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AFP raises P379K for typhoon victims

Sagip Kapamilya representatives led by their program director Tina Monzon-Palma receive a symbolic cheque amounting to over P300,000 from Armed Forces chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista and Northern Luzon Command chief Lt. Gen. Gregorio Catapang. (S/Sgt. Gildo Cabalo)

MANILA, Philippines - They may be tough in the battlefield but in times of disasters, even soldiers need saviors.

Troops from the Tarlac-based Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) realized this when typhoon 'Santi' battered the country last October.

The strong winds and floods hit major camps under NOLCOM, damaging around P46 million worth of properties in Camp Aquino in Tarlac and Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija.

Nonetheless, vital structures in the two camps remain intact and the soldiers were safe, thanks to the unlikely saviors that mitigated the impact of the winds.

“Many trees fell and they saved our lives. They sacrificed their lives. They served as our wind breakers,” NOLCOM chief Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang said in an interview on Monday.

“If not for them, our roof would have been destroyed. We will experience something like the impact of typhoon Yolanda,” he added.

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Catapang and his troops decided to honor the sacrifice of their saviors by using them to help victims of disasters.

The trees were turned into pieces of furniture and were sold to raise funds for those affected by the Zamboanga crisis, the Bohol earthquake and typhoon Yolanda.

“The pieces of furniture sold like hotcakes. The demand was strong. They (buyers) wee willing to donate,” Catapang said.

The NOLCOM has sold about 100 tables and chairs made out of the uprooted trees which include decades-old acacia and mahogany. But the fund-raising effort is not yet over.

“We still have fallen trees (in our camps) and we are still making furniture. We are still raising funds,” Catapang said.

Making furniture out of uprooted trees is just one of the fund-raising activities of the NOLCOM to help disaster victims. The unit also held a battle of the bands concert, golf, shooting and biking tournaments to generate funds for the affected communities.

NOLCOM was able to raise P379,213 from these activities that were held last month.

The amount was handed over on Nonday to ABS-CBN Sagip Kapamilya Foundation through its program director Tina Monzon Palma.

“We thought we do need not be sad this Christmas. We can turn this misery into something more productive,” Catapang said.

Catapang said they chose Sagip Kapamilya as the beneficiary due to its long-standing partnership with the military.

Among the projects undertaken by the military and Sagip Kapamilya was the Gusto Kong Mag-Aral,” which paved way to the construction of more than 200 school buildings in far-flung areas.

“We should not lose hope. We have to weather the typhoons we will face in the near future,” Catapang said.

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