The Good News

Tolosa two years hence

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - It was just like yesterday. When I close my eyes, I can see it all still,” Jerome Ibañez, a Yolanda “survivor”, vividly recalls.

Nearly two years after the onslaught of one of history’s strongest storms, not all of Visayas has moved on. Survivors continue their struggle as the help they receive remains insufficient.

Tolosa, Jerome’s town, is one of the severely hit places in Leyte. But unlike hundreds of survivors still living in tents in overcrowded evacuation areas, Jerome and his family take shelter in their new home donated by Tindog Tolosa.

A civil society group that continually helps Yolanda survivors of Tolosa, Leyte, Tindog Tolosa (TITO) is run by Makati-based professionals inspired by Pope Francis’ call to help the poor as well as by the teachings of St. Josemaría Escrivá, founder of Opus Dei.

Aiming to rebuild the coastal town of Tolosa and alleviate the lives of its people, TITO has three main projects: Construct One House, One Boat Afloat and Consumer Cooperative.

A number of storm-proof, earthquake-proof, and termite-free houses were already turned over by TITO to eight beneficiary families whose houses were completely destroyed by Yolanda.

The bayanihan spirit is evident during the construction of the houses as volunteers from all over the world help skilled workers and the beneficiary family in building their new home.

Like other livelihood in Leyte, Yolanda left most of the town’s fishing equipment misplaced or destroyed. This is why One Boat Afloat intends to equip fishermen with new fishing boats. So far, 11 24-feet boats powered by 16-horsepower brand-new engines have already been given to recipients. In order to give the beneficiaries a sense of ownership of their houses and boats, they are asked to pay half of its total cost. Their monthly amortization then goes to the educational assistance fund of their child who is a grantee of Iskolar ng Tolosa, another TITO project.

Jerome, an Education sophomore at Visayas State University, is one of the scholars.

“An key factor in selecting a beneficiary is that one of the children should attend and finish college or any TechVoc course, so they may later provide assistance to their own family,” Tindog Tolosa founder Noe Palaña said.

Tindog Tolosa Consumers Cooperative (TTCC), on the other hand, brings the people of Tolosa together to help improve their lives. It does this in two ways: a savings association and a community store.

TTCC also assists in providing training and access to capital so that members can have their own livelihood projects.

Aside from lowering the members’ expenses and increasing their income, TTCC aims to stimulate economic activity in Tolosa, fostering a cycle of economic progress.

“In the end, TTCC hopes to give the people a sense of optimism and solidarity, to encourage them in their struggle of lifting themselves out of poverty,” explained Joma Palaña, Noe’s brother and point person for TTCC.


Aside from monetary and in-kind donations, donors may also help by doing voluntourism.

You volunteer to construct the houses or repair classrooms and you get to tour some of Leyte’s most beautiful places like the San Juanico Bridge, the longest bridge in the Philippines, and Kalanggaman Island, known for its crystal blue waters, white powdery sand and magnificent sandbars.

Shared William Xie, a Civil Engineering student from Sydney, Australia, of his experience: “It was one of the most influential and life-opening experiences I have had.”

An Actuarial Studies/Economics student from the University of New South Wales had a similar sentiment: “I was really impressed to witness what the people in a developing country have to do to get by. Seeing their struggle taught me not to take the things we have in my country for granted.”

Help Tolosa

“We have been helping people and want to help further so we encourage more volunteers and more donations for Tolosa. We are committed to meet our target of giving 30 boats, and 20 houses to some of the most Yolanda affected families,” Noe added.

Tindig Tolosa may reached for inquiries and donations via mobile (+63) 9998834846 or by visiting www.facebook.com/tindog.tolosa.community.

“When we help a family in Tolosa, we actually help the whole community because these people also help other people,” he concluded.














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