It was 5:30am of December 22 after Misa de Gallo. Some may return to their houses, and others may be sleepy. But in the case of University of St. La Salle relief volunteers, it is not. They were awake enough to head not towards their homes but towards the island of Suyac and Molocaboc to do some relief work this Christmas.
Thirteen volunteers of USLS Operasyon Yolanda went to the said islands of Sagay city to give some relief goods and roofing materials this last December 22 and 23. They were headed by Rhoderick Samonte, director of Center for External Relations and Institute for Negros Development and were composed by representatives from CER, IND, Community Outreach of USLS-Integrated School and varsity players of the university.
“I am very thankful to the volunteers who have joined and may God continue to bless and for them to continue their mission”, Samonte said.
They have distributed goods to more than 80 households of Sitio Suyac and more than 200 kids received candies, toys, apples and oranges. Also to help them in reconstructing their houses, the relief volunteers also gave 120 roofs and more than 40 kilos of nails to Suyac. While more than 300 families and 500 kids also received goods in Puroks Magay and Cotcoton, Molocaboc.
“Thank you to the volunteers who have helped us in giving our people the things they needed”, Jessica Marco, Barangay Kagawad of Molocaboc said.
Aside from food shortage, Sitio Suyac also seen that their Mangrove eco-park was destructed by the typhoon. On the reports of Ma. Lyn Lacson, Community Organizer of Sagay Marine Reserve, 8 to 10 percent of the park was damaged. They already assigned emergency employees to help in restoration of the mangroves as well as to help the community there.
“It is also a help not just to the environment but also to those who lost their jobs after Yolanda have hit them”, Lacson added.
Nine houses in Suyac were totally damaged and 88 were partially damaged and in Molocaboc, 700 houses were damaged. 62 boats were damaged in Suyac while in Molocaboc were 94 which includes motorized and non-motorized pump boats.
Lelita Juliano, 67 years old, all alone with her two grandchildren was one of those affected in Suyac. She said that the typhoon left their house roofless and because it is made of light materials, their house was left only by some ‘haligi’ and torn walls. Their house was one of the nine that were totally damaged in Suyac.
“We just cover our home with curtains and ‘trapal’ for us to have our temporary roof during nights. We just hope that it won’t rain”, she added.
Alongside with Lelita is Jeremiah Macapas, 38, also left by Yolanda jobless because the pump boat were he used to do his job was damaged. He did not expect that the typhoon would have been that strong.
Macapas also added that they did not evacuate because their elders said that the storm were just that ordinary, but when the storm came, it blown the strongest winds he never experienced in his entire life.
“It was a miracle that the storm turns it direction and I thank God because whatever storm that may came, He is still there to protect us”, Macapas said.
On the other hand, Maricris Batiansala of Purok Cotcoton cannot forget their experience during Yolanda. According to her, their situation became worse because the well, their sole source of water there, became salty. It is either they will buy to Vito, a place in Sagay or to wait that rain will pour down in their big jars. But some of their jars were also broken by the typhoon.
“That is why until now, some of us cannot take a bath and wash our used clothes weeks from now,” she said.
Lelita, Jeremiah and Maricris were among of those who received relief goods through the Operasyon Yolanda. They have received can goods, rice, water and some toys for their children. Also Lelita and Jerimiah received roofs for their houses.
Lelita said that she is thankful that the relief operation has seen her situation and gave her 10 roofing materials. “I will never forget this help they have given to me. I hope that God may bless them,” she added.
Totaling to more than 2000 individuals was given relief goods by the USLS volunteers. Samonte said that he is very thankful that they have finished their mission to the two islands. He also thanked those who donated relief goods to the Operasyon Yolanda.
“To the Lasallian Community, partners, students, and other who were unknown that helped in donating goods, thank you very much that you have been a part of this relief operation”, Samonte said.
The relief operations will not stop and “will continue until those communities will be restored”. Samonte, together with the volunteers also plans to go back in Cadiz city this December 30 to help in painting and distribute those donated pump boats to the families who lost their fishing boats. They also plans to visit Tacloban this January.
“Christmas becomes real if everyone is engaged in the act of giving. Thank you very much to those who made their part in this relief operations because you have defined the true meaning of Christmas”, Samonte added.
At around 4:30m of December 23, the volunteers now head towards Bacolod. With them now were not relief goods but their cheers of having a ‘good job’ in the relief ops they have conducted in Suyac and Molocaboc.
“Good Job! Good Job! G-O-O-D J-O-B! Good Job! Good Job!” they said as they head now towards their homes.