@your SiRVis... Simon Francis Blaise R. Vistro wants to be known as SiRVis (an amalgamation of his name, profession and penchant for service). He is a polymath wannabe in the fields of training and education, civic voluntarism, sports, arts, travel, photography and social networking. Born and raised in Dagupan City, he is a staunch advocate of the preservation of Pangasinan language, arts and culture. Follow me on: Twitter. Facebook, Tumblr, Plurk.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pepeng Stories: SHE-roes

I originally entitled this feature article as Pepeng Stories: SHE-roes. It was published as Pepeng aftermath: stories of her-oism. at the Philippine Online Chronicles.  Why SHE-roes? I wrote this as a tribute to women/female heroes who helped us during Typhoon Pepeng. It's my way of thanking them for the kind selfless act. Read on...

 Pepeng aftermath: stories of her-oism
Who could ever forget what happened from September 26 to October 21, 2009? Not I nor the 9,407,665 other Filipinos who were directly affected by the two tropical cyclones that hit the Philippines one after the other.

Typhoon Ondoy drowned the NCR (National Capital Region) and most of Luzon while Typhoon Pepeng left a trail of destruction and havoc in the northern part of Philippines, particularly Pangasinan. An article entitled Statistically Speaking estimates the damages at more than a thousand deaths and about Php 38 billion (11 billion is attributed to Ondoy and 27 billion to Pepeng), Ondoy and Pepeng have dislodged typhoons Ruping and Rosing as the costliest tropical cyclone in the Philippines. Someone quipped Ondoy and Pepeng were like two highly-paid actors/comedians; the only trouble is they were not acting and they were not funny.

Throw all the statistics away. The actual experience and eyewitness accounts of what actually happened is more glaring than the numbers. In Benguet, a whole family was buried under the rubble caused by a landslide. Cars in Sta. Mesa, Manila swirled in floodwater like sugar cubes in coffee. An aged stroke patient was drenched by the rain for two days while perched in their bungalow’s roof in Mangaldan. In Rosales, a man was seen clinging to a branch a tree as water continuously rose.

It can’t rain all the time and we Filipinos soon found our rainbow. We found it in those countless and sometimes random acts of kindness, bayanihan spirit, heroism, display of unity – seldom seen except in a Manny Pacquiao fight … and a national calamity of this scale. How does one account for the adrenalin rush as hundreds volunteered to help the victims by shelling out their money or otherwise giving of their time and of themselves?

Saying thank you is never too late. As March is recognized as International Women's Month, it is but fitting to feature and honor the women (and their organizations) who helped and comforted us during and after the onslaught of the typhoons. They are worthy of being called heroines.

The Rotary Club of Dagupan East (RCDE) of which I am a member, conducted rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts in Pangasinan for more than two weeks straight last October 2009. These efforts were made possible through the coordination of Chris and Candy Blancaflor and Rex and Marianne Lor who were able to enlist the help of these heroic ladies.

Gang Badoy and Rock Ed Philippines

RCDE, together with Gang Badoy (founder of Rock Ed Philippines) and her members distributed more than 1,000 relief packs in Barangay Lucao, Dagupan City and in the barangay’s island sitio, Sitio Tukok. Gang and her group had to borrow and ride a huge truck as well as brave the long trip and rough roads (major roads were still impassable at that time) in order to go to Dagupan City. Rock Ed Philippines is an alternative education volunteer group which advocates volunteerism, involvement, hope, and a sense of country. Rock Ed is a movement that says: NO MORE EXCUSES, PHILIPPINES! It says this in many forms depending on the degree and shape of the volunteers’ commitment — medical missions, alternative education classes, benefit concerts, workshops and seminars for teacher training, leadership activities for public schools, storytelling sessions, and book drives. Rock Ed works for a more active private citizenry and a more socially-involved generation of Filipinos. Its vision is to end the poverty of hope in the country.

Angel Brigade
Katrina Holigores and the Angel Brigade provided the relief goods and life vests which were distributed to all the barangays of Dagupan City, Barangay Talibaew in Calasiao, and the Dagupan City Disaster Coordinating Council.

The Angel Brigade is a team of volunteers committed to assist victims of calamities and disasters. It was founded by Tisha Cruz-Bautista and Judith Velasco-Roda. According to the brigade’s Facebook account, an Angel Volunteer need not physically work at any Angel Brigade Center, although this is the primary means to earn one’s “angel wings.” Members may help by re-posting and/or re-tweeting calls for assistance, by donating time for coordination work, by lending vehicles and deployment trucks, or by donating goods and services when needed. The “Angel Brigade” name/brand is IPO-registered under the ISDANCO foundation (a non-stock, non-profit entity registered with the SEC).
Moms for Moms
RCDE also distributed the relief packs given by Rea Gomez-Harrow and Moms For Moms in four hospitals in Pangasinan namely: Region 1 Medical Center, Dagupan Villaflor Memorial Hospital both in Dagupan City, Pangasinan Provincial Hospital in San Carlos City, and Bayambang District Hospital in Bayambang. The relief bundle consisted of separate packs for mothers, infants, and toddlers.
Moms For Moms is a group of mothers who have come together with one goal in mind– to help other mothers and babies in their time of need. Rea and Sheila Juan Catilo started this project by donating diapers for the babies of Fabella Hospital and blogging about the needs of Fabella Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive care Unit (NICU). Soon after, support poured in, with more and more moms (and dads too) coming forward to extend their help to other disadvantaged mothers and kids.
What I admire most about these “she-roes” is that they help other people without publicity or self-centered “praise releases.” They help because they want to help — period. You won’t see their names emblazoned in their relief packs, nor see them riding a “kuliglig” (two-wheeled trailer pulled by a two-wheeled tractor similar to a rotary tiller) just for photo ops like some presidential candidates.
These admirable women did not make me forget Ondoy and Pepeng but rather made me remember them more — in a positive way. They reminded me that underneath disaster is a blessing, that sparks of generosity and caring can light up the dark, and that when called upon to be heroes or sheroes, Filipinos don’t disappoint.
Read the full article here: Pepeng aftermath: stories of her-oism

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