Monday, March 24, 2014

COVER STORY | When the Giving Outpored the Raining

by Claude Lucas Despabiladeras

"Outpouring” is a word that aptly describes the extent to which Filipinos and even foreigners responded to the urgent help needed by the countless victims of super typhoon Yolanda. In different parts of the country and the world, many individuals and groups initiated fund-raising activities and relief operations for the sake of those who were devastated in the provinces of Samar and Leyte, where thousands were left dead.

Here in our parish alone, members of ministries and organizations carefully planned ways to join the mission. Instead of holding the usual Christmas parties, some groups channelled their energies instead to donate, gather, and pack relief goods and collect cash donations to be delivered later on to nearby relief operation sites.

This writer chanced upon a small group meeting of the Misang Pambata Staff one Sunday evening at the parish office. Asked how they, as a group, helped out, they said that they did away with their 23rd anniversary bash, for which they had made plans since early July. The money they had earned from their different fundraising activities was meant for said celebration. However, all of them willingly decided to use it to purchase relief items for the Yolanda victims. Others volunteered as re -lief good packers with the Red Cross.

In expressing her feelings about what her group did, Mae Anne Balanag said: “Mas masarap sa pakiramdam na makitang hindi lamang ang aming buong parokya ang aming napasaya kundi mas higit pa dun, dahil mas naging malawak pa ang pagpapasaya na aming nagawa at naipadama sa tulong ng Kristong Hari.”

Then, there’s also Chona Cendaña, a member of the Ministry of Greeters and Collectors, whose commitment to help has been directed to relatives whose homes and rice fields were wiped out in Carigara, Leyte.

She and her nine siblings have each pledged Php 200.00 weekly (Php 2,000.00 total) to provide rice for those 20 relatives who are now temporarily residing at the Quezon City home of her cousin Loida. Likewise, many other relatives abroad have committed to provide for the other food items and personal necessities that their kin need. All of them have agreed to continue giving until such time that their relatives can manage on their own.

Despite the uncertainty, though, of being able to piece their lives back together soon, considering the extent of Yolanda’s damage, the 20 relatives hope to spend this coming Christmas in Carigara.

Loida, who receives all financial donations, has been setting aside some amount intended for the construction of houses for their relatives.

Chona believes that this trial is something that they, as a family, can overcome together. She also thinks that, of course, help must be extended, especially by those who were fortunate to have been spared by the onslaught that was Yolanda. She said, “Kailangang magpasalamat na hindi kami nasalanta, kaya nararapat lang na tayong lahat ay tumulong.”

One parishioner who received help from different people was Marites Cadion, a household staff at a family home near the church. She said that during the first few days after Yolanda struck on November 8, she was waiting nervously for news about the welfare of her children Johanna (3 years old) and John Mark (10 months old), her siblings-in-law Jona and Joey, and mother-in-law, in Burauen, Leyte. Having received no updates about them as the communications systems in Leyte broke down, she said that she had to remain optimistic that all her loved ones were spared.

She then decided to seek financial help from some of her neighbors to whom she tearfully shared her predicament. How overwhelmed she felt as most of the people she approached were very responsive to her plea, handing to her whatever amount they could afford to give. On the other hand, her husband Jonathan, who works as a janitor at a nearby private school, was also able to solicit money from the teachers and other employees there. All in all, they were able to raise about Php 13,000.00.

Now, their two children, Joey and Jona, - all saved! - are here with them in Paltok (Jonathan’s mother decided to remain in Leyte). The two kids and Jona stay with Marites at the home of her employer who welcomed them wholeheartedly. As for Jonathan and his brother Joey, they are renting a small room along
Basa St. across the church. Marites said that from the amount they collected, they could afford to rent that
room for a few months (at Php 1,500.00/month).

That it was not hard to seek help from people was one of the things that really struck Marites. She described her reaction to the generosity she received in two words: “nakakagulat at nakaka-touch.”

Only time will tell how life will unfold for the victims of the recent calamity. But with what we have all witnessed, there is an abundance of good souls who will be ready and willing to give, give, and give to help alleviate the victims’ sufferings. It is a very comforting thought to ponder, especially this Christmas time—when the spirit of giving “outpoured” the raining and suffering.

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