Siargao Farmers Trained on Good Agricultural Practices and Organic Farming

Farmers affected by Typhoon Odette attended a farmer training on Good Agricultural Practices and Organic farming in the municipalities of San Benito and Burgos on the island of Siargao, Surigao del Norte last December 2022.

The training is facilitated by trainers from the Rice Specialists Training Course (RSCT). The participants from barangays Orok and Talisay learn approaches on how to rebuild their agricultural livelihoods and increase their farm yields through sustainable and safe methods.

Among other things, they learn about the importance of intercropping and how to make and apply organic fertilizers and pesticides. They also learned how to transfer their newfound knowledge to others.

After the training, they will facilitate sharing what they learned with other farmers in their communities.

Photos by Arianne Gijsenbergh for Action Against Hunger | December 2022, Siargao, Surigao del Norte

The livelihood support is part of the second phase of the project ‘‘Emergency Assistance to Support Local Recovery Capacity of Families and Communities Affected by Typhoon Odette’, funded by the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID-BHA) and jointly implemented by Action Against HungerCARE Philippines, and ACCORD Incorporated.


Written by Arianne Gijsenbergh Read more

Restoring the Rice Fields After Typhoon Odette

CAPALAYAN, SURIGAO CITY — Erna Crisologo, 35, is proud to be a rice farmer. Growing up in a family of rice farmers she has lived in the middle of the rice fields her whole life. Besides the rice field bordering their home, Erna and her husband Ruben Cabalan, 35, also own a small coconut plantation higher up the mountain.

The rice paddy near Erna and Ruben’s home. (Photo by Arianne Gijsenbergh for Action Against Hunger | Surigao City, December 2022)

In December 2021, Typhoon Odette raged across the Philippines leaving a trail of destruction along its path. Erna and Ruben’s home in barangay Capalayan, a rural area on the outskirts of Surigao City, was completely washed away, along with their rice plants and coconut trees.

Erna joined the livelihood training sessions and received cash assistance to restore her family’s livelihood. This was part of the Typhoon Odette Emergency Response implemented by Action Against Hunger in the province of Surigao del Norte with funding support from the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID-BHA),

“Our rice plants were totally washed away, our coconut trees damaged. We had no more source of income, no source of food.”

In the aftermath of the typhoon, Erna, Ruben, and their daughter Shekanaiah, 8, found shelter in the school nearby. The school functioned as an evacuation center. The first days after the storm, the situation was dire. The center was overcrowded and the families were hungry. It took almost a week for food supplies and other relief goods to arrive because the roads were unpassable.

With no home to return to, Erna and her family stayed in the evacuation center for 2 months. “I was very stressed that time due to our situation,” recalls Erna, “Our rice plants were totally washed away, and our coconut trees damaged. We had no more source of income, no source of food.”

Erna cries as she recalls their experience during and after Typhoon Odette (Photo by Arianne Gijsenbergh for Action Against Hunger | Surigao City, December 2022)

Erna was heavily pregnant with a second child, which was due in February. Sadly, the stress took a toll on her body. On January 23 Erna had a miscarriage. “My baby is over there,” says Erna through her tears, pointing at a small grave next to the rice field. “That’s where we buried him. A boy. We named him Anton.”

Thankfully, there was light at the end of the tunnel. Erna’s family received donated housing materials, which they combined with leftover planks from their old house to build a new home.

The newly-repaired home of Erna and her family. (Photo by Arianne Gijsenbergh for Action Against Hunger | Surigao City, December 2022)

Once her family had a roof over their heads again, Erna and other typhoon-affected farmers in barangay Capalayan attended a training on good agricultural practices and organic vegetable production, organized by Action Against Hunger. Erna learned how to make and apply organic insecticide and fertilizer and how to improve their dyke construction. “Before we were making our dykes larger and higher,” explains Erna, “but the trainer told us that if you make the dyke too big, it will attract mice who will make it their home. It should be like this, just high enough to prevent the water and fertilizer from flowing away.”

Erna also joined a training on financial literacy and wrote a business plan to access 15,000 pesos cash assistance. She used the funds to buy a tools like sprayer for the organic fertilizer, a shovel, a raincoat, rubber boots, organic rice seeds and to pay for labor costs for land preparation.  “I feel very happy and excited to start planting rice again,” says Erna.

“I learned that it is very important to save so that we will not be hungry if a disaster comes. We are very thankful that Action Against Hunger gave us funds to restart our business. Now we have no debts to repay and we can start saving immediately.”

