NEW BATAAN, Compostela Valley (MindaNews / 4 Jan) – A school official here has appealed on kind-hearted individuals to extend further help to the school children affected by Typhoon Pablo as classes resume on Monday.
Marcelino delos Reyes, district supervisor and principal of Cabinuangan Central Elementary School, said that many of the pupils lost their houses and belongings during the flashflood a month ago.
He said many of the school children are now in need of basic school supplies such as crayons, paper, pen, pencils and notebooks. He said they need more school supplies to be distributed to the pupils to convince them to go back to school.
“This is one of our interventions to convince the children because many of them are traumatized by the typhoon,” the school official said.
Thus, he has been soliciting from various groups to donate school supplies.
Classes were supposed to resume Thursday, January 3. But the local government moved the resumption of classes on Monday, January 7, as a precautionary measure because of the low pressure area (LPA) hovering over Mindanao the past few days.
But since the postponement order came late and circulated only through text messages on Wednesday, some pupils still came to school on Thursday.
Eleven-year old Christine Joys Samonte, a Grade 5 pupil at the Cabinuangan Central Elementary School, told Mindanews that she lost all her school supplies to the flashflood.
The Samontes house was destroyed, prompting them to evacuate to the gymnasium. “I’m going to school now without any paper or pen,” she said.
Her family stayed at the gymnasium until noon of December 31. Then they were transferred to tents provided by the International Committee of the Red Cross and Plan Asia at the New Bataan National High School.
Her classmate, Maria Clarisa Savillaga, said they need ball pens, notebooks and writing pads.
Savillaga, whose family was from Purok 7 of the poblacion, said they were not able to bring anything when they evacuated.
She added that their house was near the river, which overflowed due to the flashflood spawned by the super typhoon.
Savillaga also lamented that some of their friends and classmates are still missing.
Delos Reyes confirmed that 11 of their pupils have died in the flashflood while 50 more are still missing. The latter figure, however, is not yet final as he has yet to verify it with relatives and teachers when classes resume.
As of 12:40 a.m. of January 3, the local disaster desk posted 430 dead and 418 still missing.
The school principal also admitted that many of the pupils have already transferred to other schools. He said that they have initially issued 10 certifications to the pupils who have already transferred.
However, many have already moved even without the certification and readily accepted by the other schools upon knowing they were from Cabinuangan.
“We are still on the process of updating our data on the dead, missing and the transferees,” the school official said.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has set up three tents in Cabinuangan as temporary “learning spaces.”
“Those classes that cannot resume on damaged classrooms, will temporarily use these tents,” Delos Reyes said.
Of the 15 classrooms damaged, six were due to fallen trees, he said.
Most of the damaged classrooms have already been repaired, Delos Reyes said. But the classrooms filled with mud are still being cleaned using pressurized water sprayers through the clean up operations of the Catholic Relief Service (CRS), delos Reyes said. (Keith Bacongco / Mindanews)