Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Malacañang as Disaster Relief Centre

Filipino bayanihan spirit surfaces in aftermath of Ondoy

In times of calamities, the Filipino bayanihan spirit never fails to surface. You can see it everywhere. In the places devastated by tropical storm Ondoy, people take it upon themselves to conduct rescue and relief operations spontaneously.

At the national relief operations center in Malacanang, this spirit is very much alive.

More than 140 individuals from all walks of life have volunteered their services to the government’s Oplan Sagip Bayan, which President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has mobilized to provide relief and temporary shelter for families displaced or made homeless by the storm.

Relocated families have been sheltered in all available premises within the palace buildings as well in tents set up in the palace grounds. While others availed of the donated goods, some were busy placing calls at the free call center set up by the National Telecommunications Commission at the palace grounds.

The Presidential Family, headed by Evangeline Lourdes “Luli” Arroyo-Bernas, Camarines Sur Representative Diosdado Ignacio “Dato” Arroyo and wife Victoria “Kakai” Arroyo have joined the volunteers in packing the relief goods to be distributed to affected areas.

The Presidential family blended well in the volunteer crowd where they themselves packed the goods and carried the boxes to be distributed. Bernas, wearing only plain clothes, even refused to get help from Malacanang employees while carrying big boxes of relief goods.

Presidential Management Staff Head Secretary Hermogenes Esperon oversees the Oplan Sagip Bayan along with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

One of the volunteers, religion teacher Edith David, who is also a Kagawad in the 4th District of Manila, decided to volunteer her services because she wanted to extend her help while waiting for her classes to start.

“I feel so happy to be part of this relief goods operations. Dito walang mayaman, walang mahirap, (Here, there is no rich nor poor) we all came together to help the victims. I feel so happy to help, to be part of this worthwhile endeavor,” she added.

Inside the Kalayaan Hall, soldiers can be seen packing relief items with members of the non-government organizations, wives of the Presidential Security Group, students, government employees and other private individuals. Despite their busy work as volunteers, they still have time to laugh, mingle and get to know each other. Their common denominator, which is to be part of the heroic effort to provide relief, boosts their energy to work for hours.

Thirty-three year old Jerry Seso, a private individual waiting for his work as seafarer, decided to volunteer his services upon seeing in a television report that President Arroyo has opened the gates of Malacanang for Oplan Sagip Bayan.

“Mahiyain po ako pero I decided na mag-volunteer na din para naman makatulong habang nag-aantay ng trabaho ko. Masaya po ako kasi kahit iba’t ibang level kami, nagkakasundo kami for the common good at masaya kami sa pagtulong (I am shy but I decided to volunteer so I can help the victims while waiting for my job. I am happy because even though we came from different levels, we can get together for a common good and we are happy to help),” Seso said.

As of 12 noon today, these are the breakdown of the 153,535 families serviced by Oplan Sagip Bayan since it opened yesterday:

Caloocan – 3,770 families
Makati – 232 families
Malabon – 637 families
Mandaluyong – 4,115 families
Manila - 636 families
Marikina – 13,072 families
Muntinlupa – 2,940 families
Paranaque – 450 families
Pasay – 2,182 families
Pasig – 5,813 families
Pateros – 1,310 families
Quezon City – 21,065 families
San Juan – 97 families
Taguig – 3,560 families
Valenzuela – 914 families
Tanay – 1,999 families
Taytay – 1,572 families
Morong - 100 families
Teresa – 204 families
Cainta – 76,000
San Mateo – 200 families
Rodriguez – 735 families
Calamba, Laguna – 2,834 families
Tanza, Cavite – 354 families

Priority Areas in CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon):

Barangay Sta. Ana in Taytay – 184 families
Barangay San Juan – 250 families
San Juan Resettlement Areas – 2,700 families
Antipolo City – 11,620 families
Angono – 50 families

Oplan Sagip Bayan is open for donations, especially hot meals for victims that will be distributed in disaster areas such as Marikina, Cainta and Pasig, among others. Volunteers are always welcome at the Kalayaan Hall to be part in this worthy endeavor. (PND)

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