Monthly Archives: November 2013

#OplanSalubong | Bittersweet experience…

It was just an accident that I was able to come to know the existence of Oplan Salubong in Villamor Air Base three days after the operation have been started by the Philippine Air Force Ladies Club and concerned private citizens. We originally planned to go to DSWD National Resource Operation Center (NROC) to help repackaging relief goods but since its Saturday, volunteers are just overwhelming. We were advised to try the DSWD Satellite Resource Operation Center (SROC) at PAF Gym in Villamor Air Base. In about thirty-minutes, we arrived at the air base. To our surprise, the same scenario in NROC is going on. We decided to leave. While looking for the exit gate, I figured out that the other people leaving the gym are going out of the base as well. So we followed them until we ended right at the Philippine Air Force Grandstand.

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My inquisitive mind tried to know what was happening there. We immediately went through the volunteer registration booth. Without knowing what’s in there, we signed-up for volunteer marshals. We were given name tags and then allowed to be seated in the nearby stairs. Went through orientation and that’s when I learned that the operation happening there is aimed towards giving an immediate help of physiological and psychological processing for all individuals displaced in areas battered by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). I felt mix emotions. I am so happy that I came to know this operation. It gives you the opportunity to interact directly with the survivors. Felt sad at the same time because I am uncertain on what life is waiting for those people here in Manila and other parts of Luzon. But what is important right now is the immediate relief we could give to them as they arrive.

Arrival of Displaced Individuals

The adrenaline pumped action starts every time a PAF C-130 Hercules or a US Globemaster III cargo planes arrive at the air base. A C-130 has at least 150 pax capacity and the Globemaster can carry at least 600 pax. So imagine the influx of passengers when this cargo planes arrive just a minute after the other. Most flights are coming in during the wee hours of the night and early in the morning.

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Shortly after the plane stops at the tarmac, volunteer’s starts lining to cordon the area to easily lead the passengers going to the appropriate block area in the grandstand where they will be seated temporarily and take a much needed rest before processing further their needs. As the passengers approached the cordon, volunteers starts clapping and greeting them to help at least ease their doubts and fears on what will happen to them in Manila. Flashing a great smile is a must! Volunteers also help carry huge and heavy baggage of the passengers and bring it to their resting sit at the grandstand.

Some ailing passengers and senior citizens are being met right at the C-130 or Globemaster III cargo planes with a wheel chair and brought at the medical tent for immediate medical attention. Serious cases are being carried through a stretcher and are transported directly to the hospital via an ambulance on standby.


Babies arriving are being brought to the Nanay Bayanihan tent where they are being breastfed and diaper as well as clothing changed.

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When the rain pours, volunteers with umbrella rushes to meet the passengers at  the C-130 or Globemaster III planes and help protect the babies, children, elderly and sick passengers from the rain. It should be noted however that civilians are not allowed to go at the tarmac near the planes. Only certain circumstances such as the need for umbrella, wheel chair and stretcher where no men in uniform is available to do it, civilian volunteers are allowed to go. I am one of the few to have this privilege and I can’t express how grateful I am that I was able to help yet fulfilling a dream to go near one of those aircraft.

At the Grandstand

As the cargo plane passengers arrive and have taken their sit at the designated block at the grandstand, food and water are being distributed to them. Most of the arriving passengers have been waiting for days to get their chance to be airlifted and brought to Manila. They have not eaten a good meal since then.  Food marshals starts to take charge after the security marshals have settled all the individuals in their seat. Sometimes a cargo plane while unloading passengers can take its tail fronting the grandstand. Strong turbulent winds will get through the survivors. Volunteer marshals will spot any children or babies and help them shield against the impact of the wind by covering them with clothes, umbrella or volunteers even use their own body to lessen the winds impact going through those little babies and innocent children. Aside from food, they are also given extra clothes, towel, blankets and mats including some food packs or grocery items.

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Volunteer marshals at the grandstand.


