Spending Christmas with the bakwits

ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews/27 December) – “Which do you want to do first, open your gifts or give gifts to the flood victims?”  Dr. Linlin Torres-Jo asked her two young kids Justin, 10, and Katlyn, 8.

Doctors of the Iligan Society of Internists (ISI) and their children spend Christmas Day by donating basic home items to evacuees at the Iligan City East High School in Barangay Sta. Filomena, over a week after typhoon Sendong wrought havoc in some areas of Iligan City last Dec. 17, 2011. MindaNews photo by Bobby Timonera“Give gifts to the flood victims!”  her kids excitedly chorused.

It is amazing how upon the deep layer of suffering and sorrow brought about by a flood of this magnitude, human kindness and selflessness spring up and bloom.

Iligan City was among the most devastated when Typhoon Sendong hit Northern Mindanao last December 17, with 396 confirmed deaths recorded by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) as of the morning of December 26.

By 7:30 a.m. on December 25, more than 30 volunteers from the Iligan Society of Internists, our family and friends, poured in at the Iligan Medical Center to load survival packs onto two trucks. There were 344 survival packs for 1,261 flood victims camped at the Iligan City East High School at Barangay Sta. Filomena. The survival packs were labeled with numbers 1 to 11, representing the number of members in a family, with proportional number of goods. Our youngest volunteers – Justin and Katlyn – still managed to help load the survival packs onto the trucks.

At the evacuation center, two registration desks were set up. Since we already got the list of each of the families per classroom, complete with their names and ages, a representative of each family was called and given a claim stub.

The packs marked 1 and 2 were loaded in Truck 1, while the rest were loaded in Truck 2, with added manpower courtesy of Cuadro Ocho hardware. Two to four volunteers were assigned to each of the pack numbers so that during distribution, a representative of a family of flood victims will approach the truck, give his stub with the pack number, and the volunteer assigned to this number will get his stub and give him the corresponding survival pack).

In two hours, all the survival packs were distributed, in a very orderly manner.

Overheard from the flood victims:

“Hay salamat sa Ginoo, di na jud ta magpungko og tulog! (Thanks be to God, we do not have to sleep in squatting position!)” After consulting with the evacuees and the relief workers a few days earlier, we made sure we’d bring items the evacuees urgently need. The survival pack contained plastic mattresses, the flood victims could now lie down to sleep.

Overheard from the teachers manning the evacuation center:
“Hay salamat, dili na sila lamukon! (Thank goodness, they won’t be attacked by mosquitoes!)”

In some families, parents died in the flood and only the children survived. These children came to claim their survival packs.

After all the survival packs were distributed, Dr. Linlin and her family distributed their Christmas goodies to the children.

Thus ended our Christmas in the Sta. Filomena evacuation center.

A Blessed Christmas to all our donors!