World Council for Curriculum and Instruction (WCCI)

September 2, 2015

Help for Holy Virgin of Salvacion school foundation college inc., San Jose, Tacloban city

by: Iris Victoria Uy Merin

I am writing this article in behalf of my family and the Administration of Holy Virgin of Salvacion Foundation College Inc. We appeal to all kind-hearted and generous individuals/organizations to help us rebuild the school and make it operate to its full capacity. By doing so, the school will be able to continue its vision and mission. In faith, we keep praying and hoping everyday that we will be able to rise again…

Let me start my article by sharing my experience when I, together with my brother, went home to Tacloban City to check on our parents how they are doing and to actually visualize the status of our home and school after the onslaught of typhoon Yolanda.

Our journey to locate and check status of our parents and to visualize our school after the Yolanda incident

In the news, the strongest typhoon to date in the world has affected Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines, particularly Tacloban City where I was born and raised and where my parents lived prior to the disaster. Among all those affected by Typhoon Yolanda, the San Jose area was one of the greatly affected places. This is because this place is along the coastal area of the city. The city’s domestic airport is also located in this place.

Because there was complete shutdown of power and all forms of communication, there was no one who can give me update on how the typhoon impacted our place right after the event. I kept calling my parents’ phones as well as my friends’ in Tacloban to no avail. The news feeds in ABS-CBN, GMA and CNN days after were the initial information I got related to the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda. I was horrified and was worried of the status of my parents. I started posting inquiries in Facebook and other forms of social media so anyone can give me the vital information. The more time lapsed without anyone telling me about how my parents are doing, the more I got worried.

I kept in touch with my brother, who also was worried as I was. I asked permission from him if I can go to Tacloban to check the whereabouts of our parents but he hesitated to allow me to travel alone. He informed me he will be traveling to Manila at once and both of us will be going to Tacloban. I felt more relieved. I packed my backpack and bought canned goods, rice and other necessary items that we will be bringing to Tacloban. Since there were no available commercial flights yet, we banked on taking our chance in riding the C130 plane.

We arrived Cebu City and fell in queue for the C130 plane. Hours came by and still there was no confirmation that we can be accommodated. At this time, we were able to get information that our parents survived. Oh what a great relief! Now our worry was on their medical condition since our parents are diabetics and hypertensives. They might have no maintenance medications to take. How about their food and water? We couldn’t waste more time, we need to get to Tacloban the soonest possible time. While still in a limbo for C130 accommodation, we got news that commercial flights to Tacloban have resumed so we secured tickets and we were lucky enough to get those right away. Oh what a relief again.

We arrived Tacloban on Wednesday morning, 5th day after the typhoon. As the plane landed in the ariport, my brother was in tears when he saw how badly devastated the place was. I kept strong and gave him emotional support. Now we were on our next task – to walk from the airport to our residence, which is several kilometers from our point of origin. No one will ever offer a ride. I felt that people minded their own business and they were all focused on their own survival. The look of everyone seemed calloused and I feared that they will come to us and grab our bags which were filled with food and water. The only safety relief we get is when we see military officers or policemen standing by the road. We have walked several kilometers already but still we’re only a third of the total length of our journey. I felt like it was taking forever to reach our destination. We rested for a while and then we saw a pedicab with no passenger so we called the driver and begged to offer us a ride. We told him we will pay whatever amount he asks from us. I was astounded by his reply, “ Waray man gamit it kwarta dinhi yana kay waray mapapalitan. It ak kinahanglan pagkaon para hit akon tulo nga anak ngan ak asawa.” (Money is useless now because there is no store where you can buy food or water. What I need now is food for my three kids and my wife.) We assured him that we will give him rice and canned goods and he agreed to give us a ride. Oh what a relief again!

On the way to our residence, there were debris and mud admixed together and I saw dead bodies of human beings and animals scattered in the streets. The bodies were getting dark in color, bloated and tissue juices were oozing out of their skin. It was not only a horrible sight, it was also smelling so bad. Glad we had masks on but still the stink of dead bodies overpowered the protection we had put on. I almost vomited and kept squeezing my brother’s arm. I was glad he kept reassuring me that everything will be okay and that we will reach our residence soon. I also noticed that houses near the coastal lines have been completely washed off. If I were to describe the place, it looked like a “ghost town” with survivors. It was a depressing sight!