Soon after the displaced individuals have taken their meals, DSWD social workers and other qualified volunteer counsellors starts to interview each family and or individuals. The interview will become the profiling to get data about relatives where they could go. Passengers with relatives are being handed to Operation Hatid and or relatives waiting in the air base. Survivors who have nowhere to go are temporarily housed in a nearby Tent City or any institution that can give them care. Oplan Hatid is an initiative ran by volunteers to freely transport passengers in various points within or outside Metro Manila.

Despite the flaws and glitches of the operation, volunteers still come in rushing to offer their time and efforts. It is heart-warming to know that we Filipinos even if our government does not ask as to do so, we are always there and willing to extend a helping hand. Volunteers and donors (Filipinos and foreigners alike) are the unpaid hands and unsung heroes graciously giving in this operation. Despite the chaos and confusion, we never let our passion to serve die down. Instead, the fire just keeps on blazing. I salute the original group who brain-child this activity. Without you we are also not here. I just had the chance to experience Nicole Gamo’s brilliant take on volunteer management. When I say brilliant, it’s really brilliant. Nicole has been there I think since Day 01. To think, she’s not even part of PAF nor DSWD. She remained calm and humble despite of the many reasons in front and behind her to break down. In one of the volunteers meeting I was able to attend, she showed humility when somebody tried to butt and break what Nicole is saying and took the floor from her. Despite that, she just smile and did not do nor say anything to interrupt that guy. I salute you for that.

The Bittersweet Experience

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Being a volunteer of Oplan Salubong gives you the opportunity to interact with people who brave the odds. As they approached the holding area, various faces can be seen. Some can already smile but some still looks sad and bewildered. Sea of unknown faces that could give hurt or joy to anyone’s heart present in the operation. Even though we are hurting for them, the least we could do is to show them a cheerful face.

Talking to the survivors and them voluntarily speaking out their ordeal is priceless. I was able to have some chat with the few families I escorted and assisted as they come to the grandstand and go on to their respective destinations.

This grandfather and his grandchild survived the storm surge in Tacloban. According to him, they have to break in the ceiling and eventually the roof of their house just for them to escape the fast growing sea water level engulfing their house. After they were able to manage on top of the roof, the water still continued to rise. God willing, they were able to escape their way out of raging water by climbing on their neighbour’s house with a second floor. On their way to Manila, they were separated with his wife and son who were given priority to be airlifted since she was bedridden. Shortly after arriving in Manila, he feels so uneasy thinking of his wife and where they are. He keeps on telling he needs to get to his wife but doesn’t know how and where to go. Volunteer counsellors were able to manage the situation. They were able to contact his son and swift his way back to the grandstand to fetch them. As soon as this young boy saw his uncle, his face glowed, a sign of relief. It was precious seeing that moment, where the boy’s eye shined once more.


I was also  able to talk with a grandmother where her family was able to escape the wrath of Yolanda but all their belongings including their house has been robbed away from them by the typhoon. She was with her granddaughter and his son. According to her, after Yolanda struck their house, they are staying in a neighbour’s house though without a roof. Food aid comes but not enough. That’s when they have decided to come to Manila. Fortunately, his son is working in a bank somewhere in Roxas Blvd., so he went out for days through a Ro-Ro to get to their place in the Visayas just to take his mother and his daughter with him back to Manila.

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I was also able to assist a father who came from Bulacan looking for his son. He was so happy telling me stories about how his son was able to get through the storm. The C-130 Hercules plane has not put on full-stop yet so I decided to bring him together with his own father who came to the base with him at the back of the grandstand to protect them from the planes strong wind and avoid them from getting dizzy due to fuel stink emanating from the cargo plane. I gave them some food and water while waiting for the grandstand to settle. I briefed him that we will wait for his son to be released by an appropriate DSWD social worker in compliance with the oplan’s rule. As soon as the cargo plane left the tarmac, I accompanied him on the block where the new arrivals are seated. He was able to see fast and straight forward his son. He went down the grandstand, called his sons name loud and the next scene I was able to witness is something that I really cannot bear so long. They hug each other tight and noticed that they really wanted to cry but they have to halt it. After that, I went off my way and took some fresh air and gain my smile back ready to help other families coming in.

