January 31, 2023

A total of 1,450 bags of relief goods were delivered recently to victims of the Taal volcano eruption as part of a local mall’s mission to share and reach out to needy communities.
The relief assistance was pooled after Porta Vaga Mall under the Montañosa Pastoral Resources Corporation in cooperation with the Diocese of Baguio Social Action Center launched a donation drive from Jan. 17 to 29 where more than P60,000 worth of donations in cash and in kind were raised, aside from a counterpart amount from the mall management.
The relief packs contained basic needs like rice, bottled water, instant noodles, canned goods, medical and hygiene kits, clothes, and blankets.
Donors included the mall’s tenants, residents, Baguio-based institutions, and some individuas from abroad.
With the help of a Batangas guide and local town officials and their staff, the team led by Porta Vaga Mall general manager Ronald Ceballos on Jan. 31 located four evacuation centers in the towns of San Jose, Ibaan, and Sto. Tomas, Batangas.
Among those who received the assistance were a number of families from different barangays affected by the volcano eruption, who were found camping out and taking temporary shelter in a dark forest in Lapu-lapu II in San Jose.
“After seeing the first batch of evacuees at the central part of the town, we went to the isolated evacuation area, and it was heartbreaking to see the situation of our brother and sisters. They were sleeping on the ground with covers hanging on trees. But despite that, we are happy seeing them in person to make sure that they received our help, no matter how small it is,” said Ceballos, who with his team preferred to personally hand out the goods to the victims instead of coursing through the donation to organizations distributing reliefs.
They also discovered another group in a rehab center temporarily used as an evacuation center that they earlier visited, who almost did not get part of the aid the team left because they were not on the list of evacuees.
“If not for the two mothers who approached us as we were about to leave, they would have not gotten any. We came back and met them, as we believe in never going back home until our mission is accomplished as we knew we did not only bring love and hope to our needy kababayans but we were able to interact with them,” he said. – Hanna C. Lacsamana