Sunday, March 7, 2010

Taguig, Rizal

The first of 30 boxes of assorted medicines was turned over to Mr. & Mrs. Bobby and Tess Rodrigo of Rotary Club and Gawad Kalinga of Taguig, Rizal for free distribution to residents in need of the medicines.

Two other medicine boxes will be delivered by Manny and Fely D of Las Vegas to typhoon victims in Anabu-I Health Center in Imus, Cavite and Payocpoc Sur Health Center in Bauang, La Union.

Some of the medicine boxes, together with some relief goods shipped from Virginia last Dec 8, 2009, will be mailed, some will be picked up at the office of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas and the rest will be delivered personally to save on the shipping charges. Pablito 3/8/2010

Pandi, Bulacan

I took a taxi at 630AM for the 8:00 AM trip from CFO to Pandi, Bulacan for inspection of 2 classroom sites and a livelihood project. I arrived at CFO at 7:00 AM and had a leisurely breakfast at Jollibee across from CFO’s office. The combination fried corned beef, fried egg, fried rice and strong-fried coffee cost me Php65 ($1.50) after a 20% discount for senior citizens.

We left CFO at 8:00AM with Engr. Adriano and Tobi of CFO. Our driver, Leo, was hesitant to leave early as the traffic near CFO is really very heavy with the closure of a bridge near CFO for repairs. There were grid locks at intersections as there were no traffic lights; a lone traffic officer was on one corner directing traffic from the sideline. At one intersection, Leo got excited, got out and confronted a tricycle driver blocking our left turn while the tricycle driver was trying to go straight. It was smooth driving when we reached the North Luzon Express Way (NLEX).

Tobi used to be a salesman for Coca Cola and Pandi is part of his territory. Even with his consulting with a friend who is still with Coke, we missed the turn to Pandi by at least a mile. We then stopped by a Petron gas station and meet with our contact in Pandi, Tony J., who owns a ‘farm’ there. The farm turns out to be a breeding farm for game cocks, about 400 of them, about P5000 each.

Tony led the way to our first stop at the Ramirez NHS. We met with the principal who is very hopeful that FtH will donate the classrooms to them. The principal told us that the school have title to the property, have the space to build the classroom, have a 70 student per classroom ratio, willing to get the PTA involve with the construction and maintenance of the classrooms and will accept the ‘red color’ standard of FtH classrooms. Our next stop was at a primary school, photo attached, who have a classrooms donated by CGMA, a new 2 classroom building given by the DECS at a cost of P1,300,000, an old Marcos-type classroom and a single room building. Their student/classroom ratio is 40 students per classroom, even with the new students relocated there from Manila. If we add 2 more classrooms in the only space available, the whole school with be wall-to-wall buildings with no space to breath the air.

Tony treated us to lunch of chicken tinola, chop suey and caldereta and with other barangay officials as we discussed their proposed livelihood project. Tony then showed us a rice field, very dry with dead grass which he would like to turn into a vegetable garden for the community, with a possible FtH funding of a deep well. I urged Tony to prepare a proposal to FtH about this livelihood project, estimated cost, number of families to be benefited by the deep well and FtH will evaluate the proposal.

Our last stop was Tony’s farm with his game cocks, his breeding stocks, a piggery and a tilapia fish pond on his 5 hectare lot. Tony was just recuperating from a bite from a part- pit bull when he tried to break a fight between his guard dogs. I told him my story of being bitten also by a dog last week. With the temperature at 90 degrees, we were given ice cold water and we said our TYs and ‘till we meet again’ for the classroom construction and livelihood project. Pablito 3/3/2010

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Catbalogan, Samar

Feed the Hungry volunteers Percy and Pepito S., Pablito and Tess, Fely and Manny D. and their niece Gloria F. from Las Vegas met at Terminal 2 of the airport at 6:30 AM, Feb 18, 2010 for the 8:50 AM flight to Tacloban, Leyte. From the airport, we hired a van to take us to our hotel in downtown Tacloban. We had lunch at Chow King, toured a couple of sites around Tacloban and retired for the early trip the following day. We spent Friday, Feb 19, visiting the water system in Brgy Pagmisian, Bontoc and the classrooms in Maasin, Southern Leyte. Saturday morning, Feb 20, we checked out of our hotel in Tacloban and boarded a van arranged by Betty L. for the trip to Catbalogan, Samar.

