MANILA, 11 February 2022 – While Super Typhoon Odette (Rai) ravaged provinces across Southern Philippines, stories of malasakit (personal sacrifice, concern to help others) and resilience rang loudest even in the hearts of those who needed help themselves.
2GO Group Inc. was moving tons of relief goods port-to-port to ensure the prompt and timely delivery of essential goods to typhoon hit areas. But behind the scenes, its people, who were situated in the typhoon-stricken region, were moving heaven and earth to make sure the needs of the many were served.
“There is no internet connection province-wide, and we have no means of sending communication via electronic text messages. Network providers aren’t certain yet as to when the service will be restored.” This was the first message 2GO Sea Solutions Palawan Manager Anthony Ruiz relayed to his colleagues after driving for over 51 kilometers to find the nearest town with the strongest cell phone signal.
A mere couple of days removed from what Typhoon Odette did to his work province of Palawan, he caught himself a brief respite by checking in with his family a thousand miles over in Leyte, his hometown. Mr. Ruiz knew the kind of devastation brought by super typhoons, having experienced the ire of Typhoon Yolanda eight years prior.
In a bombardment of preparations, he bolstered the 2GO Palawan office’s preparedness in dealing with Odette after it had made its first landfall in Siargao Island on December 16. He gave early outs to his employees at noon to allow team members to settle their households and brace for the potential impact of the super typhoon, which at the time packed strong winds at 270 kilometers per hour, comparable to a Category 5 hurricane in the west.
Whatever happens, though, they would all have to go to the office the next day since MV St. Francis of Xavier (SFX) vessel, carrying relief supplies and cargo, was bound to the province from Manila on Saturday, December 18. The night was rough as the typhoon disrupted communications lines, toppled electrical posts, with remnants of the severe winds and rainfall evident on the streets.
In his letter, Mr. Ruiz continued to report to the head office about the conditions there with water supply still scarce throughout the city, while uprooted trees and fallen debris continue to plague the road clearing operations and the cleanup on major thoroughfares.
Mr. Ruiz and his team worked through those days as they rallied behind the mantra, “may mahahanap na paraan, kailangan gawan ng paraan.” [There are solutions, we need to find it.]
Even with the branch’s limited resources, as communication and power restoration still remained a challenge, they worked with the local Philippine Coastguard in preparation for the ship vessel. The team also went from warehouse to warehouse to talk to customers for better coordination of these deliveries. With all of these on hand, the whole team was back on track.
There were passengers onboard and Mr. Ruiz, not wanting to risk their safety and to have ample time to coordinate with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), let the passengers spend the night on board. After a restful night and good breakfast, passengers were full of appreciation after they safely disembarked and were promptly handled by IATF.
Spirit of Service
More of 2GO employees were all-hands-on-deck like Homer Pacilan, Sea Solutions Operations Coordinator who took the lead in the relief operations for her worksite in Cebu.
Despite her own family being worried about her and cognizant of her colleagues’ immediate needs, Ms Pacilan took charge of the purchasing, packaging and distribution of relief goods to her fellow colleagues.
“I found the experience satisfying knowing that in my own little way, I was able to help. Nakakataba ng puso (my heart is full),” said Ms. Pacilan when asked during an interview.
While her six-year experience as the Labor Management Council (LMC) Representative for 2GO Cebu have prepared her for this situation, the process went smoother than expected.
“The 2GO Management, LMC Team and [human resources] were very attentive to our needs. When the relief goods arrived, naiiyak ako (I felt like crying) reading all the messages of encouragement and support that came along with the boxes,” she added in mixed Filipino and English.
The company also extended its gratitude to some of its key employees like operations coordinator and building administrator Ms. Marie Chris Ria who was instrumental in the resumption of power in office warehouses in Cebu through her close coordination with the Visayan Electric Company (VECO) immediately a day after the typhoon hit.
Dedicated employees like Mr. Melvin Buntilao, and Ms. Joy Eden Candilada, both of whom experienced physical damages to their homes were quick to respond by securing important cargo even if their own households needed attention as well.
Joselito Cenabre, operations coordinator who was in-charge of general cargo monitoring was instrumental in making sure the relief goods and generation sets delivered by 2GO Special Containers and Value Added Services, Inc. arrived a few days after the typhoon. This meant successive days of continuous duty especially during the Christmas holidays for the timely distribution to the respective beneficiaries last December 31.
The whole of 2GO Group remains steadfast in its commitment to provide the necessary help and resources to recover together amid these overwhelming challenges in the country. Inspired by the stories of their very own colleagues, it will always serve as motivators when the need to go beyond the call of duty arises.