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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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A New Team Bulalacao

As told by John Vincent Gasmin, Municipal Link of Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro

Walk the talk. In doing so, we can show them what we can do.

That is the plan. That is our plan, Team Bulalacao’s plan.

The Youth Development Session in Brgy. Campaasan allows out-of-school-youth and beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilya to tackle various issues in deeper level.

The Youth Development Session in Brgy. Campaasan allows out-of-school youth and beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilya to tackle various issues in deeper level.

The Pantawid Pamilya staff of the municipality of Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro aims to start anew and fresh. Be more organized, more innovative and the best team or group of servant leaders happily doing their jobs. Staying true to the plan, the team piloted two activities for its beneficiaries, the Youth Development Sessions (YDS) and Radio Development Sessions (RDS).

 Educating young minds

The YDS aims to empower the young people both in and out of school youth. It also aims to increase the compliance of beneficiaries to the program and inculcate the extensive awareness of the services and programs implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to both members and non-members of the Pantawid Pamilya. The initiated activity of Team Bulalacao also serves as a support to the Pag-asa Youth Association of the Philippines, a program for the young Filipinos focusing on the out-of-school youth.

The activity intends to educate and empower the youth through Focus Group Discussions (FGD) and lecture series of important topics such as Teenage Pregnancy, Premarital Sex, Relationships, and education specifically on having a diploma and landing a good job. These needs-based topics were carefully selected by the team in consultation with the parents and partner agencies. The team believes that it is essential for the youth to know these topics so they will have a sense of direction and goals in life.

The YDS is conducted once a month and runs for a couple of hours with 13 to 24 years old as target audience. Since every barangay has its group division, the first YDS was held last November 2013 in Group Gumamela of Sitio Cawacat, Barangay Campaasan with 17 participants. The team discussed the topic, Sino ako sampung taon mula ngayon? On the second month, the team conducted YDS on all Pantawid Pamilya Groups of the said Barangay. From 17 participants, the attendees increased to 132. The topics discussed are What is my New Year’s Resolution? and Bullying. The team aims to implement the Youth Development Sessions to all barangays of the municipality with the Pantawid Pamilya staff and various resource speakers.

In the three months of the implementation of YDS, the team can confidently say that the youth’s compliance to the program increased as well as their parents. The youth also seem to be more active and interested in the sessions now compared before. “We are starting the Youth Development Session step by step. We are optimist that there would always be a youth who will come. And through the word of mouth, eventually more youth will attend this activity,” said Vince Gasmin, Municipal Link from Team Bulalacao.

Education on-air

As if living on a time frame, Team Bulalacao continues to initiate activities that benefit their beneficiaries. The team launched its first radio program or the so-called Radio Development Session (RDS) via MUEWS 96.7 FM from 1:00 to 3:00 in the afternoon last January 18, 2014.

The debut of the radio program was a success as it receives more than a hundred text messages to the radio portal from the listeners all over the municipality. Vince Gasmin, one of the municipal links serves as the home DJ.

The program will run for four months and will tackle issues for the family and youth such as Disaster Risk Reduction, Environmental Sanitation, Organic Farming as well as Teenage pregnancy, Laws on the rights of women & their children and many more.

The team is very optimistic on the results of the initiated activities. The Youth Development Sessions and Radio Development Sessions is definitely a lot of work “We will not just talk but surely also walk,” agreed by the Pantawid Pamilya staff of Bulalacao.

Going beyond mere practice, Team Bulalacao provides its beneficiaries with a deeper understanding of the word “service”. The team is highly motivated allowing them to function in any setting using the new initiated-activities. Applying their knowledge in community organizing and leadership, as a result, the team’s innovative spirit has created a path for a more interactive and even first class development sessions.


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A new beginning

What does one say to someone who has lost the comfort and safety of a home? What does one say to someone who has work and work so hard to build a place to stay and be just washed away in hours of wind blowing and rain pouring? How do you form the words? How do you start the questions? It will be awkward. But not to Annabelle. “Okay lang po,” she said, when asked if she can be interviewed about that night. The night everyone wants to forget and move on from.

Annabelle stares at some of the materials left from their home when typhoon Yolanda made its landfall in Coron, Palawan.

Annabelle stares at some of the materials left from their home when typhoon Yolanda made its landfall in Coron, Palawan.

