October 23, 2013
The massive 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck our beloved islands has left in its wake at least 190 people dead, over 600 injured, nearly 380,000 people displaced, and over 3.5 million affected. The quake, which decimated centuries-old churches and heritage sites, buildings and homes, has generated over 2,000 aftershocks, which we still feel to this day.
The trail of devastation and sorrow left by the quake is evident everywhere in this region: in parts of Cebu, and most palpably, in Bohol. Amidst the scores of dead and debris, Cebuanos and Boholanos alike are emerging from this monumental tragedy determined, resolute, and relentless in purveying a resounding message to the world: “We shall overcome.”
In the last week since the quake, I have seen such a stunning coming-together of individuals and organizations all united for one cause: to help Cebu and Bohol recover, rebuild, and rise.
As personal accounts and photos of the devastation flooded social media on the day of the quake, former Bb. Pilipinas–World Anna Maris Igpit quickly enlisted the help of her fellow Boholanos from Manila, Cebu, and Davao to generate support for #rescuebohol. By Anna’s own account, hundreds of pledges of support quickly came in from all over the world. Serving as a bridge from donors to victim-donees via social media, Anna’s group founded and activated #OplanBangonBohol, whose teams are now on the ground distributing relief goods to victims in barangays hardest hit by the quake. In partnership with GMA Network’s Kapuso Foundation and many other non-government organizations, #OplanBangonBohol has become a great source of solace for tens of thousands of Boholanos at a time of such great despair.
Multi-awarded entrepreneur Jay Aldeguer, founder and CEO of the Islands Group, lost no time mobilizing #BangonSugBohol, rallying Cebuanos to participate in a collective movement to gather and send aid to families of victims and survivors of the quake. Bringing together some of Cebu’s local government units and leading business and civic organizations such as the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Cebu Business Club, and the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce among others. #BangonSugBohol has raised P1 million through a benefit concert that had about 500 performing artists volunteering their talents to the cause.
University of Cebu (UC) Chancellor Candice Gotianuy did not hesitate to open the doors of their Banilad Campus to become a repository for donations in cash and in kind, which steadily streamed in as soon as news of the quake spread. Since then, Candice, together with UC Director for Marketing and Communications Lotlot Labrador-Neri, has mobilized hundreds of volunteers to pack more than 10,000 bags of relief goods, which have reached even the most remote mountain barangays of Bohol.
MSY Foundation Chair Mariquita Salimbangon Yeung quickly gathered close to 30 doctors and scores of volunteers to undertake a much-needed medical mission in Bohol whilst distributing truckloads of relief goods.
Hundreds of other Cebuanos and Boholanos here and abroad have also responded to the call to action, demonstrating an extraordinary amount of compassion for their fallen brothers and sisters, and in the process, encouraging other Filipinos the world over to join in the cause.
Lapu-Lapu, a Cebuano, and Francisco Dagohoy, a Boholano, both made their mark in history as heroes armed with an unrelenting fighting spirit. In the aftermath of this devastating earthquake, Cebuanos and Boholanos alike have shown the world that to this day, the fighting spirit of their forefathers very much flows in their veins.
For information on how you can donate and aid in relief operations for earthquake victims in Cebu and Bohol, please visit Bangon Sugbohol and Oplan Bangon Bohol on Facebook or call the University of Cebu at +6332.233.8888.
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