BOTH the Del Carmen and Tamban docks, residents young
and old eagerly awaited the arrival of the relief goods. A
festive atmosphere filled the air. They happily pitched in
to bring the goods from the dock to the barangay halls, about
a kilometer away.
Without a doubt,
typhoons Unding and Yoyong affected the lives of all the residents
of Barangays Del Carmen and Tamban, albeit in varying degrees.
Luzviminda San Juan’s repairs on her storm-damaged house
have so strained her finances that she could not afford to
keep Arthur, her smart 12-year-old son, in school. Lilia Pacay
supplements her family’s meals with cassava while waiting
for her vegetable garden to bear fruit. And Magdalena Boranilla’s
cracked toilet bowl, damaged during typhoon Yoyong in December,
was still broken three months later.
The residents of
Barangays Del Carmen and Tamban know that it would take more
than a shipment of relief goods to make up for the natural
disasters that have brought them much suffering. Still, for
the moment, for folks who barely eke out a living by planting
vegetables and coconuts or making charcoal, UNICEF’s
relief goods were a godsend.
The actual relief
distribution itself had the air of gravity of a formal ceremony.
As the residents were called, they surrendered their claim
stubs and signed their names on a master list. Some were clearly
not used to writing and seemed embarrassed to be the center
of momentary attention. A few waited with bated breath for
their names to be called, fearful of not getting their share.
Others seemed pensive, perhaps even a little sad, that they
had to depend on the kindness of strangers for their most
Yet all were grateful
for UNICEF’s help. Pacay expressed this heartfelt appreciation
well. When asked what she would tell the donors if she could
meet them face to face, she replied, “Nagpapasalamat
kami dahil kahit hindi nila kami nakikita ay bukas ang puso
nila sa amin (We’re grateful that even if they don’t
know us, they have opened their hearts to us).”
had gotten their family packs and headed for home. Moments
later, the breeze wafted the distinctive smell of dried fish,
baking in the sun. Mung bean, sautéed in garlic and
onions, with a little soup, simmered on stoves. Children happily
tried on their new brightly colored T-shirts.
Everyone knew that
the typhoons would come again, wreaking havoc on life and
limb. For the moment, though, they were content to have warm
food in their stomachs, nap on a mat with their loved ones,
and say a little prayer that they had made it through the