Bohol says ‘Thank you’
The Air Force plane had just taken off after delivering relief goods to the quake-devastated town of Loon in Bohol when the pilot saw something that he found genuinely touching.
The town’s residents had arranged the relief goods into the letters “TY” for the pilots and staff to see from the air.
Such expressions of gratitude from earthquake victims could be seen in many Bohol towns in the aftermath of the 7.2-magnitude quake that struck the province on Oct. 15 and left at least 200 people dead.
The words Daghang salamat (Thank you very much) were written on pieces of white cloths, wood and even cartons that were placed on the highways or hung on the streets for the relief workers to see and appreciate.
“Those signs scattered all over Bohol is so rewarding for us volunteers. It would make us forget all challenges we went through in our operations,” said Anna Maris Igpit, a former Bb. Pilipinas World and a native of Panglao Island.
“I’m so proud that my fellow Boholanos are doing this. It shows how grateful they are for all the help and donations they’ve been getting,” said Igpit, the prime mover of the Oplan Bangon Bohol donation drive for the quake victims.
The pilot of the Air Force plane, Capt. Juji Generalao said his eyes filled with tears when he saw the letters “TY” on the ground but he kept his emotions in check because he did not want to be seen crying by his female copilot.
But when he later got together with the crew, they turned out to be similarly misty-eyed and touched by the gesture of appreciation from Loon residents.
“You know that feeling when you’re very tired and hungry but they all disappeared when you saw that sign? I told myself that even if I am just an ordinary individual, I was able to do something for fellow human beings,” said Generalao.
A lot to be thankful for
In Barangay Napo, two Red Cross volunteers were surprised when they were approached by Teodora Peralta last Thursday.
“Thank you for the tent you gave us. And most of all, thank you for coming over to help us,” Peralta told Harvey Coto and Jemamia Sanchez.
The two Red Cross volunteers smiled and told her that they were happy to help.
Peralta and her family have been living in a tent in front of the rubble of the Our Lady of Light Parish here after they lost their home during the earthquake.
Peralta said she has a lot to be thankful for. Her husband Ricardo, 15-year-old son Joseph, 14-year-old daughter Maria Christine and 73-year-old mother Alvina Plazos are all safe.
The tent given by the International Committee of the Red Cross will be the family’s temporary shelter while they try to rebuild their house.
Igpit posted a photo on her Facebook account of a sign that read “Daghang salamat sa lahat ng tulong niyo (Thank you so much for all your help.” The post generated at least 200 likes.
“I’ve always thought the [Bb. Pilipinas World] crown was the best reward I got for working so hard on something. But these signs saying thank you, daghang salamat, maraming salamat, scattered all over Bohol beat that,” she said in a Facebook post.
In an interview, Igpit said the show of gratitude from the Boholanos motivates her group even more to help and raise more funds to rebuild the province.
“It keeps us going,” she said.
Oplan Bangon Bohol started its relief operations last Oct. 16, a day after the earthquake struck.
As of Saturday, it had 100 volunteers from Manila, Cebu, Davao and Bohol helping in the distribution and repacking of relief goods.
The death toll from the killer earthquake has reached 209 with 879 wounded and eight still missing, according to data released by the provincial government on Friday.
Operations to retrieve the bodies of five children who were presumed buried in a landslide in Sagbayan town were called off on Friday after more than two weeks of searching yielded negative results.
Soldiers in Barangay Cantam-is Bago were also asked by relatives to stop searching for their two loved ones who are believed to have been buried in the rubble of their collapsed house.
The provincial government reported that the earthquake had destroyed or damaged P5 billion worth of infrastructure, private and public structure, and churches.
Relief operations continue
Two weeks after the earthquake, relief operations are still going on.
According to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), a total of 103,106 food packs had been distributed as of Oct. 29.
As of Oct. 29, there were 22,531 displaced families in evacuation centers, 11,861 in community-based sites and 54,472 in home-based sites, the DSWD said.
Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto said the Department of Public Works and Highways had set Nov. 20 as the target date to finish rehabilitating all the roads and bridges that had been damaged by the quake.
Meanwhile, the DSWD said it has partnered with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and Australian Aid (AusAID) in providing relief goods to the affected towns in Bohol.
“This partnership with AusAID and WFP will help us provide more relief goods to the affected families until such time that they can address their own food needs,” said Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman.
Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Bill Twedell, AusAID Minister Counselor Layton Pike and WFP Country Director Praveen Agrawal were scheduled to go to Bohol yesterday to lead the relief distribution activity in Sagbayan with Soliman and Chatto.
Representatives from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) were also scheduled to join the group to distribute tents and blue sheets. The DSWD and Jica earlier signed the deed of donation for the tents and other items to be used for the construction of temporary shelters.
The group will also visit the DSWD warehouse in Tubigon and Tubigon West Central School, one of the biggest evacuation centers in Bohol sheltering 162 families, or 575 individuals, as of Oct. 31.
Soliman said the relief packs to be distributed will contain 20 kilograms of rice, 20 assorted canned goods, 10 sachets of chocolate drink and 10 sachets of coffee.
“Each relief pack is good for 15 days for a family of five members. These will be distributed to the most vulnerable families in worst-hit areas,” she said. With a report from Cynthia D. Balana
Originally posted at 8:21 p.m. | November 2, 2013
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