In Action: Men and Women in Orange
Valencia, Negros Oriental—The humble Church of this municipality, the Parish Our Lady of the Abandoned administered by the religious of the Order of Augustinian Recollects, has been part of the lives of the people residing in this locality. For years already, the parish has provided all the means she has to provide the spiritual needs of its faithful for their growth and development. However, this local Church responds not just to the spiritual needs of the locality. She also responds to its social needs. There are a good number of organizations who shares the same mission of the Church. One of these organizations is those volunteers who are always seen in orange vestment or shirt.
The Parish Emergency Rescue Unit Volunteers, Inc. (PERUV), a parish-based rescue unit, was founded by Fray Rouel Sia, OAR, when he became the parish priest in 2000. A year after, the said organization started its humble beginnings on November 11, 2001. Its main objective is to respond to any emergency situations within and outside Valencia. It also aims to provide efficient and effective emergency first aid and medical services. Within its members, the said organization intends the promotion of their spiritual life through participation in any church programs and activities.
PERUV is a service-oriented organization. It is a non-profit, non-political, and non-government organization and its membership is open to all who are practicing the Roman Catholic faith.
Being a parish organization, it is under the supervision of the Parish Priest, though its activities are in close coordination with the Diocesan Social Action Center of the Diocese of Dumaguete and the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officers of the Local Government Unit of Valencia, Negros Oriental. To facilitate their response to any emergency situation, they are trained in radio communication and tied up with RECON CART 7, Inc. under the Radio Communication Operation Network Philippines, Inc. or RECON Phils. Moreover, the said organization is duly registered under Securities and Exchange Commission with registration number C200200516. Recently, the organization is under the supervision of Fray Jay Parilla, OAR, Local Prior of Recoletos de Caidiocan.
Over the years, the said organization spearheaded and participated in countless Church and civil activities that needed man power to do dirty jobs.
Balay sa Gugma
Two years ago, the parish under the administration of Fray Roderick Deguit, OAR, initiated the project Balay sa Gugma (House of Love). The said project aims to provide decent housing to those homeless or depressed families within the parish. To identify the beneficiary of the said project, the BEC Coordinator submits his/her recommendations to the parish priest. Then parish priest, together with the officers of PERUV visits the area and evaluate the kind of help it can provide. Some of the conditions that must be met in order for the intended project to pursue are: 1) the family is really in need of help; and 2) the house to be repaired or to be built must be standing in their own property. If a beneficiary is a tenant, the owner must give his consent for the said repairs and construction. After everything is settled, the team composed of the members of PERUV and Couples for Christ, starts and finishes the job without fee or remuneration.
Happy faces and tears of joy from the recipients pay everything in full. The materials that are used in the construction are from the generosity of the faithful of the said parish. The first recipient of the said project is the couple Mr. and Mrs. Emilito Vincoy from Brgy. Bongbong, Valencia, Negros Oriental. Mrs. Verna Peña, Mrs. Rosemarie Grapa (Brgy. Balayagmanok), Mrs. Paulina Catalbas (Brgy. Jawa) and Mrs. Dalmacia Tubog (Brgy. Jawa) also became beneficiaries of the said project.
To aid or initiate rescue is the very nature of the PERUV and this is the reason why this kind of apostolate was established. Since its establishment, the members underwent series of rescue trainings and seminars, from first aid intervention to pre-hospital emergency care for any untoward incidents. They also underwent rigorous training on rappelling and hiking and basic survival so that they may respond to emergencies in whatever terrain. To update their skills, they receive regular training from the members of Adelante Life Emergency Team (ALERT), the emergency team of the University of San Jose- Recoletos, Cebu City.
Because of the skills and knowledge that the members have in relation to emergencies, they are the first to respond to any emergency cases. Just last year, the team was able to respond and rescue a woman who suffered from leg injury while hiking in Mt. Talinis. Grateful for the acts that saved her life, she assured to provide materials and other emergency tools to the organization for future rescue.
Road accidents are just some of the common incidents that the members of the PERUV deal with. Since the members are residing around the area of the municipality, any road accidents are responded immediately with the use of radio. With this, the matter is immediately reported to proper authorities for investigation and action, and survivors are given the needed assistance too.
