Manila: Families who lost their homes in the devastating floods that hit northern Mindanao will be spending Christmas at the various evacuation centres for the victims of tropical storm Washi.
According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), some 64,248 families comprising 327,826 people will be spending Christmas at the various evacuation centres in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City.
Filipinos at home and abroad have mobilised quickly to provide help for their flood-devastated countrymen through text message brigades and social networking sites.
On Friday, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) brought in truckloads of donations for the victims of Washi at the various evacuation centres in the two cities.
Among the items in the donations were bottled drinking water, toiletries, blankets, noodles and canned food, among others.
The relief items that arrived on Friday are separate from the ones that came the same day from the UAE. About 7,000 tonnes of relief aid from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees came in via an Emirates flight.
According to presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, the shipment is part of a total 42,000 tonnes of aid for the victims of the tropical storm. Thousands of residents of Cagayan de Oro city and Iligan City have lost their homes in the devastating floods caused by Washi on December 16.
On Friday, on the makeshift table of the Arudig family at West City Central School in Cagayan de Oro city, Edwin, his wife and their four children huddled together to discuss their Christmas dinner plan.
Edwin said they will share two cans of corned beef, some vegetables given by a neighbour and instant noodles. "I would have wanted to have more on the table for Christmas dinner but under these circumstances, I am not in the position to be demanding. It is good enough that my family and I are all alive to share our meal together," he said. Entertainers brought in by private firms tried to bring in a spirit of festivity to the evacuees.
For other victims of the tragedy who are not so fortunate, Christmas only means bitterness and more grieving for those who have either died or are still missing.
As of yesterday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said they have confirmed 1,100 deaths due to the calamity from various parts of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City.
Some 1,079 people are missing one week after the tragedy struck.