The interview took place in a space just a couple of meters from the shoreline where their house used to stand. Now it’s just a space. Empty. It has been more than a month when typhoon Yolanda showed its brunt to the residents of Sitio Bayo-Bayo, Brgy. Tagumpay, Coron, Palawan, and one of them is the Cardiño family.

Thief at night

 Annabelle Cardiño, 36, can still recount their family’s experience that night. Together with her 17-year-old daughter and eight-month-old child, Annabelle stayed in Coron School of Fisheries, one of the evacuation centers set up by the local government in preparation for the coming typhoon. Her husband Renante, 43, together with their 14-year-old son, Rayniel stayed in their house.

At around eight in the night of November 8, winds started to blow and rain started to pour, but Renante said it was still manageable. He was exchanging text messages with Annabelle the whole time. Then the winds and rain subdued and seemed to relax for 30 minutes. After that, Yolanda showed its true nature.

Napakalakas po ng bugso ng hangin. Sinabayan ng mga alon na malalaki. Paghampas po ng dalawang alon sa bahay, doon na po bumagsak, wala na pong natira,” said Annabelle relaying what his husband told her.

Parang hinihigop po yung dagat. Umurong tapos nung bumalik yung alon, malalaki na. Kumukulo po yung dagat, yun pala parang may ipu-ipo na,” continued Annabelle. When asked what he felt that night, reluctant and shy, Rayniel said, “Natakot po.”

Annabelle added, “Sa pagkabagsak ng bahay namin, may nakita pa silang pwedeng isalba, hindi na po nila inintindi, inintindi nilang mag-ama yung buhay nilang maligtas.”

When father and son couldn’t handle the force of the typhoon, they seek refuge from their neighbor’s house. They spent the whole night there while Annabelle’s at school and worried sick about her family.

Annabelle went back to her family and it was a sight that will be forever etched on her mind. The house that offered safe refuge was stolen from them. Her husband and son just sit quietly on where their house used to stand and after a while gathered some of their scattered things that can still be salvaged.

The day after 

Father and son, Renante and Rayniel work together to build a foundation for their new abode.

Father and son, Renante and Rayniel work together to build a foundation for their new abode.

For three days, the Cardiños stayed at the evacuation center. A relative, who happens to own a house in the sitio, extended a hand and offered a place for them to stay. A vacant lot is nearby and Renante and Rayniel have been working and putting up a foundation for a new abode.

The family also received relief packs from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, local government and other private groups and individuals more than willing to help. The provincial government of Palawan also provided cash assistance of 5,000 pesos to those whose houses were totally damaged. They bought wood, yero, and food, especially, milk for their baby.

A week after the typhoon, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program of DSWD conducted payout to the beneficiaries of the municipality from November 13-14, 2013 where Annabelle’s family happens to be part of.

Annabelle received 1,600 pesos for the last two months that they complied. The first thing that she secured was 15 kilos of rice, “Pasalamat kami kasi may payment kami, nagpasigurado talaga akong 15 kilong bigas tapos gamit ng mga anak.” Annabelle also bought school shirt and pants, notebooks and bag for her son. “Mabuti yung sapatos niya, nakita niya sa isang tabi, bumili na lang akong medyas,” she added.

Annabelle also accounted, “Minsan nga, nag-iiyakan na lang kami, magkaharap kami ng asawa ko. Pero ang sabi ko, tawanan na lan gnatin.” They could not do something about what happened. She assures her children that they can always stand and work their way up again.

Better tomorrow

Just as the Cardiño family is working their way to get back on their feet again, the government is working its local and national arms to rebuild and restore the damaged done by typhoon Yolanda. The DSWD is positioning its food and cash for work, core shelter assistance and livelihood programs to those affected families. “Ang pambansang gobyerno ay nag-usap para sa early recovery, may nakalaan na pong cash for work dito sa Palawan. Ang starting amount po ay five million pesos. Kasunod po niyan ay ang kinakailangan para sa livelihood,” declared Sec. Corazon “Dinky” Juliano-Soliman of DSWD in the meeting of the provincial and municipal government units of Palawan together with Department of National Defense Sec. Voltaire Gazmin and Department of the Interior and Local Government Sec. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II in Coron, Palawan.