These are just part of the many stories of reunited displaced families arriving in the air base. Hearing straight from the survivors of their accounts of their distress is just too much to endure. Salute to all volunteer counsellors who are doing their job to process the trauma and emotional needs of the survivors.

Aside from the simple tasks of carrying the survivors baggage going to Oplan Hatid booth or just helping to attend on what they need for relief; there are a lot of other help myself and other volunteers have done which we do not need to say about it. We didn’t even care giving our names to them so they could remember us. Their simple thank you is more than enough.

It is with great pleasure that I am given the opportunity to be part of this endeavour as one of the regular volunteers. Thanks to the super volunteers who despite being civilians have taken their way to lead one committee of the initiative.

Any interested volunteers are provided with food and water too. You can just go any of the booths at the parking lot and all you need to do is choose what you want. All these booths are being managed by benevolent donors too.

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As of this writing, DSWD has already taken the lead role and is ensuring the smooth flow of the operation. Interested volunteers should walk-in at the registration booth located on the right side of the entrance gate going to the grandstand. Let’s keep the fire burning! Don’t let your passion to help goes down the drain. No matter what is happening around us, we should keep in mind our one main goal: “TO HELP OUR DISPLACED KABABAYAN” in any way we can!


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Volunteer orientation at the registration booth.

For more information check out this page.

Related Entry: #YolandaPH ; #TulongPH ; #ReliefPH | Looking What and Where You Could Help?

Categories: Health and Wellness, Humanitarian Operations | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#YolandaPH ; #TulongPH ; #ReliefPH | Looking What and Where You Could Help?

As the Philippines slowly grow its way out of the rubbles caused by the havoc of Super Typhoon Haiyan locally know as Yolanda, all eyes on earth are with us. International aids are coming in but these are not enough. Still thinking on where and what you can do? I tried to compile in this post all the things you could possibly want to know.

Operation Salubong at Villamor Airbase

(Disclaimer: Information with strike-through is no longer valid. No further information is released for the changes being implemented. Let us all be patient as DSWD is doing what they could to bring the operation in smooth flow. Operation Salubong is back in Villamor Air Base as of 8:00 PM 21 November 2013.)

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Some background about the operation as stated in their official Facebook page, “Last November 13, 2013 the Philippine Air Force’s C130 Hercules brought to Manila the first batch of survivors from Tacloban, Leyte. There were 160 passengers on board. The Philippine Air Force Officers Ladies’ Club, headed by Mrs. Aimee Ona, received these survivors giving them food, water, clothes and relief goods and offering de-stressing session. What a small group of Air Force wives started has blossom into a full scale receiving, de-stressing, and connecting to relatives operation.”

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For the rest of the weekend of 16-17 October 2013, the pool of volunteers is closed for walk-ins. They have overflowing volunteers already. They are trying to set-up their Facebook page so that all volunteers and willing donors and would be volunteers will need to go only through this channel for scheduling purposes. They are targeting to make the centralized database to go live this Monday or even late Sunday. (UPDATE: The online registration portal for volunteers is now up and live. Visit the following link: In the meantime, you can contact Nicole for volunteer shifting schedules as well as donor concerns at the following mobile numbers 09276067391 or 09276141478. Social workers, qualified counselors, people with with an experience or trained to do crisis management are also urgently needed as the influx of survivors come in the base. 150-200 survivors are arriving in every C130 planes that are landing in Villamor Airbase. All or most of this people needs to undergo stress and trauma processing or debriefing. Volunteer shifting are set every 6 hours starting tonight. You can choose to be on the food, debriefing, oplan hatid and marshal teams. If you plan to volunteer for marshal, just be prepared because you will do all around. Not just cordoning for arriving passengers but carrying their baggage’s, giving them food and water, escorting survivors that needs medical attention to the medical station, getting survivor profiles, initiate order and everything under the sun.

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Willing private individuals or anyone who has cars and any other vehicles that can transport arriving C130 passengers to all parts of Metro Manila or neighboring provinces are most welcome. For cooked food donations, kindly coordinate also with the operations team as donations are overflowing too.


