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By: John Esteward Carcosia, DevCom 4/SD Volunteer

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#XUTabangPaeng Mission Team with beneficiaries from Sitio Kulayan, Brgy. Romongaob, South Upi, Maguindanao

Rebecca Gumawa, a 43-year-old resident of Sitio Boom, South Upi, Maguindanao, was going about her day as usual when the weather forecast showed that Typhoon Paeng would strike the Philippines late on the evening of October 27.None of the country’s typhoons affected their community since the day she moved in, so she was not overly concerned. But far from her assumption, hysterical screams of people and animals were heard as landslides and rampaging floods ravaged their homes and neighbors shattered her otherwise ordinary day.

Pasalamat nalang mi nga buhi pako ug akong pamilya human sa nahitabo,” Rebecca said..

Barangay Kusiong in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Barangays Romonggaob and Looy in South Upi, and Barangay Maagabo Bayanga Sur Norte and Kabugaw Sapad in Matano were all affected by landslides and floods. Though it was not in the direct path of Paeng, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) reported sixty-four (64) deaths and seventeen (17) missing people. All sixty-one (61) deaths and missing people were caused by flooding and landslides in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), the typhoon displaced almost 200,000 families and caused  millions of pesos of agricultural loss.
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Aftermath of Typhoon Paeng’s impact in Sitio Guila-guila, Brgy. Kuya, South Upi, Maguindanao

As an institutional response, Xavier University, took heed of the needs of Typhoon Paeng victims in Maguindanao, notably for the five hundred (500) Teduray families from Barangays Pila, Kuya and Romongaob of South Upi, by launching a donation drive #XUTabangPaeng last November 7, a week after the onslaught of the typhoon. The Christmas for Others Program in partnership with the Tanging Yaman Foundation Inc (TYF) was also integrated into the mission.

Even though challenging kaayo ang kalayo sa site, maningkamot gihapon kita nga ato silang ma-reach out ug mahatagan sa assistance,” said Mr Nestor Banuag, Director of XU Social Involvement and Advocacy Program (XU-SIAP) and team leader of #XUTabangPaeng mission in Maguindanao.

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XU Student Volunteers assisted in the repacking and collecting of donations during the whole month of November

With coordinated meetings and strategic promotions, the donation drive received overwhelming support in kind and cash donations from private donors, benefactors, and students. Student volunteers of the XU-SIAP helped by going around the university with their donation boxes. 

We felt overwhelmed receiving the monetary and in-kind donations from groups and individuals who supported XU’s cause to reach out to our brothers and sisters who were struck by Typhoon Paeng,” said Keziah Mallorca, Program Officer for Volunteer Formation and Advocacy of XU Social Development Cluster.

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#XUTabangPaeng Mission Trip Volunteers and Gawad Kalinga Volunteers with Fr. Ju C. Sacil, OMI

On December 13-15, 2022, the #XUTabangPaeng Mission Teamwent to South Upi, Maguindanao to facilitate psychosocial and relief distribution missions. The Mission Team included a student volunteer, faculty, and formators, namely: John Esteward Carscosia (BS DevComm-4 and SD Volunteer), Justiniano Damiao and Shahani Damolo (Theology Department), Norinyl Jumalon, Irish Bobadilla, Dennise Gonzales, and Alyzza Artazo (XU-NSTP), and Keziah Loucille Mallorca (SIAP). The mission team was complemented by Gawad Kalinga – Misamis Oriental (GK-MisOr) Chapter through its “Operation Walang Iwanan: Pamasko sa Maguindanao” program under the leadership of Alex “Tootsie” Besinga. Volunteers from GK-Mis Or, namely Dennis Cañete, Adonis Ragasi, and Jared Andales, also participated in the relief mission.

The mission team stayed at the Our Lady of Salvation Parish, the area partner in South Upi, Maguindanao. Fr Ju C. Sacil, OMI, the Assistant Parish Priest and in-charge of the Indigenous People (IP) Ministry of the Archdiocese of Cotabato led the area preparations. “We are very happy because inyong gipili among lugar kay most gyud sa mga donations kay naa dadto sa sentro ug dili kaayo ga-abot diri sa amoa,” said Fr Ju. He expressed that the IP communities in South Upi only received very few donations after the typhoon. He also guaranteed that the charitable contributions from the university and other partners would be allocated to help the IPs who have the greatest need.

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Volunteers repacked and distributed the relief food packs to the beneficiaries who were victims of the recent typhoon

Seven (7) IP communities from Sitio Kiampas, Brgy Looy, Habitat Housing (Tran Riverside), Sitio Guila-guila, Brgy. Kuya, Tiango (Tran Riverside), Sitio Guila-guila, Brgy. Kuya, Sitio Binaton, Brgy. Romongaob, Sitio Kulayan, Brgy. Romongaob, Sitio Boom, Brgy. Romongaob and Sitio Cormon, Brgy. Romongaob received the donations. “Dako kaayo among pasalamat nga gi-gamit sa Ginoo kamo [Xavier University] nga instrumento para makahatag kanamo, dako nani nga tabang alang sa pagsaulog sa pasko,” said Jemma Evan, resident of Sitio Boom, Brgy. Romongaob and one of the beneficiaries of the relief mission. The landslides and flooding in Sitio Boom have a significant negative impact on the family's farmlands, which in turn has a negative impact on the family's source of income.

In a report from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR) of BARMM, the region’s agriculture and fishery sector lost an estimated Php 586,096,553.00 from STS Paeng, affecting 14,174 farmers, and greatly affecting commodities such as rice, corn, and high-value crops.The mission trip also included psychosocial activities and community needs assessment and scanning to find out the other needs of the disaster-affected communities.
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Psychosocial activities and community needs assessment were done to identify the other needs of the community.

Human ani nga mission trip, himuon ang assessment sa team kung unsa pa ang mahimong sunod na interventions sa XU,” said Banuag. The distribution of school supplies to  children was considered a priority in the follow-through mission trip.

Preparations for the second wave of the relief mission are underway and slated to begin in January 2023. Xavier University continues to live out the value of being men and women for others through further collaboration with institutions in reaching out to disaster-affected communities.

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#XUTabangPaeng Mission Trip Volunteers with Sir Alex “Tootsie” Besinga from Gawad Kalinga Misamis Oriental Chapter

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PHOTOS BY JOHN ESTEWARD CARCOSIA