students of Marasbaras Elementary School have their own sad
stories to tell about Typhoon Yolanda but the new schoolbuilding
donated by Coca-Cola Foundation/Coke Atlanta in partnership with
Philippine Business for Social Progress gives them something to
look forward to each day.
Helping Yolanda survivors
One year after the
typhoon, PBSP continues to lead the business sector’s efforts in
rebuilding the lives of school communities in the Visayas
By REGGIE MARIE B. BARRIENTOS
November 7, 2014
TACLOBAN CITY – It
has been a year since Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), one of the strongest
tropical cyclones to hit the country, reduced to wasteland the towns
in Leyte and Eastern Samar, claiming thousands of lives, and washing
out homes, schools, properties, and livelihood.
While the people have
started to rebuild their lives with whatever little resources they
have, many are still reeling from the trauma and loss of their loved
But for the school
communities being assisted by Philippine Business for Social Progress
and its member-companies, partners, and donors, the reconstruction of
their classrooms, provision of learning/teaching kits for students and
teachers, supplemental feeding, and capacity building trainings are
giving them something to look forward to each day – the promise of a
better tomorrow through education.
different ways of coping
Caonte is still grieving for her father and grandfather who died while
securing their home during the typhoon on Nov. 8, 2013. She and her
three siblings, cousins, aunt, and uncle managed to survive after
hiding in a bathroom of a commercial building in Tanauan, Leyte.
In spite of her great loss,
the Grade 6 student from Bislig Elementary School dutifully reports
for class every day, braving the heat and cramped spaces of their tent
classroom for two noble reasons – to fulfill her father’s dream for
her to be a teacher, and to be able to share the gift of education to
less fortunate children like her someday.
Caonte’s classmate and
friend Carol Almacin, 12, may be luckier than the former because her
family is still complete and they have managed to rebuild their home
with scrap materials right after the storm. But until now, Carol is
suffering from a severe trauma after she and her siblings were tied to
a coconut tree while braving the huge waves of the storm. Since
classes resumed last December 2, she would hurriedly go back home
every time it rained for fear that the horrific ordeal would happen
all over again.
It’s the other way around for Nicole Cordero, a Grade 5 student of Sto.
Niño Elementary School, who would console her mother who was terribly
shaken by the disaster. In the middle of her duties in the house, she
would break down at the memory of the torrential rains. During the
typhoon, Nicole and her two siblings sought refuge at her
grandmother’s home while her mother was the one who tried to salvage
what was left of their home. Their father, a security guard, could not
leave his work. To make it easy for her mom, Nicole would study hard
and wake up early to help in the household chores. Her fervent prayer
is for the Lord to not let another Yolanda happen again so her mother
would no longer cry and recover from her trauma.
The ordeal was no different
for sixth grader Daniel Sulit and his family who held on to the
branches of a coconut tree during the storm, praying that they
wouldn’t be swept away by the giant waves. The next day, he had to
search for his other relatives from the lifeless bodies strewn all
over the place. Unlike other children who suffered severe trauma as a
result of such ordeal, Daniel turned it into an opportunity to perform
well in school. From being an average student, he is now at the top of
his class at the Tugop Elementary School in Tanauan, Leyte. Daniel
credits the Lord for this life-changing experience. He said that he
vowed to study hard after the storm because the Lord gave him a second
Out of the many different
stories of survival and resilience from the disaster, perhaps the most
inspiring is that of the Lagarto family. Enriquita and Dioscoro got
separated from each other during the storm. Enriquita fled with her
five children to a safer ground while Dioscoro was still in their home
when the huge waves engulfed it. While trying hard not to be swept
away by the waves, provisions kept floating out of nowhere in his
direction. First, uncooked rice, then came hotdog, cooking oil, and
even kitchen utensils.
