Remember One Run? The run we organized a week after Typhoon Yolanda struck our country? All of you runners who participated helped us to raise P615,000 in cash and quite a large number of in kind donations. Majority of the funds were donated to Javiertown while P100,000 was donated to New Tribes Missions through Philip Leroux and Hector Yuzon of Secondwind Running Store.
Just before Christmas, Hector, owner of Secondwind Running store, and Philip, triathlete and missionary of New Tribes Mission, flew to the islands of Agutaya to deliver the goods they purchased funded in part by One Run. I’m sharing with you Hector’s recounting of what he says was a truly humbling experience. It’s worth a few minutes of your time to really put into perspective what you have in your life and set the tone for you in this coming year…
On a Mission to the Islands of Agutaya
By Hector Yuzon
I am still amazed of how organized and structured New Tribes Missions is. What is happening now from an operational standpoint: they made the island of Cuyo their base of operations as this is one of the bigger islands that has an air strip and electricity. Cuyo is an hour and five mins away from Puerto Princesa via a Kodiak plane, which is a 6 – 10 seater propeller powered plane. This was sent in by New Tribes Indonesia to specifically help the typhoon victims in Philip’s area. And for the past 4 weeks, they have maximize everyday their 2 planes to haul supplies and relief from Manila to Puerto to Cuyo. And from Cuyo, the 2 choppers distribute the goods to the 6 islands which are under the municipality of Agutaya.
The guy (far left) is from New Tribes Aviation Head Office. He is the overall Pilot chief for their group, and here he is on Cuyo manually refueling the helicopter to continue with relief operations.
Their group is so organized with highly trained experts from different countries. Even though the group is lean staffed and so diverse that I am the only brown man that day flying in and out with them :D, their group is so amazing, that they even flew in a third party group to continuously do daily computation of the goods and personnel being loaded per flight so they know if they are maximizing each trip or if they are overloading the planes so as not to waste fuel and of course, monitor the goods being shipped out.
Philip (New Tribes Agutaya) with Donovan (from New Tribes way up north of Luzon), who came down just to help with the relief operations.
Philip with Red Cross Palawan and the mayor of Agutaya (wearing backpack) discussing priorities of aid
Here’s how its done: basically they all move within only Philip’s instructions and area of responsibility; (with coordination with the mayor of Agutaya) anything that needs to be done outside should be first cleared with him. Everything and everyone is being inspected by Philip himself. From the moment where the packs and goods are sorted in Manila, to where the goods are further divided on a family level – he inspects for himself if each family got what they should. What this means from an operational standpoint is, that this eliminates error in calculation, redundancy in work and non-essential personnel.
What would normally take a day’s worth of trip or even a week’s trip (depending on water conditions for the small pump or fish boats) – only took a half a day to reach 4 of the 6 islands.
Agutaya – check how good the pilots of New Tribes are, we landed on a pier!!!
Basacar – locals are giving our pilot, Brian sea shells, which according to Philip is a huge gesture, almost like celebrity status!
Mandit – Philip making further assessments and reassuring them that New Tribes and the mayor of Agutaya are all busy at work looking out for them
Some of the residents have started rebuilding their homes and boats, gathering spare wood and whatever materials that may be still lying around –materials for reconstruction are still needed.
Their main source of livelihood is seaweed, this is actually a primary ingredient for all things plastic, specifically for plastic tables and chairs. And as I am writing you now, New Tribes is now transitioning into giving them raw materials for their homes, boats and livelihood so as they can now move forward from the typhoon and slowly have a sense of normalcy in their lives.
I already told Philip this, and I just want to share with you – as I was collecting the first shipment of relief for Philip, I was just overwhelmed with a feeling of joy and sense of purpose, that I was suddenly wiping tears from my face as I was driving from one shop to another. Simply put, I was just so happy and lucky to be able to do this small thing for the people of Agutaya, whom have lost so much. I was just so happy knowing that all our efforts will directly reach and be felt by those who are in need.
I was only able to visit 4 of the 6 islands, and man oh man – both Philip and I were knocked out on our trip back to Puerto. Loading and unloading the goods, flying in and out of islands, and talking to everyone just really takes a lot from you – it felt like a marathon. Really.
Everyone in the islands that we went to said that, if it hadn’t been for New Tribes and the aid they got from Manila and all over the world – they would have starved, and continued with nothing. Anarchy, starvation and chaos which we heard from the news that happened in Tacloban and Leyte was all avoided here.
With One Run being the biggest contributor – I wanted you to feel how tight the handshakes I got were, and how their look was full of joy just to meet one of the people who gave them aid, even if it was just little. It was really humbling, and puts how small all our problems are compared to what they went through and are still facing.
I am so thankful that I was able to help, thankful that I know Philip – someone on the ground who we could trust to oversee everything and make sure the relief reached those who are in need.
Thank God for New Tribes. Thank God for everyone who helped.
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR
Hector Yuzon is the owner of Secondwind Running Store. He is a runner and triathlete who is currently enjoying the trails whether on foot or on his bike.