Many residents in communities near the Taal Volcano have relied on fishing, farming, and tourism as sources of income. The recent eruption of the volcano, however, caused significant damage not only to their homes but also to their livelihood.
PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications Inc. (SMART) is extending its support to families affected by the Taal Volcano eruption by providing cash-for-work assistance, materials to rebuild homes, and early warning tools for selected communities.
For the cash-for-work initiative, Smart worked with the social welfare office of the Laurel municipality to identify beneficiaries. Under the program, Smart will provide cash assistance to selected families in Barangay Buso-Buso per day in exchange for cleaning and rehabilitation of their own homes.
Most of the affected residents are still staying at evacuation centers, but the municipal social welfare office has allowed some of them to go back to their homes at certain times of the day to clean up, feed their pets, and take care of other household concerns.
Laurel also got disaster warning tools in the form of batingaw, a bell or a siren used by communities as an early warning device. Smart turned over two batingaw that the villagers could use to inform their fellow residents of imminent natural or man-made threats.
An Aeta community in Batangas province also received assistance from Smart. Longtime residents in the coastal areas of San Luis town, the group bore the brunt of the eruption, their homes and sources of livelihood destroyed. Most of the heads of families in this community were construction workers, fisherfolk, or raised animals in farms.
Smart provided pawid (nipa palm), sawali (bamboo mats), and other housing materials that they could use to build their new homes as they moved from the seaside to the town’s mountainous areas. Around 70 Aeta families or 300 individuals now seeking shelter in Barangay Banoyo were selected as beneficiaries.
“The best way to show our love for residents affected by the Taal Volcano eruption is through actions that can help them rebuild their lives,” said PLDT-Smart public affairs head Ramon R. Isberto. “In time for Valentine’s Day, instead of just offering thoughts and prayers, let us show our concern in more tangible and meaningful ways.”
The assistance provided by Smart to these communities is part of a broader community relief program of parent company PLDT and its affiliate companies under the Tulong Kapatid consortium.