Right after the storm, the
children aged 11, 10, 9, 6, and 4, took it upon themselves to help
provide food for the family. At that time, their mother was sick and
their father was injured. The eldest child, Christian Lagarto, led his
siblings in picking up the galvanized iron sheets that were strewn all
over their neighborhood, and selling them to make money. They earned
P2,000 for it and immediately gave it to their father who was
surprised and deeply moved. Later, the sixth grader from Bislig
Elementary School also convinced his father to allow him and his
siblings to sell 1.5 Coca-Cola bottles to their neighbors. Their
3-for-P100 promo was such a hit that they earned P4,000 capital money
to use for reopening their sari-sari store.
The Lagartos are now doing
brisk business through a bigger and well-stocked sari-sari store. The
family is on their way to a bright future, thanks to their unwavering
faith, loving parents, helpful children, and an entrepreneurial son
who hopes to get a scholarship to finish school and help support his
Teachers Rosario Polenio of
Bislig Elementary School and Tito Pajares of Marasbaras Elementary
School have shown exceptional service and true heroism during the
Safely tucked in the comfort
of their sturdy home in Tacloban, Rosario and her family took in seven
families who rushed to their place to escape the monstrous waves that
ravaged their homes. Even though she barely knew these people, Rosario
fed them, clothed them, and kept them safe and warm in their home long
after the storm was over.
Today, Rosario continues to
play Good Samaritan, this time to her students who lost their parents
and relatives by giving them the much-needed love, comfort, and care.
When Teacher Tito and his
family returned to their house from his brother’s place after the
storm, he was devastated to find his home, and property earned after
27 years of working as a teacher, totally wiped out. Until now, he and
his family are staying in a bunk house in Tacloban and still
struggling to return to normal.
selflessly prioritized the needs of his students in Marasbaras ES by
seeking for prospective donors who can help rebuild their school which
was 70 percent destroyed by Typhoon Yolanda.
Soon enough, a six-classroom
building called the Little Red Schoolhouse of Coca-Cola
Foundation/Coke Atlanta has been built at the place through the
assistance of PBSP, and is bringing immense joy to the Grades 4 and 5
eager students and teachers who couldn’t wait to transfer to the new
“The building is so
beautiful. At night, it glimmers in the dark sky, serving as a beacon
and motivation for us to move on and continue reaching for our
dreams,” Tito said.
PBSP launched Project New
Dawn last June 18 as its collective response to the long term
rehabilitation needs of the Visayas region. The programs aim to assist
in the immediate recovery and rehabilitation of areas most affected by
the super typhoon. Some of these programs are on repair of barangay
health stations, provision of motorized boats, mangrove reforestation
and installation of potable water systems, among many others.
In education, PBSP
member-companies, donors, partners, and aid agencies were able to give
various kinds of assistance worth P167.51 million to Yolanda-affected
schools in Tanauan, Tacloban, Marasbaras, Tugop, Bislig, Sto. Niño and
Isabel in Leyte; Giporlos and Salcedo in Eastern Samar; Tabogon, Bogo,
Daanbantayan, Bantayan island in Cebu; Inabanga, Bohol; and Estancia,
Carles, and Lambunao, Iloilo.
These were in the form of
classroom/school reconstruction and repair, provision of starter kits,
teacher kits, school uniforms, shoes and chairs, supplemental feeding,
psychosocial trainings for teachers, and capacity building trainings
for parents, teachers, school heads, and the Local School Boards.
Among the benefactors are
Dow Chemical Pacific Ltd, Epson Precision (Philippines), Inc. (EPPI),
Telus/Navegar, CTBC, National Bookstore, Mondelez International, Intel
Philippines, Felta Multi-Media, Inc., Coke Atlanta 2014/Coke
Philippines, L’Oreal Philippines, Inc., GMA/Yes Pinoy Foundation,
Flour Daniel, Insular Life, Deloitte Navarro Amper & Co. (Deloitte
Philippines), We Can Be Anything, Ace Insurance, Lear Automotives, and
the Australian government.