Monday, Apr 19

Bringing back normalcy in Urduja-stricken communities

December 28, 2017 | Grace Limbher Daigdigan and Jamaica Digo

On the second day of the cleanup drive, volunteer residents enter the school premises early in the morning to accomplish their agenda: a mud-free school. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】


Although caught up with the ongoing cash-for-work cleanup drive at its own temporary housing village in Barangay Liloan, The Great Love City, Tzu Chi Foundation volunteers mobilized to hold relief aid distributions in the neighboring communities also affected by Tropical Storm Urduja.

From December 27 to 28, the series of distributions benefitted 2,326 flood-affected families in Barangays Liloan, Licuma, and San Juan. Each family received eco-friendly blankets and bags of used clothes.

Evagela Matuguina, 28, a resident of Sitio Okra in Barangay Liloan, evacuated their house when the flood water reached their knees. Her family fled to the nearby school. The eco-friendly blanket that they received from Tzu Chi Foundation in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013 was the only thing they managed to save.

“Our clothes were soaked in mud. I really couldn’t imagine what happened during that time,” she says. “The eco–friendly blankets were very important because we used them as beds and comforters to keep us warm during our stay at the evacuation center.”

On December 28, Tzu Chi volunteers brought the same aid to the flood-affected families in Barangay San Juan. But just as they were about to leave for another relief distribution in Barangay Licuma, the volunteers passed by San Juan Elementary School and saw it still deep in mud.

Although some residents, school personnel, students and 15 police trainees of Ormoc have been working together to clean up the place, everyone was worried they won’t be able to finish in time for the opening of classes on January 3, 2018.

“Our school is prone to flooding. This time the floodwater rose to almost 12 feet. Our computers can no longer be used. Our books were washed away in the flood,” says Ma. Meda Miramonte, the school’s officer in-charge.

Tzu Chi launched a cash-for-work cleanup drive. For two days, the program registered 127 participants. Together, they work in clearing the school from the traces of Urduja. Each also received Php250 daily cash assistance.

“This cleanup drive means a lot because this school is where our children are studying,” shares resident Ma. Gina Candelasa.

School principal Bernardita Manlasang is thankful for the concern shown by everyone.

“Slowly, our school is being cleared from the trails of Tropical Storm Urduja because of everyone’s collective efforts,” says Manlasang. “I want to thank Tzu Chi Foundation because if not for them I don’t know if we would be ready for the opening of classes.”

Residents of Barangay San Juan is grateful for the compassionate care they received: families received relief aid while the youth got a chance to pursue their studies. As a result, the barangay chairman along with several villagers pledged to become donors of Tzu Chi, hoping to keep the cycle of love rolling from their community to the next.

  • Volunteer residents at Barangay San Juan work as they chant 'Maglimpio para sa Kaugmaun,' native lingo for 'Cleaning to save the future.’ 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • As the rain continues to pour, volunteer residents build a sense of camaraderie in freeing the school from muck. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • San Juan Elementary School appears to be filled with quicksand as soon as the 12-feet flood has subsided. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • Early in the morning, volunteer residents start clearing the school of muck. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • Clean desk chairs are returned to their designated classrooms. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • Late in the afternoon, the pathways of San Juan Elementary School are clear. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • Part of the program, Tzu Chi volunteers encourage the residents of Barangay Liloan to donate any amount they have in helping out other people who are in need. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • A resident from the area of San Roque, Barangay Liloan receives an eco - friendly blanket to warm his body in the cold nights of December. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • Neriza Cuyos (center), 29, shares her heart felt thanks to the foundation in helping her to have comfortable sleep after the surge of the Troical Storm Urduja (Kai - Tak). 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • Citadel Maglasang (left), an OFW, volunteers to donate to the foundation money and recyclables to help out the impoverished people who will benefit from it. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • Tzu Chi launched a cash-for-work program to hasten the cleanup of the San Juan Elementary School. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】