Wednesday, May 7, 2014
AFTER LEADING A SERIES of small humanitarian missions which my company had recently engaged me in at Bohol (after the earthquake) and at Northern Cebu (after Typhoon Yolanda), I was tapped again to lead another one. This time it will target the island of Guintarcan. I had been on a similar mission to this same island – twice – with the US-based Death Valley Expeditionary Corps last November but this will be bigger. Under me are nine people who will share the burden with me.
My company had been requested by a local foundation to provide personnel and security to accompany and to compose the manpower by which this relief action would pursue. The relief goods and all the funding for the logistics, travel and victuals were provided for by an organization from Copenhagen, Denmark which were channeled to this foundation. Off for distribution are 3,800 liters of drinking water, 3,800 kilos of rice, canned goods and six sets of “wine to water” filter system.
We started loading the relief items from the depot to two trucks in the late afternoon of December 20, 2013. By 2:00 AM of the following day (December 21), we left Mandaue City for Daanbantayan, northern Cebu. We arrive at 5:30 AM and proceeded to the municipal wharf to eat pre-cooked breakfast and to await the coming of the contacted boats. Only two came instead of three and I find it inadequate and time consuming should I utilize these same boats for another run.
I used my connections with some residents of Guintarcan Island and I am able to secure another two boats to haul the rest of the cargoes. All the boats were loaded to its full capacity and each boat were accompanied by, at least, two of my members. The boats are destined for the village of Bitoon from where all the goods will be distributed to all island residents, which also includes the neighboring villages of Hagdan and Langub.
We had already developed a system to distribute the items and my previous experience of humanitarian trips in Langub had given our relief work some degree of smoothness. I had solved half of the difficulties pertaining to the organizing and the distribution and the rest is up to the village chiefs. The island residents converge in the village square of Bitoon as they learned of our coming and my companions are awed by their helpfulness and their honesty when we need hands to unload the goods from boat to shore to village square.
First to be provided the relief goods were the inhabitants of Bitoon, who formed lines according to their respective neighborhoods with four tables used as the receiving area. Coupons were distributed and each coupon-holder will receive two liters of bottled water, two kilos of rice and two canned sardines. After them, came the turn of Langub residents and then last are those coming from Hagdan. The items were evenly distributed and I see a lot of smiling faces.
We eat our lunch, provided for by the village council of Bitoon in appreciation of our purpose, whenever one or two of us are momentarily free during the relief-goods giving. When all this are finished, one of my members, Allan Nadela, explained to the three present village chiefs and their respective councils about how the water filter system work. A filter is attached to an outlet pipe from a 10-gallon pail and soiled water is poured into it where clear water gushed forth from the filter spout.
Allan drank from this water to demonstrate to all that it is clean and very safe to drink. Two filter systems each are then donated to the villages of Bitoon, Langub and Hagdan, whereby it will be used as communal drinking-water source. Guintarcan Island do not have surface fresh water and they source their drinking water from the mainland and from rain. Some households own water tanks to store rainwater but Typhoon Yolanda had destroyed all houses here and catching a good volume of rain is now difficult.
We leave Bitoon at 2:30 PM and proceed to Langub by a motorboat to pick up dried fish to bring home and a hot meal of a big fresh rabbit-fish provided for by Judith Illustrisimo. We arrive at Daanbantayan at 4:30 PM and proceed to take our places on the two trucks which we parked at the wharf in the morning. We arrive at the office at AS Fortuna Street at 8:30 PM after a thankful supper in a popular but very cheap diner at AC Cortes Avenue.
Just like all relief operations undertaken in Tacloban City and in Samar, a political clan tried to take credit that the distributed goods are coming from out of their good nature. A septuagenarian form Bitoon approached me and asked me about this which I denied outright. A big tarpaulin is attached at the stage to where we are using as a distribution point with the big bold letters saying that it is FUNDED BY THE FILIPINO DANISH COMMUNITY.
What a shame!
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