by Amado C. Guinto, Jr.

Photo by Iligan Web

Iligan woke up battered in the morning of December 17 after typhoon Sendong unleashed its overnight fury which destroyed properties, claimed hundreds of lives, and left widespread devastation.

Despite being affected by the storm, the MSU-IIT opened its gates when muddied survivors knocked for shelter. The first few groups arrived and were allowed to stay in classrooms. But after the Institute Chancellor Sukarno D. Tanggol learned of the plight of the first batch of evacuees, he immediately permitted more survivors who begged for a place to stay to use the Institute for evacuation. Subsequently, groups and their families arrived in droves to occupy to capacity the Institute gymnasium.

Photo by Beatriz Arcinas Cañedo

Right after, Tanggol appealed for volunteers in the relief operations. He declared, “For the first time, Iligan City has experienced a devastation that claimed not only properties but also lives. So, let us show our concern to our fellow MSU-IIT colleagues and friends during this season of love, of giving.”

MSUIIT Sendong

Photo by Beatriz Arcinas Cañedo

Faculty members and students who responded to the Chancellor’s call put up a system to attend to the needs of the evacuees. In the process, volunteers, who repacked and distributed the donations of water, food, and clothes, grouped the evacuees according to their barangays.

The gym was a grim picture of confusion. Evacuees formed partitions of plywood to establish some semblance of privacy and division among their groups on all spaces inside the gym.

Photo by Eunice Balolong

In a Philippine Daily Inquirer report, Ernesto Empig, one of the heads of the volunteer groups, said that each cluster appointed a leader to maintain order. Leaders were expected to look after their respective groups. By common sense, student volunteers thought of innovative ways to ration food delivering meals by clusters. “It was a great idea. Now, they [the survivors] don’t have to line up three times a day,” the PDI quoted Empig.

PDI reported that the MSU-IIT was “the biggest evacuation center here for families displaced by Tropical Storm ‘Sendong'” and likened the center to “a well-oiled machine fuelled by the kindness of strangers.”

The Institute tended to the needs of more than 2,000 survivors, action which all “sprang from simple acts of compassion that later grew to a massive scale,” as described by the PDI.

In more acts of concern, MSU-IIT hosted debriefing activities for the surviving children and planned free performances of its cultural groups to help heal the trauma through the arts.

The evacuees were turned over to the care of their respective barangays after Christmas. However, the Institute continues to be a Relief Center where donations are still being received.

Photo by Beatriz Arcinas Cañedo

The Chancellor has issued a Special Order resetting the opening of classes after the holidays from January 3 to January 9, a move to restore to normalcy Institute facilities and resources which were heavily utilized during the calamity.

Topics : sendong  iligan  flood