Manhattan — New York-based couple Sal and Josie Ciccotto went to the Philippines for eight days in early June, 2014 to do a humanitarian service in earthquake ravaged Bohol island by providing financial and education supplies to school children.
Through the New York Phil-Am Lions Club where Josie serves as vice president, the couple gave cash to reconstruct the damaged Catholic churches in the town of Clarin, Sagbayan, and Tubigon. They also gave out more than 150 backpacks (school bags) and school supplies to grade school children in Katipunan Elementary School in the town of Sagbayan.
It was a timely gift for the children, as most of them trooped to their dilapidated school on the first day without any provision of school supplies. “Nalipay ko kay naa na koy knapsack and crayons,” Gerard, 8, beamed. (I am happy that I have this knapsack and crayons).
Sal noted that only 5 of the 150 students had school bags. Josie could not help but be tearful in handing out the school supplies to the children. “This is a very little relief for the kids. But I am so happy and joyful to have done this,” she said.
Josie’s daughter and her family live in Sagbayan but her house had been spared from the devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Bohol on October 15, 2013. The earthquake, known to be the deadliest in the Philippines in 23 years, had the southwest of Sagbayan town as its epicenter. It affected the whole Central Visayas region (in Central Philippines), killed 222 individuals and injured more than a thousand.
Up to this date, rehabilitation efforts are done by private citizens and humanitarian groups, as government help continues to be remote and slow.