(STAR) Typhoon Ondoy’s wrath will go down in history as one of the worst calamities of all time. But on the bright side, the tragedy has also brought out the best in the Filipino as exemplified by the outpouring of concern and support to those who were severely affected. Mobilization of relief efforts were instantly implemented by various companies, schools, organizations, and private citizens. In fact, major utility company Meralco immediately activated relief operations dubbed as “Dilaw Sa Bayan” (Dulot Liwanag at Sagip Bayan Program – Meralco Relief Program) as early as the morning of Sunday, September 27.

More than that, Meralco stood by the Filipino people in the bleakest hours of the calamity. This was proven by the Meralco linemen who served not only as ‘bearers of light’ but became ‘bearers of hope’ in areas that are too far and dangerous since the water is too deep.

“Meralco’s primary responsibility is to restore electric service as soon as possible in areas that are secure and ensuring that our customers and the public are aware of precautions in relation to electricity,” said Ricardo Buencamino, Head of Meralco Networks. “But it is also during these calamities that our linemen – tasked to restore light – are also providing immediate help as what had transpired in Cainta, Marikina, and Pasig.

Since the Meralco trucks have high ground clearance, the Meralco crew was the first to enter the hard-to-reach area of Cainta. What welcomed them was a shocking scene: houses, stores, and schools were submerged in chest-deep water; vehicles were drifting aimlessly, and in the darkness, people are waiting for hours on their roof shivering in the cold and without anything to eat. Their cries for help didn’t fall in deaf ears; the Meralco linemen didn’t hesitate to provide humanitarian assistance beyond their call of duty.

“Even if they were not really there to aid the survivors, they were able to rescue and relocate to safer grounds hundreds of people trapped by the floods in Cainta, Rizal and along Sumulong Highway in Bgy. Masinag and affected residents in Provident Village in Marikina,” said Buencamino. “The Meralco lineman truly exemplified what ‘malasakit’ is all about.”

With the inability to restore power due to floods and in full consideration of safety, Meralco also immediately lent and operated 44 generator sets and 81 flood lights to illuminate critical areas where relief/evacuation centers are located. These sites include the Cainta and Angono Municipal Hall, the NDCC Command Center in Pasig, San Jose Elementary School in Montalban, the Golden Dale Barangay Hall in Tenejeros, Malabon, and other crucial venues.

Five days after Ondoy, on top of the huge task of restoring power to areas still isolated, crews and personnel of Meralco were still extending assistance by helping people still trapped in far-flung areas and by cleaning up the debris on the streets.

“We are very proud of the Meralco lineman. In times of crisis, he goes beyond his duty and goes out of his way to help our fellowmen. In fact, some of our linemen also live in areas that were greatly affected but they took time to answer the call of volunteerism. Some of them have lent their time in our relief operations and they are even donating cash, clothes, and food,” said Buencamino.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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