Legazpi, Albay – As the Mayon Volcano continues to show unrest indicating the possibility of a major eruption, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) gears up to continuously bring relief to tens of thousands of displaced locals in the next few months.
“We’re preparing for the long haul. As long as Mayon continues acting up, we’ll keep on sending teams to Albay to aid families staying in different evacuation centers,” said Pagcor’s VP for Corporate Social Responsibility Group Jimmy Bondoc, following reports from the Philippine Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) that the volcanic activity may continue for several months.
The state-run gaming firm has been working closely with various government agencies and local government units in the conduct of relief operations around Albay since the volcano showed signs of unrest in the middle of January. Thousands of families were forced to flee their homes and stay in different evacuation centers after Phivolcs extended the permanent danger zone to eight kilometers.
Pagcor has been preparing hot meals for at least 2,000 individuals everyday and has been distributing water containers and sleeping mats to families in several evacuation sites.
Recently, the agency conducted a feeding program for the evacuees from two communities in Sto. Domingo who are temporarily sheltered in an upland resettlement site. Pagcor also served meals to the evacuees in the towns of Daraga, Camalig, Malilipot, Guinobatan and the cities of Tabaco and Ligao.
Felipe Nuñez, a 41-year-old polio victim from Sto. Domingo who earns his keeps by working in a quarrying farm, rues the loss of his livelihood that enables him to support a family of three. But he shared that having received aid from agencies like Pagcor helped him cope with the difficulties of living in an evacuation center.
“Napakahirap ng sitwasyon namin sa evacuation center dahil wala kaming kabuhayan at umaasa lang ng tulong mula sa mga ahensya ng gobyerno. Pero napakalaking bagay na makatanggap kami ng kahit na kaunting biyaya mula sa Pagcor dahil kahit na papaano eh nababawasan ang aming alalahanin sa araw-araw,” Nuñez narrated.
In the town of Camalig, 31-year-old Maribeth Napire, shared the same sentiment with Nuñez as the vegetables she planted in their backyard – her family’s only source of income — were all destroyed by the volcanic ashes that rained on their community.
“Kung maaari nga lang po eh makabalik na kami sa aming lugar para muling makapag-hanapbuhay. Kaso po, mapanganib pa ang sitwasyon kaya tiis na lang muna kami sa ganitong kalagayan na walang pinagkakakitaan,” she said.
Bondoc said that while providing immediate relief to the families affected by the Mayon eruption remains to be Pagcor’s main priority at the moment, he seeks to recommend to the agency’s top management the promotion of a livelihood program that will give the evacuees a stable source of income when they return to their normal lives.
“We hope to give not only temporary aid to our brothers and sisters in Albay displaced by this natural calamity, but something that will help them get back on track for a long term,” he said.