The entire Thomasian community lived its three core values—competence, commitment and compassion—when it extended its hands to areas affected by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” in the Visayas.
The project, “Tulong Tomasino Para sa Visayas,” spearheaded by the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Simbahayan Community Development Office, was not only a relief operation but a disaster-relief drive for Yolanda survivors, in coordination with the Dominican Province of the Philippines and the Alumni Priests Association (Alpa) and other Thomasian partners.
As of Nov. 22, a total of 10,200 bags of relief goods worth P3.5 million had been packed and over P700,000 cash donations collected from Thomasians around the world.
The university deployed two Philippine National Police trucks, a UST military truck, a bus, a coaster and three outsider closed vans to load the goods, which reached Capiz on Nov. 24 and were distributed to the beneficiaries by the Alpa through the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Capiz.
Along with the relief drive for basic necessities and repacking activities with the Commission on Higher Education and the Department of Social Welfare and Development, UST also offered debriefing and psychological first aid for Yolanda survivors at Villamor Air Base, and a medical mission held in New Washington, Aklan.
Seventy-two guidance counselors, faculty and other Thomasian volunteers undertook the debriefing and psychological first aid to 299 survivors. For the medical mission, a team of 25 registered doctors, nurses, and medical and nursing students rendered free social, medical and surgical services to 2,930 patients. The medical mission will continue in Iloilo and Capiz.
UST aims to provide a temporary shelter for identified communities in Baybay in Capiz, Altavas and Batan in Aklan, and Guiuan, Eastern Samar.
This is in response to the requests of the identified communities, which was coursed through the UST alumni priests of the area.
A tolda or tent will be provided to the identified 12,638 families. There are also provisions for solar panels that will serve as a source of night lighting.
The last phase of assistance, which is still in its planning stage, is the economic rehabilitation program. The main objective of this project is to provide a sustainable livelihood program for the recovery and rehabilitation of the identified community which is Batan in Aklan. The target number of beneficiaries in this project is 6,799 families.
UST central student council president Gabriel Kintanar said that the entire Thomasian community is motivated to help because of its spirit of compassion. “The greatest challenge here is what more can we do, because helping does not stop in collecting and distributing goods,” he pointed out.
A number of colleges and organizations in UST also made and sold T-shirts.
It has been confirmed that the “Paskuhan” festivities for this academic year will be toned down, and that the famous fireworks will not light up the sky; the money will instead be donated to Yolanda survivors.
UST central student council secretary Ina Vergara said that while toning down the festivities, Thomasians will still be able to celebrate “Paskuhan.”
More than a hundred Thomasians volunteered in repacking goods at the Quadricentennial Pavilion inside the university.
“We did not invite them, they just came,” said Marielyn Quitana, director of the UST-Simbahayan Community Development Office.
Joey Basa, a second year financial management major, recounted the feeling when he volunteered to repack relief goods. “After Yolanda ravaged the country, I said to myself I would dedicate one day to help in the relief operations. As I repacked plastic bags of goods, water and clothes, my heart was pounding with joy,” he said.
“It was really an unforgettable experience helping, knowing that what you did will help a family survive,” he added.