The spirit of volunteerism never runs out in Albay in time of calamity and it’s a practice willingly shared by its international community.
Some 25 Indian students of Bicol Christian College of Medicine (BCCM) in Legazpi City conducted a gift-giving activity and a short variety program last January 25 at Bagumbayan Central School, where 3,922 residents from Buyuan village have been staying for four days already thanks to Mayon Volcano’s unrest.
Buyuan is a village in Legazpi City inside the 8-kilometer radius of the country’s most active volcano that first exhibited increased signs of unrest since January 13.
Maria Theresa Sipi, an Indian student from Kerala, said that they immediately wanted to help when they heard about the evacuations.
“When we heard about Mayon, we wanted to help and so we were looking for a platform for that. We heard from our dean that she was doing some food and face mask distribution, so we told her wanted to join the campaign,” Sipi said.
Sipi also said that as medicine students, they wanted to help by giving the evacuees materials that will keep them safe from the effects of the volcano.
The students supplied the evacuees with face masks, biscuits, canned goods, pastries, toothpastes, and toothbrushes.
“It turned out to be a very homely surrounding rather than an evacuation camp or a held-up place,” Sipi said.
Rosenda Siso, a 10-year-old resident of Buyuan, said that they are happy in the evacuation centers “because there are people helping us.”
Ankit Bhuta, an alumnus of BCCM, was one of those who first approached BCCM Dean Ofelia Samar Sy to start a campaign. He was already in India preparing for the board exams, but he took time to visit Legazpi City again for the drive.
Bhuta said that they did not ask anyone to donate and that the funds for the gift-giving were all from the pockets of the Indian students.
Both Bhuta and Sipi said that their parents know that they are safe in Legazpi City.
“They are getting daily updates from us as well because the news channels in India are also reporting about this,” Bhuta said.
“We want Mayon to calm down as soon as possible because many people are affected,” he said. “We pray that God will help us and Mayon will not erupt in a bad way.”
Ted Litens, a Swede national, together with his wife Mary Ann, son Robert John, nephew Paul Angelo Bahia, and niece Joyce Angela Bahia, on Sunday gave 800 burgers to children at Oro Site High School. Oro Site High School serves as the refuge for 249 families (846 residents) from Bagong Abre village, also in Legazpi City.
Litens, who has been waiting to see Mount Mayon erupt, said that he kept thinking of ways to help in some way to those displaced by the unrest of the volcano.
“I know the beauty and danger of an eruption, now I also see the problem it brings to people living around the volcano,” Ted Litens says of the situation inside evacuation centers.
He and his wife has been to the evacuation center twice to give burgers and on the second day, they were able to gather donations from friends worth P15,000.
Part 1: Mariton Bornas
Part 2: Ed Laguerta
Part 3: Lahar
Part 4: Don’t Judge Mayon’s Alert Level By The Pics You See Online