We crossed the beautiful San Juanico Bridge, connecting Leyte and Samar. Last time I was in this area was in 1962, in a Bureau of Coast and Geodetic Survey ship, navigating the San Juanico Strait, under the bridge. The small huts/stores near the pier in 1962 are now a BIG MacDonald restaurant. At that time in 1962, McDo is not yet in my vocabulary.

We checked in at Fortune Hotel in downtown Catbalogan and right across our hotel is a banner announcing the FtH mission. The venue is in the St Mary's College, next to the church, about a block away from our hotel. We had breakfast in Jollibee, about 2 blocks away, and took a walking tour around the market, plaza, and church to get familiar with Catbalogan.

Sunday, February 28, 2010, we took a walk in the opposite direction and reach the pier about 2 blocks away. We saw the fresh catch of the day, shrimps, they're big, lots of them. We had breakfast at Jollibee again; hear the mass and then the gift giving at 10AM.

Our partners in this gift giving are the Ladies of Charities of Catbalogan. They selected the 500 indigent recipients, purchased the gifts, prepared the individual packages and issued the claim tickets to the recipients. We also have the assistance of ALERT, a local organization to help with crowd control. Pepito introduced FtH, mentioned that the funds are coming from donors from Metro WashDC and the distribution began with Tess collecting the tickets, Gloria handling the gifts and the rest of FtH volunteers assisting. The recipients were grouped in 10 to avoid overcrowding. After the gift giving, Betty treated the volunteers to lunch and we then visited a Monsignor whose house on top of the hill provided a panoramic view of Catbalogan City and Samar Bay.

We also visited the on-going medical mission by the PMAA of New York, under Dr. Prospero Lim and Evan and Dra. Prado. The mission is for 3 days and they expect to treat about 8,000 patients, with free medicines. We met Dr Lim in NY last November 2009. Dr Lim donated $500 to FtH to cover the cost of shipping 23 boxes of books to Catbalogan.

We were invited for dinner at the LIM CLAN REUNION held at the Samar School gymnasium. We arrived while Dr. Prospero Lim of NY was addressing the rest of the Lims. The first clan reunion I attended was about a week ago with the JOYA Clan Reunion in Gen. Trias Convention Center in Cavite, attended by about a 1,000 of the Joya Families. When we were about to leave, Betty was requested and she did a very graceful rendition of the “Kuracha” a money-dance tradition where people throw money on a table cloth on the floor to keep Betty dancing. Then, local dance instructors partnered with Betty, Tess and Percy for a cha-cha number and then we said good night to all.

Monday, Feb 22, 2010, about 9:00 AM, we left Catbalogan for the shuttle to Tacloban Airport for our flight back to Manila. The original 2PM flight was moved to 5:00 PM. We had plenty of time so we dropped by the Dept. of Health Processing Plant, just after the San Juanico Bridge, where Pito and Fely bought some Lagundi Plant and Lagundi and Sambong tablets, Bayabas soap and toured the plant. The Philippine Airlines came and left on time. We were home by 8PM after a successful 3-FtH mission trip to Leyte and Samar.

Maasin, Southern Leyte


We arrived at Maasin for an inspection of the existing classrooms in Bactul-I Primary School.

The classrooms were built in January 2007 by the contractor of the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII) through the Classrooms Galing sa Mamamayan Pilipino Abroad (CGMA), a joint project of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department for Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Department of Education and Cultural Services (DECS) and were inaugurated on March 16, 2007 by the donor, Eleanor Credo-Lindner and FtH volunteers Pablito and Tessie. It was reported about a year ago that the glass on the windows were breaking by itself and numerous cracks on the walls were noticed. These classrooms were revisited this Feb 19, 2010 in conjunction with another inspection of a water system in Bontoc, a nearby town of Southern Leyte.

