What I re-learned from the Visayas

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By Nerissa Villanueva

Social Focus

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


I JUST came back from my field work in Tacloban City. I stayed there from 28th of April to the 2nd of May. Last week’s issue was more of my initial impression on the status of Tacloban City and upon return to Baguio City; I realized that there was more to that. Here are the lessons I have re-learned during my visit.

Aside from Tacloban City, I was also able to visit the municipalities of Dulag, Tanauan, and Babatngon in Leyte. All areas are among those which have been hardly hit by typhoon Yolanda and this can be proven by the debris still present in the municipalities.

On my visit to Dulag, I was able to meet two exemplary mothers- Jocelyn and Rosemarie. From these women, I have re-learned the importance of the family. I learned that for their families, they are willing to sacrifice and strive harder. For Jocelyn, each day that she spends under the sun means more glass of milk and medicine for her ailing husband and child. For Jocelyn, her sacrifices mean a sturdier home for her family. Jocelyn and Rosemarie are both beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. They are also able to avail of the Cash for Work Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development. But still, these two women are willing to do “pasuhol” or paid labor for them to be able to provide further for their families’ needs.

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On the next day, I visited the municipality of Tanauan where a group of volunteers caught my attention. This group is the women volunteers of Barangay Bislig in the said municipality. There are seven women in the group which I was able to talk to and it was really fun talking to them. They were able to share their experiences about the Typhoon Yolanda lightly. They were vivacious but very sensible, such that from this group, I was able to re-learn optimistic thinking. Their smiles reminded me to be happy despite the challenges that life brings. Despite being Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) community volunteer, Pantawid Pamilya parent leader, health worker, barangay volunteer, mother, and wife, each one of them emits a positive outlook in dealing with the responsibilities of their multiple roles.

I was also able to go to the island barangay of Planza in Babatngon. People in the barangay need to spend more than 200 pesos to reach Tacloban where they can buy food or avail of necessary services. This is where I met Marlyn who is a solo parent. Marlyn helped me to re-learn being self-reliant. Through her and her children, I was reminded that there are times when you need to stand on your own and let go of the people who might have caused you to step back from improving yourself. They exemplified determination in changing their lives’ situation.

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One thing that I cannot forget from my Visayas trip is the opportunity to see the people’s journey towards getting back their lives after the tragic event that almost wiped out the region. I would also not forget the generous people who have made me feel that every person has the heart to help others. My gratitude to all the people I met during my stay who have helped me in one way or another and made me feel that I never left home.

Special mention to Ms. Maricel Lacson and Mr. Ivan Angelo Santiago of Las Piñas National High School, who made me re-learn that there are still good hearted people who are willing to spare their time and effort for others.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on May 07, 2014.

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