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Relief drive: Poor show again they’re quick to give than rich

DAILY BREAD Families displaced by Tropical Storm “Sendong” line up for their daily food ration at Iligan Institute of Technology in Iligan City. EDWIN BACASMAS

Even before Ateneo de Manila University officially launched its own relief drive on Monday for the victims and survivors of Tropical Storm “Sendong,” one of its security guards had already come forward, carrying a small bag containing two tins of canned goods, instant noodles and some rice.

“He said it was the (Christmas) gift he got from his office and that he was giving it to the relief drive,” said Harvey Keh, a program director at the Ateneo School of Government.

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Organizers didn’t have to wait long for warm bodies to man the processing area, Keh also noted. Two Ateneo scholars, who come from low-income families, immediately volunteered to help.

“You can see that poverty is not something that paralyzes people. The response has been tremendous,” said Keh, also a convenor of Kaya Natin!, an advocacy group for good governance which partnered with Ateneo for the relief drive.

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Keh’s observations seem to validate a 2006 study which showed that Filipinos, Christmastime or not, are indeed a charitable lot.

The study, conducted by Social Weather Stations and the consultancy group Venture for Fund Raising, found that 99 percent of Filipinos donate one way or another to different causes.

The study also reached an interesting conclusion. “The poor give more than the rich. It’s fantastic!” said Venture executive director Marianne Quebral.

“And it’s not because there are more poor people than there are rich people. It’s (based on) absolute figures, in terms of average annual giving,” Quebral explained in an interview on Tuesday.

“Filipinos are really hospitable people. Kahit hirap na hirap na, magbibigay pa rin (Even those living in deep poverty would still give to charity). Nobody is too poor to give,” she told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Fresh proof of this remarkable trait may be emerging in the various humanitarian projects now under way for Sendong’s victims. Almost a week since the storm whipped Northern Mindanao and parts of the Visayas, help continues to pour in from all over.

In Iloilo City, 74-year-old Ernesto Lioro came to the local station of Bombo Radio to hand over four plastic bags filled with old clothes on Wednesday, then came back a couple of hours later with two more bags.

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“I don’t know anyone in Mindanao. I just want to help the flood victims,” a teary-eyed Lioro told the staff members.

His example was replicated at other collection points in Iloilo, like those set up by local TV and radio stations.

The donors came from all walks of life, some arriving in pedicabs, bikes and tricycles. Others with bulkier donations came in taxis or even hired trucks.

Maximo Fernandez, a resident of Iloilo’s Jaro district, said he decided to cancel a family trip to General Santos City and just use his P16,000 budget to buy canned goods, detergent and candies for the storm victims.

Canceled parties

Elsewhere in the Visayas, the Rotary Club of Catarman, Northern Samar province, contributed cash and goods, while the Cebu provincial government pledged to donate up to P12 million to the relief effort.

The Cebu town of Liloan pledged to give P200,000 each to Cagayan de Oro and Iligan; Asturias town also allotted P100,000 for the two devastated cities.

Oriental Mindoro Governor Alfonso Umali Jr. canceled his province’s traditional “Benedict’s Ball,” saying the P500,000 earlier set aside for the event would instead be sent to Sendong’s victims.

Naga Vice Mayor Gabriel H. Bordado said his city would do away with its “yearend evaluation and Christmas party” out of sympathy for the victims.

The Albay provincial government and the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council in Bicol sent sanitation and medical teams involving over a hundred people to the disaster areas. The teams set out to conduct their mission for 15 days.

On Monday, Albay also donated P1 million in cash to Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities.

New underwear

In Manila, Keh said the three-day old Ateneo-Kaya Natin relief drive, had gathered at least 120 boxes of canned goods, 500 sacks of clothes, 70 boxes of noodles and “a lot of water,” all ready for shipment to the affected areas.

VSO Bahaginan, the Philippine chapter of the international network Voluntary Service Overseas, said it had distributed relief goods from its base in Davao to some 1,500 families in the worst-affected areas in Iligan City.

“Response was quick and warm, particularly from the private sector and (from donors in) Davao. Many volunteered too, but we still need a lot of relief items, medicine especially,” said Rachel Nalus-Quintos, VSO Bahaginan’s communications chief.

Also on Wednesday, the group Youth for a United World of the Focolare (YUWF) donated 500 pieces of underwear through the Inquirer relief drive.

“Old clothes can be donated but the victims need new underwear. We want our donations to be something personal and practical. When (another killer storm) ‘Ondoy’ struck in 2009, we went to different communities and we saw the lack of underwear donations. As for the people of Cagayan de Oro and other parts of Mindanao were affected by Sendong, we’d love to give the same,” said YFUW member Risa de los Angeles. With reports from Rachel Arnaiz and Carmel Matus, Inquirer Visayas; and Jonas Cabiles Soltes, Madonna Virola and Mar Arguelles, Inquirer Southern Luzon

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TAGS: Ateneo de Manila University, Cagayan de Oro, donations, Dumaguete, Flooding, Iligan, Mindanao, Poverty, relief drive, Tropical storm Sendong
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