The Spirit of Bayanihan During Taal Evacuation

As of January 15, CNN Philippines reported that there are 43,681 evacuees staying in 217 evacuation centers. Several thousand of them were residents from the volcano island itself from where they can no longer go back to. Aside from the 43 thousand evacuees, more people and communities have been impacted by the eruption.

We are one with the prayers of our people that hopefully Taal Volcano will continue to calm down. PHIVOLCS says that the lessened activity of the volcano may just be temporary, and we may still expect a violent eruption at anytime.

We pray that everyone will be safe and prepared including government respondents and volunteers.

It is worthy to note that at the initial and abrupt eruption of ash last January 12, there was no human casualty.

A strong expression of Bayanihan, a Filipino sense of community effort and shared responsibility, has been remarkable; Seminaries and churches of different Christian denominations immediately opened their facilities to host evacuees. Private homes and establishments of individuals also took in evacuees. Private individuals gave masks for free. Countless other private individuals and groups poured out donations, including farmers in Benguet donating truck loads of their vegetable produce. Young volunteers namely: Rio Abel, Maximino Alcantara and Darwin Lajara, all in their 20’s, died in a road accident after delivering relief donations.

While generosity, volunteerism and community effort continues, we must be vigilant against those who will exploit and abuse our Filipino resiliency and Bayanihan spirit.

We pray that the government as a whole and its various agencies and departments will have:

  • Long term relief plan
  • Proper and appropriate relocation for families who have totally lost their homes
  • Aid and support (not loans) for affected farmers and fisherfolks

The extent of this calamity as with many calamities in the past will require the massive effort of everyone including holding government constantly accountable for the relocation and rebuilding of lives.

May we learn from the government blunders of Yolanda, Ondoy, and other past calamities.

God help us all, but most especially the 43,681 and more who lost everything.

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