On January 13, 2018, a phreatic eruption occurred at Mount Mayon in Legazpi, Albay, leading to the evacuation of nearby residents. The event was followed by sporadic eruption, lava flow, ash fall and volcanic earthquakes, forcing the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHILVOCS) to raise the status to alert Level 4, which resulted to the displacement of more than 61,000 families from different barangays in just less than a month.
Three months later, Mayon Volcano’s alert level status has been downgraded to Level 2 by authorities and most of the affected families have returned to their respective homes.
Yet, the volunteers for the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Program of the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) continued on their mission to aid those affected by Mayon’s wrath, unleashed after nearly four years of stillness.
Headed by Marivic Sevilla and Mariel Angelica Dimaano of the Corporate Planning and Business Development Department, 13 kind hearts went to Legazpi and Guinobatan on April 19 and 20 to pack and distribute rice and grocery bags to 498 families with the assistance of the Department of Tourism Region 5.
The TPB volunteers hard at work.
The team also paid a courtesy call on Mayor Ann Gemma Ongjoco of Guinobatan, Albay before heading to Brgy Muladbucad Pequeno, one of the barangays within the 6-9 km radius of the crater that was largely affected by the eruption and where the distribution of relief goods took place.
TPB Volunteers with Mayor Ann Gemma Ongjoco of Guinobatan, Albay at the Guinobatan Municipal Hall.
TPB’s CSR Program reaches Brgy Muladbucad Pequeno in Guinobatan, Albay.
Despite the sweltering heat, the operation was conducted in an orderly manner, and the helping hands were greeted with sincere and warm smiles. According to Sevilla, the activity was not originally part of the year-round program until COO Cesar D. Montano saw the need to help the victims. She also noted that the Bicol contingent was the smallest group to implement a CSR program so far, but it turned out successful, thanks to the assistance of the DOT Region 5 office.
Each family received rice and a bag of grocery items.
For volunteer Princess Elefante of the Office of the Corporate Board Secretary, the CSR experience was an unforgettable one. “I have witnessed how this activity can lead to social awareness and build good working relationships,” she said.
One lesson resonated throughout the program; a venerated one from the late great poet and activist, Maya Angelou: “When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed”.
And the blessing not only gave hope to the families who have managed to survive weeks of uncertainty but also the volunteers who are now more inspired to continue the journey of giving a helping hand.