Making life a little better for typhoon survivors

By Mavic Conde

THE series of typhoons that hit the Bicol region have left many Bicolanos in need of help – from cash, house repair materials, livelihood assistance, and whatnot.

Two months after the devastations wrought by the typhoons, Bicol Mail asked some typhoon victims how they’re coping, and on the part of local actors on disaster risk and response, what kind of help to typhoon-stricken communities made a difference.

For Felicito “Onyong” Pamplona Jr., a tour guide and village councilor in Catanduanes, donations from people he toured before have helped him a lot. He got a power bank, small solar panels, and cash.

While he and the members of his family are also much affected, he is not qualified from government cash aids because he is a government worker. He could have received aid from the Department of Tourism’s cash assistance program in partnership with the Department of Labor and Employment for pandemic-affected workers in the industry. Unfortunately, he’s not a registered tour guide.

In Tiwi, Albay, one of the aid providers that made an impact was the Tzu Chi Foundation. “If not for the generous cash aid the foundation provided, my constituents would still be looking for aid until now,” Barangay Bariis SK chairperson Judy Ann Coderis said.

She said a family with two members received P18,000, P23,000 for 3-4, and P28,000 for a family with five or more members.

In Guinobatan town where nearly 300 families were displaced by rain-induced lahar due to super Typhoon “Rolly,” the affected residents will be relocating to housing units donated by the Office of the Vice-President, Philippine Red Cross (PRC), National Housing Authority, a senator, and the local government unit.

“It will take time to process our resettlement,” said Hazel Paneza, one of the PRC beneficiaries who is currently staying with a relative. But she is thankful that they no longer have to think about the cost of building a new house.

Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) Resilient Communities program director Vincenzo Bollettino said in a news release that these local actors in the DRR are in the best position to strengthen and fill the gaps in disaster response in the country.

This can be done “with more cohesive and reciprocal collaborations,” according to a HHI’s 2020 study. This goes without saying that collective goals have to be integrated in each of the local actor’s planning activities and in the National Development Plans.