MMDA aid workers honored after Tacloban
After three years with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Road Emergency Group, rescuer Elvis Cabariban can be considered a veteran.
But upon deployment in Tacloban City in the aftermath of Supertyphoon “Yolanda,” Cabariban simply felt inadequate for the job, which he thought required the heart and heft of a superhero.
“You would really feel sorry for the people there. I wanted to be Superman just to help all of them,” Cabariban said, shaking his head.
But for the MMDA, what Cabariban and colleagues had done in the disaster zones was enough to win them the gratitude of thousands.
At the agency’s flag-raising ceremony on Monday, the 309 rescuers who recently returned from eastern Visayas were awarded medals and certificates of recognition, along with cash gifts, grocery bags and even tickets to the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF).
“It is a true honor for the MMDA to recognize the hard work and sacrifices of our aid workers who endured harsh conditions, away from their families, to lend a helping hand to their countrymen,” MMDA chair Francis Tolentino said.
Cabariban was one of the three MMDA rescuers who suffered injuries while deployed. He showed up for the awarding rites still sporting an ugly gash on his left thigh, a souvenir from Tacloban courtesy of a chainsaw.
He was cutting up toppled trees blocking the roads, when a large branch fell and caused him to lose grip of the chainsaw.
The wound required a few stitches, which he later had without anesthesia.
Another MMDA worker, Danilo Laude, suffered a mild stroke during the deployment. He was still in a wheelchair when he came to get his award.
More than the physical pain, the workers also returned home sharing the emotional trauma suffered by the typhoon survivors. They started undergoing stress debriefing sessions also on Monday.
“I wish my mind were like a video camera so that I can simply erase those images.” Cabariban, referring to the corpses that littered the roads.
But despite his wounds and chilling visions, Cabariban still proved himself to be the man of steel he wanted to be: After having his leg checked in Manila on Nov. 14, he returned to Tacloban on Nov. 29 to help in the relief work and guide other workers for five more days.
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