MANILA, Philippines – Will you wait for the government to act when disasters strike?
Once the “Big One” hits, the government will need all the help it can get to respond to the devastation. This includes civil society and volunteer groups.
This is why the Unified Rizal Riders Club (URRC) chose to be active participants during the National Simultaneous Earthquake Drill (NSED) and the Metro Manila Shake Drill, on Wednesday, June 22.
“We are not just riders. We want to explore how to extend help. It is good that we also have a social responsibility,” Vic Luna, one of the founders of the group, said.
During the drill, the URRC was assigned to transport Department of Health (DOH) officials who needed to be brought to Camp Aguinaldo to provide situational reports amid roads unpassable to 4-wheeled vehicles.
The riders have also been joining other activities within Rizal province, such as feeding programs and the annual Brigada Eskwela. Despite their relatively short organizational existence, the URRC seeks to continue what they do and find ways to increase the impact of their projects.
Upon dismounting, one of the riders, Reynaldo Ramos, noted how happy he was to be part of the group, as it is not just a hobby but also a way of serving others.
“We want to extendo our hand in our little way. We are not a big time group. But in our hearts, we want to support events like these,” Luna stated, in a mix of English and Filipino.
He added, “I hope this will be an eye-opener for other groups to do the same as well. It is heartwarming.”
According to his fellow rider Richard delos Reyes, volunteerism is very important, because once the real disaster strikes, “You can’t just be standing there. You need to be doing your role much like how they do in in other countries.”
The Rizal riders weren’t the only volunteer group who participated. Volunteers from Parañaque and Cavite also did their part.
Director Renato Solidum of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) agrees with this notion of volunteerism.
Combined with the efforts of various local government units, government agencies, hospitals, businesses, schools, BPOs, mall operators, volunteer groups and the religious sector, National Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) Chief Alexander Pama, considers the drill a success.
“It is more organized and has reached the objectives. I see a big improvement compared to last year,” said Pama in a mix of English and Filipino.