As Relief Efforts Continue, Progressive Groups Rely on People’s Kindness

The volunteers who took turns sleeping just to finish repacking the relief goods, were all eager and excited because despite all the odds, the relief operations pushed through.

Meager Harvests

The first stop of the convoy was Nueva Ecija, considered as the rice granary of the country and also the home province of Rep. Rafael ‘Ka Paeng’ Mariano where the peasant leader turned solon led the house-to- house delivery of relief goods.

The Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) helped facilitate the distribution of goods to the poorest peasant families in San Leonardo and Sta. Rosa towns where floodwaters reached waist-deep at the height of the storm.

The destruction wrought by the back-to-back typhoons displayed in broad daylight as hectares of rice fields in Nueva Ecija were destroyed. Blackened palay grains were scattered on the roads for drying. “Because of the flood, the farmers hardly benefited from their harvest. If the rice grains soaked by the flood could no longer be sold, the farmers would just eat it,” Mariano said in Filipino.

Farmers who were able to harvest and salvage some crops were forced to sell palay and other produce at very low prices. Before the typhoon, palay prices were already down to P12 to 15 ($0.25 to $0.31) per kilo. Now, farm gate prices were further pushed down to P7 to P8 ($0.147 to $0.168) per kilo.

Rep. Mariano said that in his hometown in Quezon, Nueva Ecija, his town mates resorted to harvesting kangkong or swamp cabbage, their only reliable livelihood at this period. Other in-between cropping season produce like tomatoes, eggplants and corn were also devastated.
At the San Andres II barangay hall, while waiting for the relief goods to arrive, hundreds of families lined-up while sorting and tying truckloads of kangkong that will earn them P300 ($6.30) a day.

Senior citizens, mostly septuagenarians and mothers with babies arranged themselves in single file and patiently waited for their turn to receive the bag of goods. Small children, whose fathers and older brothers went to farm, orderly waited in line sans slippers and warmly welcomed the relief operation volunteers.

Isolated Towns

In Pangasinan, where San Roque Dam sits, the destruction is more evident. Even in dusk, the heavy damages in Rosales town looked harrowing. Rows of houses and stores are deserted making the municipality look like a ghost town.

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