A Journey Worth Remembering: The Bantayan Island Relief Operation

This is a continuation of my first blog

3:30 A.M – I woke up from my 3 hours sleep. Ron and his father went to our place to load the sacks of relief goods to the canter that will take us to the island. After picking up a few volunteers, we left Cebu City and head on to Bantayan at around 6:00 AM. Since we have to stop to Liloan to buy food and to have the tires vulcanized, we arrived in Hagnaya at 11:30 AM.

In Bogo City.

In Bogo City. Yolanda was stronger than these concrete roofs. 

The heavy traffic was unusual going to the port of Hagnaya (except for Lenten Season maybe). The long lines of vehicles wanting to get into the barge never bothered me at all. It overwhelmed me instead seeing a lot of help coming from different people and organizations.

This is not in Hagnaya port, but in Bantayan. Notice how busy the road are with vehicles containing relief goods.

This is not in Hagnaya port, but in Bantayan. Notice how busy the road is with vehicles containing goods going to and fro the place.

 Since we cannot afford the Php 2,600 two-way ferry ticket for the canter, we were advised by one resident there to just park our vehicles in paid parking lots (150Php for on overnight parking) and just carry the relief packs to the barge.

So we did as advised… when suddenly the canter van tire was split into two. We were in great despair because we were thinking vulcanizing shops were closed due to power interruptions. Good thing there were people in Hagnaya who were so kind to help us fix the tires.

So we went on….

Under the scorching heat of the sun, our Karga boys (Ron, Eralp, Mark, Gian, Harvey, Alexis, Jojo, & JR) untiringly carried the sacks of relief goods and boxes of bottled water. Since there are only 8 Karga boys, they have to go back to load the other half of the goods to the barge.  And take note it was 12 noon where the heat of the sun was nearly intolerable and they have to travel around 150-meter walk (I’m no good in estimating distance)  going to the barge.

The Team

The girls watched after the goods while the boys took a full lunch. 🙂 Kapit-bisig! 

I remember everyone was in rush because the barge is about to leave. By God’s grace, we were able to leave Hagnaya almost 1 PM… It was not until when all of us settled on our seats, that we remembered to eat lunch. It’s past 1 PM and we haven’t eaten yet. And the funny part is, the hanging rice (pos0) were with the other volunteers who took the separate barge and what’s left of us is the lechon baboy. So, we are left with no other choice but to eat lechon without rice. It was yet a very funny and worth-remembering experience.

walk

Lechon baboy can’t beat dried danggit. A festive Danggit breakfast before we left for our 2nd-day mission. 

At around 3:00 PM, we arrived safely in Bantayan Island. We thought the vehicle that will take us to the different Barangays of Bantayan was on standby. But when we get there, we have to wait for 30 minutes for the truck to arrive. Some of the volunteers found comfort in the waiting area as they finish a full meal (with poso this time) 😛

All of us where surprised with the vehicle…. We never thought the truck that we will be riding is a garbage truck. Instead of complaining, we jumped into the dump truck and enjoyed the free ride as we do our own matrix moves every time there are twigs blocking our way.

Once in our life. We enjoyed a free ride in a garbage truck.

Once in our life. We enjoyed a free ride in a garbage truck. T’was FUN! 

The first Barangay we visit was Biaktos which is a barangay located in Sta.Fe, Bantayan. We were able to gave 60 relief packs in that community.

It was one of the most tiring yet the most fulfilling days of my life.

It was one of the most tiring yet the most fulfilling days of my life.

Biaktos Day Care Center is now roofless.

Biaktos Day Care Center is now roofless. Photo Credits: Mark Yapching

When the only thing that is left is the fence. The house was totally devastated.

When the only thing that is left is the fence after Yolanda crushed the whole house. 

People patiently waiting for help.

Those smiles as they receive help from people are very rewarding. 🙂

We then head on to the Municipality of Bantayan. We distributed 70 relief packs to the evacuees who were staying in a certain public school in Bantayan.

Even churches were not spared by Yolanda.