In addition to the training sessions and cash assistance, Action Against Hunger coordinated with the Philippine Coconut Authority to provide seed nuts to the farmers for restoring their coconut plantations. Erna and the other beneficiaries take turns weeding and watering the seed nuts in the nursery until they are ready for transplanting.

Erna with her fellow co-op members. (Photo by Arianne Gijsenbergh for Action Against Hunger | Surigao City, December 2022)

The project’s livelihood support measures are implemented in cooperation with the local farmer cooperative, where Erna volunteers as finance officer. Her mother was one of the founders.

“My mother’s passion is also my passion: serving our co-farmers. Even though we are poor, we are able to help other people,” says Erna.

Erna at the co-op. (Photo by Arianne Gijsenbergh for Action Against Hunger | Surigao City, December 2022)

Three months after planting, the rice will be ready for harvest. Erna plans to invest some of their earnings in buying pigs as an additional source of income. The family already owns three pigs which Ruben feeds and washes every morning, while Shekanaiah laughs in delight at the sound of their squeals.

Ruben washing the pigs while Shekainah observes. (Photo by Arianne Gijsenbergh for Action Against Hunger | Surigao City, December 2022)

Erna also wants to open a savings account. “I learned that it is very important to save so that we will not be hungry if a disaster comes. We are very thankful that Action Against Hunger gave us funds to restart our business. Now, we have no debts to repay and can start saving immediately.”

The USAID-funded project supports families like Erna’s to recover from disaster and rebuild fulfilling lives. Erna smiles contentedly, “We are doing well now. Not just well, we are doing good.”

Photo by Arianne Gijsenbergh for Action Against Hunger | Surigao City, December 2022

The livelihood support is part of the ‘Emergency Assistance to Support Local Recovery Capacity of Families and Communities Affected by Typhoon Odette’ project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID-BHA) and jointly implemented by Action Against Hunger, CARE Philippines, and ACCORD Incorporated.


Written by Arianne Gijsenbergh Read more

Real Life Heroes: Rural Women for Community Resilience

Gemma Andot is a women’s leader in the MADADMA Community, part of the Obo Manobo indigenous group. Since 2020, she has been an active volunteer of Action Against Hunger in promoting community resilience through the ECHO-funded MOVE UP project.

This International Day of Rural Women, we highlight and celebrate women like Gemma. Get to know her and how she engages and inspires her community in Ilomavis, Kidapawan City towards resilience.

How long have you been working as a humanitarian worker (volunteer)?

“Since 2012, isa na akong aktibong IP Community member na aktibong sumasali at nagsasagawa ng pagtulong, pagvovolunteer sa pagpreserve ng aming kultura at kapaligiran. Sa tuwing may mga NGO na dumarating dito, nagvovolunteer ako lagi.”

Since 2012, I have been an active IP Community member actively participating and helping─volunteering to preserve our culture and environment. Whenever NGOs come here, I always volunteer.

What motivates you to continue volunteering?

“Naiintindihan ko kasi ang hangarin at adbokasiya ng Urban Resilience lalo na sa usapin ng pagse-savings. Gusto ko maging involved sa paghahanda ng community kapag may dumating man na sakuna.”

[I understand the desire and advocacy of urban resilience, especially in the matter of savings. I want to be involved in making sure that my community is prepared if a disaster is to come.]

Why are you making this sacrifice?

“Hindi ko na iniisip ang sakripisyo, nakatingin nalang ako sa hinahanarap at sa magandang maaring maging resulta ng pag-sesave.”

[I don’t think about the sacrifices anymore, I just look at the future and the good that can be the result of having savings.]

What have been the challenges to your work?

“Minsan kailangan hatiin ang panahon ko para sa pamilya, negosyo, at community work, pero kaya naman kasi nandiyan naman palagi ang Action Against Hunger na kaagapay lalo na sa community.”

[Sometimes I need to divide my time between family, business, and community work─ but I’m able to do it because Action Against Hunger has been supporting us in the community.]

What motivates you to keep doing your work even these challenges?

“Nakikita ko kasi na balang araw ang mga kapwa ko IP ay magiging mas resilient kami kapag lahat kami naisabuhay ang pagsesavings.”

Seeing that one day, my fellow IPs will be more resilient when we all start having savings [motivates me].

What are you most proud of?

“Na dati nagsimula lang kami sa Agoho Community Savings Group. Ngayon, isa na kaming federation sa Kidapawan. Magpaparegister na din kami sa DOLE at SEC sa tulong ng Action Against Hunger at Public Employment Service Office ng LGU Kidapawan.”

