BGen Romeo Gan, the Commander of the Civil Relations Service, AFP shares some light moments with Lawaan Mayor Ida Gabornes during the blessing of 50 motorized boats that were donated for the fishermen in this seaside town in Eastern Samar on July 22, 2014. (Photo by Lt Col Harold M Cabunoc)
LAWAAN, Eastern Samar — After being traumatized by both typhoons 'Yolanda' (Haiyan) and 'Glenda' (Rammasun), the Army and its partners presented gifts that brought smiles upon the poor fishermen in this seaside town despite their experienced hardships.
This happened today at 10:00am (July 22) when the Army's 801st Brigade led by Brigadier General Wilson Leyva and Brigadier General Romeo Gan, the Commander of the Civil Relations Service, Armed Forces of the Philippines, turned-over a total of 50 brand new motorized boats to the beneficiaries who lost their main sources of livelihood during the onslaught of typhoon Yolanda in November last year.
Mayor Nida Gabornes represented the fifty beneficiaries who all came to personally receive the boats which were donated by Metrobank Foundation Inc.
She reminded the recipients about their responsibility of taking care of the environment, especially the marine resources.
"You must show to the world, especially the people behind this project, that you are responsible fishermen. Please protect our marine resources by not using illegal fishing methods," said Gabornes in her message.
Dubbed as 'Bangka ng Buhay, Bunga ng Bayanihan', the project was facilitated in December 2013 by TOPSOLDIERS, an organization that is composed of awardees of the prestigious "The Outstanding Philippine Soldiers" (TOPS).
A total of 150 boats will be equally distributed to the badly-hit Eastern Samar towns of Guiuan, Balangiga and Lawaan, all coastal towns that suffered numerous casualties brought about by Yolanda's storm surge and extremely powerful winds.
When strong winds brought by super typhoon Yolanda battered the houses, the fishing boats were torn to pieces. Some of the fishermen were forced to look for odd jobs to support their family including Leo Enciso, 37.
"To feed my family, I was forced to take odd jobs. I had worked as a carpenter but I had no steady income. I am very thankful that I was selected as one of the recipients of this motorized boat," said Enciso whose wife Marlyn is 6-months pregnant.
Gan said that the project is a solid example of Bayanihan spirit that is customary among Filipinos.
"In Bayanihan, no one is left behind. Our soldiers are always ready to help in anyway we can to ease the suffering of the typhoon victims who lost their incomes and loved ones," said Gan who once served as the Chief of staff of the Army's 8th Infantry Division.
Major Lemuel Baduya, the Operations Officer of the 801st Brigade said that the beneficiaries will be organized to serve the community during natural disasters.
"As part of their payback scheme, the Army will train the fishermen on disaster preparedness and response operations so that they can help their own community in the event of typhoons that normally happen here every year. The CRSAFP will help us facilitate this training after the completion of the boat project," said Baduya.
It can be recalled that Lawaan town was isolated for five days after it was battered by super typhoon Yolanda. It was 'adopted' by Navotas town under the so-called 'adopt a town' scheme that was started in November 2013 in order to help the town back into its feet through collaborations on rehabilitation and recovery programs.
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