Chancellor Sukarno D. Tanggol’s words were enough to rekindle the spirit of volunteerism among MSU-IIT constituents in the face of a national tragedy.

A day after Typhoon Yolanda (International Name: Haiyan) wreaked havoc in the central islands of the Philippines, some members of the Sendong Dynamic Response Team (SDRT) met to initiate what has now become a concerted effort among MSU-IIT constituents to help survivors. Chancellor Tanggol personally met with the volunteers immediately after his arrival from an out-of-town trip. The next day, November 10, the Operation Tabang Visayas began.

“We have experienced the same. It’s almost like automatic to be of help to [our] fellowmen…It’s not only reciprocation, [but] a moral obligation to alleviate the suffering and pain [of others]. We should do it,” Chancellor Tanggol said.

Typhoon Yolanda, considered as one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded in history, pummeled through most parts of Eastern Visayas where massive devastation is felt. Other parts of the country that were also affected included Bicol; Western and Central Visayas; Northern Mindanao; Davao, and the CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, and Caraga Regions. As of press time, death toll has reached 4,015, while 1,602 remain missing.  Damage to infrastructure and agricultural losses have amounted to P12.6 billion.

A graduate student taking up Marine Biology in the Institute who did not want to be named recounted the disturbing aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda’s onslaught.

“It was like a zombieland. Makatulala ang sadness,” he shared.

He had to walk for two hours from his relatives’ house to the airport to take his chances of getting out of Tacloban. “You just have to look around and common sense will tell you it was already impossible to travel by land.”

He would pause occasionally to gather his thoughts. At times he would give funny remarks, but definitely there was pain.

“I had to go beyond the matter,” he added.

He was relieved upon knowing that the Institute has set up its own relief center. “Natanggal yung tinik sa puso ko…We will survive if we help each other…Indeed, no man is an island.”

Prof. Venus Parmisana, a faculty member of the Department of English and documentation officer of SDRT, believes that the hearts of IITians are not hardened.

“I envisioned that MSU-IIT will help,” she revealed.

She posted on her Facebook page her wish for a relief center to be opened in MSU-IIT. Many expressed their intention to volunteer including those who had served when the city was struck by Typhoon Sendong in December 2011.

“I did not want another day to pass without doing anything,” she added.

John Logos Guiang, a third year Metallurgical Engineering student, who with a classmate donated some clothes shared that a close friend’s story made him realize the need to help those who are affected. His friend saw on pictures his parents (who are financially stable) queuing for relief goods in Leyte.  He could not take what he saw.

“ I thought of my parents…What if they will experience the same thing?” Guiang shared.

Despite feeling the effects of Typhoon Zoraida which entered the Philippines a few days after Yolanda, Kent Retita, a pre-school teacher at the Spiritans Learning Center and a member of SDRT, never hesitated to volunteer.

“A call for help made me come. We’ve had this (referring to Sendong in 2011) and it was not easy. We sympathize with the victims. [What they have] is worse. I can’t imagine the entire island being devastated. It’s difficult to be deaf to the cries for help,” he shared.

Ralph Purganan, an AB History major and also a member of SDRT, pointed out that people should have the initiative to help.

“You don’t have to be handsome or beautiful, rich or poor to be a volunteer. What’s important is that you have helped,” he said.

Donations had overwhelmingly poured in for Operation Tabang Visayas. Goods, clothes, toiletries, water, food supplies, and others were given by faculty, students, staff, alumni, friends, and other individuals. More than P200,000 was also raised.

Prof. Ernesto Empig, Head of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) Secretariat and an active member of the SDRT, shared that the chancellor had called a series of meetings with representatives of the Faculty Union (FU), ANTEU, AIITAFI, KASAMA, and top Institute officials to ensure the smooth conduct of the relief operation.

He also pointed out that social media played a significant role in realizing Operation Tabang Visayas. He even revealed that MSU-IIT can be viewed in Google Map as a drop off center for donations. “[We’ve seen] an overwhelming support. We really have that willingness to help,” he said.

He added that outsiders can also give their goods and cash assistance through Operation Tabang Visayas. Donors are also assured of transparency since records on donations are posted on Facebook.

Goods and cash assistance were accepted until November 17 .

“We do not aim at covering many areas because ours (donation) is modest. [But what is important is that it is] truly from our heart. We want to help and we will help. That’s what matters. We show our being humane,” Chancellor Tanggol said.

Topics : yolanda