Message from Zonta International on 1/17/2012 3:22:00 PM

Members of the ZC Cagayan de Oro II assist with flood efforts in Iligan, Philippines

Cagayan de Oro Iligan Flood Relief
(as told by Esper Dacudao, Zonta CLub of Cagayan de Oro II)


December 30, 2011 was the day designated to make the distribution in Iligan.  Our contact persons were the couple Boy and Chit A. Hamoy.  Chit had been the object of our club's initial introduction to Zonta International.  For want to touch base in this Northern Mindanao city about an hour and forty minutes away from Cagayan de Oro,  we had initial contacts with her for a possible SOM initiative with a group of Iligan ladies who were part of Chit's circle.


When disaster struck, we saw an opportunity to show the mettle of Zontians.  We wasted no time to inquire on the actual needs of the evacuees.  Iligan was just as badly hit and we felt that since Chit was an active member of her parish organizations, we would unload our relief items through the parish organized distribution systems.  Most religious groups had evacuees in their social action centers. 


We left Cagayan de Oro with 420 packs of relief items:  some basic cooking materials like cooking oil, salt, sugar, 5 plates, cups and 5 sets of spoon and fork,  blanket, 2 pillows packed inside a sturdy bag with a Zonta International logo emblazoned on it. The Cagayan de Oro ladies, already meeting almost daily preparing the packs woke up early to start the trip to Iligan.  Nobody was complaining about the Christmas activities with family and friends they were missing.


At the Hinaplanon Bridge where we met up with Chit and Boy, we had a preview of the disaster that would stare us in the face as we did a quick tour of the city.  A vision of misery and fear struck us as we imagine those residents of Hinaplanon and Bayug inside their houses with the river water suddenly surging to 10 feet high in minutes leaving them with no time to escape from its fury.


Then,  we made our first stop at the Franciscan Seminary where the Parish Priest who had just arrived from another evacuation center for residents of Bonbonon was so full of thanks because now he had goods which he could deliver to that particular area which was somewhat out of the way to most donors. He would be armed with our 200 packs just unloaded.


In the nearby hill, a group of Benedictine Sisters had social workers gathered  busy giving trauma debriefing sessions.  We dropped off 100 packs and with the sacks of rice that the sisters got from other donors just very recently they  felt so elated that they had more to give.  We met a guest who was familiar to Zontians in Manila, Ms. Patty Tiangco, who is personally known to Atty. Carol Llanillo.  She was proud to meet us there and joined our picture taking for documentation. 


At another drop off point the Franciscan Sisters of Mary had several victims and social workers interacting for still another trauma debriefing sessions.  The Sister in Charge had a grand time finding out what ZONTA meant.  She was encountering such name and group for the first time.  And she got first hand answers from the visiting Zontians of Cagayan de Oro.  It was a fulfilling mission for our members.  Fifty packs were offloaded here for the Sisters to distribute to the families they were sheltering.


Nearby,  a few blocks away,  we had the most traumatic experience as we approached the Orchid Subdivision, a middle-income development of row houses which we concluded could have been funded by hard-earned OFW dollars, a good number of them just newly occupied, some still awaiting occupation, now a ghost town. Literally wiped out.   But we are certain, nobody was going back to this mudfilled debris of twisted steel and G.I. sheets, crumpled beyond repair, some cars landing belly up, witness to some madness that occurred as people were preparing for family Xmas reunions.


The Barangay Captain, seeing Chit pleaded with her to have some bags offloaded at the very site where some residents were inspecting their residences, often with blank stares.  We distributed about 20 packs and  left Chit with the balance of 30 packs or so to distribute to more parish based groups she was meeting with in the next few days.  We realized that we just could not take in more misery in one day.  We prepared to go back to Cagayan de Oro after a quick lunch at 2:00 pm.