It is six days after Typhoon Pablo. All media outlets are showing pictures of devastation morning until night that it is almost numbing.
In a small village up in the mountains of Monkayo, Compostela Valley, 950 indigenous families are away from the camera lights. They suffered so much with their houses twisted up and their livelihood all crushed in the ground. Access to them is very difficult. They have not received relief goods and they are sustaining themselves with sweet potatoes day after day.
Two years ago, the PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI) trained some leaders of the village in Transitional Justice. One of them sent a text message asking for help.
PBCI, Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), and Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) responded on 11 December 2012 but the roads were washed out and resembled a creek. Not being daunted, the team hired 21 Skylabs to bring the relief goods in the mountain. A Skylab is a motorcycle with two planks of wood on both sides that can carry up to nine people. It is not a safe way to travel but it was the only alternative that time. It was also a learning experience for the team because it proved that far-flung mountains can still be reached even without roads.
The drivers, upon knowing that the goods are for the people, treated their luggage as pieces of gold. When the team arrived there, people are already milling around. But despite days of being hungry, there was no rush to be first. In fact, unlike normal relief operations, the relief was distributed by clan not by family. They shared whatever is there and the resilience of the people shone more brightly.
It is this gap in relief distribution that PBCI and its partners want to contribute. We pray to reach the unnoticed barangays and share the love of the Great Creator in practical ways, not being stopped by inconveniences. The networks that the team had formed in the past years may be tapped to help in identifying the people groups in need and in responding to those needs.