On the eve of the feast of St. Vincent de Paul (September 26), the northern part of the Philippines was struck by Typhoon Ondoy. Not unfamiliar with this phenomenon as the country is visited by an average of 20 typhoons a year, the Filipinos made the most basic preparations. Yet everyone was taken aback by the amount of water that poured nonstop for nine hours, flooding entire municipalities including Metro Manila. The death toll is nearing 300 and many places are still inaccessible with thigh-deep muddy water. To give a more vivid picture of the situation, weather authorities described it as “Ondoy is to the Philippines what Katrina was to the US.”
Ondoy did not spare Adamson University. The chest-deep water in some parts of the school destroyed millions worth of property including the school gym, computer laboratories and important office files. Anticipating expenses for repairs and refurbishing, the University’s budget has to be realigned and the annual Christmas party will have to forego. Yet, in spite all these and even when classes have been suspended for the entire week, students, personnel and administrators alike reported voluntarily to organize “Bigay Lakas,” an empowering Adamson Relief Operation for the least fortunate especially in Marilao, Bulacan. The government aid has not yet reached the 1,600 families who lost everything in the flood. Thus, Adamsonians take on the challenge, considering it their “Mission: Possible.” They shared what resources they have. Personal pledges, donations in cash and in kind are coming in. Student and personnel volunteers are organized to carry on the tasks in order to make our help effective, efficient and sustainable. The Integrated Community Extension Services (ICES) of AdU are also tapping NGOs like Caritas Manila and are collaborating with other universities and local government officials in order to deliver our aid directly to the victims. Since Monday, September 28, the volunteers have been going to the area to distribute goods, help them clean up their places, do medical missions or collaborate in what they can do best.
Who are these volunteers? Were they spared from the effects of the typhoon? NO. They are victims themselves who lost personal properties too. But they are doing this because they are simply grateful that they are alive and are in a “relatively better plight” than the others. Like wounded healers they are willing to help and serve those who are more in need than them. Adamson University is not luxuriating in wealth, yet it can champion the cause of the poor. One may not be able to totally eradicate poverty, but it is responding to the urgent call of collaboration to alleviate it. Is this Adamson Vincentian Mission possible? Yes, it is. Pamela Mantuhac