Previously we just started with Agoho Community Savings Group. Now, we are a federation in Kidapawan. We will also register with the Department of Labor and Employment, and the Securities & Exchange Commission with the help of Action Against Hunger and the Public Employment Service Office of LGU Kidapawan.

How can you engage the youth in your line of work?

“Kami na mga magulang ay nagsesavings. Sana itong mga kabataan ay makita nila kami bilang magandang ehemplo. Sila na rin ay nagsesavings gaya namin kaya ebidensya ito na naiimpluwensyahan namin sila.”

[We parents are having savings. I hope these young people can see us as a good example. They are also saving like us, so this is evidence that we influence them.]

Read more about Gemma’s work the Pines (Agoho) Community Savings Group

Moving Urban Poor Communities Towards Resilience (MOVE UP 4) is a consortium project that offers durable solutions in terms of capacitating local governments and communities in mitigating the adverse socio-economic effects of disasters. With funding from the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid, MOVE UP 4 was implemented by Action Against HungerPlan InternationalCARE Philippines, and ACCORD Incorporated.


International Day of Rural Women

Over the last century, the world’s population has steadily shifted from leading a rural existence to living in urban settings. Yet a vast amount of people (approximately 3.4 billion) are still living in rural areas. These rural communities are often characterized by limited access to resources, lower standards of living and generally high levels of poverty.

In the Philippines, around 2 million women work in rural industries including agriculture, fishing and mining. Yet land ownership for women remains low at around 10%. Women play a vital part in rural cultivation within the country yet are rarely the beneficiaries. To this end, significant land reform in accordance with gender transformative measures is required to address the situation.

Action Against Hunger has engaged with several projects across the Philippines to address the issues surrounding gender in rural communities. Specific focus has been placed on influencing household decision-making and ensuring gender is integrated into existing food security & livelihoods programming.

Read more

Stories from the Field: A Mother’s Fortitude

Sitting on a bamboo bed inside a makeshift cob hut, five-year-old Zia bugs her lola (grandmother) about her vitamins, telling her that it is time for her to take them. Emma, 63 years old, tells her to wait for a while as she settles to answer questions and share stories about her life and what she experienced when Super Typhoon Odette hit Bohol.

Emma and Zia sit on their bamboo bed inside their makeshift shelter made of leftover materials from their house that was severely damaged by Typhoon Odette.

Emma lives in a small house near a river in Napo, Inabanga, Bohol. The neighborhood remains isolated from the rest of the town’s mainland since it is located on the other side of the riverbanks.

Emma has been Zia’s guardian since birth. She has acted as the mother since her daughter, Zia’s biological mother is working in another province as a house helper and comes home very rarely.

“Ay sukad pa pag gawas, ma’am. Ako na jud nag bantay ug nagpa dako kay nanarbaho pod lage ang ijang inahan sa Cebu. Magpada pod usahay ahong anak, pero gamay ra pod lage kay 5,000 ra man ijang sweldo,” shares Emma.


“I am the one who has been looking after her since she was born because her mother has to work in Cebu. My daughter [Zia’s mother] also sends money but not that much because she only earns 5,000 pesos per month.”


Meanwhile, Emma vividly remembers the terrors she and Zia experienced during the onslaught of Super Typhoon Odette one early night in December 2021.

“Kusog (ang hangin). Didto mi sa kapelya nanagan oy. Alas syete naman mi namlhin didto, kusog na kaajo ang hangin. Pirte na jud namong likay-likay para di mi maigu sa lubi,” Emma eagerly recalls.


“The wind was very strong. We ran to the chapel. We went there at seven in the evening, the wind was already aggressive at that time. We tried our best to avoid the swaying coconut trees on our way to the chapel,”


Seeking a safer shelter amidst the violent winds and heavy rains, left their small house without anything but Zia. They stayed in the chapel along with the other villagers who were also seeking a more elevated place to avoid the rising water from the river. Two days later, the neighborhood was still flooded after the river overflowed during the typhoon. Emma was able to go back to their place after three days but she went home to almost nothing. Her house was destroyed and everything in and around it was covered with mud.

A few meters from their makeshift house, Emma and Zia pose sit by their soon-to-rise new home which was made possible through the support of the ECHO and Action Against Hunger

Today, no signs of muddy surroundings and damaged infrastructure exist anymore. The only thing that serves as a reminder of the typhoon is the makeshift cob house where they are staying temporarily.

About five meters from the makeshift home stood a newly built house frame with galvanized iron sheets roofing, four big wooden pillars, and coconut lumbers ready for the walling. All of the resources used for building the structure were funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) as part of the Immediate and Comprehensive Response for Communities Affected by Typhoon Rai in the Philippines project. The material and financial donations, along with the emotional and mental support, made it possible for Emma to start rebuilding their home and their life.

