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By Nyanza Nakar



Flying to calamity stricken communities in Mindanao had been the immediate goal of Tzu Chi Philippines volunteers and staff in order to learn about the situation and urgent needs of the victims of typhoon Pablo (international codename: Typhoon Bopha).


Thousands of displaced residents are in dire need of help days after the provinces of Bukidnon and Davao suffered from the wrath of the typhoon. Answering to the desperate calls of help of the victims, nine volunteers and staff of Tzu Chi Philippines determinedly travelled the destroyed main highways crowded by uprooted trees and collapsed houses to survey the areas greatly affected by the strong winds and rains brought by typhoon Pablo.


Upon arriving at Cagayan de Oro on December 13, two members of Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Quinciano Lui and Evangeline Lui welcomed the staff and volunteers of Tzu Chi. Seizing the moment, the group immediately met up with Catalina Tiu and Antonio Tiu, to recall, the couple were part of the relief mission of Tzu Chi last year to typhoon Sendong victims in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City.


The group then travelled to Valencia City, Bukidnon to witness the situation of disaster victims. Going straight to the office of Valencia City Mayor Alejandro Catarata, the two parties lost no time in discussing the localities affected by the said typhoon. Mayor Catarata pointed out that San Isidro was the worst hit community, adding that 686 families living on 468 houses were seriously affected. The basic needs of these families are sleeping mat, cooking pot, cleaning items and clothes.


More than 5,000 families are reported to have been affected in Valencia City alone. Mayor Catarata offered Tzu Chi volunteers and staff a ride to Barangay San Isidro. Along the way, volunteers found out that a portion of the main highway was severely devastated that they opened alternative route to reach the victims living in far areas. Bearing as witnessed to the great disaster, volunteers heed the suggestion of Mayor Catarata that they should also visit the victims in Davao City, as the province suffered worse than Bukidnon.


The next day, December 14, volunteers and staff of Tzu Chi saw thousands of hectares of devastated agricultural lands, collapsed buildings and houses, uprooted trees and poor condition of victims in municipality of New Bataan.  Municipal Mayor Lorenzo Balbin, Jr. welcomed the group. He then oriented the group about the 16 barangays affected by typhoon Pablo with a total population of more than 10,500 families. Meanwhile, there are 380 reported casualties, 172 individual wounded and 450 victims are still missing. Barangays Andap and Cabinuangan were both greatly hit by the storm where almost 4,000 houses were destroyed.


Some residents are still staying within their almost collapsed houses while others fled to evacuation centers. The following list are the four official evacuation centers: grandstand, YK Galleria, Tribal Building and Municipal Gym. The municipality declared that a total of 235 households are staying in the said evacuation areas.


The Mayor informed Tzu Chi about the pledge of United Nation’s Food Program that they will provide food for the victims for the whole duration of six months. The agency will coordinate with Department of Social Welfare and Development.


Since food is of no immediate problem to the victims, the Mayor suggested that they need medicines for fever, colds and coughs. Upon hearing this, volunteers are thinking about medical mission. They studied the area and initially suggested that the Municipal Gym would be a fit venue for the event.


Tzu Chi volunteers then went to Barangay Andap, according to officials this is the typhoon’s worst hit area. The community once crowded by concrete houses were now reduced to broken stone walls. Even the main highway was destroyed by the current brought by Mayo River, then relatively quiet river but because of water flowing from the mountains, the river multiplied its size and its flowing capacity.


Around 3:30PM, volunteers arrived at Provincial Hall of Compostela Valley, a place governed by Arturo Uy. Atty. Richard Liban, Provincial Legal Officer, Arceli Timogtimog, General Services Officer and Dr. Rolando Simine, Provincial Agriculturist all welcomed the organization.


According to the officials, 3 out of 11 municipalities are considered seriously affected by typhoon Pablo. They are Laak, New Bataan and Monkayo. In the meantime, the victims are receiving food aid like rice, noodles and sardines. Simine shared that an estimate of about 10,000 to 11,000 hectares of banana plantation which is 90% to 99% were destroyed by the typhoon. This burden will be deeply felt by small banana growers and wage earners in the agriculture sector. These banana are export quality to countries of Japan, Middle East, China and Korea.


On the third day, December 15, five volunteers and staff went to municipality of Compostela. More than 20,000 families were seriously affected by the typhoon in the said area. Rainier Garcia, Executive Assistant, gracefully welcomed the volunteers. He said that it is usual for 7 out of 16 barangays to be flooded yearly. But this time, because of unprecedented strong winds and rains, everyone was caught by surprise.


An estimate of 95% houses from 16 barangays of Compostela municipality were devastated by the strong typhoon. He then continued that 60% of the population or 7,000 up to 10,000 families are earning from Banana Industry, but sadly an estimate of 100% of the banana plantation were wiped out.


As of the present 1,400 families are staying in 10 official evacuation centers while the others are still staying within their destroyed houses. Garcia also suggested that Barangay Marapat would benefit greatly from any help that would be given them. In the said area 866 families or 3,280 individuals were affected.


As the volunteers surveyed the area of Purok 2 of Barangay Marapat, they noticed that a covered court lost its roof while even its concrete walls were felled down and another basketball court was destroyed beyond recognition by the wrath of typhoon Pablo.


As of the moment, thousands of displaced families are in need of food supply. They also need compassion and love to be able to start life anew.

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Tzu Chi Philippines

Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation, Philippines - Jing Si Hall

76 Cordillera cor. Agno Street, Barangay Dona Josefa,
Quezon City, 1800 Philippines

(632) 8732-0001 & (632) 8732-0002

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