November has been a challenging month for our country. Perhaps “challenging” does not quite describe it. Because for tens of thousands of Filipino families, November has been nothing short of miserable.
The misery started on the very first day of the month, with a ferocious typhoon, packing 215 kph winds with gusts of 265 kph, eclipsing the record held by Yolanda (Haiyan) which devastated the Visayas in 2013. Living up to its name, Super Typhoon Rolly whipped violent winds that swept vast areas, dumping unrelenting rains as it moved, and leaving a path of destruction that will take months, if not years, to rebuild.
Rolly made four landfalls in four provinces, rolling on after battering a place, each time picking up strength to barrel through its next destination. The most disastrous was the first, in Bato, Catanduanes; its next stop was in Tiwi, Albay; the third was in San Narciso, Quezon; and the last was in Lobo, Batangas.
But it reserved its most wrathful power for the provinces in the Bicol Region. That’s where Pres. Peter Manzano focused the Club’s first relief mission during his term, which saw them delivering over P1M worth of goods to over 3,000 families in five sites and one institution.
With First Ann Pam, CoS Ron Dotaro and photographer Richard Manilag, the team left Manila in the evening of Tuesday, November 3, arriving in Naga, Camarines Sur at dawn the following day. Despite the long trip and little sleep, they were all set for the work they had come to perform.
Before 10:00 AM, they made their way through rough and flooded roads to the designated site in Brgy. Salingogon in Minalabac. Partnering with the Office of the Vice President, they distributed food bags each valued at P500 to 500 families.
Significantly, Vice President Leni Robredo was there to personally help with the relief operations. In her brief message, she thanked the Club for the relief assistance in her hometown and acknowledged our past collaborations, particularly in the dormitory project for high school girls in Bukidnon and Negros Oriental. It must be mentioned that we were assisted by the Lions Club of Naga whose members, led by Pres. Leanne Montemayor, provided manpower for the packing of goods. Before proceeding to Legaspi City, Pres. Peter hosted lunch for the Lions as a gesture of appreciation and thanks for their support.
The team then proceeded to Legaspi City in Albay, where relief operations were conducted in two barangays -- Brgys. Penaranda and Puro, each with 500 recipients of food bags worth P250 each. The relief operations in both sites were overseen by PP Japps Callos of RC Metro Sorsogon, which provided logistics and manpower for repacking of goods. Our partner in these operations was ABS-CBN’s Sagip Kapamilya, led by Jen Reyes, who coordinated the relief distribution and arranged an interview of Pres. Peter on a local TV station. They spent the night in the city, home to majestic Mayon Volcano.
On Thursday the 5th, they motored to Brgy. Gapo in neighboring Camalig where they handed out 250 sets of mats and blankets worth P100K as well as 500 pairs of sandals donated by Taba Samson. There they were assisted by Area 4 Bicol clubs that also gave away goods and supervised the very orderly operations.
Next stop was Guinobatan, the hardest hit town in Albay, which suffered casualties and where many houses were totally destroyed. There they served 1,000 families, giving them food bags worth P250 each.
Wanting to get back to Manila in time for more relief ops the following day, the team travelled back to Naga, passing by Ateneo de Naga for a brief visit that allowed Pres. Peter to hand to Ateneo de Naga President Fr. Robert Rivera, a check for P200K as the Club’s contribution towards the repair of the school, which had been damaged by the typhoon. Half of the amount came from PDG Sid Garcia.
Providentially, the Ateneo visit led to our team reconnecting with RC Naga, a long lost Brother Club. Pres. Peter and RC Naga Pres. Jojo Prieto promised to revive our brotherhood relations and even considered a virtual joint meeting via Zoom.
The trip back to the big city offered some sleep, just enough rest to recharge after two hectic days, to get them ready for yet another day of delivering badly needed goods to families, some of whom had lost loved ones, most of whom had lost their homes and the earthly belongings that had taken a lifetime to acquire and would likely take another lifetime to replace.
Thanks to our members and friends who, responding to Pres. Peter’s gentle appeal for help, enabled the Club to raise a total of P870,000 with which to replenish our disaster relief fund—Carina Amparo, daughter of PP Felix, P10K; Ann Tessie Amparo, P10K; Arthur Antonino, P100K; PE Louie Aseoche, P10K; George Barcelon, P20K; Ann Jojo Borromeo, P10K; Edgardo Caparas, P100K coursed through Eddie Galvez; Vic Floresca, P10K; Ralph Galvez, son of Ai-Ai, P100K; PDG Sid Garcia, P200K; Dir. Eddie Galvez, P100K; Ric Gindap, P20K; Ann Yvonne Kuan, P5K; Mr. Higinio Macaraeg, P10K; IPP Bimbo Mills, P25K; PP Reggie Nolido, P10K; Andrew Prieto, P10K; PP Carlo Rufino, P10K; Taba Samson, P100K; Rodrigo Segura, P5K; PP Sonny Tambunting, P5K; and an anonymous donor, P50K.
We also thank those who gave donations in kind-- PDG Pepz Bengzon, who provided a van; Ann Jean Chavez, a box of laundry soap; Andy Mañalac, a generator; PP Tito Panlilio, 5,600 bottles of purified water; and Taba Samson, 1,200 pairs of sandals.