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A Gift Giving at Bato, Catanduanes

“Be generous to the poor orphans and those in need. The man to whom our Lord has been liberal ought not to be stingy. We shall one day find in Heaven as much rest and joy as we ourselves have dispensed in this life”- Saint Ignatius

These lines from Saint Ignatius ignited the passion of young San Juaneños to get motivated in helping the young Catanduanons from the devastation brought by typhoon Nina on the afternoon of Christmas Day of 2016.

SDO San Juan City through the support of Dr. Joel T. Torrecampo, CESE, Officer-In-Charge of the Schools Division San Juan City and the generosity of the schools made it possible to extend help from San Juan City to Bato, Catanduanes.

All the 8 elementary schools and the only public secondary school responded to the clamor of donating goods and other stuffs. A week after, all the donations were sorted, packed and were shipped to Virac, the mission begun. Mr. Danilo A. Castro, SDO Education Program Specialist II for ALS and Mr. Joseph E. Villegas, Education Program Specialist II for HRD, Planning and Research went to personally hand the said donations to the 3 identified recipients of the 96 boxes of assorted goods, clothes, and hygiene materials namely, Bato Central School, Buenavista Elementary School, and Barangay Buenavista respectively. The said donations were received by Mrs. Belen. R. Tapas, Public School District Supervisor of Bato in the Division of Catanduanes, Mrs. Janet Torrecampo, Head Teacher II of Buenavista Elementary School and, Barangay Captain Candido Timola of Barangay Buenavista, Bato Catanduanes.

The smiles of the children of Buenavista Elementary School along with the residents of the barangay were incomparable and it eased our exhaustion due to a long travel on land and the not so friendly waves of sea water. Everyone would say “Thank you” or “Dios Mabalos” in their native tongue. It really gave us a feeling of excitement and some sort of upliftment. Everyone excitedly helped in unloading the truck with the donations. All were eager of the humble help that SDO San Juan City extended.

Reaching out to the people of Catanduanes particularly of Bato was a way of looking back as the current OIC of SDO San Juan City Dr. Joel T. Torrecampo spent his early years at Buenavista Elementary School. He gave a short glimpse of his early childhood years at the said place prior to our departure on February 02, 2017. He shared that life then at Bato was so difficult, people then had barely rice to cook, so they only depend on boiled camote or banana. The highway then was rough not unlike today that it is already concrete. Means of transportation were also lacking so most of the time people had to walk going to the “Centro” for them be able to buy their necessities at home. For him those situations brought him to dream bigger, those experiences made him of what he is now.

On a personal note, I also reflected that the resilience of the people in this typhoon stricken belt of the Philippines is as strong as those mountains surrounding the whole province. They were able to survive the dreadful typhoon signal number 4 that uprooted thousands of coconut trees, and left weak structures to collapse. I admire their resiliency. No wonder that despite of what happen, they were all well and they all welcomed us with a genuine smile on their faces.

Article written by:

Mr. Joseph E. Villegas (Education Program Specialist II)

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