After getting lost and asking for directions twice, we arrived at Bactul-I Primary School to the welcoming committee of the students and faculty. The family of Eleonor was on hand to greet us and Diego, the brother, had a local contractor to estimate the damage and repair of the classrooms. YES, there were several cracks on the walls, some glass on the jalousies were missing and one end wall has exposed foundations due to erosion cause by running water when it rains since it was built on a lower elevation. The school built a ditch to intercept the running water in front of the building but maybe too late, too short, to prevent further erosion of the foundation. If the classrooms were built according to the specification of the DECS, as required in the Memorandum of Agreement between FtH, CFO and CGMA, there should have been no problem with the classrooms. But we were told during the inauguration in 2007 that the construction materials and labor were transported all the way from Tacloban, about 4 hours away, and the building was completed in 2 weeks.

As usual, after the inspection, we were treated to some snacks and we bid goodbye to the students, faculty and family of Eleonor. The faculty also requested the provision of electrical and lighting system of the classrooms. We got an estimate from the local contractor. Before we left Maasin, we were treated to dinner by Governor Mercado of Southern Leyte. We got back in Tacloban around 6PM, before sundown, as scheduled.

Upon arrival in Manila, we requested our partner, CFO, to request assistance from the Southern Leyte Provincial Engineer’s office to investigate the construction of the classroom, if according to the standards of the DECS and for action against the contractor, if found defective.

February 23, 2010

Water Supply System in Barangay Pagmisian

Feed the Hungry volunteers Percy and Pepito S., Pablito and Tess, Fely and Manny D. and their niece Gloria F. from Las Vegas met at Terminal 2 of the airport at 6:30 AM, Feb 18, 2010 for the 8:50 AM flight to Tacloban, Leyte. From the airport, we hired a van to take us to our hotel in downtown Tacloban. We had lunch at Chow King, toured a couple of sites around Tacloban and retired for the early trip the following day. We left Tacloban at 6:00 AM, Feb 19, 2010 for the 4 hour trip to Bontoc, Southern Leyte where we will inspect the water system in Barangay Pagmisian, as funded by the Hawaii International Relief Mission (HIRO) through ex-Rep Jun Abinsay. We were provided with a van by the provisional government of Southern Leyte as arranged by CFO. The driver left Maasin at 3:00 AM to be with us by 6:00 AM. The road from Tacloban to Bontoc is very good except for the short leg to Brgy Pagmisian. We had breakfast of bread, lanzones, chocolates on the van and had brunch when we reached Bontoc town proper.

The water supply system cost about $15,000 consisting of a concrete reservoir to hold water from an existing spring and piping the water downhill for about a kilometer (0.6 miles) to the cluster of homes of the residents. The homes were organized by Gawad Kalinga in coordination with the Dept of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Each group of 8 to 10 houses was provided with an outlet and a common wash basin/reservoir for all.
On this visit, the water pipe was ripped apart by a backhoe working on the road system and had to be repaired; we were not able to see the actual flow of water on the outlet.

We also visited the school on top of the hill. The school building was donated by UNESCO complete with china ware, plates, cups, computers, furniture, refrigerator, drums and guitars, etc. We were told that they have the drums but not being used because they do not have anybody to teach the musical instruments. FtH volunteers chipped in P3, 000 as seed money for the school and barangay officials to find a teacher so that the students will be able to play the drums during flag raising ceremonies and other activities.

Even though the neighborhood is very poor, we were still treated to some snacks of young coconuts, bananas, sweet potatoes, rice and one chicken menu for lunch.
We left about 12 noon for our next inspection trip to an FtH classroom in Maasin, Southern Leyte.

Feb 23, 2010