A lot of residents lost their means to earn. Their boats were destroyed by the typhoon just like the Cardiño family. But with the assurance of assistance like what Sec. Soliman said to hundreds of families affected, “Walang maiiwan at sisiguraduhing mas maganda ang buhay matapos dumaan si Yolanda.” Hope springs in Annabelle and her family. She is grateful that the government and people from different institutions, relative or not, are willing to help. And kindness turns the slump spirit into optimism. Optimism of a better tomorrow and a new beginning.

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The Irony of Pain

Houses that used to line up by the shore of Bgy. Malawig were swept away. What remains are trees that were equally devastated by Yolanda.

Houses that used to line up by the shore of Bgy. Malawig were swept away. What remains are trees that were equally devastated by Yolanda.

From afar, the storm-hit island of Barangay Malawig in Coron, Palawan is a picture of an apocalypse. Aboard a tiny boat, upon reaching the shore of the island, one can gain a better perspective of the kind of strength typhoon Yolanda had.


It was a moving canvass. The elements of nature took wrath to a higher degree and pounded the island to rubbles. A closer look will reveal walls and roofs of houses effortlessly peeled off, schools and stores hammered to pieces, and livelihoods mercilessly vanished to bits – an instant paralysis brought by Yolanda. At every turn, pain manifests itself on faces of people who survived destruction. Behind every fallen homes are layers of stories after stories, told and retold, but the gravity of pain is unchanged.

Emma Kapian, 30, one of the residents of Barangay Malawig had lost her twin. Her experience of survival can be traced in tracks of tears that languidly fall on her face upon recalling her experience. Her story was told many times over, and the freshness of pain can break the coldest of hearts.


It was seven in the night and storm surge swiftly seeped through the house of Emma. Her knees trembled as she hurriedly clutched her 3-day old twins on each arm to escape the rising ocean that was engulfing the island. Her husband, Senkaji, carried their eldest daughter Mary Jill, and salvaged a few household items and ran.

“Ang lakas ng hangin, at talagang hindi pa namin naranasan yung ganun kalakas na hangin, pero sabi ko, kahit hinang hina na ako kelangan talaga namin na manakbo pataas ng bundok kasi mabilis ang pagtaas ng tubig at malakas ang alon,” recalled Emma. With what was left of her energy, she, along with her husband and Mary Jill, climbed up a hill adjacent to their house. “Masakit po yung mga bato sa paa kapag nayayapakan, pero akyat pa din po kami,”she explained.

The winds and churning waves were smashing their bodies to the hill, but the Kapians steadily climbed barefoot until they found a safe spot. “Nung naramdaman na namin na medyo mataas na kami, eh huminto na kami,” relayed Senkaji. High above ground, the Kapians watched Yolanda whipped their house and the waves ruthlessly dragged their neighbours’ boats to the ocean. “Para kaming nanunuod lang na sirain mga bahay namin, pero wala kaming magawa, mahirap pang kalaban yung hangin,” said Emma.

The Agony of Emma

The strong wind stretches Emma’s energy to drain, but she had mustered a power to wrap her twins in blanket and attempted to keep them

The Kapians. Emma, Mary Jill and Senkaji, were among families who experienced the brunt of Yolanda. The couple lost the lives of their 3-day old twin amidst the height of Yolanda’s landfall to Bgy. Malawig.

The Kapians. Emma, Mary Jill and Senkaji, were among families who experienced the brunt of Yolanda. The couple lost the lives of their 3-day old twin amidst the height of Yolanda’s landfall to Bgy. Malawig.

from getting soaked in heavy rain. She held her twins dearly, and prayed that they pass through the storm unharmed.

The wind subsided.

As ocean water levelled to the ground, the magnitude of destruction showed its face. It was a crashing image of a pitiless devastation   brought by Yolanda. The whole of Malawig cried in mourning of lost houses, livelihoods and a community in general. It was as if someone had lifted the whole barangay to dizzying heights and dropped it at staggering speed and left whatever is erected to falter.

Emma was astonished. In her hands were hard, cold bodies of her twins. Their lips turned purple. She shook both babies and pressed her ear to their chests. Their heart had stopped beating. They were dead. “Para akong dinagukan ng malakas sa likod, hindi po ako nakaiyak kaagad,” said Emma in a trembling voice. She looked to Senkaji and Mary Jill, and broke down. “Tinignan ko ulit, baka buhay pa, pero matigas na sila pareho talaga, wala ng iyak,”she said crying.

