Typhoon Ulysses came 12 days after Category 5 Super Typhoon Rolly whipped Luzon from end to end, causing great damage to houses and public infrastructure and wreaking havoc on lives and livelihoods. Hardly had the people in Rolly’s path started the painful task of rebuilding their lives than another typhoon blew in, battering practically the same places and levelling what little was left standing. Although a bit weaker, Ulysses dumped incessant rains that triggered massive flooding in many places.
Among the areas that suffered the most was the province of Cagayan, on the northeastern tip of Luzon, where many families were forced to spend three days on their rooftops, drenched, cold, hungry and without any sleep. Three factors had conspired to bring about the dire situation: Ulysses’s relentless downpour, denuded mountains surrounding the valley with no trees to hold the water, and the release of huge amounts of water from Magat Dam.
They quickly connected with our reliable partner in the north and communicated with District 3770 PDG Pichoy Ramirez through PDG Sid Garcia to inquire about the pressing needs in the affected areas. Pres. Peter Manzano quickly scheduled a Help Cagayan mission and arranged the procurement of relief goods to be given out—blankets and mats, bottled water, canned goods, and rice. PDG Sid added P100K to his initial donation of the same amount towards the relief ops for Tuguegarao.
Departing Manila in the evening of November 17, Pres. Peter & First Ann Pam, together with CoS Ron Dotaro and Richard Manilag, travelled through the night for some 13 hours along the Nueva Vizcaya-Isabela highway, arriving in Tuguegarao City at 11:30 AM on Wednesday the 18th. They immediately buckled down to work. The first order of the day was a working brunch, during which RC Tuguegarao briefed them on the situation, the better for them to appreciate the challenge of service that lay ahead.
On to the first mission site they motored, through muddy roads that brought them to Brgy. Capatan, 90% of which had been submerged in floodwater for three days. The RC Makati Team worked hand in hand with the Tuguegarao Rotarians and Vice Mayor Ben Ben de Guzman to distribute some 950 bags of relief goods to as many people.
After resting a bit in their hotel, they met again with the Tuguegarao Rotarians for a fellowship dinner that was graced by Mayor Jeff Soriano.
Day 2 of the Help Cagayan Mission brought the team to Alcala, another town that struggled under the cruel weight of Ulysses, with inundation that lasted a number of days. The convoy of Rotarian vehicles was met by people who had lined the highways on both sides in anticipation of the relief goods. There, the team handed bags of goods to 220 families.
They next moved to Brgy. Pagbakeruan, a picture of devastation with the unmistakable marks of Ulysses everywhere—felled trees, muddy roads, houses covered with cakey mud. They were told that the people there had endured days huddled on rooftops, waiting to be rescued. The 180 families that received grocery packs were grateful for the help.
Back in Tuguegarao, they paid a visit to Provincial Administrator Darwin Sacramed to turn over 580 sets of blankets and mats and five water filters meant for areas that were as yet inaccessible by land.
Before driving back to Manila, RC Tuguegarao treated the RCMakati team to their famous pancit batil patong at a traditional carinderia, capping the two-day help mission the Rotary way—with a fellowship meal.
The Help Cagayan mission, done in partnership with RC Tuguegarao through PDG Pichoy Ramirez (close friend of PDG Sid Garcia and the late PDG Robert Kuan) and PP Martin Gumarang), was able to deliver some 1,400 bags of relief goods to three sites and 580 sets of mats and blankets turned over to the Provincial Capitol. We would like to thank Stepping Stone School through ED Dayal Nandwani for lending us their vehicle to transport the goods.
Pres. Peter and the RCM team are scheduled to go back north tomorrow, November 25, this time to bring help to Tumauini and Cabagan in Isabela and Baggao in Cagayan.