With teary eyes and a shaky voice, Emma expressed her gratitude to the people behind ECHO through the Action Against Hunger team. Right after she saw the damages left by the typhoon, she thought it was already impossible for her to build back their home due to financial incapacity. But through the ECHO Odette Response, she only had to contribute minimally because most of the things she needed to start again were already provided.

“Perteng lipaja namo ma’am oy. Sa katong diha na ang mga hinabang [sa Action Against Hunger  at ECHO], labi na katong para sa shelter, mga kahoy, mga sin. Bisan pa og kato ra, maka barog naman jud mi adto, bahala’g di ka-igu, majo na raman naay ma puno-punoan.” she shares.


“We were very happy when the aid [from Action Against Hunger and ECHO] arrived, especially those for shelter, the wood, the galvanized iron sheets. Even with only those materials, we can already put up our house back. It is already a great starting point.”


Aside from the shelter assistance, Emma received other kinds of assistance from ECHO such as hygiene kits. Six months later, Emma has eventually returned to her almost-normal life producing fiber materials out of raffia palm leaves while taking care of her granddaughter. Emma earns less than 500 pesos a week from cleaning, drying, and scraping raffia fibers and selling them to local native product manufacturers.

Emma prepares raffia fibers to supply for local handicraft producers

While her new home is not fully done yet, Emma and Zia continue to take shelter in the makeshift cob and hope they can finally move into the new house in a few weeks.

Emma’s motherhood has extended to the next generation by taking the role of a mother and guardian to her granddaughter. Being a widow and a senior citizen did not stop her from taking responsibility for her 5-year-old granddaughter not only during disasters but during Zia’s entire life.

Emma gets drinking water for Zia in their makeshift dirty kitchen after her granddaughter took her daily dose of vitamins. 

As Emma finishes sharing her story and answering questions, she gets up to get the vitamins Zia had been bugging about earlier. She lets Zia take it and gives her water to drink after. Zia leaves with a phone her mother lent Emma for communication purposes and starts playing a mobile game.


The Immediate and Comprehensive Response for Communities Affected by Typhoon Rai (Odette) is funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and jointly implemented by CARE PhilippinesACCORD IncorporatedAction Against Hunger PhilippinesNational Rural Women Coalition (PKKK) and Plan International in Dinagat Islands, Palawan, Southern Leyte, Bohol, Negros Occidental, and Cebu, in the Philippines.


 Written by Donna Ocmeja | Photos by Donna Ocmeja for Action Against Hunger

Odette Aftermath Snapshot: The Island’s Source of Life

The island of Ubay can be reached through a 30-minute fuel-powered boat ride from the port of Tubigon. Residents pay 50 pesos for a two-way ride from and to the island.

Ubay, a small island in the town of Tubigon in Bohol, was one of the most devastated communities after the onslaught of Supertyphoon Odette (internationally known as Typhoon Rai). Most of the houses were totally damaged by the typhoon that hit the province in December 2021.

The residents of Ubay are families who depend on the sea to survive. Most of the people on the island are fisherfolks. Unfortunately, it was also the sea that destroyed the island when Typhoon Odette rampaged the province of Bohol. Aside from losing their homes and livelihoods, the disaster also took the lives of two vulnerable members of the community—a newborn baby and an elderly woman.

Through the funding of the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), the Immediate and Comprehensive Response for Communities Affected by Typhoon Rai implemented by Action Against Hunger in Bohol provided aid and support in the aftermath of the calamity. Since the residents’ livelihoods were most impacted, the ECHO-funded Typhoon Odette Emergency Response provided interventions to help the fishing community rebuild their main source of living.

Jose Cabarce, a fisherfolk, shows his new fish net he bought using the cash assistance. His wife, Evelyn Cabarce, is inside their home which is right behind Jose.

Reynaldo Zaide lost his newborn daughter during the typhoon. The name of the baby who died is seen written on the exterior wall of the family’s house. Reynaldo lives with his wife, Lavinia, and their two children: a 15-year-old boy and an 8-year-old girl. He received cash assistance for livelihood as well which he used to buy a new fishing net.

Father and son Lorenzo and Eric Beltran take turns in using the new fishing net and motor machine for their boat which they bought through the cash assistance provided by the project. They live together in a small house built just a few inches from the seawater.

Eric and Lorenzo with the rest of the Beltran family members.

Estrellita shows her husband, Binerando, getting ready for another fishing trip. Binerando is preparing the boat they managed to acquire through the livelihood cash assistance.

