FORT BONIFACIO, Taguig City – The Bayanihan spirit is blazing from the thousands of Filipinos who have lent a hand for the victims of the recent calamity that struck Northern Mindanao.
The call for Bayanihan by the Philippine Army to help the victims of tropical storm “Sendong” was gratuitously answered by various public and private institutions.
Major Harold M Cabunoc, Army Spokesperson, said that 500 tons of goods have already been accounted and is being transported to the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan.
“On December 26, the Civil Military Operations Group (CMOG) of the Philippine Army transported 12 military trucks fully loaded with relief items to the Philippine Navy,” said Cabunoc.
Cabunoc said that the Army has coordinated with the Navy to transport the items to the affected areas in Northern Mindanao via the LC 550 vessel.
“The Philippine Army will coordinate with the local government units for the distribution of the relief goods,” he added.
Earlier, the Army also turned over 898 relief items to a DSWD warehouse in Pasay City for repacking.
The delivered items included sacks of used clothing and rice, boxes of assorted food and toiletries, packs of bottled water and medicines, bundles of mattresses and pillows, bags of school supplies, and tents.
Meanwhile, various units of the Philippine Army nationwide were mobilized to help in the relief operations for the victims of the flashfloods.
A local newspaper in Davao City dubbed the 22 M35 truck convoy of relief aid from the 10th Infantry Division as the Red Ball Express.
The Red Ball Express was the codename for a massive logistics operation of the Allied Forces during World War II in Europe involving about 6,000 trucks and at least 400,000 tons of ammunition, food and fuel.
The people were amazed to see huge convoy of trucks filled with relief goods, and not the usual band of soldiers geared up for battle.
Also, paddlers of the Philippine Dragon Boat Team and the world-class champions, Dragon Warriors also joined the relief initiatives for the victims of “Sendong”.
They flashed messages for help in their Facebook fan page; and collected all jerseys, uniforms and other useful items that they used in international competitions to be donated to the victims.
Manny Batungbakal of Columbia Sportswear, the Dragon Boat team sponsor, readily sent a truckload of relief goods which include bottled water, tent materials, and used clothing.
In response to the facebook messages, some have bought “ukay-ukay” goods intended for the flood victims.
Army Chief Major General Emmanuel T Bautista expressed his overwhelming gratitude for the help that continues to pour in for the victims of the flash floods.
“I am in awe that so many people around the world have contributed and assisted in the Army’s efforts. I am sure that the Bayanihan spirit is alive in every Filipino; the influx of donations confirms that,” said Bautista.
It can also be recalled that Major General Emmanuel T Bautista has directed all Army personnel to voluntarily give their one day-day meal subsistence allowance as assistance for the typhoon victims.
Beyond material aid
Aside from donated goods, the Army have also provided temporary settlement for the affected families.
“The Army Engineers, working under the National Development Support Command (NADESCOM) and the local government units have austerely built bunkhouses and latrines in relocation sites at Cagayan de Oro. In coordination with the local chief executives, the Army Engineers are searching for a suitable relocation sites for those who lost their homes in the floods,” said Cabunoc
The Army’s disaster response efforts are continuously being undertaken to help the affected communities.
Even during the holidays, the troops from the 1st, 3rd, 4th and 10th Infantry Divisions continue to conduct retrieval, cleanup and relief operations in various areas in their area of responsibility.
Only yesterday, flooding brought about by continuous rains dislocated hundreds of families in Valencia, Bukidnon and in Cebu City. The Army rescue teams assigned in these areas were quick to respond and assisted in the preventive evacuation and the rescue of the residents who were caught in the floods.
Bautista lauds the soldiers for their dedication to help their fellow Filipinos in need.
“I am proud of our soldiers; their commitment to help is unwavering. They have spent their Noche Buena at evacuation centers and seaports to unload relief goods,” said Bautista.
Medical missions are also being conducted in Cagayan de Oro to treat the sick and prevent any disease outbreak.
“This concept of Bayanihan is embodied in the new campaign plan of the AFP, in which the focus is the well-being of the people. Just like ending the insurgency problem, responding to calamities can be effectively carried out through a sustained multi-stakeholder effort borne out of partnerships with different government institutions, non-government stakeholders such as NGOs and CSOs, and the local communities,” concluded Bautista.