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Haiyan Oplan Hatid – a Driving Drive

17 Nov

Relief good drives are relatively common in the Philippines, what with the 20 or so typhoons that hit us every year. Last week, we got hit by the strongest storm on record that made landfall, Typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Yolanda. The devastation is so extensive that shipping relief goods out to the affected areas does not quite cut it. Troves need to be evacuated to Cebu and Manila as whole cities and towns, now erased from satellite images, will take time to rebuild.

This resulted in a new kind of drive – Oplan Hatid. Volunteers go to Villamor Air Base, where hundreds of evacuees arrive at a time via C130 planes. The volunteers then hatid (escort) the evacuees wherever they need to go. Hence, it is a driving drive. A kind of People Power, the call for drivers popularized through Facebook.

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How does it work?

When the evacuees arrive they are settled at the grandstand for a kind of decompression period. Ushers guide them to designated areas where food is distributed. They are given a chance to eat and then volunteer counselors chat with them. Volunteers find clothes that match their sizes. They are registered with the Department of Social Welfare and Development and then volunteer dispatchers take them through Oplan Hatid.

Each volunteer driver is given a number upon registration. A coordinator with a megaphone then announces the details of the next group who needs to be transported.”Group of 2 to going to Cavite.” The drivers interested in taking passengers to the announced area raise their numbers. The driver with the lowest number wins. The coordinator jovially calls this out, e.g. “#43, the lady with the white shirt and glasses, wins!”

My family got the privilege to drive Lola Berting’s family of 5 to Arandia, Muntinlupa. I’ll share their story in another post.

If you want to volunteer for Oplan Hatid, just show up at Villamor Airbase and tell the guard why you’re there. You’ll be given instructions on where to park and register.

You can also check out Rappler’s compilation of ways to help Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda’s victims.

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