4 hours of failing to sleep and 150 mosquito bites later, we loaded up the jeep with relief goods and the adventure began.
Badiangan and San Antonio, Iloilo - a very sad situation. In the town, roofless houses and crooked electrical poles stood defiantly. They were the lucky ones. Some men were straining against the heat to put up temporary bamboo utility poles, while others tried to rebuild their homes with whatever debris they could scavenge.
Up in the mountains, broken utility poles have become temporary speed humps on a road that definitely did not need speed humps. Unattended landslides covered broken wires. Where there once were homes, there are now just piles of sticks strewn haphazardly at the will of the wind. Where there once were the livelihoods of the farmers, there are now just upended trees and destroyed cornfields. It will be at least a few months before power will be restored or the cornfields replanted. In the meantime, most don't have money for food, and the ones that do can't find kerosene or candles to buy.
For now, they have solar lights, which doesn't solve everything, but it goes a long way to helping them rebuild their lives. The people of Ajuy were overwhelmed with gratitude, some were bordering on tears.
And if you want to donate or get involved, please get in touch!
A huge thank you to Anis Jamaludin, Quek Sue Yian, Diani Lee, Dianna Lee and other anonymous donors for all your support and making all of this possible! And a special mention to Angelo Valenton at Best Brands for all your help!