‘They also need undies’

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To a group of women in Metro Manila, food, water, clothes and medicines are not the only things needed by the people who endured the wrath of super typhoon Yolanda. The victims also need clean undies. And so, the “great panty drive” was born.

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The drive was started by Sheila Juan Catilo, her sister Stef Juan and friend Paula Virata. The women asked people to donate clean undergarments (panties, briefs, bras, and children’s undies) for the victims of the calamity.

“Officially, there are only three of us who started it – me, my friend Paula, and my sister Stef. But only a few hours after we opened our Facebook page, people started volunteering to help as point persons and drop off points in their respective areas,” Sheila said. “Friends and even people we don’t know have donated, helped shared the cause, and volunteered.

It’s a very small operation, but we’ve been so overwhelmed with all the support so far,” Sheila said.

“Some think it’s a silly thing to donate, but most of these people have lost everything and survived with nothing but the clothes on their backs. This is our way of helping them get a fresh start. Just imagine what a nice, clean pair of panties, bras, briefs or boxers can do to boost a person’s morale after being soaked and stuck in old clothes for days after the flood.

There are health issues right there if they have not even one clean pair of underwear to change to. These are small things that can make a huge difference!” she added.

The “panty raising-drive” started when Sheila’s eldest daughter Sky told her that she will donate three of her favorite undies.

“She came up to me and whispered shyly, “Mommy, eto pa o. Baka kasi wala na silang panty. And that was when I realized na oo nga ‘no,” Sheila said.

She said people tend to donate clothes, food, medicine and water but not underwear.
So far, the group has collected more than 3,000 pairs of underwear.

“We have packed more than 1,000 packs of three undies each (bras, panties, briefs) for the operations in Villamor Air Base. We have yet to pack the six big boxes left to be repacked and sent through other organizations that will be bringing them to Bantayan Island in Cebu, Ormoc City, Leyte and some parts in Eastern Samar. We will keep going until this weekend since donations are still pouring in and we want to be able to give to as many people as we possibly can,” Sheila said.

Stef Juan said the idea [of collecting undergarments]was easy to sell to people.

“It was simple and direct. Donations both in cash and in kind came from everywhere— even from our friends in the US who donated via paypal. A donation all the way from Tuguegarao was even sent via JRS. But mostly the donations came from around Metro Manila,” Stef said.

“This is not just for young girls and women, we also asked for undies for men and boys.
They weren’t neglected,” she added.

She said most of the donations were brand new.

“I just recently volunteered at a repacking center in Makati City and we had to sort through clothes. Out of all the clothes we went through only two percent of them were undies and they are all in bad shape. I mean, undies are very basic and if I want the survivors to feel better as well as dressed and fed, wouldn’t you want clean underwear under all the clean clothes you’re given? And besides, good hygiene is necessary to avoid infections,” she said.

Neil A. Alcober

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