Giving back to Pisay

PSHS System Director Shares Her Experience in Leyte

Photo Credit: Riza Reyna Aguilar

Dear Friends,

Here's an update:

Mission 1: To reach PSHS Eastern Visayas Campus in Palo, Leyte at all cost.

November 11:

7:00am- I appealed to PSHS Main Campus during the flag ceremony for
financial support to help our faculty, staff, students at PSHS Eastern
Visayas. Was able to raise P50,000.00+ in an hour.

8:30am- Went to DOST Bicutan to inform Secretary Mario Montejo of plan to
bring support to PSHS EVC. Spoke during the DOST MANCOM Meeting to relay
plans, re: Mission Palo. ASTI Director Dennis Villorente sent 6 units of
BGAN Satellite phones but we decided to bring only 3 units because we are
not sure of route to take, and we prioritized to bring food. We only
brought backpacks as we were ready to take the motorcycle, or "habal-habal"
ride in case we cannot take a van or bus to Palo, Leyte where our campus is
located.

10:00am- Purchased boxes of over the counter drugs- paracetamol and
anti-diarrhea.

2:00pm- Took a flight,Manila to Cebu with Director Lilia Habacon of PSHS
Central Luzon Campus. We arrived Cebu by 3:30pm and were met by three
teachers from PSHS Central Visayas Campus, Riza Aguilar, Alco Kenneth
Tolentino , and Julius Albina. The five of us planned our "Mission- Palo,
Leyte."

4:00pm- We contacted General Caringal of Philippine Marines. He
introduced us to us to Commodore Yoma of the Philippine Navy. Our PSHS
TEAM- Mission Palo proceeded to the Navy Headquarters in Lapu-Lapu City and
held a meeting with the officers of Commodore Yoma. Philippine Navy offered
to take us to Tacloban City but their ship was still scheduled to leave on
Wednesday. We cannot wait. We discussed possible routes, the pros and
cons. Our team decided that the Cebu-Baybay, Leyte- Palo route is the most
feasible. The Navy informed us that there is no update on security, re:
route we have chosen.

As of today, it is still too dangerous to travel to Tacloban City. There
is restlessness and disorder.

5:30pm- Our team proceeded to SM City Cebu to buy food items that will
fit into our backpacks. We were informed by the Navy that there is looting
and were advised not to be visible that we are bringing much food. Besides,
we were ready to take the "Habal-habal" and to walk in the event that we
cannot get a van, or a bus ride.

8:00pm- We took a boat from Cebu Pier to Baybay, Leyte. From the plane
ride from Manila to Cebu, to the boat from Cebu to Baybay, Leyte, I can't
help my tears from falling. Each time I eat, I cry...I think of the people
who have not eaten for four days...

On the boat, we made contingency plans: Plan A- to rent a van, and as
soon as we can get a van, to buy as much supplies in Baybay, Leyte for
PSHS-EVC. Plan B: If we cannot get a van, to ride a motorcycle, each one of
us, with our backpacks, and also to be ready to walk.

 

3:am- We reached Baybay, Leyte. It was raining hard. We waited until

about 5am and the two teachers from our team went down and looked for a van.

We were able to get a van at about 6am. However, 6 other men pleaded to

ride our van as they are also en route to Palo, Leyte to look for their

families. We agreed. We felt with additional males in the group. However,

we did not have enough space to buy more supplies. So, we just bought all

the bread we can get from Baybay, Leyte and hid these in the available

spaces in the floor of the van for fear that we will be looted, or stopped

by hungry people.

 

6:30am- We left Baybay, Leyte. Along the way, we were shocked by the

gravity of the devastation. Trees, houses, schools, buildings, schools,

churches- no standing tree nor infrastructure was spared. The distance

between Baybay to Palo was about 120 kilometers. We could only smile to

think of the "habal-habal" or the motorcyle ride for 120kms that we were

ready to take, or the walk that we planned. We were the only group who was

able to get a van to bring us to Palo becuase diesel or gasoline was

rationed. There were women crying, asking to ride with us, but there was no

more space.

 

From Baybay, Mahaplag, Abuyog, Mac Arthur, Mayorga, Dulag, Tolosa,

Tan-awan, and Palo, we saw:

 

- all forms of livelihood disappeared; trees fallen or uprooted, all

houses without roofs or have crumbled

- entire villages swallowed by the Pacific Ocean as evidenced by some

remnants, e.g. posts standing, or half-of the houses already in water,

damaged concrete fences

- dead bodies along the road

-wrecked cars

-piles and piles of garbage, etc....

- people like zombies, children without clothes

- a lot more devastation, I can't described all of them, but there was

wreckage everywhere... From what I saw, I personally believe that over

50,000 people died from the tragedy. Storm surges have wiped out villages.