“Latest as of November 21, 2013: Operation Salubong at Villamor Airbase will be transferred to Camp Aguinaldo starting 12:00 PM of November 21, 2013 Thursday. Please note that the operation will not cease, it’s just a change in location. No further details are available as of the moment. For all volunteers who previously signed-up online starting 12:00 noon today, November 21 are requested to proceed to Camp Aguinaldo and wait for further instructions from DSWD. Please bring your tickets. The management of the operation is now fully under DSWD so let us be patient and understanding on the drastic changes they are implementing. For more detailed and up to date information please visit the Operation Salubong’s Facebook page. Also online registration at eventbrite is suspended as of the moment. Amid the speculations, let us try to be calm.”

Oplan Hatid is now also back in Villamor Air Base, volunteer drivers can register here: as well as to get more detailed information as to how the initiative is now being carried.

All are requested to register again including those who have registered in the old registration site.

You can contact Nicole Gamo at 09276141478 to coordinate moving forward.

For some information, you can also check the official Facebook page of the original Management Committee who are still helping to disseminate announcements as they receive it.

Re-post from the Facebook account of Operation Salubong Villamor, 22 November 2013:

“ANNOUNCEMENT: As of this morning, DSWD has taken control and implemented a new volunteer registration system for Operation Salubong. They have implemented a new shift system/schedule of duty as well, so all the previous sign-ups on the Eventbrite website are now void. VOLUNTEERS CAN STILL PROCEED TO VILLAMOR, but will register again as walk-in volunteers.

Please bear with us while we document the new registration process and workflow. These will be updated in the FAQ Sheet once fully documented. We hope for your understanding during this time as we have fully transitioned control of the PAF Grandstand to DSWD.”



DSWD National Resource Operations Center

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This is located at the Chapel Road in Pasay City, near NAIA 2. It is very advisable that you try to call them and schedule for a shift. Volunteers are overflowing too, you might be waiting for an hour to three before you can actually get to the works after the necessary orientation, just be patient. After all, you are going there to help. The center is operating 24/7 and volunteers for the the night shift until six in the morning are needed the most. The center also accepts donations in kind. For more details please call them on the following lines 852-8081 & 851-2681. Try also following their twitter handle @dswdserves for updates.

As of this posting, DSWD-NROC according to their site is already full until 18 November 2013. Please check DSWD’s website for more information.


DSWD Satellite Resource Operations Center

If NROC can not accommodate you, try DSWD’s SROC’s. You can also follow their twitter handle @DSWD_SROC. I think most SROC does not accept donations as what I have personally heard from a DSWD personnel in Villamor Air Base. Please do check it with the respective SROC’s to confirm if you want to give your donations.

National Capital Region (NCR)

Ninoy Aquino Stadium
Rizal Memorial Sports Complex
M. Adriatico Street, Manila

Contact persons:

Director Honorita Bayudan

Director Chi Redaja

Director Mariz Maristela

Ateneo de Manila University (College Covered Courts)
Katipunan Ave., Loyola Heights, Quezon City

Contact person:

Johnny Miranda

De La Salle University ( North and South Conservatory)
2401 Taft Ave., Manila

Contact Persons:

Joseph Rosal of COSCA
525-4267 local 147

Nyca Lofranco

Camp Aguinaldo

Villamor Air Base, Multipurpose Hall, Pasay City

853-5128, 853-5003, 853-4944, 853-4995 and 853-5057

Region V

Albay Astrodome
Legazpi City, Albay

Contact No. :
(052) 480-5754

Region VI

DSWD Regional Office
MH del Pilar Street, Molo, Iloilo City

Contact No.:
(033) 300-0526

Region VII

Mactan Air Base, Mactan Island, Cebu

Contact Person:

Beth Cabalda
(032) 232-9507; 0916-4371532


DPWH Area Equipment Service
Brgy Luna
Surigao City

Again, if you are planning to do walk-ins, please coordinate first with the specific SROC contact person. Some sites may tend to be momentarily closed depending on any given circumstance.

