August 18, 2022
Tzu Chi Foundation Provides Earthquake Relief to Indigenous Peoples of Abra
By Daniel Lazar
In the early morning hours of July 27, a strong earthquake hit the mountain province of Abra, in North Luzon, with the epicenter located in the town of Tayum. The tremors, and ensuing aftershocks were felt throughout Northern Luzon, as far south as Metro Manila, and triggered landslides, and caused extensive damage to roads, and structures. A few days later the Tzu Chi Foundation entered Abra to survey the damage and assess the necessary relief, and assistance that will need to be provided.
Following the survey team, more Tzu Chi volunteers, support staff, and members of the National Commission on Indigenous People, drove almost 400 kilometers to provide aid to the stricken areas. “A 7 magnitude earthquake hit Abra on July 27th, and a couple of days later our survey team arrived in Abra and Ilocos to assess the damage in five municipalities nearest to the epicenter,” explained veteran Tzu Chi volunteer, Johnny Kwok. “Yesterday, a team of 36 volunteers and staff travelled from Sta. Mesa [Manila] to North Luzon to provide aid to the two hardest hit barangays,” mainly Nagtipulan and Layugan.
While many residents were left without power and water, many are still living outside their homes in tents, because the structures have become unsafe. “My home was affected by the quake,” says 72 year old Susana Pataray, “the roof collapsed and there is a lot of debris.” Living with a family of five, Ms. Pataray like many of her neighbours, lives in makeshift tents, as her home is unstable, and unsafe. “We’re afraid to go in the house,” Ms. Pataray exclaimed, “there are loose bricks hanging and we’re afraid they might fall, so we don’t sleep inside, we have a tent outside our house. We are very thankful to Tzu Chi for the help all the volunteers provided.”
Among the volunteers were Bangued based couple Melinda and Nestor Kho. Business owners, and members of the Rotary Club, the couple were invited by another Tzu Chi member to help in the relief operation, and they were more than happy to lend a hand. “We felt the strong earthquake in our place in Bangued, and we know many people were devastated,” said Mrs. Kho, “and we are very thankful for the opportunity to help the families who suffered from the earthquake.” Both Mr. and Mrs. Kho assisted Tzu Chi in registering, and providing residents with relief goods. The couple also expressed their heartfelt thanks for Tzu Chi’s help, “we are very touched that Tzu Chi Foundation volunteers came all this way to help the people of Abra for this relief.”
Also grateful for the help of the Tzu Chi Foundation, the National Commission on Indigenous People presented Tzu Chi with a certificate of appreciation for the generous assistance to the Tinggian Indigenous peoples of Abra, many of whom were among the recipients of the relief.
Besides the goods provided, Tzu Chi volunteers also taught local residents about the Tzu Chi Foundation, but more importantly, provided words of wisdom about Master Cheng Yen’s teachings of being givers, not just receivers. Many were glad to give back, and donated what little coin they had to pay it forward for others in need.