LAUREL, Batangas -- AMID the dreaded coronavirus scare, the recent activity of Taal Volcano that started July 1, came as a double-black-eye to people directly affected.
Be that as it may, disasters are considered force majeure, work of nature that’s beyond the care of mankind. Humanity can only take so much.
As it is, Taal’s renewed restiveness drew the best out of people from all walks of life.
Bigger than Taal
Not only from Batangueños but from other people as well from the National Capital Region and elsewhere. They have proven they have a heart bigger than Taal volcano itself.
Generosity amid Taal’s renewed restiveness flowed more than the volcano could spit out from its crater.
There were too many to count and yes, some of them are politicians who everyone knows she or he could only be out fishing for “pogi” points but still, the outpouring of support from them, since July 1, 2021, is simply overwhelming.
Taal’s latest activity displaced a total of 3,890 families and 13,713 individuals from high-risk barangays of Laurel, Agoncillo, Talisay, Tanauan City who were located within the 7km danger zone.
They had to evacuate immediately, the Phivolcs said, as it raised Taal’s Alert Level to No. 3 due to a phreatomagmatic eruption and the release of a record 22K plus tonnes of sulfur dioxide that smothered crops and caused respiratory problems to some.
Hundreds of evacuees came from Barangay Buso Buso, Gulod, and Bugaan East seeking shelter either in evacuation centers or in the comfort of houses of relatives or friends.
There were hundreds of them scattered in different evacuation sites.
The outpouring of support in cash or in-kind from different organizations and government agencies freely flowed. It was extremely overwhelming.
Latest that they received came from Sen. Francis Tolentino, who, despite the heavy rains last Thursday, 22nd of July 2021, braved through it just to personally bring relief goods and cash aid to the displaced families of Taal.
A medical mission was also conducted at the San Gabriel Elementary School Evacuation Center which is a project of Sen. Risa Hontiveros complete with a Mobile Health Clinic.
Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque and Secretary Vince Dizon also visited the displaced individuals taking temporary shelters at the As-is ES evacuation center along with Vice Governor Mark Leviste.
The Batangas provincial government also routinely extended assistance through essential food packs for evacuees not only in the town of Laurel.
Private individuals also organized mobile kitchens and provided affected individuals and their families with hot meals.
The Capitol also rolled out its own mobile community kitchen manned by the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office in collaboration with the Office of the Provincial Governor through Governor Hermilando I. Mandanas.
Last Tuesday, 13th of July, Senator Bong Go also visited the town of Laurel and provided cash assistance and food packs, masks, face shields, and vitamins to more than 1,004 evacuees.
Former senator Bongbong Marcos also made his presence felt by evacuees as he distributed food packs and slippers. Other private donors also gave out computer tablets, bicycles and shoes.
At the same time, financial assistance worth P5,000 was given to the displaced families by the DSWD Central Office.
The Department of Agriculture Region 4A led by Regional Executive Director- Vilma Dimaculangan in coordination with the Office of DA Assistant Secretary for Agribusiness and Marketing Kristine Y. Evangelista also distributed relief goods worth P414,910.
In total, the agency distributed 150 relief packs containing canned sardines, five packets of noodles, five kilos of rice handed over to the local government unit of Laurel for distribution and eighty-six kilos of assorted vegetables of DA-4A as part of the national government’s aid and humanitarian operations nationwide (AHON) convergence program aimed at assisting disaster victims.
Meanwhile the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) through Mr. Dan Ramos, senior community development officer, and Mr. Victor Crisostomo, branch manager of Casino Filipino Tagaytay handed out relief packs were distributed to 97 displaced families stopping in Brgy. As-is not in the evacuation center and 22 families in the evacuation center (As-is ES).
While Atty. Romeo Roxas of Magtulungan Tayo Foundation also extended help to displaced families from evacuation centers in Niyugan ES, Ticub ES, and Molinete ES.
Vice President Leni Robredo failed to personally check on the evacuees but she provided relief assistance and food in cooperation with different private institutions.
As these all unfolded, local chief executives like Laurel Mayor Joan Lumbres Amo were always appreciative of the kindness of donors.
PLDT and Smart Inc. also extended communication support to affected residents of Laurel by setting up Libreng Tawag, Libreng Wifi station in different evacuation sites.
Aside from this, they also distributed relief goods to more than 250 families.
With regard to their health concerns, the DOH Region 4A (Calabarzon) also proved generous enough in extending help to Taal evacuees too.
Regional Director Eduardo C. Janairo ordered right away vaccination and antigen tests to all evacuees on the very first day an evacuee tested positive for Covid-19.
“Provincial health teams (PHTLs) including human resource for health (HRH) are deployed in evacuation centers and closely monitoring the health of the residents to prevent further cases of Covid-19 infection,” Janairo said.
On July 14, 2021, the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU) reported five Covid-19 infections in different evacuation centers, and those infected were promptly isolated and treated.
There was also the steady supply of face shields, N95 masks, gloves, surgical masks and coverall PPEs.
DOH-Calabarzon also made sure the needs of lactating and expectant moms are taken care of.
Dr. Felices Emerita P. Perez spearheaded the distribution of maternity kits, newborn kits, emergency birthing kits, and dignity kits during her team's visit to evacuation centers in Batangas.
Perez said that emergency maternity tent facilities for the isolation of pregnant women and those who have given birth including personal protective equipment (PPEs) were also installed in evacuation centers. (IAm/OpBats)