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Tzu Chi Foundation and business experts have teamed up to plan a comprehensive response to the Odette victims

Staff ni Anjie
Super typhoon Odette has demolished significant portions of the middle and southern Philippines, putting six regions in a state of disaster: Mimaropa, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Northern Mindanao, and Caraga. However, because of a lack of communication within the impacted areas and impassable highways connecting the several towns, distributing aid quickly has proven to be a huge issue. This triggered a call from and for business and non-profit leaders to work together to help communities recover and develop innovative responses to future disasters.

Tzu Chi Foundation and business experts have teamed up to plan a comprehensive response to the Odette victims
Tzu Chi Foundation and business experts have teamed up to plan a comprehensive response to the Odette victims

Bro. Henry Yunez, Country CEO of the Buddhist Compassion Tzu Chi Foundation Philippines, expressed gratitude for the "opportunity to connect with these people." He stated that they welcome volunteers and resources from all sectors because "there is no religion involved in what we are doing," referring to the faith on which their organization was founded.

Since the weather has cleared, Tzu Chi has visited nine towns in Bohol and 15 in Southern Leyte, allowing volunteers and rescue missions to enter the devastated areas. They've supplied thousands of liters of water and medicines to these areas, and they're seeking for more generators to assist with water pumping. Rice will be distributed to around 20,000 families shortly after December 26.

Transparency and technology

When the Philippines was hit by Yolanda in 2013, one of the most powerful typhoons in history, Tzu Chi's response to relief efforts was hailed as one of the most effective by civil society and government.

Aside from collecting and transporting relief materials for the Odette victims, Amor Maclang, Digital Pilipinas Convenor, added that "big equipment and the building side of things" are also needed. A more "participative and transparent" collaboration of partners can take advantage of rapidly evolving technology such as fintech, e-commerce, and logistics to "transfer money faster" to those who need it most. Digital Pilipinas, a movement that uses technology to solve commercial and social problems, has previously assisted the Tzu Chi Foundation in "teching up their organization" "even before Odette," according to Maclang. "Most significantly, we can use technology to demonstrate transparency in how money is spent."

Industry experts from the real estate, logistics, construction, financial services, payments, and retail spaces attended Tzu Chi Foundation Philippine and Digital Pilipinas' recent conference, "Typhoon Odette Relief Briefing and Response Planning." It promoted 'Bayanihan' and a whole-of-nation, whole-of-society strategy to dealing with the Odette-affected areas.

The "gathering is not just for awareness, but for support, cooperation, and unity," according to Cherrie Rose Ang, Admin Senior Officer of Tzu Chi's Admin and Volunteer Affairs Department. Filipinos remain in makeshift shelters or evacuation centers days after Odette made nine landfalls across Visayas and Mindanao. "Children are walking out to the streets to ask for help," Ang said of the condition reported by their volunteers. People are frantically trying to salvage anything they can from their damaged homes."

Several of the companies mentioned in the webinar are already assisting with the rescue efforts. EtiqaCares, according to Gladys Pascual, Etiqa's Head of Strategy and Transformation, is supporting the rehabilitation programs. Kim Lato, the founder of Kimstore, collaborates with the Tzu Chi Foundation to organize fundraising on their website. Meanwhile, Nauman Mustafa, CEO of Coins.PH announced that "instead of buying Christmas presents for our partners, we will be contributing instead." Even those who have been affected by Typhoon Odette are arranging relief efforts. Even though hundreds of our members have been affected by Odette, Roy Miclat, President of 1 Cooperative Insurance System of the Philippines, said his team is serving "in the outlying areas."

Solutions for the long term

Meanwhile, Globe SVP and Chief Sustainability Officer Yoly Crisanto said that the telecommunications firm is "doing everything we can to make sure all the provinces impacted by Odette become online and connected again," in answer to concerns over communications and internet connectivity. She also stated that the growing challenges posed by climate change will only lead to more and stronger typhoons, particularly in vulnerable countries such as the Philippines. "The challenge of our time," she remarked, "is what will we do to improve the next time we are confronted with the same circumstance."

Forward-thinking initiatives, Miclat said, "should not focus on one-time activities, such as contribution campaigns."

The collaboration between Mustafa of and Donna May Lina, Director and Executive Board of the OneLGC Lina Group of Companies, is one solution. Both companies will use tokens to represent tree-planting activities to better motivate Filipinos to participate in environmental restoration. With their knowledge in disaster preparedness, the Lina organization hopes to bring on additional people who will be better prepared when the next crisis occurs.

Marco Santos, representing Mapua University and the Yuchengco group, stated that the country can educate future architects, engineers, and other professionals on how to build disaster-resistant structures. "Producing people who are ready for the job," he said. We have a lot of engineers. Project Usher is our first patent, and it allows us to monitor structures during an earthquake."

Technology will be critical not just in the aftermath of Typhoon Odette but also in the future. "We can align all of our groups to make technology and systems relevant," Georgia Martelino, Microsoft Philippines' Philanthropist Lead, stated. "Let's pool our resources and call it a Tzu Chi platform so that everyone can use it for free." Starting with digital literacy is an excellent place to start."

Tzu Chi Foundation Philippines assists in the rehabilitation, recovery, economic, and educational restoration of the areas impacted by Typhoon Odette by utilizing its global network of volunteers and staff. They include the communities in various operations, which also serves to provide them with quick money.

"There is nothing we can't overcome if we have love in our hearts." Anton Lim, OIC of Tzu Chi Zamboanga Liaison Office, stated, "We can join together and rebuild anew."

The relationship will continue, according to Maclang, because it is "not only about Odette but about humanity." As the situation worsens, Tzu Chi, Digital Pilipinas, and the other companies plan to hold additional meetings with more action plans.

Donations to the Tzu Chi Foundation Philippines can be sent to the following address: Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation Philippines; BDO Account Number: 011978001800; Metrobank Account Number: 163-3-16307190-9; BDO Account Number: 011978001800; Metrobank Account Number: 163-3-16307190-9; BDO Account Number: 011978001800; BDO Account Number: 011978001800; B Send deposit slips by email to or via Viber/Line/WeChat to +639672110940.

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