When I went to Philippine Army Gym at Fort Bonifacio yesterday, I was surprised to see a lot of people volunteering to repack tons of relief goods. Donations were pouring like rain. Everybody was so busy. It was a cheerful and heart-warming scene. I’ve seen a lot of volunteers lined up to register. There were students, professionals and even foreigners helping each other. I could feel the “Bayanihan” spirit within the people around me. Later, I was already repacking relief goods. I didn’t notice earlier that the Philippine Army Gym was temporary used as the Philippine Army Relief Center. My original plan was to go there for a workout. Fortunately, it turned out to be a more meaningful activity.
After helping those volunteers, I went to the Philippine Army Grandstand and I saw Philippine Army soldiers waiting to be deployed in the calamity-stricken areas in the Visayas. I’ve heard that they were assigned in Central Luzon. Some of them belonged to my former unit. Now, they were needed to augment the troops already doing a lot of hard work in those affected areas. It will be a massive task for them but the troops looked so cheerful because they felt they could help their fellow kababayans and contribute to lessen their misery. I felt a sense of pride seeing them. I’ve felt again the spirit of Bayanihan.
I could still recall when I was a Company Commander assigned in Northern Aurora. There was a time that the area was hit by a strong typhoon twice in a single month. My troops were deployed to assist the local government units to implement force evacuations. It was a difficult task because the people residing in the shorelines didn’t want to vacate their houses. Some villagers even told the troops that they preferred to die than leaving their houses. It was a nightmare. In order to resolve everything, the troops volunteered to carry the things of the villagers including their livestock. There was also a time when we were trapped in a barangay due to flashfloods. It was a dilemma. My mission was to go to the adjacent barangay to conduct rescue operations. If I will force our way out, we might end up dead. We tried to cross the river and fortunately, we’ve made it. The lives of the soldiers during rescue operations are always at stake.
In times like this, I could feel the sacrifices of my fellow soldiers. A relief and rescue operation is not an easy task. But after seeing how people gathered and united in the Philippine Army Relief Center, it just made me realized that it’s truly worth it. What I’ve seen in the gym is also visible in the eyes of my fellow soldiers. I’m sure they were also inspired to help those people suffering from the wrath of Yolanda. For now, what I could do is to repack the relief goods. Someday, when my wound is totally healed, I could already join my fellow soldiers helping my kababayans.
To those who wanted to help, you can visit the Philippine Army Relief Center anytime located at Philippine Army Gym at Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. The relief operations will last for weeks. There are a lot of relief goods needed to be repacked and to be send immediately to Tacloban and other devastated towns in Visayas. One hour of repacking relief goods can feed hundreds of our fellow Filipinos.