Molocaboc Diut

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Monday, December 16, 2013

THIS time around, the visit to Molocaboc was on an errand of mercy, compassion, and charity toward the least of our brethren — the Negrense victims of super typhoon Yolanda.

Last Saturday, I joined American expat Ronald Rathbun and his Hong Kong Chinese-American friend Joseph “Joe” Ma. Joe who contributed a sizable amount to the Knight funds. Edgardo Ramirez and daughter Megan and classmate, NGO colleague Marnie Banilbo and her friend drove over to the Vito Wharf as our jump-off to Molocaboc Diut.

Ron represented various Councils of the Michigan-based Knights of Columbus, that of the Fr. Victor Renaud, St. Fabian, St. Edith, and the John XXIII Assembly who learned of Haiyan on US television and from the internet. He coordinated with the Bacolod Diocesan Social Action Center’s Raymund J. Pandanduyan and staff.

DSAC suggested that relief goods should be distributed to Diut, a small island connected to Molocaboc Daku by a long footbridge. The typhoon victims are underserved since most of the support went to Daku.

Word got around, however, and victims from the other islands came as well. The DSAC staff had to double check the recipients who would need relief goods the most.

The second time was in the same year when I joined a research team of the Broad Initiatives for Negros Development on the social-economic situation of the islands. This was a requirement before the national government can declare the surrounding seas as a marine sanctuary, a protected area.

When we arrived in Diut, we saw the havoc that Yolanda inflicted on the residents. Roofs were blown off. Some of the houses totally collapsed.
But unlike the photos of Tacloban and Eastern Samar, many of the houses survived the typhoon onslaught.

Ron gave a brief speech, stressing that the relief goods are not free, that recipients should pay by thanking God who brought donors and typhoon victims together and to help their fellow human beings who are in dire need of help.

Thank you, Knights, for your concern to the least of our brethren. Indeed, as Scripture teaches us, “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’”

As a thank you, the residents prepared a sumptuous lunch of various seafood for us. There were clams, crabs, and flying fish.

The recent visit was actually my third. The first was in 1995 when I joined Filipino and Canadian stage actors and environmentalists who immersed with the local communities to learn of their ecological and economic problems. The issues served as inputs to our Filipino-Canadian theater production, Footprints International. Our first stage play was in the Diut plaza, with the Visayan Sea as our backdrop.

That play emphasized overconsumption and how fishes in the Visayas are getting scarce. Climate change back then was just a quaint theory, and storms are just mere typhoons that residents have learned to deal with.
In 2013, we certainly would have added the worsening climate change.

When we did the research, the residents’ sole source of communication on incoming typhoons was from transistor radios. This time around, TV informed the residents of the typhoon’s strength.

Forewarned is forearmed. Some of the residents tied down their roofs with ropes they used as clothelines. Others further reinforced their house with fishing nets. Talk about climate change adaptation!

The residents also pointed out the presence of dense mangrove forests that somehow dissipated the storm surges in the surrounding Visayan Seas. The women residents can rightly brag on their efforts to reforest the mangroves. Otherwise, the disaster could have been worse.


Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on December 16, 2013.


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