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    Posted February 3, 2012 by
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    Life Event: Operation VALENTINES, Underway


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Pilipinas says he and his friends wanted to do something for the victims of Typhoon Sendong. They gathered everything from books to food and traveled to Cagayan de Oro the first week of February to distribute them to those still in need. They nicknamed the trip "Operation Valentine." He says he can't think of a better thing to do than "on the love month of February, to do something that will show these people the love and concern we do have for them."
    - jhays, CNN iReport producer

    3 February 2012.
    11PM (PST)

    It’s been about 48 days since Typhoon Sendong (International Name: Washi) devastated the Philippines’ South side areas such as Cagayan de Oro and Iligan. Thousands died, and those who survived have found it hard to cope with the loss, the grief and the pain. It wasn’t the way anyone thought they’d spend their Christmas season – what was supposed to be a time of cheer and happiness, turned into a time of mourning.

    Wanting to do something to lighten the burden of the people affected by the typhoon, what started with a group of three going to CDO for a quick relief operation during the last day of 2011, has given us a burden to do something more. And what better time to do it than now – during the month of hearts – this February, before Valentine’s Day. Almost fifty days after the typhoon, when “support” has slowed down, and the attention of the people are elsewhere, here we are going to areas where the people still live in hunger, despair, and loss.

    Just ordinary people we are, for the past thirty or so days, we’ve tried to put together what we can. Though hindered by the method by which we can ship the goods we’ve got, we finally decided to take what we can with the current resources we have. It would be easy to just come and feed the people a meal maybe, but we seek to do something more; to leave behind something that may touch the lives of these people – our brothers and sisters; whether they be Christian or Muslim, that doesn’t matter. They need help and whatever we can bring, we shall.

    Though we left about half a ton of clothes, we decided to pack – books, books enough to start a small library for elementary school children; we also packed Christian books for Christian leaders. We brought bottles where people can keep their water safe as well…

    We started to arrive here in Cagayan de Oro almost about 24 hours ago. We came in four batches, taking different airlines, with different time schedules. The first who arrived in the area was Shine – though her flight was delayed for almost two hours, she made it here about 5am (PST). Veron and Andrew were supposed to be the next to arrive later in the day, but their flight was delayed; my companions, Lia, Sherbien and myself arrived about 6:30PM (PST), followed by Veron and Andrew after almost a two hour delay. Two of our companions arrived just a couple of hours ago, their flight delayed as well. Well, we’re all here right now – safe, and that’s what matters.

    Upon arrival, we gathered the other supplies we needed here in the area. We’ve packed half a ton of rice which we shall bring with us; we also got school supplies for the children – something to help them pass the time with, and get their young minds away from the loss and pain, and focus on something more productive – which is learning.

    Right now, most of the team is resting. Got to wake up early, just have a couple of hours rest. We begin to mobilize about 5am (PST) to move to a site in Iligan where we will buy food to cook for the people and teach and play with the children.

    Of all the things we bring with us on this Project: Valentines, there is one thing we hope to bring to the people, that would stay with them – HOPE. It’s not something we can pack in a box, not something that we can weigh or put a price tag on. It is in showing them, that in their suffering and pain, they are not alone. That there will always be people – ordinary folks, who, when given the chance, can do a little something to make a difference in someone else’s life…
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