ALIt is indeed appalling and frustrating to see how people continue to suffer living in tents four months after super typhoon Yolanda. The bulk of assistance had been overwhelming that people are mesmerized by the gargantuan support that in conservative estimation had surpassed the extent of devastation. Victims who survived the wicked blows of the supertyphoon and the rising of the sea brought about by the storm surge remain standing in ovation over the reported assistance from all parts of the globe.
The global community and international non-government organizations were moved by the misery of a helpless people, causing them to rush to where the devastation greatly affected the people. Unfortunately after four months, people are still standing no longer in ovation but in extreme misery waiting for the assistance that are well publicized and reported in media but had not been felt to meet their pressing felt needs.
This writer is one among the many survivors who were saved by the grace of God. It took several days before help reached his home place that is San Antonio in the old town of Basey of the impoverished province of Samar. The place is the nearest to the regional center that is highly urbanized city of Tacloban. In the immediate hours after the supertyphoon and the high waters subsided, choppers hovered the barangay but no assistance ever came as the city of Tacloban drew the attention of the world.
It was the energetic and youthful Atty. Junji Ponferrada, municipal mayor of Basey who reached immediately the barangay to personally lead clearing operations to make roads accessible the day following the typhoon. On Sunday, he came with some sacks of rice to feed his constituents, sharing food to the needy among his people. Assistance of food packs were also brought to the barangay by the provincial government of Samar which distributed relief goods and conducted medical consultations and treatment of the sick and wounded. On November 12, 2013 the city of Catbalogan also responded with relief goods, feeding program and medical mission.
It was also on November 12, 2013 that Rev. Fr. Rex M. Ibañez, priest in-charge of San Antonio de Padua Mission Center arrived from the retreat of Calbayog Clergy in Batangas. A Holy Mass was celebrated inside the devastated church right after the relief distribution and medical mission. It was the faith that held the people strong in the face of the devastation.
A visit by the Order of Malta led by Ms Mina Carag gave the first hope to the people as she immediately declared after making an assessment that Malteser International will adopt barangay San Antonio and committed to help the people from relief to recovery. But the first to respond with a livelihood project is Ms Gina Lopez who committed to help the fisherfolks with motorized fishing bancas and fishing gears. The motorized fishing bancas had already been launched on March 26, 2014. Malteser International is about to start the core shelter project and the Franciscans through Rev. Fr. Joel Sulse, O.F.M., parish priest of Sanctuario de San Antonio of Forbes Park Makati officiated the groundbreaking for 50 residential houses on 03 March 2014 in San Antonio, Basey, Samar through the auspices of the San Antonio de Padua Mission Center.
This is a clear reversal where the religious, the private sector and international non-government organization had taken the lead while government is groping to cope with complementation where it should have been the other way around. People thought that their government must have been in the frontline responding to their needs and the private and religious sectors giving complementary assistance. Reversed!
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