November 8, we were all urged by the government to leave our work early, proceed home and stay there till the Yolanda had passed. Sitting inside Friday evening the wind was blowing like a normal winter storm in Norway. Saturday appeared and reports were few regarding the aftermath of the typhoon, but it seemed like the Philippines had succeeded beating the Yolanda. How wrong cane one be. Opening the newspapers on Sunday revealed the tragedy and the apparent need to help the victims was materialized.; we were not affected in Manila, but knowing that not too far away, people were suffering and appealing for help was hard to bear. Same afternoon during my biking session the idea struck me; “I have a vessel (Kapitan Felix Oca) on charter for navigational training, onboard I have a very competent Deputy Director Captain Jøran Nøstvik, my shipboard training officer, Larry Gonzales, and last, but not least I have about 170 cadets”..… and that’s how it all started.
I could not have done this alone; a lot of people have given their fair share of time and effort to make it possible. The success of all 3-relief operations made for the survivors is the sum of all small efforts contributed by each one of us. I owe it to the people whose helping for those in need has been the common passion that drives everybody to do what’s necessary and what’s important given the circumstances.
First, I honor all our cadets who do the hard work; the loading and unloading of cargoes through manual labor. It was tiresome, considering the 600 tons of relief goods in 3 operations in a time-bound situation; but they made it possible. It was their first voyage, first taste of a seaman’s life and I believe it’ll be one of their greatest experiences onboard for they were not just trained to be a seafarer, they were trained to be of service to other people in the “fine spirits of the seas”
Thank you to the organizations “Making Change” and “A Million Voices” for the initiative to help , AMOSUP the owner of the vessel , to private organizations and individual donors and lastly thank you to the valuable help from Congressman Jesulito Manalo of ANGKLA and Ronald Enrile from PTC with their direct link and very good coordination with DOTC and DILG. This was a well-coordinated operation with all relevant government agencies – from top to bottom and we are glad we were able to help in these tragic circumstances.