Sunday, October 4, 2009

After Ondoy: It's a relief to see the relief efforts

We, who are on dry land, have seen the devastation of Typhoon Ondoy on television, on the pages of the newspapers, and in the Internet. Therefore, there is no need to describe the tragedy here. We know and we commiserate.

We also know the failure of the government in many respects—from the moment it failed to save lives that should otherwise have not been lost to its omission to act with dispatch immediately after the deluge simply on the pretext that it lacks resources.

Nature has its way of demonstrating man’s shortcomings. In this case, Ondoy showed how ineffectual the government is. It was caught in a non-act, with clothes off.

In the face of tragedy, however, blame should take a backseat. It should not even be allowed to peer through the mud now blanketing so many villages in the eastern part of Metro Manila.

The hour calls for unified action to relieve the victims of their misery. It is a relief to see this happening. The general feeling in the country’s capital, in the provinces, and even in many parts of the world is that something must be done.

And indeed, things are being done. Relief missions are aplenty. Donations are pouring in, people are helping one another, and soon things will start moving even slow at first, and then life for everyone would hopefully return to normal.

While it has not yet, let me share to you, dear readers, some stories of heroism involving Romblomanons.

You see, Ondoy, when it decided to dump water on its path, did not have time (and did not care!) to discriminate whether its victims were black or white or Tagalong or Visayan or Mindanaoan.

Unlike in the biblical story of the plague before the Flood where the Lord sent angels to put a mark on the doors of the Israelites’ houses so that they would not be consumed by fire and brimstone, Ondoy did not have messengers of salvation to do exactly that. All it had was rain, which it poured out in mighty torrents to inundate all houses on its path.

These, unfortunately, included the houses and livelihood and material possessions of Romblomanons in Pasig, Quezon City, Marikina, Cainta, and Laguna.

I haven’t read an account yet as to how many exactly were the Romblomanon families that suffered from Ondoy’s wrath. The provincial government is not around—it’s in Romblon—so no one has wrote a report, or made a tally.

All we have is the information that last week, when the weather was calmer, the Banton Biniray, Inc., or BBI, and the Banton High School Alumni Association, or BHSAA, have begun the ball rolling to come to the succor of Banto-anon families affected. The relief effort is known as Bantoanon para sa Bantoanon. The Bantoanons’ fund-raising efforts were also set into full gear, with BBI vice chair Cely Fonte and BBI president Darry Fabul at the forefront.Last Sunday, the twin organizations mounted a relief drive where it distributed P1,000 in cash to each family beneficiary, plus old clothes. Lyndon Fadri, who is the current BHSA president, said that families who waived the benefit were given a gift pack containing a BHSAA t-shirt and a Subatey CD. As I write this, I have information that 80 families were to benefit from the Biniray and BHSAA relief mission.

Meanwhile, the Internet has been abuzz with full-length discussions on how to help. The yagting@yahoogroups and the RDL-CLEAR discussion group have been throwing back and forth information and views on Ondoy’s aftermath. The focus of these discussions is how to help.

RDL-CLEAR, led by the indefatigable Nic Musico, has rolled out a fund-raising drive. Check donations to RDL-CLEAR can be made in the name of Dely F. Ferrera, 3N 209 Howard Avenue, Elmhurst, Il 60126. Donations to RDL-CLEAR are tax-deductible.

Another Romblon organization, the Children’s Livelihood Education Assistance and Relief Foundation, or CLEAR Foundation, has sent in six boxes of hand-me-down clothes, which arrived on September 28, I was informed.

According to its executive director, Delia Famatigan, the Foundation has also donated clothes and food to non-Romblomanon victims in the districts of Sto. Niño and Project 6 in Quezon City.

Sibalenhons have also thrown their lot to help alleviate Sibalenhons waylaid by Ondoy. Last Sunday, the Sibale Development Foundation, or Sibale Def, went to the calamity area to distribute clothes, food and grocery items.

Prospero Fabregas, former Sibale Def president, and several officials, mounted the relief mission. They were joined by Romulo Señorin and Rose Fornal, Ragipon president and secretary, respectively, as well as by Sibale Academy Alumni Association secretary Ma. Theresa Felisilda, who sent in a few photos of the mission.

All these relief efforts are not lost on Romblomanons who, while they are unable to pitch in at the moment maybe because they, too, find it difficult to make both ends meet, must be praying that a similar tragedy will not happen. I am sure they are also praying Ondoy’s victims will recover quickly soon.

On a personal level, I am looking at the situation with immense relief that citizens, particularly the Romblomanons who are in the frontlines of various relief missions, share the Samaritan spirit that has descended upon so many in the aftermath of the calamity.

Sadly, I can’t say the same of the provincial government which, as of this writing, has not been heard from. Perhaps, the top officials of Romblon are somewhere else, or they might be in the comfort of their war rooms making plans on how to win the next election, or worse, may be thinking that the Romblonanons hard hit by Ondoy are not registered voters?

Paging Congressman Budoy Madrona and Governor Jojo Beltran. Have hearts and do something quick.

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