2013, BOHOL EARTHQUAKE
AMID THE RUINS, HOPE ARISES
By Lineth Brondial
The 7.2-magnitude earthquake last October 15 wrought great devastations on the lives of many families in Central Visayas. Structures have collapsed, churches have been destroyed, and hundreds of families were turned homeless. Nearly 200 people have been confirmed dead while many others have suffered injuries.
Upon knowing about the disaster, Tzu Chi volunteers immediately traveled to Bohol to conduct emergency relief. From October 19 to 21, the volunteers have carried out disaster surveys, medical missions, and distribution of cash and goods. From these programs, a total of 1,118 families have benefited from the towns of Loon, Maribojoc, Antequera, and Sagbayan.
During the disaster survey, Tzu Chi volunteers found many residents in the streets lining up for food. Open grounds are peppered with tents because everyone is afraid of staying inside their houses.
In the town of Loon, the 180-year-old church of Our Lady of Light or Kasilak in Visayan was reduced to rubbles after it totally collapsed due to the intensity of the earthquake.
Other centuries-old churches in the towns of Baclayon, Loboc, Dauis, Dimiao, Loay and Maribojoc have also been totally or partially destroyed. All of which are considered cultural heritages in Bohol.
Making medical care available
When Tzu Chi volunteers have reached remote communities, many residents complained for injuries left untreated for days after the calamity. Because transportation means were not available, patients had to walk for hours to reach the capital where public hospitals can be found. Clinics in their village either lack the medicines or manpower to address their needs.
Driven by their desire to respond to the needs of earthquake victims as quickly as possible, Tzu Chi Foundation has organized its 171st Medical Mission in Bohol on October 20. With the support of volunteer doctors from Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA), a total of 135 patients from Barangay Viga and Barangay Poblacion in Antequera have been given free medicines for their illnesses, seven of whom have undergone minor surgeries for their injuries.
For Dr. Robert Sy, who leads the team in the mission, the activity has been both challenging and fulfilling. Because no clinic is available, they had to do the surgery under a makeshift tent and use whatever resources are on hand.
“Nevertheless, I am happy to participate in this mission because the surgeries I’ve done will change the lives of the patients. If we didn’t come here, what will happen to them?” Dr. Sy muses.
Providing urgent family requirements
To be able to feel some rays of light is enough motivation for disaster victims to start again. To serve as these rays is what Tzu Chi volunteers wishes to become by going to disaster sites and providing relief assistance.
Rosalinda Dospueblos, mother of three, could not stop her tears upon receiving a thermal blanket and an envelope containing P2,000 from Tzu Chi Foundation.
“I am so happy because the help you gave us is heart-warming. I will use the money to buy our food and school supplies of my children to prepare them as soon as their classes resume,” she says. Dospueblos came at the relief activity barefooted. “We were not able to save anything,” she adds.
Rodel Barace and his sister, Agnes, are also among the beneficiaries. On October 15, they have lost their mother, father, sister, and Barace’s youngest son to the deadly earthquake.
Rodel’s youngest son would have turned six years old if only the earthquake did not occur. His sister, Agnes, expresses her personal thanks to the kindness extended to them and other earthquake victims. Aside from a thermal blanket, they have received P10,000 cash aid as a burial assistance.
“I hope they continue helping people in need like us,” she says.
Aside from Barace, nine other families who grieve the loss of their loved ones have been given cash assistance by the Tzu Chi Foundation during the relief efforts.
Moved by the goodwill and kindness of the Tzu Chi volunteers, Juliet Sabidor also relates her endless thanks. “We appreciate so much of your help because even though we differ in race, you have helped us in so many ways.”
Sabidor comes from San Vicente Norte in Sagbayan. She and 165 others have received P3,000 cash. She says she will use it to buy her family’s food, medicines and school supplies of her three kids.
During the relief activities, Tzu Chi volunteers have shared about the three kinds of help that people can get: help from God, help from strangers, and help from self. They have also led a prayer to appease the minds of the residents, especially those who have lost their loved ones from the tragedy.