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A Report on Agusan Relief Operation

First Dispatch

he relief operation for victims of super typhoon Bopha (Pablo) was successfully carried out on December 28, 2012. Through the help of many benefactors, donors and volunteers, we were able to distribute 77 tons of rice, more than a thousand boxes of canned goods and noodles, numerous sacks of used clothing and 64 boxes of medicines and vitamins to more than 12,000 beneficiaries in the parishes of Sta. Maria. Veruela, Loreto, La Paz and Binucayan; all in Agusan del Sur. The relief goods were repacked into small packages that consist of rice, noodles, sardines, corned beef and used clothing. Medicines were separately distributed to parishes. Most of the relief goods were bought from nearby Butuan and Tagum Cities while a container van of goods were shipped from Cebu City. The medicines were airlifted from Tacloban City, thanks to the Benedictine sisters who facilitated their purchase and shipment. The Benedictine sisters administer the SVD owned hospital in Tacloban.

The system of distribution was designed to involve as many volunteers as we could from the core organizing team down to the parish level. It went through a number of stages. First, a team of volunteers in Agusan were tasked to validate the extent of destruction in targeted parishes for equitable distribution of goods. Lists of beneficiaries were prepared and were given coupons to claim packages. Second, all the goods and medicines procured were brought to the SVD district house in Trento town where the five parishes claimed their equitable shares. The five parishes collaborated with the local government units for the use of trucks to transport the goods. Sta. Maria is the closest parish to the main distribution point in Trento being only 10 kilometers away. But other parishes are very far and roads barely passable. La Paz parish for example, is 120 kilometers away. Third, the goods brought to the parishes were repacked into small packages put in pails or plastic bags. This is the most difficult part of the operation due to the number of packages to prepare. The last stage was the actual distribution of goods to the people in different communities in the parish. Numerous volunteers in the parish levels did wonderful jobs of loading and unloading of goods, repacking and their actual distribution to the people.

The relief operation although spearheaded by the SVD southern province led by Fr. Jingjong Rocha, was actually collaborated by different organizations and institutions in the entire country of the Philippines and many different parts of the globe. In the Philippines, the SVD central province based in Manila and the northern province were our main collaborators. The central province facilitated the donation of more than a million pesos. Thanks to Fr. Provincial superior Nielo Cantilado and Fr. Rodrigo Salazar, their JPIC coordinator who worked so hard for the project. The SVD northern province also did its own share through Fr. Provincial superior Jerome Adriatico and Fr. Boboy Jimenez. The University of San Carlos (USC) of Cebu mobilized its own resources to generate voluminous donations in cash and in kind. Other institutions that donated substantial amount are St. Jude Catholic School of Manila, Divine Word Colleges of Calapan and Laoag, Holy Name University and hospital of Tagbilaran City, St. Arnold Medical Mission of Tacloban City, SVD Ipil District, SVD Agusan District, parishes in Mindoro, associations of ex-SVDs in Manila and Cebu, and many individuals who in one way or the other contributed so much for the operation. Internationally, the donors remitted the largest amount of cash donations. We received donations from SVD Generalate in Rome, SVD Australia, SVD Chicago, community of Vietnamese seminarians in Germany, Filipino communities in Spain through Fr. Jun Castro, in Australia through Fr. Nards Mercene and Japan through Fr. Philipp Muncada. As of this writing we received total cash donations amounting to 4.7 million pesos, not to mention boxes and boxes of donations in kind. I believe more donations are still on the way.

The goods we distributed meant so much for the people. For now, the people’s only means of survival are the relief goods distributed by different charitable institutions and organizations. So many people are practically left with nothing to live on. They have no houses and their farms and other livelihoods are all destroyed. After these relief distributions, where else can they find their daily sustenance is a big question.

The recently concluded relief operation was only the first part of what we wanted to give to the people. Equally important are the provision of building materials and the distribution of replanting implements and livestock for raising. In the second relief dispatch, we plan to provide GI sheets for roofing, “amacan” walling and nails to those whose houses were totally destroyed. We also plan to provide the people with seeds for planting, and for those interested, piglets for raising.

Fr. Jingjong Rocha and the rest of congregational leadership in the Philippine SVD Southern Province, sincerely thank each one, SVD confreres, volunteers and donors alike for your generous help. We will never know how deep you have touched the hearts of typhoon victims and how grateful they could be. The fact is that we have journeyed with them in most difficult moments in their lives. We hope that by reaching out to them they remain steadfast and hopeful for many days to come. God bless everyone!

Fr. Eugene Docoy, Jr., SVD
Coordinator, JPIC, SVD-PHS

January 8, 2013