As Emma looked down, she saw the enormity of damage caused to their barangay. Her emotions were torn, and her heart cried for the loss of her home, her livelihood and her children. Senkaji tightly embraced Mary Jill and Emma, as he himself shed tears. “Okay lang sana kung bahay lang at yung bangka ang nasira eh, pero ang pinakamasakit, nawala pa yung kambal namin,”said Senkaji, whose boat that he uses for fishing was destroyed as well.

“Ngayon po, kabuhayan namin wala na din, aasa na rin muna sa relief,” Senkaji added. They used to earn a maximum of 25,000 pesos a month from fishing, and have now been left without an option for income.

Undreamt of

In the aftermath of the storm, help and support floods barangay Malawig. The DSWD, Region IV-MiMaRoPa attends to the needs of typhoon-devastated barangay, and delivered relief to its residents. There were 160 households in the area and all of which were damaged if not swept away completely. Today, rehabilitation, debriefing of victims and rebuilding of houses are on-going.

Various organizations have converged to hasten the restoration of damaged houses and provide support to residents who have lost their livelihoods. The International Labor Organization had made their full assessment of Malawig and will implement an income-generating activity in order that residents are given a temporary livelihood.

Relief goods from the British Navy, DSWD, LGU of Coron and other non-government organizations had been distributed to all residents, and all efforts that have been done by far are progressive.

“Hindi po talaga kami makapaniwala na ganito ang aabutin namin, wala pa kaming ganitong karanasan nuon,”said Emma. “Pero wala naman magagawa kundi bumangon,” she added, in hope of rising from the catastrophe.


The other cheek

The island-strip of Malawig is situated off the farthest end of the northern coast of Palawan. Even after Yolanda had hit the barangay, the shoreline is as majestic and breathtaking as it ever was. If you stand by the shore and look over the sea, and away from the destruction caused by Yolanda, it becomes a refreshing beauty that seemingly cleanses the pain of looking at typhoon-pounded community of Malawig. The stark contrast is an apparent message of nature, that misery and beauty sits side by side to each other. A person can always turn around, to see vibrancy, to shake up a perspective and lead the eyes to a brighter, more pleasing blue beyond.

Emma buried her twin under her hut. Her story will be told and retold and the gravity of pain will gradually subside in time. Her eyes may have cried tons of tears, but her spirit is indestructible. “Babangon ulit, baka may planong iba ang Diyos sa amin,” she said, while forcing a faint smile.

The most honest of emotions is pain. It easily manifests itself on the face of a human being. It tells a story – of heartbreak, losing a loved one, a home and a life you once knew. Pain lingers and clings to the heart until the agony settles and fades into memory. The mightiest of strength however, is drawn from the greatest pains ever inflicted. No matter the kind of catastrophe ever ruin a person’s life, hope, and the will to survive can endure supreme emotional pain.

Emma had lost her twin, but her transcendent optimism fuses peace to her mourning soul.









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DSWD IV-MiMaRoPa organizes Convergence Information Caravan for IPs

A Convergence Information Caravan was conducted by the DSWD Region IV-MiMaRoPa last November 14, 2013 at the Parang Resort, Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro.

The Information Caravan was held to publicize the Tatsulo, the strategic convergence of the Department’s three core programs, among the marginalized sector, specifically the Indigenous Peoples. Some 95 Mangyans from Calapan, Baco, and Naujan, participated in the activity. These Mangyans are beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilya. Several key staff from the Regional Office and the IHelp, a CSO partner of Pantawid Pamilya, were also present in the half-day activity.

Apart from the usual orientation on the DSWD Convergence Strategy, representatives from the offices of PhilHealth, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management and the National Statistics Office were also invited to talk about the various programs and services that the IPs can avail.

For the part of the National Statistics Office, the representative discussed the process of registration for birth, marriage and death. He said that these are important to be filed so that they will have a record at their local Civil Registry. Several IPs raised their concern on the amount to be paid for the processing of documents, to which the representative said that they can secure of Certificate of Indigency from the DSWD that will certify that they have no means of paying the necessary fees.

On the other hand, the representative from PhilHealth conferred on the types of benefits that IPs can avail, specifically if they have an illness. He emphasized that they can avail the services anytime since they are Philhealth members and similarly encouraged them to maximize the use of benefits.

