Foundation delivered relief goods initially in four sites in Batangas province on January 16, such as in West Central Bauan, Alagao Elementary School, Inicbulan Elementary School, and Manghinao I Elementary School.
Hernandez, the principal of the school for a year and a half (the school is only just over two years old), said assistance is coming in continuously from residents of Bauan and other towns, from Rural Health Units (RHUs) and Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) for medicines, volunteer nurses from other towns, five portalets from PNRC.
“Our teachers are helping out to them feel at home, our barangay (village) officials are cooking meals for the evacuees,” he added.
On the other hand, while taking care of the Taal Volcano IDPs, Hernandez lamented that there are still people who spread fake news on Facebook about more danger zones in the province, saying this has stressed him because his family is from Batangas City.
Evacuees at the school are from the towns of Agoncillo, Lemery, San Nicolas, and Taal. They poured here on January 12, starting at 3 a.m., the day of Taal Volcano’s phreatic eruption.
At least one is a PWD, 99 female, 105 male, and 70 children. They comprised 83 families (276 individuals).
Maranan assured the Ayala Foundation is ready to extend assistance as long as there are those who need it and the foundation can be of help. “We are not just for calamities; until there are those need assistance.”
Globe Telecom free call stations
“We will help until we have resources. We take the cue from the community; what we do depends of the (needs) of the community.”
The foundation brought water from Manila Water Foundation, meals, toiletries, and hygiene kits.
Volunteers from the foundation’s CENTEX education program in Batangas, representatives of the Ayala group accompanied the relief assistance.
“We at Ayala group join the rest of the nation in praying for and helping the families and communities affected by the Taal eruption,” Maranan said.
“We will continue to work with national and local government agencies to be responsive to the actual needs of our fellow Filipinos during these challenging times.”
The Ayala Foundation president said he was taking advantage of the relief assistance activity to go around and see what the affected people need most that need to be attended to.
At the news of an imminent eruption of the volatile volcano, the Ayala group immediately deployed its resources to help affected communities in Batangas and Cavite provinces. Manila Water dispatched water tankers from Quezon City, Metro Manila for the evacuees’ clean water needs.
Globe Telecom provided Libreng Tawag (Free Calls) and Charging Stations in different barangays of Cavite. More are in the pipeline.
The Ayala Foundation (www.ayalafoundation.org) is not resting on this relief activities as it readies its helping hands for the coming weeks. (SDN)
The featured image is Lola Milagros Apiol, an 84 years old evacuee at the Manghinao I Elementary School. She is already hard of hearing. There are some more senior citizens who now call home the six-room school in Bauan, Batangas.