Every time a typhoon hit the island of Negros, the team is already in stand-by with their radios on and loops of ropes, bolo, and chainsaw ready at hand. At the onset of typhoon, the members are already on the watch to report any foreseen incidents like rising of water level in the rivers, possible landslide, etc. After the onslaught of typhoon, they would check the whole area and initiate or assist clearing operations in the roads to facilitate to flow of traffic. If there are landslides, they report the matter to the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRMMC) so that clearing operations, with the use of heavy equipment, may be made and with them assisting the entire operation.
When the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) was imposed to the Province of Negros Oriental, the members of PERUV was asked by the local government of Valencia to give their assistance in the designated check point areas of the municipality. This was done in order to restrict the mobility of the people going in and out of the said municipality. Although the members of the Philippines National Police are staying in the said posts twenty-four hours a day, the members of PERUV do their duty from 6:00 AM until 10:00 PM. With them are the Barangay Officials and Tanod members takings turns for duty. Part of their responsibility is to communicate to the PNP office any untoward incidents or any instances that require police assistance. Also, they helped to ease the flow of traffic by guiding drivers where to stop for checking of documents. At times they also get the temperature of the motorists and spray alcohol to disinfect their hands. They also laid carpet on the street drenched with disinfectant solution so that the wheels of the vehicles going in and outside the municipality will be washed.
Their services were terminated only when the General Community Quarantine was raised in the whole district after months of staying in the streets rain or shine.
Aside from their regular duty in the check-point areas, they also conducted disinfection and sanitation in some public areas of the municipality. Days after the ECQ, the members of PERUV together with the personnel from the Rural Health Unit of Valencia went to the public market of Valencia. Bringing with them air compressor, long tube hose, barrel, and food-grade disinfectant, they sprayed the entire area with the disinfectant solution. The same team was also requested to do the same work in the Valencia Central School. The said community school served as a quarantine facility for Locally Stranded Individuals (LSI) for months while the proper facility was being prepared in Brgy. Palinpinon. The said disinfection was conducted to prepare the school ground for the safety of the teachers and other school personnel who will be reporting to prepare for the opening of the School Year. The same services from the same team was also requested in Valencia National High School. And the latest school that received the said services is the school owned and administered by the Augustinian Recollects in Brgy. Caidiocan, San Pedro Academy-Recoletos.
The services rendered by the members of PERUV is not only extended to the outskirts and dangerous terrain of the mountain ranges surrounding the municipality. They are one of the manpower of the parish every time there are liturgical activities in the parish. They assist in the physical preparation around the area of the church like cleaning and putting up of banners and other paraphernalia. Some of them do regular apostolate in the parish as choir members, as altar servers, and as a lectors. Aside from these, they also give security and aid in the flow of the traffic by diverting vehicles during processions and parades.
Their acting skills also paid off when most of them became casts of the Live Stations of the Cross as part of the Holy Week celebration of the parish. In the said act, they were the Roman soldiers, temple guards, Pilate, Mary, some of the apostles, and the crowd control who even wore the costume of a Roman soldier so that their presence would blend in the event.
When the celebration of the Holy Eucharist was opened for public after its closure due to the outbreak of corona virus, the members of PERUV are at the frontlines. They are the ones in charge of taking the body temperature of those attending the celebration as well as getting their names for contact tracing. They also assist Mass goers to their designated pews. After the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, the pews, kneelers, and all other ground areas that are used by the parishioners are disinfected by the same team. Over-all, they are the ones given the task to ensure that proper health protocols are observed inside the church.
The members regularly gather in a humble hut built in the back area of the parish grounds. In this vicinity, regular meetings, consultations, and gatherings are conducted. The place is also called the headquarters of the said organization. It is a place where the members, after responding to any circumstances, find refuge and solace in the company of friends.
Indeed, the Church is composed of different persons gifted with different talents and capabilities to respond to her varied needs. For the members of Parish Emergency Rescue Unit Volunteer, they respond to different and unique need of the church—emergencies. In this way everyone is able to share to others their being giftedness and their readiness to respond to any unfortunate events.