Many teens I know whose homes and communities were affected by rising floods went out of their own comfort zones to help rescue people.
Here are some of their stories—their prayers, the indestructible Filipino spirit, the act of doing something without asking for anything in return.
It is these insights into humanity that truly edify us as Filipinos and revive us as a nation.
“Last Aug. 7, my dormmates and I were watching the news on TV, and we saw Filipinos helping fellow Filipinos. We were joking around about how Filipinos only help their fellowmen in times like these, and then someone suddenly said, ‘At least nga sila tumutulong, tayo nga nandito lang e.’
“The next day, I decided to donate some of my clothes and food to the Ateneo relief operations. I wasn’t planning on volunteering because it’s such a hassle and it was still raining hard, but when I got there, I saw Filipinos helping fellow Filipinos. The whole covered court was filled with people trying to help, a One Direction song was playing on the speakers, and people were enjoying themselves. I was moved and joined them immediately.
“We formed two lines as we passed around the cases of bottled water so the others could distribute them. Although I didn’t know anyone there and have very, very sore arms right now, I felt good that I was able to help, even if it’s not that much. It was fulfilling and definitely worth my time and effort.”
—Patricia Alvero, 18, Ateneo de Manila University
“It was Aug. 8, it was pouring that day, and I was watching the news and saw how much people were affected by this catastrophe. I was with my mother, and she wanted to help, but she couldn’t because she had a business meeting. I decided that I should go and give the donations, but she didn’t want me to go as I had sprained my ankles and wasn’t able to walk properly, but I insisted.
“I went to one of the donation sites, La Salle Greenhills. I came out and people were just staring at me, wondering why I still came in such a state. When I gave the donations, I felt like I finally had done some good in my life. I would’ve volunteered, but I couldn’t because of my condition. I advise others to at least donate something to help the people affected, and who have lost their homes.”
—Joshua Milner, 14, La Salle Greenhills
“As the rains got stronger, the water in our village kept rising. There was a point when the flood reached chest level! We were stranded in our own village. We were fortunate to still have electricity and food. Now, fearing our supplies would not last the week, my parents took it upon themselves to look for possible entry and exit routes so that not only our family but also the other families in the village could go out and obtain basic commodities.
“My parents were able to find an exit route, a business compound beside our village. After much negotiating, the villagers were able to use that route, and it sure helped us. They say it’s more fun in the Philippines—and I definitely agree, because no matter how happy or depressing the situation is, we all still go around helping each other like a big family. Mabuhay!”
—Simoun Bayudan, 15, La Salle Greenhills
“We, the student-volunteers of Ateneo, did not hesitate when called upon by the Disaster Response and Management (DReaM) Team in the wake of the monsoon rains. Within an hour, all three groups—the communications center from the Health Sciences Program, the student-volunteers headed by Sanggunian, Council of Organizations (COA), the Ateneo Resident Students Association (Arsa), and the reserve corps from ROTC were ready and set up.
“The communications center patiently called Ateneans whose families were reported trapped in their homes, checked on their situation to see whether they needed rescue. We called local government units, Red Cross, NDRRMC and other rescue units to assist our friends. The corps braved the storm and helped in the distribution of relief goods to various communities in Metro Manila. Minutes after the Sanggunian, COA and Arsa called for volunteers through Facebook and Twitter, we did not hesitate to come to school and assist in repacking donated goods.
“Around a thousand of us come every day for the 12-hour relief operations. The Ateneo spirit of magis (“more”) was seen in practice once more.
—Jason Haw, 18, Ateneo DReaM Team, Ateneo de Manila University
“It’s a really good experience to help out in relief operations within our community. My friends and I were able to help out at Xavier School from its first day of relief ops, and it was nice to see how even people not from that school readily helped out. The teamwork shown by the youth today really makes me proud of our generation and of the Filipinos. As they say, ‘The Filipino spirit is waterproof,’ and I think from what I’ve seen and experienced, these past few days really showed off the big hearts of the Filipino.”
—Cesca Wong, 15, Immaculate Conception Academy
“I am in awe of how students found ways to reach out to those in dire need of help. Organizations and student councils, whether in our school or in others near us or elsewhere, would always look out for each other in times like these—not to impress other people, but to give service wholeheartedly even to those we barely know.
“With this small act of courage, they were able to gather 900 bags of relief goods with over 200 people in a day. Some 900 families were saved from hunger, thanks to students who had the courage to step up and share their blessings to help the less fortunate.”
