Back with Bigger Hearts: A Photo Essay

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DOST-PAGASA satellite feed of tropical storm ‘Maring’ that hit Manila with maximum winds of 75 kph, causing major thoroughfares in Metro Manila to be flooded. ‘Maring’ was enhanced by the oncoming Southwest Monsoon or Habagat, creating moderate to heavy rainshowers all throughout Luzon.

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VIA SOCIAL MEDIA. Several schools suspended their classes as major thoroughfares quickly became flooded. Mr. Rene Ledesma, head of the Center for Student Affairs (CSA), used his Twitter account to announce the suspension of classes at quarter past one in the morning of August 19. The official UA&P Twitter account followed suit.

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BACK WITH BIGGER HEARTS: Relief operations came about through UA&P-H.O.P.E.S. (Helping Others by Providing Efficient Service), which arose during Ondoy. The experience during Ondoy was turned into a praxis (c/o CSA) that greatly facilitated this year’s relief operations.

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Ivy Zuñiga gives directives to both students and employees. Both sectors worked hand-in-hand, creating a seamless operation that was effective and efficient.

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Students segregated, separated and sorted all the dry goods to make it easier to repack them in individual bags. Each day brought a new set of volunteers, but this did not disrupt the flow of operations. The heads (all students) saw to it that each new volunteer was briefed properly, ensuring the fast flow of operations.

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One of the classrooms in the CAS building was converted into a “clothing warehouse” where clothes were segregated accordingly: male clothing was separated from female, and shirts, shorts and pants had their own respective pile. This segregation system became a big help when large batches of goods arrived.

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The students followed a system that made the flow of work easier: starting with dropping off of goods at Study Hall A. Goods were then sent to a designated room for packing. This system first started in 2012, when UA&P-H.O.P.E.S. relief operations was first launched to accommodate the victims of Habagat.

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A few faculty members were there, not leading or supervising, but lending a hand while allowing the students to handle the whole operations, to make it their own. As a student-run activity, the relief operations became a very good step in creating a bond between students and teachers. Photo courtesy of Lio Cana

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The students listed down all goods as they came in, making sure to take note of every canned good or bottle of water that came in through Study Hall A. Turning Study Hall A into a major drop-off point was crucial, since it also became a place where the student volunteers could assess if more goods were needed.

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With a system as efficient as that of a factory, an influx of clothing donations didn’t overwhelm the volunteers.

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The repacked goods await deployment. From time to time, the repacking team always lacked certain goods, making this a rare sight during the operations. This was where cash donations became handy: the relief team used them to buy whatever was needed to complete the items in relief packs, be it bottled water, canned goods, etc.

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The UA&P relief team cooperated with the Emergency Rescue Association – Quick Response Team (ERA–QRT) who were essential in the deployment of goods, since they supplied various contacts such as MMDA, PNP, the Navy, and the Marines.

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Students getting ready to be deployed to Parañaque with ERA–QRT during the first day of operations. Despite the lack of volunteers, the deployment worked smoothly because of lessons learned from last year’s Habagat relief operations. Photo Courtesy of Lio Cana.

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The flood vicitms of Parañaque lining up for the goods deployed by the UA&P relief team. Parañaque was one of the first of many deployment locations for the relief team.

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The UA&P relief team releasing goods to flood victims in Parañaque. Parañaque was one of the many deployment sites that UA&P visited during the entire week. Other deployment sites include Quezon City, Parañaque, Pateros and Marikina, Navotas, and even Cavite, Biñan and Bataan.

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Social media played a very big role in information dissemination. During last year’s operations a social media team led by students was able to reach not only donors but flood victims among students. This year, social media was used more as a means of reaching out to donors and volunteers, once again united under the hashtag #UNITAS.

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Each sector of the student community was well-represented: The Bosun, Sabio, the Media Management Committee (MMC) who works under the Office of the External Vice President of the University Student Government (USG), and course organizations such as LOGOS, BEA, and POLIS helped in information dissemination, thus enabling the UA&P-H.O.P.E.S. team to reach government sectors, celebrities, and even the alumni (through the Office of Alumni Affairs), who were some of the biggest donors.

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Dr. Mariano, the University President, thanked everyone who involved themselves in the relief operations. Thus, the hashtag #DocMarSays was released along with this poster (courtesy of Iya Forbes), giving the students something to smile about.

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Social media helped in reaching out to Cainta flood victims. An alumnus-employee who lived in Cainta saw the tweet of one of their councilors who is a UA&P alumna calling out for donations. UA&P-H.O.P.E.S. delivered 550 packs of dry goods. Photo courtesy of Loise Ticman.

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The University also served as a home base for most government sectors; pictured here is the PNP who picked up goods for Parañaque. Photo courtesy of Ina Capulong.

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One of the trucks used to transport relief goods and volunteers from UA&P to the different deployment sites. The Air Force is only one of the sectors that chose to work with UA&P. Among others were the PNP, MMDA, the Navy, and the Marines.

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Overall, the UA&P-H.O.P.E.S. relief team managed to release 8,306 packs in the span of one week, and they did it with a lot of help from donors such as the alumni and the surrounding community, the sectors who allowed the use of their trucks to transport the goods to evacuation centers, and most specially to the student and employee volunteers who, even though they do not have much to give, gave what is most important to them: their time and effort in the service of others. We hope that when the need arises again, more hands from the UA&P community will be willing to help out, whether simply retweeting a call for help or leading a team of volunteers in the deployment of goods.

*Photos courtesy of Lio Cana, Ina Capulong, Iya Forbes and Marie Puyat.

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