“Masakit na paa ko sa kakatayo, neng,” Tatay Baldo said, looking down at his worn-out slippers. (My feet were swollen due to extended periods of standing, neng.) He sat down, smiled while looking at the people queuing for relief goods, and said he is thankful that his wound from his pancreas operation was almost healed.

Tatay Baldo with his family 

Kasya na kaya sakin ‘tong tsinelas?” “Tay, ‘di na masyadog malamig sa likod pagtulog mamaya,” said Tatay Baldo, 59, and Babylene, 24, almost simultaneously. (“Will these slippers fit men now?” “Tay, it won’t be that cold for our backs when we sleep later.)

Their neighbor, Chery Lyn, 33, pregnant of five (5) months sighed heavily on the side. “Ma’am, ilagay niyo po kami sa Facebook para malaman ng pamilya namin na okay lang po kami,” she said. (Ma’am, please put us on Facebook so our family will know that we are safe.)

Tatay Baldo and his family holding the relief packs given by Operation Blessing 

Tatay Baldo Oliva, along with his two sons, daughter’s family, three grandchildren, Babylene Perelonia (his daughter-in-law), and Cherry Lyn Servito, fled with their whole community from Barangay Berinaya, Laurel, Batangas on that uneventful Sunday night when Taal Volcano spewed ashes that covered most parts of CALABARZON.

He was teary-eyed when he described how their locality suddenly turned dark; and next thing they knew, it started raining “stones and sand”. Tatay said they had to literally disassemble the boats’ oil tank to get what remained of its fuel and divided it among themselves for their motorcycles’ fill. They had to destroy some parts of the boats of what could have been their stable source of income just for them to flee from the looming danger of ashes blanketing their whole barangay. They did escape — with four to five people in one single motorcycle, taking only one bag of belonging for the entire family. 

Babylene, on the other hand, recalled how some of their neighbors walked from their barangay to the nearest evacuation center, just because they don’t have the means to escape faster. She said she was happy to see their municipal government mobilize their rescue efforts early so they had to transfer to military trucks, only to hop out because it was overcrowded. It was then that they parted ways with Tatay Baldo’s daughter and her family. 

They stayed for two nights at Niyogan Elementary School and was transferred again to Splendido de Taal covered court where they received the relief goods containing hygiene kits, slippers, and sleeping mats from Operation Blessing Foundation Philippines.

The displaced people screamed in glee when the OB Staff showed the contents of the bags– toothbrushes, tubes of toothpaste, detergent powders, diapers, sanitary pads, among other basic hygiene necessities. Also included in loot were water bottles, a pair of slippers, blankets, and mattresses.

Tatay Baldo’s family and neighbors are among the more than 140 families taking comfort in the confines of Splendido covered court. Majority of whom make a living out of fish farming, irrigation, and navigation-related activities (tourism, sight-seeing).

They had no choice but to leave their pets and animals (horses, cows, chickens, pigs) because as tatay Baldo puts it “gusto man po namin, di namin kaya. Mas mahalaga po ang buhay ng tao kaysa sa hayop, Ma’am. Pinakawalan na lang po namin sila bakasakaling makahanap sila ng masisilungan at kakainan,” he added. (Although we want to take our animals with us, we can’t do it. People’s lives are more important than our animals in this time. We released them with high hopes that they were able to find shelter and food [on their own]).

They wish they could go back to tend to their animals but the alert level status of Taal Volcano is refraining them from entering the permanent danger zones. 

Recipients of OB’s relief packs from one of the evacuation sites in Calacan Batangas

“Ang dami nang pumunta para magbigay ng tulong, pero kayo ang kauna-unahang nagdasal para sa’min. Hindi talaga nagpapabaya ang Panginoon. Maraming salamat sa inyo. Makakatulog na kami ng hindi nilalamig ang likod mamayang gabi. Pagpalain kayo, neng”, Tatay Baldo uttered in delight. (Many have come to help but you are the first ones to pray for us. God really never neglects us. Thank you very much. We can now sleep without feeling the cold in our backs tonight. May you be blessed.)

Operation Blessing Foundation Philippines has been extending aid and support to the affected individuals because of the Taal Volcano Eruption in Batangas since the eruption. Disaster response efforts have been mobilized to help thousands of displaced families.

Please continue to support our cause. You can bring relief to thousands of families now in evacuation centers by partnering with us. To know more, visit https://operationblessing.ph/donate-now/.

For more inquiries, please call us at (+632) 8663-4701, (+632) 8663-4710 or 0939-921-5543.