Sixty seven volunteers. Five ten-wheeler trucks. Muslim, Christians and other faiths come together on one Christmas Eve to do one mission – serve people hit by Typhoon Pablo.

5,388 families in eight barangays (villages) received family packs on 24-25 December. Sixty seven volunteers spent the Christmas Eve in tents in Cateel, one of the most Typhoon Pablo-devastated towns in Davao Oriental province. Christians, Muslims and other faiths worked as one team to do one mission – serve as many people as they can without discrimination.

Pepita, one of our volunteers who lost a grandchild to a flash flood in 2011 cried upon seeing neighborhoods upon neighborhoods of damaged houses. “This is even worse,” she said. She remembered her own experience and shared, “There were 60 people in my house and I was anxious for their safety. I know how this feels. That night, I told God that if He saves us, I am going to serve in any way I can. This relief operation is one of them.” Pepita is a community leader who brought her people to help us pack goods.

Aside from relief goods, the volunteers also gave medical services, psychosocial interventions and kiddie packs.

In one of the barangays, the Muslims, evangelicals and Catholics were serving indigenous peoples. It was a heartfelt picture of the tri-people of Mindanao living harmoniously with each other and serving each other. For centuries, the three groups had tensions against each other.

San Antonio, Cateel was recently in the national news because it barricaded trucks of relief goods. It is the last village before entering the next town of Baganga. They are far from the town center and is outside the responsibility of the next town which is as devastated as they are. They see trucks upon trucks of relief goods passing them by. Hungry and determined, they barricaded their streets to get food. “We are hungry,” Rona, a resident there said. “We have been sharing food with each other but our supplies are being depleted, she said. With the guide of the PBCI scouts, San Antonio was chosen as one of the places for distribution. In the line was an old man. He was waiting for his turn when he shouted, “Rebound!”

Indeed, it is rebound time! Despite the devastation, people found things to laugh.

Along the road is an entire neighborhood in shambles. The people are living in 2m by 4m tents. Printed in a plank of wood are the letters, “Pablo Subdivision.”

The team was about to drive to the next place for distribution when we saw a note printed through the dust at the back of the car, “I love you, Pablo.”

An electrical post was dangerously brought to the ground but what did the people do? They turned it into a clothesline!

On 28 December the team was giving out food packs along the highway which was not part of the regular distribution trail. When the young girl received her food pack, she pointed up to three houses and said, “There are people there too. Can you give them relief also? “ She called her neighbor and this is how grateful her neighbor is.


Indeed, we might be facing a devastation so vast but the human spirit triumphs. PBCI and other organizations have been thinking of the rehabilitation phase for our people even as we do relief. Join us as we spread the love that our Creator has shown us.



Permanent link to this article: https://peacebuilderscommunity.org/2012/12/5400-families-get-christmas-gifts/

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