Habagat Relief Giving 2012: Barangay Butong Elementary School

Sept. 5, 2012, some volunteers from the LICA Group of Companies accompanied us to 2 evacuation centers in Cabuyao, Laguna. Cabuyao is one of the hardest hit towns because of its proximity to Laguna Lake.

 

These pictures show Barangay Butong 1 month AFTER the constant rains. As you can tell, these flood waters are taking a while to drain, and all it will take is another storm, and these water levels will rise again. (Note: as of this writing, there were 3 or 4 more typhoons forecasted). Actually, we were told that drainage is so insufficient here that only sunny days can decrease these water levels.

We arrive at the Elementary School of Barangay Butong, which is being used as an evacuation center. The school is still flooded and we alight from the car onto a makeshift “dock”.

Waters are at least ankle-high, and the local government built these wooden walkways so that people could leave the rooms and get around.

Below us is black, stagnant water, with garbage afloat. Thankfully it was a breezy day, so there was no stench, but one can just imagine the mosquito problem.

These structures are only large enough for one way traffic, so people politely wait for each other to pass.

We were brought to one of the classrooms to give our pails of goods. Unlike other evacuation centers that had a lot of space, we were confined to a very small aisle, since all the classrooms were occupied. Only 10 evacuees were allowed at a time.

Jayson, our Program Manager, controls the traffic. The wooden bridges are also limited to how many people they can carry.

The volunteers and evacuees are all smiles!

More traffic control. The local government had distributed stubs the day before, so it was quite orderly. Only those with stubs were allowed on the bridge, in numerical order. The man in pink was a teacher of the school.

Kotaro Adachi, or Kotaro-san, Officebusters Japan’s representative, was very eager to join us. Officebusters Japan was one of our major donors for this relief drive, and wired us money. Other big donors were the LICA group of companies and their employees.

After getting their pails, the 10 evacuees file out the same way they come in. The space was THAT confined.

After getting their pail, they go back to the rooms where they’ve lived for a month. We were told that when its school time, the families have to stay outside the classroom while classes are going on. When class is dismissed, the families go back in to the room. There really is no where else to go. And with the water still at least ankle-deep, they estimate that it will be at least one more month until their barangay dries up enough to return home. That is, if there are no more heavy rains.
It’s quite difficult to keep the premises clean with such crowds.

Peeking out of classrooms.

Life in the evacuation center. All of them just want to go home, and pray for more sun.

Friendly waves from the upper balconies.

This man tries to keep the premises clean.

We’d like to thank the teachers of Barangay Butong Elementary School, who organized and led this drive.

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