Dead bodies scattered near our home in San Jose, Tacloban City

Dead bodies scattered near our home in San Jose, Tacloban City

We reached our residence and soon as we stepped off the pedicab, we called our parents and we were so happy to hear their voices. We gave the pedicab driver what we promised and told him to come back the next day should we need him for his services. He agreed and was complimentary of the food items we gave him. We hugged our parents tight and reassured them that they are now okay with our presence. My parents were living in a semi-flooded area within the residential compound and were sleeping in one of our damaged cars that was covered with debris, too. My heart broke when I saw that they were just eating few quantity of food per meal because they were trying to save the little rice that was left after the typhoon. No relief goods came yet and this was the 5th day after the typhoon.

I surveyed our house and was so sad to see that we have lost everything. All our cars were damaged. The house stood still but non-functional since it was covered with mud and debris while furniture and appliances were all scattered and damaged. My dad mentioned that he felt so sad because what we have worked as a family for almost 40 years were all gone in just 3 hours. I was horrified when I saw the dry line close to the ceiling which depicted the water surge level during the typhoon. My parents recounted the event and the reason why they survived was because my dad placed my mom on the top portion of the built-in book shelf in our living room while he was holding her to keep her from falling and drowning into the water. But even though they were there, the water was still up to their necks and their heads were already touching the ceiling of the house. They were glad that the water subsided, otherwise, if it kept going up, they would have been trapped and drowned in water.

Our home and where we took shelter when we visited our parents after Yolanda. We slept, dined, cried, and discussed all our worries in this place, the only functional area left in our home.

Our home and where we took shelter when we visited our parents after Yolanda. We slept, dined, cried, and discussed all our worries in this place, the only functional area left in our home.

Inside view of our home where we stayed in Tacloban City.

Inside view of our home where we stayed in Tacloban City.

Picture shows mark of water surge level inside our home. Horrifying sight and survival mode: damaged cars scattered, canned goods for nourishment, debris and mud. I am standing by the front view of the school.

Picture shows mark of water surge level inside our home. Horrifying sight and survival mode: damaged cars scattered, canned goods for nourishment, debris and mud. I am standing by the front view of the school.

My brother and I decided to evacuate our parents from Tacloban to a safer place since we feared for their health and safety, too. We decided we need to get plane tickets. We then realized that the news before we left for Tacloban that cellular sites have been restored was a complete lie. Now we were stuck with how can we secure plane tickets. We took a quick lunch and headed for the airport by foot. We brought water and umbrellas with us. Again, no one dared offer a ride for us. When we reached the airport, our water was consumed and there was a huge crowd scrambling for commercial plane tickets. We got hopeless just merely looking at the sight. We then asked people where we could call. We were told that we can do that in the airport tower. We walked over there and literally begged to the military officer to allow us to go inside and avail of the free call. Only one was allowed so my brother agreed to stay outside. He was left in the crowd of people desperately waiting for their chance to ride the C130 plane. My brother recounted that the people there have been waiting for four days already with nothing to eat or drink and it seemed like they can’t even ride the C130 yet. I was able to call my friend and lucky enough we were able to secure tickets. I was thirsty so I asked the military officers if I can get a bottled water. No one ever gave me one. I knew this was the place where relief goods were kept. I was shocked!

We headed home again by foot and my brother’s right foot was already calloused and wounded by the slipper straps but still he kept walking for fear that it may get dark and people will hurt us along the way. When we arrived, our neighbors told us that in certain areas in Tacloban, people ransack houses and get their food. If residents fight back, they kill them. We got scared. During the night, I couldn’t sleep well for fear that someone will break into our property and steal our food. The rest of the family members also had the same thing in mind. We didn’t have piece of mind at all. The dogs were also howling and the sounds were too creepy.

On the day that we were supposed to leave Tacloban, we felt better that finally we can leave temporarily our residence and seek shelter in a safer and healthier place. The pedicab driver arrived and drove us to the airport. The airport scene was exactly the same one as when we tried securing our tickets. Our flight was delayed for two hours because of the air traffic but we never complained at all. We just needed to be out of Tacloban the soonest possible time. Finally our plane arrived and we waited for our boarding. What the greatest relief when the plane touched down Mactan International Airport, Cebu City.

Our beloved school Holy Virgin of Salvacion Foundation College Inc.

