BOHOL -- How much of a difference can donations from Cebu make in the lives of those recovering in Bohol from last Tuesday's earthquake?
For the Hermosa family in Cebu, whose hometown is Sagbayan, Bohol, a quick donation drive within four days of the quake reached 1,040 families.
Mae Hermosa said the idea of helping started when she posted a comment on the earthquake on her Facebook account. That prompted donations from some companies and friends, and before long, the Hermosas found themselves traveling to Tubigon.
They brought along their pick-up truck and proceeded to Sagbayan, epicenter of the 7.2-magnitude quake.
More help is needed
At least 372,565 persons remained displaced by the quake, majority of them in Bohol, reported the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Rehabilitation Center (NDRRMC) last night.
In five provinces, 8,688 homes will need to be rebuilt and around 25,910 homes need repairs, the NDRRMC also reported.
The death toll reached 183 last night.
In Cebu this afternoon, business and civic organizations will accept donations and pledges during the #BangonSugBohol benefit concert in the Ayala Terraces.
Victorio Panerio, 59, was among those reached by the assistance so far in Bohol.
"Pasalamat ko kay gi-una ko nila ug nakadawat na gyod ko ug hinabang (I am grateful that I was among the first to receive help)," said Panerio.
He lives alone in his house made of light materials in Kanmanok, Sagbayan. He is blind.
Panerio said he slowly went out of his house when he felt the tremors last Tuesday morning. "Naghinay-hinay ko ug kupot sa haligi aron makanaog (I held on to the posts and slowly walked down), " he added.
Private groups in vans went to different towns in Bohol yesterday to distribute food and water.
Hermosa, whose efforts began with a Facebook post, said she was overwhelmed by the responses of her other siblings, other individuals and companies.
Profoods International Inc. donated juice and other products to the Hermosa family's relief drive.
Nature's Spring, Aromacology Sensi Inc., 999 Pharmaceutical, RJ n' EJ Pharmacy donated bottled water, vitamins and medicine, respectively.
Mae's friend, Marina Villamor, and the Tampus family in Cordova donated more than 50 sacks of rice. Mae's siblings donated money, which she used to buy canned goods.
The Provincial Government of Bohol and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) also continued to distribute relief goods.
A truckload of water in gallons was distributed by a former municipal official in Sagbayan. Different organizations also donated medicines in the makeshift health center in front of the ruined Sagbayan municipal hall.
In Antequera, local officials asked barangay leaders to claim their share of the relief goods and distribute these to their communities.
In Loon and Maribojoc, the DSWD delivered goods using military assets like the Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard's vessels and choppers from the Air Force.
In an emergency session yesterday, Loon Vice Mayor Elvie Relampagos appealed to local governments, like Cebu City, to lend them portable toilets.
In a text message sent to Sun.Star Cebu, Cebu City Administrator Jose Marie Poblete said the City wants to help, but its portalets are also being used by quake survivors and patients who were evacuated from the Cebu City Medical Center.
The damage in Bohol is so extensive that volunteers who reach it "are left at a loss for words."
Institutions that people would usually go to for help, like municipal halls and churches, are either heavily damaged or in ruins.
"You are left feeling helpless. But you have to summon the strength and be strong for the people. I'm feeling this way but I have a mission to do, which is to help ease their suffering," said Ma. Theresa Catipay, microfinance executive director of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI).
She and other RAFI employees were able to distribute relief items in Clarin, Sagbayan and Catigbian yesterday and were scheduled to enter the other heavily-hit areas like Loon, Maribojoc and Antequera.
Using its own funds and donations from residents of Cebu, RAFI prepared over 3,000 relief packs Thursday and sent these immediately to Bohol.
Catipay said the Boholanos need all the help they can get, and fast. One of the RAFI teams sent to Bohol came across a man displaying a placard begging for water.
She said that if the developed and lowland towns are in need of food and water, those in the mountain barangays are probably worse off.
"Food is really hard to come by. The devastation is so great. But if food is scarce here, more so in the mountain barangays," she said, quoting reports from staff of the microfinance program's Bohol branches.
The people, though, are not just waiting for help, she observed. They try to carry on with their lives, selling fish, puto and other items in an attempt to support themselves.
"You can see the resilience of their spirit. They are coping. They are not helpless, but they need our help," Catipay said.
RAFI said it purchased yesterday additional food and water worth P1.2 million to be shipped to Bohol tomorrow.
Other organizations have also pitched in.
The Cebu Electric Cooperative (Cebeco) 1, 2 and 3 sent a 30-man task force to help restore electricity in various Bohol towns.
Engineer Gannymede Tiu, Cebeco 2 general manager, said that Cebeco 1, 2 and 3 will also donate cash to the Bohol Electric Cooperative (Boheco) 1, subject to their board's approval tomorrow.
Boheco 1 General Manager Dino Rojas said they have to isolate the service drop wires from the secondary lines to the houses flattened by the earthquake, to make sure no one gets hurt.
Boheco temporarily cut off power to the worst-hit areas, like Catigbian, Sagbayan, Clarin, Inabanga, Buenavista, Danao, Carmen, Loon, Maribojoc, Antequera, Baclayon, Loay, Lila and Dimiao.
In Metro Cebu, the Visayan Electric Company (Veco) announced that all its full service centers in SM City, Talisay City and Talamban, Cebu City and its main office in Banilad are accepting donations for Bohol.
The Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) has set up two drinking water stations for patients of the Cebu City Medical Center and their families, who were evacuated.
"For Bohol, we're coordinating with Clarin Water District so we could send either gallons of water or a water truck if the roads are passable," said Charmaine Rodriguez, MCWD corporate communications manager.
Aiming for more
The Rotary International District 3860 under Governor Edgar Chiongbian has deployed disaster teams that accepted and distributed donations to the earthquake survivors in Bohol.
Bernie Lumapas said that the first disaster team led by Dr. Wyben Briones was sent to Tagbilaran City last Friday night and distributed relief goods in Loay, Lila and Dimiao.
Lite Shipping Corp. brought their relief goods to Bohol free of freight charges.
Yesterday afternoon, the Rotary Club of Cebu (RC) Midtown and Palawan Bank jointly donated 2,000 bottles of water.
"We are trying to gather more donations from our ranks," said RC Midtown President Jack Torrejos.
The 2Go Group Inc. is also offering free shipment of relief goods for Bohol.
In a press statement, the company said that private organizations, civic groups, government agencies and individuals may send their relief goods through 2Go Shipping, which opened a part of the Supercat Terminal in Pier 4 as a drop-off center. (With PR)