Grandparents Reinaldo and Feliza Manas, with their granddaughter, show the fishing net they just bought. Reinaldo is a fisherman who works to provide food for her sick wife and their granddaughter who lives with them. Surrounding them are some of the remaining debris of their damaged home.

Fernando, 64, and Analiza, 33, are a couple with two kids in grade school. With Analiza having Polio, Fernando is the primary caregiver and provider of the family. Thanks to the cash assistance, the family was able to buy new fishing gear that helped them restart their fishing livelihood after Typhoon Odette.

The ECHO-funded Typhoon Odette Response provided cash assistance which residents used to rebuild their livelihoods. While some residents used the assistance to purchase fishing gears and other equipment, others used it as a start-up capital for a sari-sari or small retail store.

Eusevio Macaraya shows his small sari-sari store inside a makeshift shelter made of materials recycled from the remains of typhoon Odette. Eusevio proudly shares how his small store is now the new place for the neighborhood, especially fishermen, to gather for coffee early at dawn or late at dusk. The new ‘Ubay Island Cafe’ owner is a 64-year-old widower who lives alone. His four children have left the island a few years ago for marriage.

Aside from the cash assistance for livelihood, the Action Against Hunger team also provided another set of cash assistance to some members of the community for food supplies. They also provided Water, Sanitation and Hygiene kits.

Estrellita Anavieza, 58, is a widow who currently lives on the island with her teenage daughter. She also received livelihood cash assistance for her store’s capital.

Aside from the cash assistance for livelihood, the Typhoon Odette Response through Action Against Hunger also provided another set of cash assistance for food supplies. During the initial stages of the intervention WASH or water, sanitation, & hygiene kits were also given to the affected residents.


The Immediate and Comprehensive Response for Communities Affected by Typhoon Rai (Odette) is funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and jointly implemented by CARE PhilippinesACCORD IncorporatedAction Against Hunger PhilippinesNational Rural Women Coalition (PKKK) and Plan International in Dinagat Islands, Palawan, Southern Leyte, Bohol, Negros Occidental, and Cebu, in the Philippines. Read more

Stories from the Field: Keeping faith in helping others despite Typhoon Odette’s impact

“In health, we need to be on duty, even if we ourselves are affected. Be strong. We go to the evacuation centers, even though we do not know what has happened to our homes.”Dr. Ivy Padernal, Municipal Health Officer | Municipality of Mabini
Patients from devastated health stations from Mabini swarm the San Roque Health center— the main health center in the municipality. After being destroyed by Typhoon Odette, it is crucial to repair and add more health stations to serve the community.
Prior to the disaster, Dr. Ivy visits the health center once a week to conduct check-ups. The center caters to more than ten barangays. After Typhoon Odette, residents had to do their health consultations at the rural health office which was a long commute for many.
With the support of the European Union Humanitarian Aid, our Typhoon Odette Response in Bohol was able to rehabilitate health facilities such as the San Roque Health Center.

The Immediate and Comprehensive Response for Communities Affected by Typhoon Rai (Odette) is funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and jointly implemented by CARE Philippines, ACCORD Incorporated, Action Against Hunger Philippines, National Rural Women Coalition (PKKK) and Plan International in Dinagat Islands, Palawan, Southern Leyte, Bohol, Negros Occidental, and Cebu, in the Philippines.

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Stories from the Field: Hope in the aftermath of Typhoon Odette

41-year-old Lorelei still breaks down into tears every time she recalls the day Typhoon Odette made landfall. She vividly remembers the fear that she and her family experienced. Not to mention, they had to face the fact that the typhoon had left their home damaged and their livelihood affected.
 

With the support of the European Union Humanitarian Aid, our Typhoon Odette Response in Bohol was able to provide short-term livelihood recovery programs to families like Lorelei’s.


The Immediate and Comprehensive Response for Communities Affected by Typhoon Rai (Odette) is funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and jointly implemented by CARE Philippines, ACCORD Incorporated, Action Against Hunger Philippines, National Rural Women Coalition (PKKK) and Plan International in Dinagat Islands, Palawan, Southern Leyte, Bohol, Negros Occidental, and Cebu, in the Philippines.

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Stories from the Field: Sailing Through Rough Seas

The island of Ubay in Tubigon, Bohol is one of the communities hardest hit by Supertyphoon Odette (internationally named Rai)—the strongest typhoon that the province had ever experienced according to their current residents.

To reach the island, one must take a 30-minute boat ride from the mainland of Tubigon. If residents or travelers do not have their own boat, it costs fifty pesos for a one-way trip. Being a hard-to-reach community and with most of its houses totally damaged by the typhoon—Ubay was identified as one of the beneficiary communities of the Immediate and Comprehensive Response for Communities Affected by Typhoon Rai in the Philippines project funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO).

