THE Sunday Times Magazine highlights efforts big and small by individuals and groups who continue to go all out—and with all heart—in helping to rebuild the lives devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013.
‘Hearts at Work’ in Iloilo
TWENTY-SIX families in San Isidro, Iloilo City received new homes from Filipino consumer goods importer Fly Ace Corp. In partnership with Gawad Kalinga, the houses were built within five months and were painted by the company’s employees through their “Hearts at Work” corporate social responsibility program.
With the new houses came renewed hope for poverty-stricken families who were greatly devastated by Yolanda. Present at the turn-over ceremonies were executive assistant to the Iloilo City Mayor Jay Victor Mabilog, Iloilo City administrator Norlito Bautista, Gawad Kalinga Iloilo provincial head Rose Cacho, Fly Ace Corp. executive vice president Larry Cochanco, Iloilo City Urban Poor Affairs Office executive director Wilfredo Jurilla, and GK Center of Social Innovation Board Member Joey Mempin.
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Samar’s tree of life
WESTERN Samar had its own share of devastation during the onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda, but the province reports a steady recovery over the past year under the leadership of Gov. Sharee Ann Tan.
Taking pride in their progress while remembering those who perished, the Samarnons unveiled an 18-foot monument on November 8, symbolizing their experience, survival, and unyielding strength to overcome the catastrophe.
The commemorative marker is a robust tree-hand, which according to Tan is a very appropriate representation of the province and its people, even as it also highlights the need to respond to global climate change.
“Trees helped save our people from the flood brought by Yolanda. They literally clung to the nearest tree to prevent them from being washed away by the ravaging flood,” she explained.
Designed by artist Vince Padilla in consultation with the Samarnons, the monument stands at the Candaya Rotunda in Barangay San Juan in the town of Sta. Rita. Samar province has 24 municipalities, two cities, and 952 barangays.
Instead of leaves, the designer crowned the twisted tree trunk with an enormous open hand that shelters a mother and a son. “The open hand symbolizes Samar itself which seeks to nurture every resident of the province,” Tan continued.
The marker’s unveiling also served as a day of recognition and gratitude for the support the province received from the national government, international and local non-government organizations, the government of the United Arab Emirates and other countries, as well as every Samarnons who helped save lives and rebuild the province.
Secretary Panfilo Lacson, Presidential Adviser for Recovery and Rehabilitation, who was guest of honor at the ceremony, recalled how Tan came to his office without an appointment, lining up with regular citizens, to brief him about Samar’s situation and ask for the national government’s help. He commended the public servant’s perseverance in doing all that she can to help her constituents.
In response, Tan related gratefully, “It was Lacson who linked the Samar government with international and national NGOs, and even with the government of foreign countries, which readily supported us in every way possible.”
To sustain Samar’s recovery, the governor is determined to intensify the province’s agri-tourism campaign, and in these efforts intends to tap the support and endorsement of celebrities Paolo Avelino and Tom Rodriguez who are proud Samarnons.
“We have so many tourism spots that remain unknown even to our fellow Filipinos. Some provinces in our country are known for their caves—and yet the biggest and most exciting caves are in Samar.
Tourism promoters have, in fact, dubbed us as the ‘Philippine Cave Capital. For sure, Paolo and Tom can help make Samar’s tourist spots become more widely known and more excitingly attractive,” she enthused.
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P&G captures stories of hope
WITH an estimated value of up to P35 billion in damages, the affected provinces and towns devastated by Typhoon Yolanda have been dependent on government support and aid from NGOs and the private sector for restoration and rehabilitation for the past year.
Among these private sector companies is consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble (P&G), which has continually helped to revive livelihood in the Visayas since November 2013 through its Project Hope rehabilitation program.
At an intimate gathering this week, P&G remembered and celebrated the victims and survivors of Yolanda by premiering their Hope Stories documentary, which spotlight what remains after the storm: The Filipino resilience to overcome challenges, the ability to rise again, and tremendous strength to move forward after so much loss.