Typhoon Yolanda (aka Storm Haiyan) has hit the Philippines last November 8, 2013 and has caused massive destruction of properties and many lost lives. Among places that were affected by this “strongest storm to date” in the whole world, San Jose, Tacloban City was the most affected area because of the fact that it is geographically located along the coastal area of the city. San Jose was one of the places with highest number of casualties and missing individuals after the disaster.

Front view of our school after Yolanda incident. We cannot get inside the building because of debris scattered around the place.

Front view of our school after Yolanda incident. We cannot get inside the building because of debris scattered around the place.

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San Jose is a peaceful community comprised of smaller barangays where most people live by fishing and selling vegetables and livestock in the market. Only a smaller portion of residents belong to the professional bracket. Families are mostly in the low to middle-income bracket.

Front gate of the school.

Front gate of the school.


My brother standing in front of the school.

My brother standing in front of the school.

The Holy Virgin of Salvacion College Foundation, Inc. (HVSFCI) was conceived with a vision to produce knowledgeable, skillful, productive and God-fearing graduates who will, in the future, be serving the people in the society. The main campus is located at Brgy. Burayan, San Jose, Tacloban City. The school was named after the barangay’s patroness, Nuestra Señora de Salvacion. It caters to the educational needs of children in the low to middle-income families. The school was established in Year 2005 and initially offered pre-school and elementary level programs. As the years ensued, the four-year high school program and some college degrees were offered as well. Currently, the following programs are being offered: Basic Education Pre-Elementary, High School, and Tertiary Level; Bachelor of Secondary Education Major in Mathematics, Science, and English; Bachelor of Elementary Education; Bachelor of Arts in Economics; and Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. All programs have been accredited/recognized by CHED and DepEd. As part of its “Adopt-A-Barangay” program, the school has collaboratively worked with nearby barangays and opened satellite campuses to make the school’s services more accessible to the residents. The school has satellite campuses which are located in the following areas: Payapay and Disneyland (DAMAGED), Old Terminal, San Jose (WASHED OUT), Regina, Jan Rey, and Llorente Samar areas (DAMAGED). HVSFCI is the only private, faith-based school that is serving the community in San Jose, Tacloban City.

HVSCFI was not spared from the devastation that Typhoon Yolanda has caused. Prior to the typhoon, the school allowed some 200 individuals to take shelter in the main campus of the school for their safety. Fortunately, everyone survived. After the typhoon, however, the facilities in the library and science laboratory, the computer lab, the administration building and the pre-school building were all destroyed. A major portion of the roof of the third floor of the main building was blown away, too. Not only the aforementioned, the school became a victim of looting activities that happened in the area. The electrical wirings were all stripped down; some equipment (e.g. electric fans, airconditioning units and etc) were stolen; chairs and tables were destroyed and made as firewood by nearby residents. Satellite campuses in Payapay and Old Terminal were totally washed away. Thus, the school could barely operate as it was prior to the disaster.

School damages

School damages

School damages

School damages

School damages

School damages

School damages

School damages

The Administration of HVSFCI, therefore, appeals to those generous individuals/organizations to help rebuild the school and make it operate to its full capacity to be able to continue its vision and mission – that is to continuously produce more literate and Christian-at-heart individuals/professionals who will serve the Filipino community in the future.

First mass celebrated in our school this January 2014, in honor of Nuestra Senora de Salvacion and for the souls of the departed.

First mass celebrated in our school this January 2014, in honor of Nuestra Senora de Salvacion and for the souls of the departed.

First mass celebrated in our school this January 2014, in honor of Nuestra Senora de Salvacion and for the souls of the departed.

First mass celebrated in our school this January 2014, in honor of Nuestra Senora de Salvacion and for the souls of the departed.

We fervently hope that all our prayers will be answered and that our school will rise again. We appeal for financial aid from generous and kind-hearted individuals/organizations to help us rehabilitate HVSFCI.

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That in all things, God be glorified always!

Feel free to contact Atty. Iris Victoria Uy Merin at +63 09178047694 /ivum@yahoo.com and Dr. Marcus Aurelius Uy Merin at marcaurele_2000@yahoo.com.

For cash donations for the our school here are the bank accounts:

  • CONCHITA UY MERIN Dollar Savings Account: 128-131-00020-00 (Philippine Savings Bank) Tacloban City Branch, Leyte, Philippines; and
  • IRIS VICTORIA UY MERIN Current Account: 3140-0177-27 (Bank of Philippines Islands Bank) Mckinley Hill, Taguig Branch, Manila, Philippines

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