Marichu and her son ride on their boat on the way to the island from the mainland of the town of Tubigon.

Marichu Reyes and her family are residents of the island. The day-to-day life of Marichu and her family primarily revolves around the island. Her husband is a full-time fisherman who works day and night to catch fish and other seafood for selling and consumption. The sea is the family’s means of survival and source of income. Unfortunately, with climate change making natural disasters even worse in recent years, the family’s source of living is affected.

Marichu prepares for docking and throws a rope toward a man who is waiting for the boat to arrive on the Ubay island.

“Sa dihang naagi-an mi og linog, na usab ang panahon. Dayon, nag bagyong Yolanda, mura bag hinay na kaayo ang kuha sa isda gani. Dayon gi usban ni Odette, mao tong diha mi murag na lusbo gani mi. Mura mag ibutang nato og mura ta’g nawad-an ta og panginabuhian ba, sakit kaayo,” Marichu shared during an interview.


“When the 2013 earthquake hit us, the weather seemed to have changed. Then when typhoon Yolanda hit a few months later, our fishermen’s daily catch gradually decreased. Typhoon Odette came and that is when everything got even worse. It seemed like we lost everything in life, and it was too painful for us,” 


Despite the day-to-day financial challenges they face, Marichu and her husband continue to keep their promise of not giving up. Currently, their eldest child is in a local college studying Education, while their second child has just started college taking up Maritime courses.

The family owns a boat that they use not only for fishing but also for taking passengers to and from the island; this is a secondary source of income for them. Meanwhile, Marichu works as a Barangay Health Worker on the island with a monthly honorarium of 500 pesos.

“Ang akong bana, ang buntag himoon og gabie, ang gabie himoon og buntag niya, para lang maka support sa among mga anak. Kay among mga anak ma’am bisag ingani mi ang among sitwasyon, maka kaon sa usa ka adlaw og ka tulo, pursigi gani sila sa ilang pag skwela. Unya kato akong ulitawo mo tabang sad sa iyang papa og tahi, managat…. Ang kanang mahibiln sa among balay kanag gamay nako ari, kamao naman sad na moluto ka gi tun-an lage nako, 9 years old, grade 4,” Marichu proudly narrated.


“As a fisherman, my husband’s morning is the night, and the night is his morning. He does that just to support our children because even if we are in this situation – merely having three meals per day – we have hard-working children who are eager to go to school.

For instance, my second child helps his father at work – he sews our fish net, he goes fishing… Our youngest child is usually the one left at home, and he can already cook food. He is nine years old and in the fourth grade,”


Marichu admitted that her family of five continues to experience the struggle to achieve a more stable life, especially in recent years because income through fishing has been unsteady and two of the children have started tertiary education. On the brighter side, this struggle is also the thing that motivates them to do better and bigger. Unfortunately, their struggle intensified in December 2021 after Super Typhoon Odette washed out their home and destroyed their fishing equipment.

Marichu sits in the doorway of their makeshift house while narrating the horrors her family and the rest of the island community experienced during the onslaught of Typhoon Odette

The town of Tubigon has six islands surrounding it. Due to the lack of appropriate sea transport facilities and time constraints, the local government officials were not able to evacuate all of the Ubay Island residents before the strong winds and rains arrived. Fifteen families remained on the island during the typhoon including Marichu’s.

Marichu got emotional as she recalled the unfortunate events that happened on the island during the typhoon. She narrated how the community witnessed first-hand the rapid destruction of the islanders’ primary assets – the households and the livelihood. Marichu also shared how the entire community of Ubay Island mourned for the two most vulnerable members of the community who lost their lives during the typhoon – a newborn baby and an old woman.

“Sakit kaayo paminawon ba, nga ang among bay ug panginabuhian hurot tanan. Ang nahibilin na lang namo ang among pamilya, maong nagpasalamat sad ko sa GInoo ba nga wa mi hutdan sa among mga anak. Gibilin mi, ang gikuha niya ang panginabuhian ug among balay. Pero salamt jud kaayp sa Ginoo sad kay kami buo pa mi. Hinuon ang panginabuhian ug ang bay, sa inanay mabalik man. Pero sakit lang sad paminawon ba,” Marichu said.


