MANILA, Philippines—More than 40 students of the Far Eastern University (FEU) have stayed in the school’s main campus in Manila since Monday night due to the heavy rains that wreaked havoc in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
“Kasi talagang sobra ‘yong baha noong gabi so we decided to stay sa FEU. Noong Monday night mga 35 pa lang po kami. Tapos nadagdagan po noong may marami pang na-stranded sa labas. Mga 50 na po kami ngayon,” Erisu Ashitoni, a third year tourism student and one of those who were stranded, said in a phone interview with INQUIRER.net at around 1 p.m. Wednesday .
Ashitoni recalled that the FEU administration suspended classes at around 6 p.m. Monday but many students were unable to go back home because the main streets were already heavily flooded. She said they sought help from the security of the university who escorted them to the second floor of the building.
In the interview, Ashitoni said that the students were staying at the Arts Building in the third floor of the college Wednesday afternoon.
Kevin Klein Adonis, a first year tourism student of the same university who was also stranded in the school, in a separate interview around 3 p.m. Wednesday, said that help for them started to come at dawn on Tuesday, mainly from the college’s officials and student organizations.
“Binigyan po nila kami ng mga pagkain, damit, tubig, at toiletries. Maayos naman po ang kondisyon namin,” Adonis said.
Adonis said that some students had already left because their parents were able to pick them up. He said, however, that other students were not allowed to leave without proper coordination from their families.
“Ako po hindi pa po ako makaalis dahil hindi ko pa po ma-contact yung guardian ko. Nakausap ko po kanina ‘yong pinsan ko na sabihin sa tita ko ‘yong nangyari. Wala po kasi dito yung parents ko,” he said.
In a separate interview at around lunch time Wednesday, JM Olaco, director of FEU’s Office of Community Extension Services, said that upon learning about the situation of the students, the univeristy officials coordinated with the security officers to provide them with shelter.
“Ako po mismo the following morning ang pinapunta ng president to make sure they had clothes, food, toothbrush,” he said.
Olanco said that they made sure that the students were provided for. He added that they would not allow the students to leave unless they had the go signals from their parents or guardians.
“However long it takes, aalagaan po namin sila,” he said.
Uplift the students’ spirits
Olaco said that during his visit for the students at around lunch time Wednesday, they conducted activities to help “uplift the students’ spirits.”
“Kasi down po sila emotionally. So gumawa po kami mga activities tulad ng lunch party, nag-gupit gupit po kami ng iba ibang kulay ng papel, nagkantahan po kami,” he said.
Olaco, however, stressed that the best outcome that came out of the said meeting was that the students volunteered to head the relief operations that FEU would be conducting for the other flood victims.
“Nagplano po talaga kami na magbigay ng relief goods sa mga kapwa po naming nabaha rin po,” Ashitoni said.
“Dahil sa nangyari, ang natutunan ko po ay tumulong dahil lahat po kami ay hirap dito. Makipag-cooperate at huwag magpanic. Maging handa sa lahat ng oras,” she said.
For his part, Adonis said that the reflection activities they conducted Wednesday afternoon made him appreciate the value of team work.
“Personally, natuto po ako nong teamwork at pakikisama. Sa mga ganitong sitwasyon kailangan pong magtulungan,” he said.
Olaco said that as of the moment, they were not yet able to determine the targets of the relief operations but that they would convene to ensure that those who were heavily affected would get help.
He said their program entitled Tambayani Relief Operations, to be led by the stranded victims and the student organizations, would start once the FEU Manila becomes accessible.
He said Tambayani was a response team established by the college’s student leaders to help the victims of Typhoon Ondoy in 2009.
Olaco said that the incident served as an eye opener for the college, saying that he would call on officials of the school to conduct a meeting with the stranded students so that they could learn about their experiences and come up with guidelines and precautionary measures for such incidents.
As of 5 p.m., Jayvee Badille, president of the FEU Central Student organization, who was with the stranded students Wednesday, said that 31 of the students were able to come home as of Wednesday. However, 19 students would still be spending the night at the building.
“Dahil po tumaas ‘yong baha at hindi makakauwi,” Jayvee said.
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