CLARK FREEPORT -- For half a day till lockdown curfew, families displaced until now by the eruption of Taal Volcano in Barangay Subic Ilaya, Agoncillo, Batangas had a festive moment of fun, food, goodies and good news when they regrouped over the weekend at their village hall.
Men and women volunteers were up as early as 5 a.m., coming from various points where they are still evacuated, to prepare for an interactive disaster mitigation and relief operations by Clark and Angeles City based companies led by philanthropist businessman, Dr. Irineo “Bong” Alvaro, Jr.
Alvaro described the operations as a “psycho-social” relief and interaction mission among people who had experience in volcanic eruptions. Aside from bringing in and distributing some P2 million worth of goods, medicines and power equipment, Alvaro and his group brought messages of hope and recovery to the victims, having experienced worse during the cataclysmic explosion of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991.
“We experienced worse with Pinatubo,” Alvaro told the returning residents of Barangay Subic Ilaya. “Pinatubo wiped out and buried large areas in Pampanga and nearby provinces, including Clark. But we were able to recover, and even progressed far better than we were before,” he said.
Volunteers among Alvaro’s group also alternately shared their experiences during the Pinatubo eruption. He noted that in the case of the recent eruption of Taal, help coming from all sectors immediately poured in to the affected areas, which is an indication that Filipinos are now united and ready in aiding those hit by disasters.
“Madali po tayong makabangon kapag nagtutulungan tayo, at nakita natin sa Taal ang malasakit at kagyat na pagsaklolo ng ating mga kababayan sa mga nasalanta,” he said.
Subic Ilaya is among the most affected communities in Agoncillo town, which is about seven kilometers from the volcano island. The barangay is still under lockdown, although residents are allowed to visit their homes in the morning to clean up and tend to their animals, farms and fish pens.
The “psycho-social” relief mission conducted by Alvaro’s group mobilized the local community not only in the relief distribution but also in preparing food for the community. Entertainment provided by magicians and singers also lightened up and made festive the atmosphere for the victims.
The operation was coordinated by the Bridges of Benevolent Initiative Foundation, Inc. headed by Dr. Alvaro. It was participated in by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), Clark Development Corporation (CDC), BB International Group of Companies (Eaglesky, Aqua Planet and Midori Hotel and Casino), Mirej Hotel, Del Mundo Prime Holdings, World Medical Relief Inc., Mindave Spa for Wellness, PNP PRO 3, Ospital Ning Angeles, Fiona’s Farm, Jocson College and volunteers from Phi Beta Rho Confraternity and Tau Gamma Phi Fraternity (DelMags). (Chris Navarro)