At the forefront of providing relief and aid to the victims since Day One were P&G brands Safeguard, Tide, Joy, Pantene and Pampers, which together donated P75 million worth of products to provide immediate and mid-term hygienic relief for survivors, evacuees and families displaced for months. The company also provided 25 million liters of safe drinking water through its P&G Purifier of Water technology.
Project Hope then moved its focus on reviving and rebuilding sustainable livelihood in the Visayas by putting stores back up together with its distributor partner Dranix East. Now known as “Hope Stores,” the Tide-orange kiosks are spotted all over town by the roadsides, amid tent cities, and in the most remote locations. In the first wave of efforts, the partnership was able to recover and rehabilitate 38 public markets and over 1,600 stores, with a commitment to deliver about 3,000 stores in total.
Currently, Project Hope continues its commitment to rebuild livelihood through its partnership with USAID, Rebuild and Coca-Cola.
P&G’s Hope Stories documentary is available for viewing on www.youtube.com
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GMA’s early Christmas gift to survivors
FROM a year of loss to a year of hope, GMA Network rekindles the Christmas spirit in the hearts of Yolanda survivors with its 2014 Christmas campaign, “Share the Love.”
The yuletide spirit came early to the Kapuso Village in Tacloban as the network held a salu-salo for beneficiaries who will celebrate Christmas in newly-built homes they can call their own.
The Kapuso Village in Tacloban is the first permanent housing project in the area for survivors of Typhoon Yolanda, with 49 houses ready for occupancy. By next week, an additional 123 houses will be ready, and in the coming months, 231 more houses will be turned over to their new owners.
“It was likely the first time that these families got to celebrate Christmas since they lost their homes and loved ones to Typhoon Yolanda,” said GMA Kapuso Foundation EVP and COO Mel Tiangco, who stood witness to the tragedy that the victims suffered with her on-site news coverage in November 2013. “Seeing their favorite Kapuso stars make an effort to personally deliver their presents made the occasion all the more special to them,” she adds.
In Tacloban, Mel Tiangco was joined by the network’s stars in handing out food, toys, and Christmas trees to the families in the Kapuso Village.
In Manila, meanwhile, even more personalities shared their love by sponsoring toys, as well as health and education gift packs, for Kapuso Foundation beneficiaries all over the Philippines.
For photos and videos of the campaign, log on to www.gmanetwork.com.
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Unique ‘parols’ light up Christmas celebration
FOR this year’s Christmas celebration, a unique tree-lighting activity was launched on November 8 in commemoration of the Yolanda tragedy that hit the country a year back.
Simultaneously lighting lanterns in the cities of Tacloban, Batangas, Pampanga, Bacolod, and Davao, and Taguig, Metro Manila, Coca-Cola Philippines sparked Yuletide celebration through an event dubbed, “Sari-Saring Happiness Day.”
“The ‘Sari-Saring Happiness Day is an entirely new way of celebrating the season. From the big lighting ceremonies that that we usually hold in the city, we traveled to provinces and barangays, and tapped the different champions of our brand, which are the new icons of a unique Coca-Cola Christmas—the sari-sari store owners,” Coca-Cola Philippines’ vice president for marketing Jasmin Vinculadfor explained during the lighting ceremony at Barangay Central Signal in Taguig City.
“We loaned P7 million in capital to these women who are sari-sari store owners from all over the country, including the women of Leyte who were devastated by Typhoon Yolanda,” Vinculado said, reiterating the beverage company’s commitment to help Leyte get back on its feet, starting with the rebuilding of its in Tacloban plant as a proof of support and camaraderie.
There was also the lighting of the “parols” that are made of Coke bottles at a street dubbed as “red street” in Taguig and in the said five provinces.
Taguig City Mayor Lani Cayetano and Technical Assistance and Skills Development Authority Secretary Joel Villanueva were the guest speakers of the magical Christmas lighting.