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Subic's Grande Island Resort delivers gifts to Samar town
Jan 23, 2014

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT - More than a thousand kilometers of road travel did not dampen the enthusiasm of the 17 workers from a tourism facility here when they journeyed for five days to bring joy to children in the typhoon-ravaged coastal town of Hernani in Eastern Samar.

Hernani, a fifth-class municipality of more than 8,000 people, was among the communities hardest-hit by Typhoon Yolanda when its storm surge flattened coastal areas in Eastern Visayas last November 9. The tragedy claimed a total of 57 lives in Hernani.

To help cheer up the typhoon victims, Grande Island Resort (GIR), an upscale tourist destination in Subic Bay, which is operated and managed by GFTG Property Holdings Corporation, dispatched three vans to transport food, school supplies, toys and emergency items for its feeding and gift-giving activity last week.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA)chairman Roberto Garcia said that a number of business locators in Subic sent their donations via the Philippine Red Cross or shipped them directly to beneficiaries, but it was only Grande Island Resort that personally delivered its donations to the victims.

"We take note of the generosity of the Grande Island management and staff who volunteered to deliver their gifts personally. It was a very long and exhausting trip, but they made it happen," the SBMA official said.

Dubbed as "3G (Grande Gift Giving) Campaign", the mission was led by Cristina Garcia, vice president for administration and operations of GFTG, in coordination with Dr. Socorro Ponferrada of Hernani and Fr. Francisco Corado, the parish priest of the Our Lady of Seven Dolors Parish.

Some of the staff-volunteers trace their roots to Samar and Leyte and wanted to personally lend a helping hand to the children in their hometowns. Among them we re Karisha Cinco, a nurse by profession and Garcia's executive assistant who is from Catbalogan, Samar; GIR kitchen manager Alex Berin, and Harvey Ico whose parents are from Barugo, Leyte.

"It is part of the GIR's corporate social responsibility to give back to the needy the blessings that we received the whole year round," Garcia explained. "We hope that in our little way, we could help boost the morale of residents and give the children of this town a feeling of new hope."

The convoy from Subic traveled for five days, covering more than 1,200 kilometers by land from the GIR Terminal in Subic Bay Freeport to Matnog, Sorsogon, and then from Allen, Western Samar,
to Catbalogan and Borongan until it reached Hernani.

Members of the convoy, composed of 17 Grande Island personnel and two media officers from the SBMA, merely stopped awhile at roadside eateries to eat and freshen up in rest rooms. The rest of the journey was spent inside the vehicles where the travelers also slept.

"The discomfort, almost sleepless nights, and exhaustion that we experienced are nothing compared to the suffering, trauma and agony that the residents, specially the children, are having now," Garcia said during the trip.

In Hernani, the group was warmly welcomed by residents led by Fr. Corado and Dr. Ponferrada.

"It is very important that the children feel that they are loved, even by those kuyas and ates from faraway places like Subic," Fr. Corado told the group.

"Your gifts will somehow bring back the joy to these children who are still traumatized by the loss of some of their friends during the typhoon," he added.

In a brief walk around Hernani, the group witnessed how the typhoon and storm surge leveled to the ground hundreds of houses, school buildings, market, library, and other public and private structures. Roads were destroyed, and potable drinking water became scarce.

Before heading back home to Subic, Garcia left ten sacks of rice, emergency lanterns, and a battery-operated public announcement system. (30)


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