#BuligTacloban2014: An Eye-Opener (Part 1 of Thoughts about the Outreach Program)

#BuligTacloban2014: An Eye-Opener (Part 1 of Thoughts about the Outreach Program)

We meet different folks with different strokes, from different walks of life. We encounter people for different reasons at different seasons.

This recently concluded outreach program gave me a different perspective & insight and armed with such learnings for future activities I also strive to improve the quality of outreach programs.  For now, I will put this inside my tool box until I find use for it one day.

It was a struggle to do an event outside of Luzon as we were entering into the unknown with so many variables. And as a planning person this is almost next to an impossible task with putting up so many options that can really drain one physically & mentally.  As a Supply Chain Planner, we are always taught & expected to have different scenarios in the event one scenario fails.  In the case of this outreach program, it was difficult to put up so many scenarios as I am not familiar with Cebu nor Tacloban.  It’s a good thing we were tapping on resources of people who are from there.

Adding to the challenge, I got so sick the day before I was flying off that I had to cancel my trip and just arranged for a last minute booking for Friday.  Through prayers of friends and blessing from God, I was able to travel to Cebu and onward to Tacloban.

When we landed in Tacloban, the first thing we saw was the airport terminal which was still in badly need of rehabilitation.  There was new trusses for the roof but there was no ceiling to speak off.  The conveyor was a joke as it was there but the bags were just put on top and the porters were hovering around the so-called conveyor to pass the luggage to the passengers or passengers themselves would pick up their own luggage.  For a second, I thought the porters would manually rotate the conveyor.

As we ride through the town on the way to Barangay Apitong, we noticed that there was still debris and destruction left behind by Typhoon Yolanda.  We saw at least 4 ships who are left in dry land with no plans of returning them to the ocean.  We saw locals staying in tents and government built bunkhouses.  There were still International Organizations like UNICEF and a Korean Army who are helping in the rebuilding process.  A lot of electrical posts and trees were almost uprooted, the seawall was barely there, buildings like Astrodome and schools were badly hit with shattered windows and damaged structures.  There was still power interruptions as the repair for the electrical lines are still ongoing.  There is a curfew, that by 5pm almost all establishments are closed down.

But business was as usual.  People have started to go and rebuild their lives.  Kids were going to school.  Even Jollibee, a local fast food chain, is already operational.  Though the cost of goods there including food, medicines, etc. are expensive.

I wish the local government can firmly impose fixed pricing especially for basic commodities and medicines.  I wish to see the national government start construction of permanent homes instead of just building bunkhouses which will not be of much help when the rainy and typhoon season comes.  I think if the International Community can see that we are serious in rebuilding Tacloban, they will continue to be fully supportive of our endeavor to rehabilitate and rebuild Tacloban.  I wish there would be more livelihood programs created in order to help the victims regain their dignity and ability to fend for themselves.  I wish that with the Typhoon Yolanda experience, the local and national government would be more prepared for future calamities.

Stay tuned for the next part of this blog where I saw for my own eyes the “indomitable Filipino spirit.”

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