Villages swallowed by Pacific Ocean. Where will they hide, which place is

safe?

 

10:00am- We reached Palo, Leyte. Site devastating. Crumbled buildings,

people waiting for relief goods, etc. But it seems relief goods are only

focused in Tacloban City. We have not seen distribution of relief goods in

the 120 kms that we have travelled- from Baybay to Palo.

We met with PSHS EVC teachers and staff, and some students. Crying....

They said, "Your arrival gave us some sense of hope..."

The site of PSHS- Eastern Visayas also crumbled our hearts:

- all buildings without roofs

-Gym, massive destruction

-all equipment and facilities destroyed

- about 2,000 people occupying the 1st and 3rd floors of our buildings

-PSHS EVC and DOST families are housed in the 2nd and 1st floor of the

PSHS Girls and Boys Dormitory

-Personnel count are as follows: as of date, the following are confirmed

dead- one student, one teacher, school driver. Many still unaccounted for

including 5 security guards

- Campus Director Dr. Rey Garnace has been walking everyday, trying to

locate our students and their families.

- We were not able to get news of our PSHS Central Visaays Campus who

lives in Tacloban. It is too dangerous to go to Tacloban, by foot, more so

by car.

- mass burning of dead bodies near our campus

 

11:00am- met with Governor Dominique Petilla of Leyte. Navy is willing

to bring the 50 sacks of rice that we initially want to take to Palo.

However, the ship will dock in Tacloban. We inquired from Gov. Petilla if

he can arrange for a truck to bring the sacks of rice from Tacloban to PSHS

EVC. Gov. Petilla said that if the goods will dock in Tacloban, for sure,

these could not reach Palo. We then asked for boxes of medicines from Gov.

Petilla. One box of medicine was brought by military men to EVC.

 

People came to me for medicines. Old people with injuries- a very pitiful

sight. I started giving pain relievers and antibiotics, until I realized I

am not a medical doctor, and had to force myself to stop.

 

11:30- Medical doctors form the CARAGA Volunteer team came to PSHS EVC.

I felt relieved.

 

12:30- Our team decided to go back to Baybay, Leyte with two security

guards from EVC to purchase more goods, as we were already sure of a safe

route to take.

 

3:30pm- We arrived Baybay, and panic-buying set in. We purchased all the

basic items, most especially canned goods, and sacks of rice that will fit

in the van. We arranged them in such a way that these will not be visible

from the outside.

 

4:30pm- All of us ate our first meal in a carenderia in front of the

store where be bought five sacks of rice. Food tasted "super delicious."

 

5:00pm- Van with two security guards departed for Palo. My instruction

was, "Don't risk your lives. If you will be stopped, distribute the goods.

Everyone is hungry."

 

6:00pm. Our team proceeded to the ship in Baybay Pier which was expected

to depart for Cebu by 8pm. It was raining heavily. There was storm signal

number 1.

 

8:00pm- Ship departed for Cebu

 

8:30pm- I received a call from Dr. Rey Garmace (thanks to the satellite

phone from DOST) that our van of goods has arrived PSHS EVC safely!

 

10:30pm- I woke up from the strong waves and rain. Looked at my

companions and they were snoring heavily! Prayed hard that we could reach

Cebu safely.

 

 

2:30am- Our ship docked in Cebu pier. Mission 1 accomplished!

 

9:00am- I called DOST Secretary Montejo and informed him of our

accomplishments. Also told him of the safest route to take to reach Palo,

and how we did it.

 

Sec. Montejo and our PSHS Team has planned Mission 2: Help for Palo and

nearby areas.

 

This afternoon, I, Director Habacon, and a team from PSHS Central Visayas,

together with DOST 7, will start preparing for Mission 2. Financial support

is still coming from all PSHS Campuses. The P50,000 collected from PSHS

Main Campus and Office of the Executive Director last Monday was used to buy

goods for mission 1. The P100,000 sent by PSHS Cagayan Valley Campus, and

the P69,000 sent by Main Campus today, will be used for Mission 2, together

with the support from DOST Secretary. For Mission 2, the PSHS CvISc INNOVA,

DOST van, and another van will bring goods to Palo and nearby areas.

 

Director Gene Andres also called up today to inform that a group on PSHS

Alumni doctors are organizing a team to do medical mission in Leyte, with

the center at PSHS EVC. I also called PSHS Alumni President, Dr. Jondi

Flavier to send antibiotics and tetanus vaccines. Currently, we are calling

parents and medical doctors here in Cebu to donate medicines. We are doing

it our way, and it seems, this is more effective.

 

This is all for now. I have attached some pictures of our damaged campus

and devastation.

 

Thank you for your continued support to PSHS.

 

Sincerely,

Josette T. Biyo

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