Even churches were not spared by Yolanda.

One of the newly-built stores in Bantayan Market were torn into pieces.

One of the newly-built stores in Bantayan Market were torn into pieces.

fdfa

Our last stop on our 1st-day mission – Bantayan Elementary school which is temporarily made as an evacuation center. 

We were supposed to finish the distribution of goods in Kabak and in Madredejos on the same day but since authorities say that it’s not safe to travel at night, we then decided to push through with our mission in the following day.

All of us did not expect a reward on the same day but people with great hearts allowed us to occupy a beach house in Sta.Fe. Despite of our unlikely odor and body pains, the team were pampered with a night of lush relaxation at the Bobel Hayahay Beach Resort.

The place where we stayed. Thank you to the TABAY family who unselfishly opened their doors for us.

The place where we stayed- Bobel Hayahay Beach Resort.  Thank you to the TABAY family who unselfishly opened their doors for us.

Second day:

We left the beach resort around 10 Am. We head on directly to Kabak – one of the barangays in the Municipality of Bantayan and distributed 80 relief packs.

Residents patiently waiting for relief goods  amidst the strong heat of the sun.

Residents patiently waiting for relief goods amidst the strong heat of the sun.

Even gasoline stations are roofless.

Even gasoline stations are roofless.

I talked to one residents in Kabak and she said that during the typhoon, the air was really strong that it turned down a fishing boat. She said that part of their houses (which are mostly made of light materials) were flying elsewhere as strong wind crushes the whole island.

The kids.

I can’t imagine the trauma these kids have after the super typhoon  “Yolanda”.

With that, one mother asked me if we have tent (trapal) which they can use for temporary shelter.  Without second thoughts, we gave to her a tarpaulin that we used to cover the relief goods. As she received it, there is a genuine joy on her face.

This is how devastated the houses were in the coastal area of Kabak,Bantayan.

This is how devastated the houses were in the coastal area of Kabak,Bantayan.

Thank you guys!

Thank you guys! 😀 😀 😀

Even more than a century old tree was totally uprooted.

Even a more than a century old tree was totally uprooted. 

It doesn't matter how many times we fall, what matters is how we bounce back.

It doesn’t matter how many times we fall, what matters is how we bounce back. #BangonBantayanon

Our last destination was the farthest and the most challenging-  the Poblacion of Madredejos.  The number of people who were desperate in getting goods exceed the number of the relief packs that were left of us. Since we only have around 70 relief goods, people start to feel desperate too to get their goods. Some were yelling at each other and commotion starts to set in. Hence, we were forced to leave the place immediately.

One of the volunteers overheard one of the victims saying,  "Hay,salamat nakainom na gyud ko ug tubig."

One of the volunteers overheard one of the victims saying, “Hay,salamat nakainom na gyud ko ug tubig.”

A smile - so priceless!

Their smiles bring joy to our hearts too. 

This lola broke my heart.. 😦

On our way to Sta.Fe we saw these kids begging on the street... Look at those faces! :(

On our way to Sta.Fe we saw these kids begging on the street… Look at those faces! 😦

The desperation that were reflected on the faces of the victims who haven’t received relief left us with disappointments too. There is still a strong desire for all of us to give a pack of goods to the people begging and yelling for help in the street, but we can’t because we were left with nothing.

The team. From Left: Alexis,Mam Betty,Harvey,Reyna,JohnRey,Ron,Yourstruly,Agnes, Eralph,Jojo,Mam Delia & Mam Myrna (owner of the resort), Auntie Becky, Uncle Randy and JR.

The team. From Left: Alexis,Mam Betty,Harvey,Reyna,JohnRey,Ron,Yourstruly,Agnes, Eralph,Jojo,Mam Delia & Mam Myrna (owner of the resort), Auntie Becky, Uncle Randy and JR.

There is still hope...

There is still hope… 🙂

Yolanda might be strong but the Filipino spirit is stronger. We all left Bantayan tired and drained but we brought with us a heart filled with bliss and fulfillment.

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