“It is painful to think that our home and livelihood got destroyed [due to the typhoon]. What was left of us is our family. I am thankful to God that we did not lose anyone from the family. Our house and livelihood got taken away, but thankfully our family is still complete. We can bring back our house and livelihood slowly anyway. But it was still painful [to lose our house and livelihood,”


The arrival of the Action Against Hunger team to the island a few months after the typhoon was considered a blessing to the island. Marichu, along with the other residents of the island of Ubay, received post-calamity aid from the ECHO-funded project. Cash assistance for livelihood and food is the primary aid intervention for the residents of the island. They also received water, sanitation and hygiene kits.

Standing in front of their temporary house, Marichu shows off the new fish net they bought using the ECHO livelihood assistance

All of the families on the island benefited from various aid programs coordinated by the Action Against Hunger team. More than 20 families were able to buy new fishing equipment that helped in their livelihood recovery, and more than 40 families were able to buy food supplies for daily consumption.

Standing in front of their temporary house, Marichu shows off the new fish net they bought using the livelihood assistance from the 

The residents of Ubay Island mention their gratitude for all the help they received in Typhoon Odette’s aftermath. Marichu and her husband thought it would take them a long time to recover, but thanks to donations from charity organizations, especially Action Against Hunger, according to them it only took a few months to go back to fishing. It’s a long way to go, but they’re slowly getting back on their feet.

“Ipagawas lang nako no, daghan jud kaayo ko og pasalamat ninyo, sa Action Against Hunger, sa ECHO. Dako kaayo og nakatabang sa among panginabuhian. Nga ang among pukot nga gamay na pun-an pa gyud tungod sa hibanag Action Against Hunger. Thank you kaayo. Og sa akoa lang nga bahin ma’am, kung nagkinahanglan mo nako, willing ko, magpa gamit ko para makatabang pod,” Marichu’s ending statement during the interview.


“I just want to express a huge thank you to Action Against Hunger and ECHO. They helped us a lot in the revival of our livelihood. For instance, we now have a bigger fish net because of the cash assistance we received. Thank you very much. And on my part, if ever the organization would need anything from me, I am willing to help and be a volunteer, so I can also help in return,”


The Immediate and Comprehensive Response for Communities Affected by Typhoon Rai (Odette) is funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and jointly implemented by CARE PhilippinesACCORD IncorporatedAction Against Hunger PhilippinesNational Rural Women Coalition (PKKK) and Plan International in Dinagat Islands, Palawan, Southern Leyte, Bohol, Negros Occidental, and Cebu, in the Philippines.

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Stories from the Field: Woman of the House

Grace Sabellano, 55 years old, is one of the beneficiaries of the Immediate and Comprehensive Response for Communities Affected by Typhoon Rai in the Philippines project funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO). As an owner of a house that was one of the totally damaged homes in the village of Villa Aurora in Dagohoy, Bohol, Grace received shelter assistance from the project through the efforts of Action Against Hunger.

Grace heads a family that resides in a small house made of light materials. The house sits on top of a mountain, isolated from the rest of the village. There is no other way to reach their home from the barangay proper but through a 15-minute hike in the mountains.

In photo: Action Against Hunger team hikes the trail leading to Grace’s house in the mountains of Villa Aurora, Dagohoy. (Photo by Donna Ocmeja for Action Against Hunger)

In photo: The house of Grace and her family as seen from a nearby hill that is part of the mountainous trail. (Photo by Donna Ocmeja for Action Against Hunger)

In photo: The team passes by a manmade well a few meters below Grace’s residence. The well was made especially for the only two houses located in the area; this includes Grace’s family. (Photo by Donna Ocmeja for Action Against Hunger)

Grace is a single mother with three children. Today, two of her children live with her in the mountainous barangay of Villa Aurora. Five people live in the house built by Grace herself: her son and daughter, her father and his partner, and herself.

In photo: Grace expresses pride and happiness as she narrates how she managed to build up their house on her own, with little assistance from her father. (Photo by Donna Ocmeja for Action Against Hunger)

When Typhoon Rai (locally known as Supertyphoon Odette) hit their home, Grace’s father was the only person left since she was out of town at that time. Thanks to the village officials, her father got rescued just in time before the main parts of the house got washed away by strong winds and heavy rains. Grace went home a day after and came home to a devastating sight – the house that she built herself had been destroyed.

In photo: Grace with her father and son inside the family house. (Photo by Donna Ocmeja for Action Against Hunger)

With Grace doing most of the work, the reconstruction of the house is still ongoing eight months after Typhoon Odette’s ravage. Grace uses the cash assistance from the ECHO Typhoon Odette Emergency Response to buy materials to rebuild their home. She also received water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) kits from Action Against Hunger.