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office Chief Of Staff Rowena Sanz, discussed the ways of how people can prevent possible danger brought about by natural calamities. She said that their office is maximizing activities like the Information Caravan to talk to more people and share knowledge on various disaster preparedness and mitigation measures. She added that they will organize a similar activity to orient the people further on the subject of disaster preparedness.

An Open Forum was held to tackle issues and concerns of the participants. ###

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More volunteers help DSWD relief operations

Malate Manila- The spirit of Bayanihan is evident in the Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office IV-MiMaRoPa as volunteers flocked to help in packing, handling and hauling of food packs and hygiene kits for the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda in Northern Palawan.

Carina Suya, student of the Lyceum of the Philippines together with her classmates joined the packing of hygiene kits. “Ito ang aming paraan para makatulong kami sa mga nasalanta ng bagyo”, she said. Though she felt tired, her dedication to help gives strength to continue the benevolent act.

DSWD targets to prepare 5000 hygiene kits for the victims in the region. The said kits contains 1 toothpaste in tube , 5 pcs toothbrush, 3 pcs bath soap, one bottle shampoo, 3 pcs bar laundry soap, 2 pcs comb, 1 pack sanitary napkins and 1 pc nail cutter.

“Masaya kami sa aming ginagawa, kahit nakakapagod pero yung tumutulong ka sa iba na hindi nag-aantay ng kapalit, iba ang pakiramdam” says Beth Zapra, a  Barangay Health Worker from Caloocan City.

The 5,000 relief packs is said to be delivered within the week through the help of the Philippine Coast guard and private shipping lines. The DSWD assures that all goods prepared reach the affected families and individuals.###


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DSWD MiMaRoPa continues aid packs distribution to Yolanda victims

Malate, Manila– The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Field Office IV- MiMaRoPa will distribute an additional 4,000 relief packs to families affected by the Super Typhoon Yolanda in the Northern part of Palawan province.

The department has commenced its distribution of relief packs back in November 13, and has steadily been doing so to date. A total of 5,408 packs were delivered to the municipality in Coron and 2,000 packs to Culion. On the other hand 1,156 packs were also distributed to Cuyo Palawan. The municipality of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro received 1,085 food packs as well.

There are 19,469 food packs prepared by the DSWD Regional Field Office – MiMaRoPa including the family packs coming from the National Resources Operation Center (NROC) amounting to Php 6,039,850.00.  The said packs contain 3kls of rice, 5 canned sardines,  4 corned beef, 3 noodles and 500 ml bottled water. Together with the food packs are Hygiene kits consisting of 1 toothpaste in tube, 5 pcs toothbrush, 3 pcs bath soap, one bottle shampoo, 3 pcs bar laundry soap, 2 pcs comb, 1 pack sanitary napkins, 1 pc nailcutter.

In an interview with DSWD IV – MiMaRoPa Regional Director Wilma D. Naviamos, she assures that “DSWD staff keeps an eye in the shifting and the distribution to ensure that relief goods reach the affected families.”

Super Typhoon Yolanda hit MiMaRoPa provinces last November 9, 2013 affecting 89,751 families and leaving 24 casualties, 147 injured and 6 persons missing. ###

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Department of Social Welfare Region IV – MiMaRoPa Disaster Response Advisory As of November 11, 2013, 7:00 PM

DSWD Region-IV MiMaRoPa has been in close monitor of the areas that took the brunt of  typhoon Yolanda to deliver necessary assistance to identified families that suffer the beating.

Palawan has been the province that was badly damaged and suffered the aftermath of the typhoon. There are 23 evacuation centers in Palawan that still shelter affected families from barangays that were sorely hit by Yolanda namely: Busuanga, Coron, Culion, Linapacan and Agutaya. Nearly 6,500 families were affected in these barangays alone and 1,182 of which have already been served with relief goods from the department.

The region has deployed a total of 400,000 relief goods and concurrently commenced repacking of additional 7,000 prepositioned packs to be allocated to the whole region.

Nearly 27,000 families in MIMAROPA had been affected as yet, and 11 casualties were recorded. Aside from intermittent communication lines due to power outage in affected areas, the geographical form of MiMaRoPa hurdles delivery of assistance.  The QRT of the department is in arms length 24/7 and will be sending representatives from the Field Office in Manila to Coron and Busuanga as augmentation of support today and to fastract relief distributions on site. This will also hasten the rapid needs assessment of the affected areas.


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