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Crossing the sea, reaching a dream

Memories are photo albums that people flip through to reminisce. Every page reflects cherished moments that shape a person’s perspective. To Yolanda survivors, memories of ruthlessness and despair the Super Typhoon brought are vividly etched in pages they want to skip and forget: to move forward and start anew. This is what the people of Coron, Palawan did and put the destruction of TS Yolanda behind them.

It has been a year since TS Yolanda struck the beautiful island and it’s evident that the municipality got back on its feet with its tourism industry being active again.

One of the victims overlooked by most were the students. Coron, being an island municipality, has surrounding island barangays that were far from the mainland. Having to cross the open South China Sea every day to get to school is a path that brave young children face and no distance can stop them from reaching their dreams. The path became more challenging when the typhoon came and most of the boats, even their ‘balsas’ were either damaged or destroyed.

Hernando Magahom and his daughter wave their hand while aboard the 'school boat' named Bangka ni Teresa by the St. Therese’s College of Quezon City Alumnae Association.

Hernando Magahom and his daughter wave their hand while aboard the ‘school boat’ named Bangka ni Teresa given by the St. Therese’s College of Quezon City Alumnae Association.

It is difficult to continue with no means of reaching your destination. For these students, it was as if the odds were never on their favor. But the hands of heaven opened and like how rainbow appears in after a storm, hope and help were given to them.

A kind and compassionate group of people lend a hand – St. Therese’s College of Quezon City Alumnae Association (STCQCAA). The association provided eight ‘school boats’ named “Bangka ni Teresa” to 90 Pantawid Pamilya children-beneficiaries who resides in seven barangays: Malawig, Borac, Lajala, Cabugao, San Nicolas, Turda and Tara. Tara received two boats since it is the farthest from the mainland and has the most number of children-beneficiaries with 19 travelling while Malawig is the barangay where all of the houses were totally devastated by the typhoon.

The ‘school boats’ were the result of the field visit of the various national government agencies last April 2014. They assessed implementation of different government projects and programs in the areas visited especially the effects of TS Yolanda.

With the initiative of Executive Director Emmeline Versoza of Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) to tap the Yellow Boat Foundation, the ‘school boats’ were immediately started to provide children-beneficiaries easier means of transportation going to schools.

Hernando Magahom, a father and in-charge boatman of the ‘school boat’ given to Barangay Lajala said, “Malaking tulong po ito lalo na po sa anak ko na sa proper pa po ang eskwelahan, hindi na po siya gagastos ng pamasahe.” There is no fare riding the boats and will be maintained and funded by the barangay for its gasoline.

Mark Bering together with his family and other Pantawid Pamilya children-beneficiaries in their barangay pose while embarking not just on their school destination but also for their better future.

Mark Bering together with his family and other Pantawid Pamilya children-beneficiaries in their barangay pose while embarking not just on their school destination but also for their better future.

The ‘school boat’ is made of fiber and run by a motor making it easier for the students to travel than a paddle boat. Mark Bering of Barangay Turda said, “Masyadong nakakapagod sa mga bata ang de sagwan at minsan nababasa sila kasi nga maliit ang bangka at pag maalon ay mas delikado talaga.”

Hernando and Mark are only two of the many members of the communities in Coron who are grateful to the help provided by the various organizations, STCQCAA being one of them. The hand extended by the group for the children-beneficiaries is a hope that they can hold onto until they reach their dreams and achieve the change they want for themselves and family. ###

 

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