Grace had been separated from her husband more than five years ago and has since then raised the family on her own. As the main provider of the family, Grace’s primary source of income is farming. She plants vegetables and root crops around the house. She also raises a few native chickens for consumption.

In photo: Grace shows her vegetable garden located just outside the house she built. (Photo by Donna Ocmeja for Action Against Hunger)

“Og di ka mananom [diri sa bukid], wa jud kay kaonon. Dako to kaayo og tabang namo [harvest], until now…Sauna, wala man gyud mi ga anad anang kuan kay naa mi sa syudad gapuyo sa wa pa mi dari. Ang kanang pagpananom kung kintahay di ka kabalao, pero akong gi tuohan, walay di nato mahibaw-an kung atong buhaton. Positibo lang dapat, kay ingana ang kinabhi,” Grace shared during an interview.


“If you don’t plant food here in the mountains, you will not have anything to eat. Our harvests are helping us a lot until now… We did not have any experience in farming because we grew up in the city. But I believe that nothing is impossible to learn if we just do it; the same goes for farming. We should be positive, that’s how life is,” 


 

In photo: Action Against Hunger staff with Grace and her son having a conversation outside the house on top of the mountain. (Photo by Donna Ocmeja for Action Against Hunger)

Unfortunately, aside from the damages to the house, typhoon Odette also destroyed Grace’s garden and small farm, her family’s main source of living. With her perseverance and patience, Grace’s day-to-day life of farming and taking care of the family continues. On top of this is the ongoing repair of her house which she has been spending time on.

In photos: Grace harvests corncobs from her small farm located a few steps from her house. She planted the corn seeds herself after slightly recovering from typhoon Odette. (Photo by Donna Ocmeja for Action Against Hunger)

As a single mother who lives in a small, simple house located on a mountain isolated from the rest of the village, Grace stepped up her role at home and is now the head of the household and the family’s main provider.

“Naningkamot ko nga matuto og tarong ang akong anak bisan way amahan. Naningkamot ko kay lisod pod kaayo og imong pasagdan,” Grace highlighted in the last part of the interview.


“I work hard so that my children will grow to be good people even if they don’t have a father. I work hard because I cannot just take them for granted,”


In photo: Action Against Hunger staff with Grace and her son having a conversation outside the house on top of the mountain. (Photo by Donna Ocmeja for Action Against Hunger)


The Immediate and Comprehensive Response for Communities Affected by Typhoon Rai (Odette) is funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and jointly implemented by CARE PhilippinesACCORD IncorporatedAction Against Hunger PhilippinesNational Rural Women Coalition (PKKK) and Plan International in Dinagat Islands, Palawan, Southern Leyte, Bohol, Negros Occidental, and Cebu, in the Philippines.

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Real Life Heroes: Michael “Q-pie” Queman

Michael Queman, or “Q-pie” as we call him, is one of our Project Assistants for the iPREPARED project. As a climate change advocate and one of our Real Life Heroes, Q-pie knows that #ItTakesAVillage to achieve climate justice.


Get to know Q-pie as he shares his story from being a survivor to humanitarian worker:

What is your role and/or key responsibilities in Action Against Hunger?

Currently, I am working as a project assistant in the DRR Project of Action Against Hunger wherein I am coordinating with the community with regards to disaster risk reduction and resilient livelihood activities.

How long have you been working as a humanitarian worker?

I am already 12 years in the humanitarian world and started working with the organization since 2014 during Typhoon Haiyan.

What motivated you to become a humanitarian worker?

Way back in 2008, I was also a victim of displacement during the flooding in my hometown in Cotabato City. I witnessed several individuals who came and gave support to the affected families. This made me realize that I want to be in an organization that provides support, especially to the underserved and less fortunate members of the community.

Why are you making this sacrifice?

I know the feeling of being helpless and incapacitated. Providing support to improve the living condition of every person gave me a sense of fulfillment. Opportunity is not equally available to everyone, and we are instruments to alleviate the living conditions of those with less opportunities.

What have been the challenges to your work?

Aside from the pandemic, natural hazards are currently affecting our served community.

What motivates you to keep doing your work even with these challenges?

I took an opportunity of the challenges we encountered in the project. This is the time to educate the community about disaster risk reduction, especially on the importance of preparedness and mitigation.

What are you most proud of?

Witnessing the impact of the project on the community is an achievement. That somehow, you became a part of improving their living conditions.

How can you engage the youth more in your line of work?

We have seen in our naked eyes the effect of climate change. As a DRR advocate, it is important to educate and encourage the youth to put action on what they posted on social media like the campaign on #savemotherearth. That the responsibility to save mother earth is more than just posting. It’s like practicing what you are posting.

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