Monday, September 28, 2009

Operation Sagip Kapamilya (First Part)

When the Kapamilya network posted an announcement in need of "able bodied" men to help in their relief operations, two words swayed me to consider their plea and scrap my plans of spending the afternoon at the gym. The words "able" and "bodied" were like chicken feathers stirring my imagination. In my head, I pictured the Sagip Kapamilya Center bursting with sweaty, muscled men of all shades and races rising up to perform deeds of higher calling.

"It would be fun to get to know some of these yummies," I told myself, fiendishly. Yet, the thought wasn't enough to hold the sense of thrill building within me. I was so beset by laziness which grounded my body to the bed. Blame it to the blackout I had to endure the night before. But when the radio announcer told that they needed men to deliver relief to the affected areas - at ground zero - to be exact, something inside me was moved. I felt guilty doing nothing when all my loved ones were spared from the great flood last Saturday.

So off I went to Examiner Street after dropping some goods for a friend, who's home in Bulacan was under chest-deep mud water the day disaster struck. The small warehouse where the Sagip Center sits overflowed with relief goods and volunteers coming from around the city. Signing my name to be a volunteer, I was asked to wait in a corner as the organizers sort out where people like me were needed most. The security guard called our names a few minutes later. There were no instructions to the job we have to do so I just squeezed myself between two young men wearing Jersey shirts. I joined the team tasked to carry donations dropped off outside the center to be repacked by another group of volunteers who were doing their task at the inner sections of the warehouse.

Carrying relief goods in and out of the center was already a backbreaking task. However, it never satisfied my desire to be at the forefront and be one of the volunteers delivering relief to the affected areas. Responding to the inner restlessness I felt while transporting the package out of the warehouse, I mounted an empty truck parked outside to drop the heavy sack of relief goods in my arms.

Unaware that I was already signing myself to deliver the needed necessities in behalf of the Kapamilya network, I sat between the driver and the foreman for our long journey East.


Sitio Ruby, Greater Lagro
Quezon City

This community of around 300 families sat at the edge of Fairview. Like other areas of Quezon City inundated by flash floods, their homes, which stood at the lowest point of Lagro had to be abandoned as surging waters from Angat Dam already swelled the nearby La Mesa Reservoir. It merely took 30 minutes for the rising tide to swallow everything in sight.

"Wala kaming nakuha kahit damit," said one of the victims queing for relief goods.

"Nasa NLEX ako nung tumaas ang tubig. Yung mga anak ko nasa bahay pa. Kelangan ko pa sila sabihan na tumakbo sa mataas na lugar bago matangay ng agos papuntang sapa," added one mother recieving canned goods and rice from our caravan.

Lines were organized into two - the children got ready-to-eat meals and bottled water sent by Ministop while adults accepted anything that would get them through the night. Some adults still wore damp clothes on their bodies, while others who queued had no footwear to cover their feet. I wanted to feel sorry for these people, but knowing that some colleagues were still in their rooftops, cold and hungry, as they waited for help to arrive, the least thing I could do is perform my duty as a volunteer and get on to my next assignment - hopefully, closer to the places where my friends might be seeking shelter after their homes were washed away by the elements.

The main road where we set up camp turned out to be the highest ground. The heart of the community still lies below the hill. The narrow street going there is a good 10-minute walk down a steep slope. To my amazement, one of the victims said that waters would reach leg deep levels had we stood there a day earlier.

The distribution went smoothly, save for some periodic ruckus caused by hardheaded folks cutting lines. Since those who waited twenty minutes would not dare complain of the injustice, we had no choice but to hand over the bags whether these people queued or not. The Barangay Captain was not helping either. Those who directly approached his group would instantly receive the relief goods ahead of those who were still waiting behind the line.

So many families were affected by the flash floods that we actually ran out of supplies for distribution. Had it not for the extra boxes of Siopao and Swiss Miss to give away, a stampede would cause further troubles. The queue, which was getting longer from the influx of those living nearby were becoming restless and the organizers lead by News Anchor Nina Corpuz had to assure them that they would return with a bigger truck to everyone's relief.

I doubt if such caravan would ever return.

We had a wrap-up at past 8 in the evening. After a short picture taking with the Barangay Captain, (all smiling faces including some of the victims who stayed with the team) the delivery truck and its owner announced their return to their base in Visayas Avenue. With no one else to shuttle me out of the sitio, I had to hitch with the volunteers back to the Sagip Kapamilya headquarters to seek more relief distribution which was already in full swing that night.



domjullian said...

Nice. Keep it up!

mink said...

mabuhay ka knowx, ur very selfless. saludo ako sayo.

engel said...

you are a good soul knox. i salute you. regardless the initial motivation. :)

mel beckham said...

ang bait mo baby. sana bigyan ka pa Niya ng lakas para mas marami ka pang matulungan. Ingat ka rin diyan.

theLastJedi said...

' what started as somethin' selfish, you ended up being selfless.. I raise my glass to you!

Anonymous said...

i really dont know what to say but hey,habang lalo kitang nakikilala, lalong tumataas ang respeto, paghanga at pagkilala ko sa iyo.

salamat, naging kaibigan kita.

alam mo na po kung sino ako

sa email na lang ulit.


rudeboy said...

Well, Knox, what can I say?

Nothing like a direct, hands-on approach.

Well done.

Semaj said...

salamat sa tulong na ibinigay ninyo.

taga doon kami kaya ramdam na ramdam namin ang hirap. muli, maraming salamat at saludo ako sa'yo sir.

f. jordan said...

That was so kind of you. You made the right decision. A pat on the back for you then.

june showers said...

i wasn't surprised sa ginawa're such an altruistic soul.

Aris said...

saludo ako sa'yo! :)

blagadag said...

salamat sa tulong.

Anonymous said...

saludo ako sayo knoxxbro!