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Newsmakers

The bayanihan spirit after Typhoon Odette

MIKE ABOUT TOWN - Atty. Mike Toledo - The Philippine Star
The bayanihan spirit after Typhoon Odette
TV5 family food packs are transported through mangroves to reach the badly hit barangays of Del Carmen, Siargao. The mangroves at the back, which protected Del Carmen, is partly an initiative of the Metro Pacific Foundation Inc.

It was rather unfortunate that before the year 2021 ended, a typhoon hit the country, the strongest in the whole year.

This, as people were just getting into a jovial and festive Yuletide mood, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, brought about also by the decreasing cases, the downgrading of the alert level system, and the relaxing of the economy.

Typhoon Odette (international codename: Rai) left, in its wake, 407 dead (as of this writing), 82 missing, and 1,147 injured. The typhoon affected 1,140,118 families in 6,530 barangays across 334 cities and municipalities in five regions, particularly MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan), the Visayas, and CARAGA. Currently, there are a total of 452,423 persons who are displaced, 319,097 of whom are temporarily housed in 1,335 operational evacuation centers.

The typhoon left P 28.16 million worth of damaged houses, P16.7 billion worth of damaged infrastructure, and close to P 7 billion worth of agricultural damage, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

Some local government units right now are still struggling with a lack of electricity, potable water supply, and telecommunications.

But all is not lost. And, as it has always been said time and again, every crisis brings with it opportunity.

One exceptional trait of Filipinos is what is known as the bayanihan spirit. A literal translation of bayanihan would mean “teamwork,” but I believe it goes beyond just that.

#TuloyPaRinAngPasko as Bohol receives food packs, water filters, solar lamps and sacks of rice, as support from MPIC/MPIF.

The bayanihan spirit epitomizes teamwork, yes, and communal unity, but it is also about helping others and one another without expecting anything in return — the goal being that of altruism, or charity, or merely just being there for one’s fellowmen.

It’s a helping hand in a time of need, sometimes without the need for help to be asked in the first place.

In the aftermath of Typhoon Odette, the MVP Group of Companies lost no time in mobilizing resources and aid for the parts of Visayas and Mindanao that were severely devastated by the storm.

After raising millions in funds, the Group, as spearheaded by the Philippine Disaster Resiliency Foundation (PDRF) and the MVP Group Tulong Kapatid CSR effort, personally supervised by no less than chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan or MVP himself, proceeded with the daunting task of providing for disaster relief and rehabilitation support as a partner to government and in its own capacity.

Philex Mining Corp., for example, gave financial assistance to PDRF and One Meralco Foundation (OMF), as well as conducted its own employee donation drive. It provided fund assistance for the purchase of shelter/building materials for its host province, municipalities, and barangays in Surigao del Norte. It also offered its generator set at its Silangan Mindanao Mining Co. Inc. project site in Barangay Timamana, Tubod, Surigao del Norte, for “Libreng Charging” of cell phones and other communication devices.

Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) and the Metro Pacific Investments Foundation (MPIF), with the assistance of the Philippine Air Force, distributed blankets and towels to families in Del Carmen, Siargao. They also donated to Alagang Kapatid Foundation Inc.’s feeding program and provided financial support to PDRF’s own Typhoon Odette initiatives. They also sent ready-to-cook food packs, portable water filters, sacks of rice, canned goods, vegetables, and solar lamps to Surigao del Norte, Cordova in Cebu, and Bohol province. Both continue to provide financial support as well as raise funds to extend help to far-flung areas that were affected by Typhoon Odette.

Meralco and the One Meralco Foundation (OMF) organized a team composed of 50 engineers, linemen, and support personnel with 15 heavy equipment and other vehicles to restore power in areas badly hit by the storm. They also deployed generator sets for cellphone and emergency light charging in Siargao, distributed solar torches to families in Siargao and Dinagat, as well as relief packs to Bohol, Southern Leyte, Palawan, and Cebu.

Makati Medical Center (MMC) and the Makati Medical Center Foundation (MMCF) rendered damage assessment and needs analysis for hospitals and healthcare systems in Siargao, as well as aircraft for MEDEVAC needs for injured cases. It has likewise worked closely with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in providing relief aid and support.

Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC), through its subsidiary, Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway Corp. (CCLEC), distributed food packs to CCLEC employees and families, as well as donated food packs, water, rice, blankets, and G.I. sheets to typhoon survivors in Cebu City.

The NLEX Corp. also donated bottles of water, boxes of canned goods, sacks of rice, boxes of noodles, blankets, and construction materials to Maasin, Southern Leyte, Cebu City and Province, and Cordova municipality.

Maynilad, on the other hand, donated cash assistance to PDRF and OmF and sent water bottles to Cebu, Bohol, Siargao, Palawan and Dinagat. The company also provided mobile water treatment plants to Cebu and Bohol. Each piece of mobile equipment can produce 43,000 gallons of potable water per day, enough to meet the drinking water requirements of 80,000 people.

Metro Pacific Water, Metro Pacific Iloilo Water, and Metro Dumaguete Water provided 24/7 operations and customer service, potable water, and water tankers, as well as relief packs and water to evacuation centers.

PLDT Smart Foundation together with PLDT and Smart, provided relief in the form of food packs and free SIMS to affected communities. The group also continues to provide Libreng Tawag, Libreng Charging and Free Public WiFi services to reconnect Odette survivors with their loved ones.

Aside from giving financial aid and assistance and working double-time to restore much-needed telecommunications in typhoon-hit areas, PLDT-Smart and the PLDT-Smart Foundation also provided satellite phones to PDRF and government, Libreng Tawag and Charging stations, free SIM cards, food packs, and generator sets to Surigao City and Surigao del Norte; Kabankalan, Negros Occidental; Guihulngan, Negros Oriental; and Iloilo.

PayMaya conducted a fundraising drive to support the PDRF network response, while the Alagang Kapatid Foundation Inc. of TV5 provided truckloads of food and hygiene items as well as Libreng Tawag and Charging services for Southern Leyte, Surigao del Norte, Siargao and Dinagat.

Just recently, the MVP Group augmented its support for communities directly affected by Typhoon Odette through a “Gabay sa Pagbangon” online concert. It brought together a roster of top-notch local artists who performed to generate more aid and assistance for affected communities.

“You cannot have donor fatigue during times like these because they just need help,” according to MVP. “Whatever we can do — from the smallest to the biggest of help that we can render — will be greatly appreciated by our people.”

We take these words to heart. With a prayer and a song, we soldier on into the New Year.

SUPER TYPHOON ODETTE
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