TREK Relief Opps: Another Partnership with the AURORA Offroaders Club

November 08, 2012 Voluntourism

It was past noon when we reached Diagyan Elementary School in Dilasag, Aurora. 

The green fields and the blue sky didn't carry much traces of the devastation this school endured from the twin typhoons Quiel and Pedring. The school children were eagerly waiting for us in their classrooms. It was a Saturday and they were there to receive the books and school supplies we were donating.

Weeks before, TRails to Empower Kids co-founder Noel invited us to the outreach program his other group, the Aurora Offroaders Club were organizing to benefit Dilasag, Aurora.

Dilasag was one of the towns isolated by the typhoons. After watching the struggles of this town on the news, we immediately said yes and organized our friends to coordinate this outreach program.

Inviting volunteers and soliciting from sponsors were not as much of a challenge as reaching Dilasag. Damaged roads and washed-out bridges almost blocked all flows of relief aid to this area, but of course not for our partners, the Aurora Offroaders Club.

We have been friends and partners with them for years now. They helped with some of our activities like our outreach in San Luis, Aurora and our recon in Dinapigue, Isabela.

Off to Aurora

The members of the Aurora Offroaders Club were already geared up when we arrived at around 4AM at our meet-up place in Maria Aurora, Aurora, in front of Noel's house. We left Manila around 11PM the night before. After redistributing passengers and loads, we rolled out, eager and energized.

We traversed scenic highways, rough roads, rivers and mountain paths to reach Aurora's northernmost town. Along the way, we saw trampled rice fields, fallen trees and other traces of wreckage left out by the typhoons.

A beautiful rainbow adorned the sky on our way to Dilasag
4x4 Action

There were farmlands covered with mud, electric posts knocked down, and trees uprooted. It was sad because it didn't seem like they would be recovering soon.

Distributing Relief Goods

Dilasag is considered the gateway of Philippine typhoons; a lot of them make landfall here.

The municipal and school officers welcomed us upon our arrival. The sun was scorching hot when we started unloading the boxes of donations. Immediately after that, the school children lined up to receive their new notebooks, crayons, and other school supplies.

Our volunteers

The students

With their books and magazines

We took a few photos and boarded the 4x4s again to our next destination, Kasaysayan Elementary School. Some of the other members of the Offroaders Club went to another site to deliver the relief goods they packed.

Kasaysayan Elementary School belongs to the cluster of Diagyan Elementary School. That means they have the same school principal. Their students are mostly indigenous people, belonging to the Agta cultural group.

After handing out some donations and taking souvenir shots, we thanked our hosts and went to the resort of the mayor of Dilasag at Canaware Beach, where we stayed that night for our much-needed rest and much-awaited reunion with friends.

The following day we woke up to very bad weather, so we had to leave earlier than planned to avoid being stranded. We just squeezed in a tour at the grassland of Dilasag, then after that, we were back on the national highway. The river crossings were a challenge but we all made it back to Baler safe.

Mayor's gift

Well, except for one member of the Aurora Offroaders Club, Mr. Carlito Magyano, who met with an accident in Dinalungan, Aurora, at midnight of October 31. Sir Sam went ahead of us because of a promise he made to his wife and children. 

We believe an angel like him will be carried safely back home by the wings of the prayers of all the people he helped in Dilasag, Aurora.

As for the rest of us, we will continue with our mission of helping, despite the risks and the hardships.

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