Udenna Pays It Forward

A series of earthquakes with Magnitude 6 and above struck Central Mindanao in Southern Philippines over the last 2 months. Starting with the Magnitude 6.4 temblor last Oct 16, the Central Mindanao area has been pummelled time and again by major earthquakes; a Magnitude 6.6 on Oct 28; a 6.5 on Oct 30; and a 5.9 last Nov 18. These have resulted in 31 reported dead, more than 700 injured, and tens of thousands of families evacuated from areas recently declared as ‘no-build’ zones. There have been more than 600 aftershocks recorded by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), with the strongest at Magnitude 6.1.

(Pictures courtesy of Sunstar, Xinhuanet.com, Tempo and Vatican News.)

With the aftershocks constantly jarring the confidence of the people, many families have elected to stay in tents outside their homes, or in tent-city Evacuation Centers established by the local government. Countless numbers of individuals, particularly the children, have not recovered from the trauma suffered from the unceasing aftershocks.

Faced with the situation, relief supplies including kitchen kits, tents, mats and blankets were requested, and these have started pouring in from generous donors. Potable water is also a precious commodity, hence water containers are also in demand.

In response to this call for help, Udenna sent out a team to provide token relief assistance. Udenna Corporation, a conglomerate of companies whose leadership hails from nearby Davao City, fielded its Udenna Foundation for the task at hand. Coordination was made with the Eastern Mindanao Command (EMC) for their doctors and nurses, and the 10th Infantry Division (10ID) for on-ground assistance and security. Udenna’s HR Head, Odess Lacia, also made prior coordination with the LGU in Makilala, one of the more badly-hit towns in the province of Cotabato.

Last Tuesday, Nov 19, the Udenna Foundation visited Makilala and Kidapawan, both of Cotabato province. Makilala Vice Mayor Ryan Tabanay was at the Emergency Operation Center to meet the group. The Vice Mayor, who had himself cheated death when his car was crushed by a collapsing building in one of the aftershocks, welcomed the party and provided initial information for the medical mission/goods distribution activity. It was only then that the extent of the destruction – and the task at hand – finally dawned on us.

Odess Lacia, Udenna HR Head, pays a courtesy call on the Makilala Vice Mayor Ryan Tabanay at the Emergency Operation Center in Makilala, the hardest hit town in Mindanao.

There are now thousands of families living in less-than-hospitable evacuation tents, where the heat and the heavy rains have triggered more sickness and anxiety. Unfortunately, the continuous aftershocks have simply discouraged the evacuees from going back to their respective homes. Hence, the situation in the evacuation areas remains dire, and we can do no less but to give whatever it is we can to help them get through.

With the goods and the medical team we brought along, we were able to bring some temporary relief for the earthquakes victims. We could see that in the joy and the smiles we saw in their faces. We could see that in the gratitude they professed. And in some cases, we saw it in the tears of joy they silently shed.

But more than that, the gift-giving and medical mission activities were certainly profound to us as well, as they gave us such an enriching and enlightening feeling. Not only did it give us a different kind of high, it also taught us valuable lessons in coordination and cooperation, and provided us the opportunity to expand our network. Finally, it also provided us poignant lessons in humanity, in humility and in the importance of paying forward for all the blessings we have been fortunate to have received.

(The Udenna-Eastmincom-10ID collaboration in the hinterlands of Makilala and Kidapawan. For a closer look, just click on the pics.)

Yes, what is truly humbling is the fact that while Udenna Foundation sought to help others with its gift-giving and medical mission activities, we found that we in the Foundation have benefitted from all the expressions of love, the lessons in life, and the sense of pride and nationalism we have imbibed from this wonderful experience.

With that, Udenna Foundation wishes to thank the men and women who have, in one way or the other, helped to make the activity a joyful and successful one. To Vice Mayor Ryan Tabanay, thank you for giving us this wonderful opportunity to be of service. To Eastmincom’s Gen Jun Santos and Col Eugene Osias, to Col Rudy Gisem and the AFP Reservists who joined us, to Gen Boy Faustino, Col Rod Gregorio and the 10ID Task Force in charge of the earthquake area, thank you for the wonderful partnership. To Ernie Ortonio, Charlie Obina, Hannah and the rest, thanks for doing the legwork, the purchasing and preparation of goodies for distribution, and for working on the other logistics requirements. And to the residents of Brgys Sto Nino and Bulakanon in Makilala; and Brgy Balabag in Kidapawan, thank you for having us.

To God be the glory.

(For a closer look, just click on the pics.)

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