We are now entering the 2nd week since the eruption of Taal volcano last January 12,2020 and the hearts of everyone are focused on those badly affected, especially those who are forced to leave their homes and their livelihood.
Assumption College was quick to act…
The goods came, and they continue to come. Our students, faculty and staff are joined by volunteers, alumnae, friends, to give a hand unpacking boxes and packing bags, making them ready either for pick-up or delivery. Everyone is in good humor, even as they crowd the entrance of Aquinas building, blocking corridors and stairs to the 2nd floor. Nobody seems to mind having to go around to get to their classrooms.
These days we have witnessed the inner goodness of people. So many touching stories of people helping one another, stories of compassion and outright kindness…
Knowing full well the pains of being displaced because of volcanic eruption (Mt. Pinatubo), Aeta families from Zambalez visited World Vision office to hand over the money that they raised for Taal Volcano affected communities.
Another newspaper wrote: A 61-year old seamstress, Rosalina Mantuano, of Lipa City has proven her generous and kind heart by sewing thousands of colorful masks and giving it for free to those affected by the Taal Volcano eruption in Batangas province.
And another: Vegetable farmers and traders of Benguet have again reached out to fellow Filipinos in need as they pooled together their vegetable produce to the victims of the Taal Volcano eruption.
Heavy traffic was reported along the South Luzon Expressway over the weekend due to the large number of vehicles, both private and government, ferrying relief goods to areas affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano.
Last Sunday, exactly a week after Taal’s eruption, I had the chance to go with a group of school employees to Magallanes, Cavite, bordering Cavite and Batangas. As early as 5.30 am, volunteers came to pack our Coaster, a truck and 10 Mitsubishi cars. The 2 ½ hours drive was in itself touching, seeing so many cars, trucks, motorcycles with signs: OPERATION TAAL. We did indeed cause traffic, but we understood why, so no complaints. We first went to Tua Elementary school, where some of our college girls would go on immersion during the summers. This school now serves as a center to collect goods for distribution.
Teachers and the Barangay Tanods were there to help us unload, then accompanied us to where there were evacuees. Many evacuees are living in private houses. One house have 68 evacuees. The evacuees are relatives of the owner, and their neighbors. They had no heart to leave their neighbors, and the house owner simply welcomed them. They sleep in whatever space they could find, on cardboards, on the floor. Aside from the relief bags we had, we gave mattresses, blankets, towels. A young boy, upon receiving a blanket, just hugged the blanket like a precious gift. My heart felt like bursting as I thanked the owner for opening his house to so many. All I could utter was, “Salamat”*.
In another house, we found 40 evacuees, all relatives of the owner, from small children to a 92 year old grandmother.
The day was a day of witnessing people’s “kagandahang loob”**: A tragedy bringing out the best in people. Those welcoming evacuees, those who help in evacuation centers, those who give their time and energy to help in the packing of goods, those who give free meals, bottled water, those who travel from far off with things to donate, and many, many more: Aren’t these glimpses of God’s face clearly seen in this volatile, uncertain situation?