‘Yolanda’ victims thank Muslim Mindanaoans

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KIDAPAWAN CITY: Receiving seven tons of giant tilapia, 10 tons of packed rice and canned foods, and medicines including vitamins worth of P8.4 million administered by nine doctors and 30 nurses from their brothers in Muslim Mindanao, brought tears of joy and relief to starved and thirsty Samareños in Basey.

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The delegation from Maguindanao led by Gov. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu and Lynette Estandarte, coordinator, was viewed by the least-visited Typhoon Yolanda victims from Basey as somewhat “prayers answered by God.”

On Sunday, over 2,000 residents guided by their chieftains hurriedly formed long queues in front of the municipal hall to each receive two cellophanes containing three fresh giant tilapias and another five kilos of rice with canned goods from 55 members relief mission from Maguindanao led by Gov. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu.

In Basey, Samar, 189 were reported dead and over 40 still missing, said Manuel Orejola, municipal planning and development officer.

“God answered my prayer for relief from hunger and deprivation. I just came from Sunday Mass,” an elderly woman said in local dialect.

The governor responded: “Keep praying to God as He never forsakes the faithful,” after which the old woman hugged the governor.

Mangudadatu spoke through a megaphone telling the Samareños that his province has been equally reeling from frequent natural calamities, armed conflicts and severe poverty, a pitch that was received very emotionally.

Recently, Maguindanao, a major enclave of Moro rebels, is among the country’s poorest provinces.

“While our province is facing poverty and more complicated challenges, we always have a big heart for fellow mankind in distress. In fact, we are supposed to be commemorating our 40th founding anniversary but we kicked off the commemoration with this relief mission.”

In Tacloban City, Mangudadatu visited a Muslim community of mostly Maranaos and handed to its leaders P100,000 cash as aid for the reconstruction of a mosque swept completely by tsunami at a suburb village. Food and medicines loaded in a van were also given to the community that has been getting much of foreign and local relief.

On President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s return trip to Leyte with his Cabinet, he convened the
Task Force Yolanda and the coordinating presidential management staff presented Mangudadatu as the lone governor in attendance.

From Basey, the Maguindanao relief team proceeded to Guiuan, another seriously hit town in Leyte, where it unloaded all its remaining stocks of foods and medicines.

Another medical mission of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) conducted check ups and minor surgeries and gave away medicines to sick residents in Tolosa, Samar, where over 2,000 were reported injured or sick, ARMM regional health secretary Dr. Kadil Sinolinding said.

He said the ARMM medical/surgical team was joined by doctors and nurses from Lanao del Sur including provincial health officer Doctor Minalang.

The ARMM’s Humanitarian Emergency Action and Response Team left Cotabato City on Wednesday for Samar and Leyte, bringing 12,500 packs of both canned and ready-to-eat foods and basic relief items, said Jo Henry, regional information officer II.

Overwhelmed by the show of support from Muslim brothers, officials and residents of Samar and Leyte admitted they only realized for the first time the essence of interfaith promotion.

“I am stunned. All the time, we thought only about Metro Manila and Luzon as partners in peace and distress. I misjudged our Muslim brethren from Mindanao,” said Kervin Uy, a resident professional who flew in from Australia on Saturday to visit his affected relatives in Tacloban.

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