Sagip Kapamilya, ABS-CBN Foundation

Volunteers are needed in their various relief packing centers across Quezon City. Please try to contact their hotline at 411-4995 first before going. Most often, their line is busy so don’t give-up pushing that redial button until you get through. Look for Jeng Del Rosario.

For your pledges according to their site, please contact them on the following numbers:

411-0013 | 411-0014 | 411-0015 | 411-0182 | 411-0183

Alternatively, you can check #TulongPH website for more information. You can get details on how you could give your donations, how to become one of their volunteers and a people finder service connected to Google that you can try to check just in case you haven’t heard any news for your affected relatives in the Visayas.

Complete information of bank accounts as well as steps on how you could give your donations are in their website. International cash donations are also possible.

GMA Kapuso Foundation

As per posting at GMA Network website, “In-kind donations may be dropped off at the Kapuso Foundation main office, 2nd Floor Kapuso Center, GMA Network Drive corner Samar Street, Diliman, Quezon City, or at the GMA Kapuso Foundation Warehouse at #366 GMA Compound, Tandang Sora Avenue, Brgy. Culiat, Quezon City.

To facilitate service delivery in the affected areas in the Visayas, drop off centers have also been established at the GMA Iloilo Staion at 5 Alta Tierra Village, Jaro, Iloilo City and GMA Cebu station at GMA Complex, Apas Nivel Hills, Cebu City.

Monetary donations, on the other hand, may be deposited at any Metrobank, UCPB, PNB, and Cebuana Lhuillier branch all over the country. Donations are tax deductible with no additional service fee. Specific bank details may be accessed through the GMA Kapuso Foundation website.

GMAKF can be reached via their hotline at (02) 9284299 or (02) 9289351 or their website.”

Tulong Kapatid Foundation/TV5

Per posting at, “The MVP Tulong Kapatid Center at the Meralco Covered Tennis Court, at the Meralco Compound, Ortigas, Pasig City, is receiving cash and in-kind donations (bottled water, canned goods, cup noodles, cupcakes, rice) for families severely affected by typhoon Yolanda, starting Sunday, Nov. 10, from 9 a.m.-5pm.

For inquiries, please contact Meralco Foundation c/o Ms. Eds Addun at 0939- 9133771 or 632-8301.”

LBC Express, Inc.

You can drop-off your in-kind donations at any branch nearest you. For people living in any parts of the world who are willing to give, like Singapore, Hongkong, Malaysia, Taiwan, etc. there are worldwide drop-off points. For the complete list and to get more information, please check this post at #ReliefPH website.

Red Cross of the Philippines

Various Red Cross repacking centers in Metro Manila are accepting donations as well as volunteers. The same scenario with DSWD, all willing volunteers must enlist for a schedule before proceeding to their chosen site. As per latest information from @lynvgarcia on Twittter, the National Headquarters need volunteers for 26 November and beyond as they are already fully-booked. They have three available shifting.

You can also visit their website or follow them on Facebook and @philredcross on Twitter for more information.

You can also donate online here

Or follow the following instructions for mobile phone users:

Text REDAMOUNT to 4143
Smart denomination: 10, 25, 50, 100, 300, 500 or 1000
Example: RED25 send to 4143

Text REDAMOUNT to 2899
Globe denomination: 5, 25, 100, 300, 500 or 1000
Example: RED25 send to 2899


Help PH

International donations via SMS/text have now been made possible. Visit helpPH for complete list of telcos around the world that supports it.



The list above is not complete; there are still other humanitarian efforts that are happening around. They might just be near your area. So check them out and do your share. has also compiled a more comprehensive list here: “#ReliefPH: Victims of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) need your help”.

Property of Rappler

Property of Rappler

Together we can do this…walang KAPAMILYA, KAPUSO or KAPATID na maiiwanan sa sama-sama nating pagharap sa matinding pagsubok sa atin.


Categories: Food, Health and Wellness, History, Humanitarian Operations, Sports, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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