January 30, 2018
Reaching out to tropical storms Vinta and Agaton survivors in Iligan
By Chloe Dela Cruz
On December 22, 2017, tropical storm Vinta (Tembin) made landfall in Northern Mindanao and brought torrential rains. On January 2, Tropical depression Agaton entered Mindanao and triggered floods and landslides in Iligan City, as it dumped rains on areas still reeling from back-to-back storms the previous week.
Floods up to knee-deep swamped parts of barangay Palao, Hinaplanon, Tubod, Tipanoy, Santiago, Tibanga, Bagong Silang, San Miguel and Tambacan and some of the roads were impassable.
After learning what happened in Iligan, Tzu Chi Foundation immediately coordinated with the office of the social workers of Iligan City and with its Lone District of Iligan Representative, Frederick W. Siao.
On December 27, Tzu Chi Foundation volunteers checked on the condition of the affected families. They met with local businessman Dominic Siao (brother of Congressman Frederick Siao), who generously offered his property to be used for storage of sacks of rice until the day of the rice distribution.
After a series of surveys and information gathering, Tzu Chi volunteers from Manila went to Iligan on January 26 to prepare the venues and lists of recipients for the rice stub distribution.
“Our rice recipients are the survivors of tropical storms Vinta and Agaton, to think that Agaton came right after Vinta exited, life is really hard for them. We are not yet sending our help to them, and based on reports there are casualties here so Tzu Chi Foundation came here to give rice,” says Jimmy Chua.
On January 30, 19 volunteers from Nangka and Tumana, Marikina also went to Iligan to help the other volunteers who are already there in the distribution of rice stubs. They held the first rice stub distribution on the same day.
They allotted two days for the rice stub distributions in 40 Barangays in Iligan.
On the first day, they distributed rice stubs to almost 7,000 families from 14 Barangays namely Dalipuga (857 families), Hinaplanon (1,542 families), Bagong Silang (286 families), San Miguel (180 families), Villaverde (244 families), Del Carmen (597 families), Santiago (335 families), Saray (288 families), Tibanga (332 families), Sto. Rosario (71 families), Poblacion (185 families), Tambacan (868 families), Tubod (801 families) and Tomas Cabili (353 families).
Rice stub recipients can’t hide their excitement to claim the rice from Taiwan. According to them, it will be their first time to eat rice from Taiwan. Their lives after the typhoons became more difficult, the prices of their basic needs went up and some of them lost their livelihood.
Racquel Pacuelo, 78, willingly waited for hours until the volunteers came to their Barangay, Dalipuga, to claim for her rice stub.
”I am already 78 years old, yet I am the only one who works for our daily living. I work at the farm, I do household chores, because my husband is already blind, and my two children have their own family,” narrates Pacuelo.
She also has a problem with her eyesight, but she can’t afford to see a doctor since her income is not even enough for her and her husband’s daily needs.
“(That’s why I consider this rice as a blessing from above) It is such a big help for us-as I don’t need to buy rice for months, it also means I don’t have to work too much. I can rest even for a while,” adds Pacuelo.
As early as now, the Iliganons are already thinking of what they can do to give back to Tzu Chi. The rice that they will receive will only last up to a month- if not days- but the fact that Tzu Chi remembers them and went out of their way to see them, made the residents feel loved.
“It’s actually my first time to meet Tzu Chi Foundation, but I heard a lot of good stories about it. We are very happy that you came here to help us; we are really grateful and delighted. You are from Taiwan, of a different nationality but you showed great love to us Filipinos,” says Panesa.
Panesa, a Purok Leader in their Barangay, pledge to create a program where the people will collect their recyclable materials, and donate the proceeds to Tzu Chi.
Help Tzu Chi help others. If you wish to extend aid to the survivors of Tropical Storms Vinta and Agaton, visit Tzu Chi Paypal Donation