On February 2, ten Tzu Chi volunteers, headed by Tzu Chi Philippines CEO Henry Yuñez, entered the main battle ground in Marawi City. It was Yuñez’ second time in the place yet seeing the buildings and houses riddled with bullets still filled his heart with so much compassion for the war victims.
The other Tzu Chi volunteers were shocked to see the extent of the damage but it strengthened their will to help the Maranaos.
After their short visit to Ground Zero, the volunteers proceeded to the Sports Complex of the Provincial Capitol of Lanao del Sur where 22,000 sacks of 20-kilo rice to be distributed to war-displaced families are being stored.
“The Department of Social Welfare and Development is experiencing rice shortage now. So, we really need all the help we can get for the people of Marawi. That is why we are very thankful to Tzu Chi Foundation because that sack of rice can feed a family for quite a while,” says Provincial Social Welfare Office Director Maharlanny Alonto.
As of today, those whose houses are still standing are returning home. Though they have a place to stay, they still have no source of income.
“If I will describe the situation of each family, it is depressing most especially for those who are staying in the evacuation centers. Depressing in a way that it took away their right to live peacefully,” shares Alonto. “Now, the rich and the poor are equal. They are at the point in their lives when if they receive help of whatever kind, they will be very grateful. I hope that through Tzu Chi’s rice donation, the depression that they are experiencing will be eased.”
Aside from Tzu Chi Foundation, government and non-government organizations, there are also individuals who are doing their share to help.
Abdul Rashid “Elian” Macala, a trucking businessman pledged to give 15% discount to Tzu Chi Foundation in transporting the sacks of rice to Marawi City.
“I am really glad that there are other countries, like Taiwan and even other religions, like Buddhism, that are helping the Muslim community to rebuild itself,” says Macala.
Considered as the longest urban battle in the Philippines, the Marawi Siege lasted for five months. It displaced more than 400,000 people in Marawi and nearby towns.
Support Tzu Chi’s relief and rehabilitation work for the evacuees of the Marawi War by visiting http://tzuchi.org.ph/how-to-help/donation/ #HelpTzuChiHelpOthers
Tzu Chi volunteers meet with local businessman Dominic Siao, who owns the property where the excess rice sacks will be stored after the rice distributions. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
Tzu Chi volunteers meet Abdul Rashid “Elian” Macala, a trucking businessman who pledges to give 15% discount to Tzu Chi Foundation in transporting the 20-kilo sacks of rice from Cagayan De Oro to Marawi City. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
Tzu Chi Philippines CEO Henry Yuñez and local businessmen Abdul Rashid “Elian” Macala (left) and Dominic Siao (right) discuss the situation in Marawi City. According to the local entrepreneurs, if big businesses find it hard to start over, then the middle-class families who lost their homes and livelihood in the war must be having a more difficult time. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
Abdul Rashid “Elian” Macala shows a map of Marawi City, which terrorists seiged for five months in 2017. The volunteers are surprised to find out how big Marawi City is and are worried for the thousands of families who call it home. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
A soldier explains the do’s and don’ts when entering the main battle ground of Marawi City. The soldier reminds the volunteers to stay in their vehicle as much as possible. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
Upon entering Ground Zero, the volunteers no longer need to alight the vehicle to see the destruction left by the war in the city of Marawi. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
The terror that the Maranaos felt during the siege is unimaginable. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
Tzu Chi volunteers visit the mosque where the terrorist hid during the bombings. No one is allowed to go inside as the troops believe that there are still bombs there. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
A soldier says the only living thing that survived the Marawi War are the trees. They are silent witness to the suffering of the Maranaos in the hands of the terrorists. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
Tzu Chi Philippines CEO Henry Yuñez accompanies local businessmen Dominic Siao and Abdul Rashid “Elian” Macala to the Sports Complex of the Provincial Capitol of Lanao del Sur where the sacks of Taiwan rice will be stored days before the relief distribution. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
Tzu Chi Philippines CEO Henry Yuñez checks on the quality of the rice that will be distributed to the war evacuees. He wants the Maranaos to feel that they are special to Master Cheng Yen and to Tzu Chi volunteers despite the difference in language and religion. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
Everyone is excited for the series of rice distributions for the war-displaced families, which will start in February. Just the thought of helping families have food in their table makes the Tzu Chi volunteers and local officials happy. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】