TSG-Typhoon Ulysses relief
On 11th November this year Typhoon Ulysses (aka Vamco) hit the Philippines full on. Strong winds and heavy rain are nothing new to the Philippines, and the Cagayan Valley has had its share of cyclones in the past.
What made this storm different, however, was that it came on top of the economic devastation already wrought by the global Covid pandemic. Ulysses flattened crops and caused severe flooding, together with the all too familiar mudslides and damaged infrastructure.
Ulysses comes almost exactly seven years after Typhoon Yolanda hit the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines in November 2013. Earlier this year a TSG senior manager toured some of the parts most affected by that natural disaster, and saw how, even now, the scars are still visible. Many businesses were wiped out, and towns and villages with once vibrant economies are still mere shadows of their former selves.Nevertheless, economic reconstruction is a long term project. In the aftermath of Typhoon Ulysses, clean water, food, shelter and medicine were the immediate priorities.
Rizal province was one of the hard hit areas. Extensive flooding destroyed dwellings as well as severely impacting essential services. The fresh food market in the town of San Mateo was wrecked, and the low-rise local government hospital found itself under water. So too were other essential municipal services, including the fire services and local records.
Even after the waters had receded, and the clean-up operation had begun, there was no quick route back to normality for too many families. The destruction of crops caused food prices to rocket, and shortages became endemic. Without help many families would have starved.
Coming on the back of Covid, price rises for basic essentials was cruel. In a significantly hand to-mouth economy, any price shocks can leave hundreds of thousands dependent upon government hand-outs and charity. Many had lost their jobs already due to Covid, and many more were laid off in the wake of the typhoon – which both damaged businesses and dented demand. The local quarry, for example, a key employer in the districts of San Mateo and Multaban, had to close its operations (laying off workers) as a result of storm damage to its machinery.
After the initial wave of aid, the level of support reaching devastated communities tailed off. However, the needs for basic goods (food, water, milk for babies, soap, and so on), and small comforts, such as toilet paper, remained. It was also important to keep everyone safe from Covid, by providing essential PPE.
TSG responded these needs with two waves of relief. The first, on 21st November, was carried out in conjunction with the Rotary Club of the Philippines. The second on 5th December was an independent initiative. In all over a thousand families were fed and provided with relief goods.
This Christmas TSG will be continuing its commitment to caring. Many children throughout the world will go hungry over Christmas, and many more will go their entire childhoods without ever having had a present at Christmas, or at any other time for that matter.
TSG cannot manage a white Christmas for those who dream of such things, but we have spoken to Saint Nicholas (aka Santa Claus). Father Christmas (as he is also fondly known) has promised to visit in person, and to meet some of the many children who have only heard, or seen pictures, of him. Of course, he will be making sure the children he meets don’t go hungry, and get a little present to remember him by.
Even in these hard times we hope a small modicum of magic can reach those who have so little, and whose expectations in life are so low. Even if just once they share in the excitement and joy many children take for granted, it will be a very special Christmas.
Wishing everyone a merry Christmas, peace and good will to all humanity.