—Kaye Andujare, 16, Immaculate Conception Academy
“It was the first day of relief operations in my school, so I went and volunteered with three other friends. We brought instant noodles and water to be donated, as well. We sorted out the donations and folded the clothes to be given. The next day, I volunteered at Ateneo’s relief operations with some friends. I did not have a ride so I had to walk through knee-high floods to get home and it was raining, but the experience was still worth it, since the feeling of having helped the victims and to have made even a small difference was the best feeling ever.”
—Danielle Francisco, 15, Miriam College High School
“This unexpected calamity has also been a unifying force for people to come together and help in whatever way they can—something I truly saw in ICAns and parents alike this past week. When the monsoon rains struck Manila last Monday, the senior batch of ICA immediately responded and started drafting plans for possible relief operations.
“Being the president of the ICA Student Council, I immediately coordinated with other student leaders to try to organize relief operations in our school. However, we were saddened to hear that most of our teachers and maintenance staff were also greatly affected by the flood, thus making it impossible to open up the school to relief operations.
“Having such strong desires to help, yet with no means to, was truly frustrating. But truly determined to help, we decided to contact the parent auxiliary to see how such a thing could still be possible. After a morning of nonstop phone calls, a parent representative and I were able to set up a makeshift relief operation in the North Greenhills Clubhouse by Wednesday afternoon.
“The operations started out really small, with only around 15 volunteers. By the end of the afternoon, word started going around about our operations, and the donations from North Greenhills residents and ICA families started pouring in.
“The relief operations lasted until Friday of that week. We were able to distribute different goods to the evacuees of our adopted communities and other evacuees in the San Juan City Gym, Mt. Carmel Parish Church and in Marikina. I went to Mt. Carmel to see the situation of the evacuees. What struck me most, though, was that many of them have been able to eat very well the past few days, thanks to the overwhelming generosity of many Filipinos.
“By the end of the week, we had more food and clothing donations—more than we ever expected. So many student, parent and teacher-volunteers took the initiative to help in the relief operations. It was truly heartwarming to see all these people, who barely knew each other before this week, come together for one common good cause. I came to realize that while we are a Third World country, we truly do have first-class hearts.”
—Ysabel Chua, 17, Immaculate Conception Academy
“When various news reports informed me of how the incessant downpour of the monsoon devastated the flood-prone areas and took away the lives of Filipinos, I knew what I had to do. Since our school was encouraging volunteers to help in the relief operations, I decided to participate to fulfill my responsibilities as a Filipino.
“That includes helping out one another in times like these, and doing what I can do for my country. I helped carry loads of donation boxes and buckets of supplies to the relief operations center. I just hope that these small acts would help make a difference to those I indirectly helped out, and I hope that we would not ask ourselves what our country could do for us; rather, we should ask ourselves what we could do for our country.”
—Vince Nieva, 15, La Salle Greenhills
“There wasn’t much flooding in our area, but the areas near the bodies of water flooded heavily. It all started when I was surfing the Internet. On Twitter, a lot of people were tweeting about praying for the country and helping it. My first reaction was that we should start doing something instead of tweeting about it. Soon, San Beda Manila and Alabang launched the project, ‘Clarion Call,’ a powerful request for action.
“I wasn’t able to attend the first two days, but soon after I was allowed by my parents to do so. Waking up Friday morning, I searched through all my stuff and managed to get a decent amount of clothes and toys. Then I went to my school to bring my donations. There were a lot of Bedans who came, and a lot of donations, as well.
“We all started segregating the donations of toys, clothes, food and more. Eventually, it was time for us to take a break and I was sure everyone felt happy because they were able to help our brothers and sisters who were in need. It was a really good feeling for all of us, and it signifies how teamwork and hardship bear the fruit of unity, which means that we are one community and one family.”
—Carl Laurel, 15, San Beda Alabang
“I’m staying in a dormitory along San Sebastian St. in Manila. Luckily, our dorm is in a high place. The surrounding streets, like Recto and Legarda, were all flooded, ranging from knee-high to hip level. I have a blockmate in the dormitory. She didn’t eat for two days since she and her roommates didn’t have food stocked or kept with them. My parents always give me lots of viands, biscuits, fruits. I also have a rice cooker with me.
“I went down to her room and gave her some of my food. The next morning, I texted her that she could go up to eat breakfast with me. I have friends also staying in the surrounding flooded streets and with no electricity. Their phones were almost out of batteries, and they didn’t have their flashlights charged. They contacted me so that they could charge their phones and flashlights.
“I feel so happy because I had the chance to help. I surfed the net and checked my Twitter. Bedans tweeted about Clarion Call 2012. I thought about how I could help people in my own simple way.”
—Marize Moreno, 17, San Beda