Thousands of people were displaced from their homes in the aftermath of Taal Volcano’s recent eruption. Understandably, those with the means to help wasted no time in rushing to their aid. We wanted to do the same, but had no idea how. Relief operations aren’t random and easy. Some folks think that a “big heart” is more than enough to make anyone eligible to extend assistance to victims of calamities. In truth, providing relief to the needy is almost like a science if it is to be effective and meaningful.
Thankfully, we were invited by AC Motors, the automotive division of Ayala Corporation, to join its relief drive yesterday. Our managing editor Miggi Solidum and writer Manskee Nascimento drove two of the vehicles in the convoy, which included cars from AC Motors’ three brands (Kia, Volkswagen and Maxus). Honda and Isuzu were likewise represented because Ayala also owns dealerships for these automakers.
This relief drive came about when AC Motors management made the decision to cancel their scheduled media thanksgiving party in February and instead use the budget to bring relief to the Taal eruption evacuees. Through Ayala Foundation, they coordinated with the Batangas local government which directed them to six evacuation centers within a 14km radius from Taal Volcano.
The group went bearing huge gifts. Specifically, they donated 10 units of the Kia K2500 light-duty trucks to the local government units of Batangas. These trucks, together with several Kia, Volkswagen, Maxus, Honda and Isuzu vehicles, carried vital supplies that included mattresses, sleeping mats, towels, blankets, hygiene kits, clothes, underwear and sacks of rice.
It is worth noting that all of the items donated by AC Motors were completely new and unused. Not saying that giving away secondhand stuff is bad, but some of us seemingly just part with useless items after spring-cleaning the house. “In relief operations, it is important to respect the dignity of the recipients of the things you are donating,” said Volkswagen PR head Timmy Naval-de Leon, who also functions as the communications lead of AC Motors.
Joining AC Motors’ relief drive was a cathartic experience, and we’re happy we came along for the ride. Our ecstatic guys were literally grinning from ear to ear when they came back to the office. They are eternally grateful for Ayala for this chance to take part in something truly bigger than themselves. If you feel compelled to help, find a legitimate organization or an accredited agency to partner with. This is the season of serving and lending a hand. Time to step up to the plate.