The UP Diliman Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (UPROTC) lives by its shibboleth of Honor, Duty, and Country. These are ideals that dictate the action of every UPROTC Cadet and Cadet Officer. In the recent devastation brought about by super typhoon Yolanda, the Corps of Cadets (COC) of UPROTC readily stepped in to help in relief efforts, both based in the University, and directly to those affected in Eastern Visayas.
As much as the spirit of volunteerism burns in every cadet, the UPROTC sees to its duty to serve the Filipino people. UPROTC immediately mobilized its cadets and resources to spearhead relief operations on various fronts.
The Corps of Cadets, in partnership with the UP Vanguard Incorporated (UPVI), the alumni organization of Cadet Officers, various units of the AFP, and other volunteer groups undertook various but focused relief activities. Without delay, UPROTC and UPVI activated Oplan Mercy Trident to provide immediate relief and medical missions to the affected areas. As a member of the Core Team of University Student Council’s IskoOperation Committee, UPROTC was also able to assist UP-based organizations in re-packing and transporting relief items. Typhoon survivors fleeing Eastern Visayas and temporarily camped in Villamor Airbase were also given much needed relief items even before any organized call was made. In addition, UPROTC also attended to immediate needs of UP Tacloban students displaced by the typhoon and who are now continuing their studies in UP Diliman.
OPERATION MERCY TRIDENT
Immediately after the wake of the super typhoon Yolanda, UP ROTC Rescue Unit was assigned to provide vital support to Operation Mercy Trident. Operation Mercy Trident is a three-pronged relief operation organized by the UP Vanguard Inc and the UP Diliman Corps of Cadets in partnership with the Coast Guard 161 Auxiliary Corps and Gift of Givers, an organization of South African doctors. It provided relief supplies and medical missions to remote areas in Eastern Visayas.
Relief items collected by UPROTC and the UPVI were immediately repacked in Classroom 3 at the DMST Complex in just a few days after the typhoon.
UPROTC’s first training day for the semester was committed to continue repacking of relief goods. This included relief items brought by the University Student Council (USC). Portion of these were delivered to Philippine Army Headquarters, Fort Bonifacio with UPROTC Cadet Officers and cadets escorting the army truck provided by former Commandant Brigadier General Alcabasa ’79 through the 51st Engineer Brigade.
A break from repacking and transporting relief items meant a boodle fight lunch with Cadet Officers to strengthen camaraderie.
Further operations by the UPROTC included manpower complement on the transport of medical equipment and supplies into an army truck courtesy of 51st Engineer Brigade on 17 November. The supplies were brought to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for Oplan Mercy Trident. The operation was managed by CCpt Dades 2Cl and C2Lt de Castro 3Cl and overseen by Vgd Filemon V Elefante and Vgd John Ray B Ramos.
A third operation to deliver relief and medical items was made on 18 November. The second batch of relief and medical items for Oplan Mercy Trident’s second mission was transported to NAIA using trucks from the National Capital Region Community Defence Group (NCRRCDG) and the Civil Military Operations Group (CMOG), Philippine Army. CMaj Realubin 1Cl supervised the loading of medical equipment and relief items into the trucks at the University Hotel while C1Lt Aniciete 2Cl and C2Lt Santos 3Cl provided escort during transport.
The preparation for the last batch of relief items and medical supplies in support of Oplan Mercy Trident was supervised by C1Lt Avelino 2Cl. The items and supplies were transported to the North Harbor using an army truck from the NCRRCDG last 3 December with Vgd Frederic William N de Jesus and Vgd Rufino S Siwa as escorts. The relief items were shipped to Palompon, Leyte.
Responding to a call by Vgd. Gilbert Reyes, an initial batch of relief items consisting mostly of water, food, toiletries, and medicines were brought to survivors that began to pour in at Villamor Air Base last 16 November. Rescue Unit cadets provided the manpower to load the relief items while CMaj Laguesma 1Cl and CPvt Emperado 3Cl escorted the relief vehicle volunteered by Vgd. Astro Del Castillo.
