People have been messaging me to post our old articles. I’m no writer (obvious ba sa dami ng spelling at grammar FAIL ko dito). But during Ondoy , I felt like it was everybody’s task to inspire people to help out. I have to commend my good friends JENNI EPPERSON and TIM YAP for helping out. Jenni was my command center while we were doing relief drives (buntis kasi ang lola nyo d makaikot) – she would tell me what route to take, gather donations, etc.. and Tim had this story published. This is quite long because I combined 4 articles into 3 posts. So here it is guys…
From Jenni’s old blog posts and our multiply (Please check out jenni’s new blog http://welovejenni.blogspot.com/)
The reason why we wrote this story is to show people that everyone’s help is needed. Hopefully we get to inspire someone to get up and do something.
Yesterday (September 27, 2009), we helped at the relief center and were able to pack 4 truckloads of goods. But today, we wanted to be on the front lines.
Our day started with a lot of tweets, calls, and texts. We gathered all the goods from among ourselves and from those that donated to LUCA branches. The tweets, retweets, facebook status updates really helped! I was so shocked to see the number of relief goods dropped off at our branches! Our shop was overflowing!
We were coordinating with Angel Locsin who set up a relief drive 2 buildings away from our GA SKY SUITES showroom. We all planned to go to Payatas for distribution. I wanted to go to Marikina today but after seeing Angel’s text, I decided Payatas it is! She truly is an Angel!
Angels’ text about payatas “….Kawawa yung mga biktima dito na never nakatikim nang maginhawang buhay. Wala silang 2nd floor na matungtungan. Estimated 50 ang patay, pero hindi sila mabibigyan nang pansin”
So we were able to gather the goods at the showroom by 12:30. Some of our friends were already there when we arrived. People from work (Florence, Theresa, Eah, Merla, Mj, Chubby,Rocky, Vanessa and Donny) were in full force; designers such as Martin Bautista and Veejay Floresca, Ino Caluza were there; Stylist Shahani Gania and Pam Quinones; Embassy DJ Mars Miranda; Supreme/LUCA director David Milan; Our Doctor Khaz; Architects Matic, Yong Lansigan, Jay Lumbuan; Saga peeps Mia and Elmer; and sugar artist Olive Chan. Whew… what a list!!
So here comes the magical part. Since we all finished packing quite late, Angel’s group went ahead. We were able to fill 4 SUVS with relief goods. And i mean PACKED: just the driver, the goods, and no passengers. We made our way to Payatas but since we were such a long convoy of some 7 cars, we lost some of the others along the way. Anyways, while we were trying to look for Angel’s location, the way going there showed us the devastation that Typhoon Ondoy wrought. You could already see how so many people’s houses were destroyed, and how everything was just so muddy. Even the people walking had mud all over them. The roads were tiny and we got lost trying to maneuver from one point to the next. We ended up at one of the basketball courts that had already been converted into a relief center. I went down to check if we could distribute any goods or if we had finally found where Angel and the rest were. They weren’t there. All that i saw was the basketball court divided into 2 sides: left side were for those that had lost their homes, and right side were for those that had lost their lives. There were dead bodies right in front of me. I decided that I wanted to help but i wouldn’t have been able to stop the tears flowing from my eyes had we continued.
With nowhere to go, i just told my group to go straight but the roads started to get narrower until we couldn’t pass anymore. So we saw an open area: a gate with a ramp that led upwards. We decided we we could enter the gate and make our u-turn. Upon entering the gate, we realized it was a small compound of houses. Then, off to our right, we saw a few people unloading some boxes. I went down to ask if they were Angel’s group but they said no. Then i asked if they were distributing goods. They said yes but they had just run out of food…. SERENDIPITY. We had 4 vans of goods. We decided right then that we were going to stay and join forces. In 30 minutes, everyone was moving. Clothes packages, food packages and with no instructions, everyone knew where to go and what to do! The people we met there coordinated with the barangays and within 30 mins, they were able to gather the victims of the flood. This was not the riot type of gathering – everyone was so nice, polite, and orderly. They even had stubs ready so that they could claim their goods. Organized in a matter of minutes! We saw the line go from short to endless… we were scared that we might run out of food and clothes to give. But just like the 7 loaves of Jesus, we were able to give everyone. It was so magical… Just when the line looks endless, the supplies seemed endless as well. We gave away a total of 800 packages more or less. 800 families! Can you imagine?
And while we were giving away goods, someone was about to give birth! Unbelievably, one of our friends was a doctor! See? Another magical moment. No, she didn’t give birth, after all. But he assisted her the whole time.
To top it all off, before we left, we heard the most magical thing. The area where we stayed was nicknamed NOAH’s Ark. It became the the safe refuge for the whole immediate area, as it was the highest point in the vicinity. The place wasn’t big, only about 1000 sqm. So it looked like an island during the storm. It was just so magical that we ended up there, considering the place was pretty hard to find. You wouldn’t have thought it was a compound but rather, just the gate for someone’s house.
Before we left, we said our goodbyes and promised to come back and to never forget our experience. We may have lost Angel trying to find the original relief center, but you know what? All the angels i’d ever need were already with me… my friends. While we were all close to tears and saying our goodbyes, one “lola” asked me again… is your name really “divine lee”, as in the word “divinely” ? They thought it was a joke. No, my name really is divine lee. And this place really is Noah’s ark… for them and us alike. 🙂
Please check out ONDOY REMEMBERED 2/3 ….