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In November 2006, Super Typhoon Reming (international code name Durian) wreak havoc in the Philippines triggering massive mudslides and landslides from the famed land mass Mayon Volcano. To recall, Mayon Volcano has been very active and has had several minor eruptions since the beginning of the year. Lava flowed out of its crater, depositing it at the midsection of the slope, the mass of hardened molten material have been hanging about its skirt before Super Typhoon Reming hits the region. With its raging wind and rampant rains, the lava, consisting of big boulders, mud, sand and rocks slip through and smash the villages close to the base of the volcano.


The super typhoon shower mudslides along the towns of Daraga, Legazpi City, Tobaco, Ligao City and Guinobatan, burying some homes up to their roofs. Towns near the base of the volcano become ghost towns: destroyed and deserted. Phone lines are cut, electricity posts are smashed, water districts are destroyed thus cutting the supply of clean water. Supply of food is becoming scarce because business establishments closed shop. People have no access to internet, TV or radio, having no clues about the degree of disaster that their region had undergone.


Upon hearing about the situation of Albay and its people, Tzu Chi volunteers respond immediately, providing food rations, clean water rations and free medical services to the brothers and sisters affected by the typhoon. Plans of clearing the streets have become the priority of volunteers after providing immediate response to the victims.



Immediate Response


Busay Elementary School, Ligao City – After the onslaught of Typhoon Reming, Tzu Chi volunteers together with the TIMA doctors and nurses travel to Naga enroute to Legazpi. Surveying the impact of mudslides and landslides caused by Typhoon Reming, volunteers stop by some towns like Daraga, Guinobatan and Ligao. The situation is appalling. Muds have buried houses, business establishments and some structures up to the ceiling. The roads are impassable, people are crammed inside evacuation centers. About 20-50 families share a small classroom, serving as temporary shelter since their houses are buried under the mud. Because of poor ventilation and poor sanitation, the children start getting infections that result to diarrhea, vomiting and influenza. Alarmed about the situation, Tzu Chi volunteers together with Dr. Robert Sy and nurses immediately set up a tent at Busay Elementary School to attend to medical needs of the evacuees.


In the past, whenever a typhoon hits, villagers will just stay in a safe place to wait for the typhoon to pass. Once the typhoon left, they will just fix roofs and walls of the house and then life is back to normal again. Now is a different case. The typhoon not only left their houses buried under mud that reached up to the ceiling but also their farmlands are buried under the mud that came crashing down from the volcano, rendering their farm not plowable. They did not only lose their homes, they also lost their livelihood.



Free Medical Services


Binitayan Evacuation Center, Daraga – In the disaster’s aftermath, volunteers found that most residents are unable to afford medical care, so in response, Tzu Chi volunteers, TIMA doctors and nurses with the support of Chinese General Hospital held a two-day medical mission at the Binitayan Evacuation Center. A team of 26 doctors and nurses from different departments of surgery, paediatrics, general medicine and ophthalmology have come all the way from Manila to conduct free medical services to the victims of typhoon in Albay. Patients are very thankful for the kind-hearted doctors, nurses and volunteers who have dedicated their time, effort and skills to cure them of their diseases. The medical mission benefited 2,551 victims.


Local volunteer doctors also dedicated their time and skills in helping the victims of Typhoon Reming. Led by Dr. Vilma Hao, the doctors from Albay are inspired by the selfless giving of TIMA volunteers in their battered region. They assisted in giving medical attention to the kids, adults and elders. Doctors of Albay also continued taking care of the victims who need hospitalization or long-term medication.


The missions continue even though the TIMA volunteers left Albay, because of support of the local Albay Doctors.



Giving Assistance, Affection and Love


On December 12, 69 volunteers and 25 medical professional arrive on Albay via a specially chartered plane of Philippine Airline flight. The group separated into two subgroups, medical professionals and some volunteers went on to render free medical services to the victims of typhoon in Binitayan Evacuation Center, the other group proceed to other schools that are temporarily converted into evacuation centers like Busay Elementary and Tagas Elementary School.


The program started with sharing of volunteers about Master Cheng Yen’s message of Love, Jing Si Aphorisms teaching and stories about filial piety. The volunteers also performed sign language song and prayed as one with the typhoon victims. There was a short talk about the origin of Tzu Chi Foundation and its humble beginnings. The coin can, that symbolizes the Foundation’s dream of more people contributing to the great ocean of love to help others in their darkest time, was passed around to the evacuees. The evacuees moved by the shower of love from Tzu Chi volunteers deposited lots of coins and bills into the coin can.


The relief benefited 617 families in Busay Elementary and 689 families in Tagas Elementary School.


The next day, another group of Tzu Chi volunteers covered the relief distribution at Gogon and Malabog, 498 families and 310 families benefited respectively.


On December 14, nine hundred families of Tabaco Peiching Academy benefited from relief giving mission of Tzu Chi. Soon after, Tzu Chi turned over 360 shovels, 25 wheel barrows and disinfection equipment to the 4 communities in Tabaco, officially starting the street cleaning of the villages.



Cleaning and Disinfection of the Community


The clean-up mission and rehabilitation program of Tzu Chi Foundation focused on four barangays in Tobaco City. Roads, schools, homes and business establishments were buried under mud. Streets are impassable to both pedestrians and vehicles. Residents were trying to clean their homes and streets but progressing slowly because of lack of big machines to help them excavate the mud deposit.


Fortunately, Tzu Chi Foundation and Tabaco Chinese Chamber of Commerce joined forces to help provide big equipment such as dump trucks and pay loaders through rental or borrowing to excavate the muck. Also providing 360 shovels and 25 wheelbarrows to residents so they can begin the clean-up mission in their streets and homes. There was a plan of paying the residents Php 200.00 for cleaning their area, but the residents told Tzu Chi not to bother paying them anymore because it is their street, and it is their responsibility to clean the area.



Supplying clean water to the disaster victims

Upon learning of the wreckage of water districts caused by Typhoon Reming around Albay province, especially the Municipality of Daraga, twenty-two Tzu Chi volunteers returned to Daraga to install the Water Purifying System previously used at Quezon Province. It is a 20-foot container van that can provide clean water to 50,000 people, this came from Taiwan and was initially installed on Real, Quezon. As the province of Quezon worked hard and now has a rehabilitated water system, Tzu Chi realized  that Province of Albay needs it more right now, so they pulled out the unit and transferred the container van to Municipality of Daraga.


Twenty-two stainless containers were also placed into different evacuation centers that served as holding tanks for purified water. With the help of Legaspi Volunteer Fire Brigade, the transport of clean water from 20-foot container van to holding tanks is easier.



Lessons of the Disaster


On December 22, some volunteers stayed in Daraga to supervise the digging project for the water supply purification system while the other group of volunteers checked the schools damaged by the typhoon and the remaining group of volunteers went to Busay and Tagas Elementary School to check the evacuees’ situation.


The turnover of Water Purifying System of Tzu Chi Foundation to Municipality of Daraga happened on December 23, attended by the Municipal Head Cicero Triumfante.


The hopelessness that enveloped the whole province of Albay slowly evaporated because of the help, love and compassion of Master Cheng Yen and Tzu Chi volunteers who tirelessly dedicated their time and effort into reviving and rehabilitating the province.


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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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