Continuing its support to OPLAN Salubong, UPROTC and UPVI delivered Gardenia loaf breads and oatmeals to the displaced typhoon survivors camped at Villamor Airbase last 24 November 2013. C1Lt Avelino 2Cl and C1Lt Yao 3Cl delivered the food items.
As a member of the Core Team of the IskoOperation Committee, UPROTC worked with the University Student Council (USC) to lead the IskoOperation relief operations at the DMST quadrangle and Christy Hernandez Activity Center, College of Engineering last 16 November 2013.
Infantry and Rayadillo cadets assigned at the College of Engineering provided manpower complement in packing and loading some 3,300 packs of relief goods, including clothing, matches and candles, toiletries, and purified drinking water into a civilian truck to be transported to Sogod, Cebu through Navotas Fish Port. The civilian truck was provided by the Loyola Heights Rotary Club.
A second batch of relief items consisting of 4,000 bottled water, 412 packs of relief goods, and other various relief items were transported to the Army Gym, Fort Bonifacio through an army truck, provided by the 51st Engineer Brigade. CMaj Realubin 1Cl, C1Lt Avelino 2Cl, Cpvt Sarne 3Cl and CPvt Solleta 3Cl provided escort and manpower complement. The relief items were donated for the Operation Bayanihan led by the Civil Military Operations Group, Philippine Army.
Unpacked relief items were transported to the DMST quadrangle for sorting, packing and boxing by Cadet Officers, cadets, and some volunteer students. Though not required, some cadets volunteered to stay in the afternoon to continue the relief operations.
The remaining unpacked relief items were transported back to the College of Engineering while the packed relief goods were donated to Tulong Kabataan the following day which was facilitated by IskoOperation Committee Head, Mr Dan Guzman.
BOODLE FIGHT FOR UP TACLOBAN STUDENTS
On the 150th birth anniversary celebration of Andres Bonifacio last 30 November, UPROTC and UPVI-University Chapter organized a lunch gathering with UP Tacloban cross-registrants entitled “OPERATION Boodle Fight”.
The boodle fight is a traditional military meal before a major operation. It is a meal of solidarity for soldiers and officers to express their unity and camaraderie through the sharing of their meager rations. Though far from any armed conflict, the UPROTC and the UPVI hosted displaced students from UP Tacloban to a boodlefight lunch as a way of expressing esprit de corps after their harrowing experience from super typhoon Yolanda.
UP Tacloban students soon discovered that the boodle fight meant that they will eat in banana leaves spread across a long table laden with rice and different viands. There are no utensils and only their bare hands were used to eat a sumptuous serving of daing na bangus, pork adobo, boiled eggplant, okra with bagoong, and steamed rice. Cadet Officers, cadets and Vanguards also joined the students in clearing the long table of food.
Afterwards, a short program was held to officially welcome the students to the DMST. UP DIliman ROTC Commandant Col. Leopoldo A. Imbang, Jr. GSC (MI) PA was on hand to support the UPROTC and UPVI initiative and to assure the students of UP’s commitment to look after their welfare. In his short message he urged the students to “move forward and finish your studies,” as this was the only way that they can help their families and fellow Bisaya affected by the typhoon.
Corps Commander CLtC Ma Rhea C Andaya 1Cl, Vgd. Max Del Ponso of Rescue 926 and UP Sidlangan President Julian Alvarez also gave messages of support and encouragement to the UP Tacloban students.
Part of the activities included the distribution of goods to the UP Tacloban students. Dubbed “Commissary Raid,” the students were able to choose essential daily items they need such as toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, coffee, biscuits, and clothes.
The rest of the afternoon was spent on play activities that included karaoke singing inside Classroom 2, marksmanship at the DMST Firing Range and outdoor games like frisbee, volleyball, basketball, and rollerball at the DMST quadrangle.
Photos courtesy of: C1Lt Avelino 2Cl, HQ Support Unit, Vgd Tamayo, Abby Cruzada and Martz Ausa
Access the UPROTC Yolanda Relief Ops full report here