Citing oversupply, one Batangas town wants public to stop donating clothes

Anjo Bagaoisan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 26 2020 01:04 AM | Updated as of Jan 26 2020 04:36 PM

Officials of San Luis town, Batangas, appealed to the public to stop donating clothes, after supposedly receiving tons of them, more than enough for 15,000 evacuees from the Taal volcano eruption.

Vice-mayor Oscarlito Hernandez told ABS-CBN News that the town is grateful for all the help it has received over the 2 weeks it hosted evacuees from surrounding towns such as Agoncillo, Lemery, and Taal that are within the volcanic danger zone.

Among the items San Luis has received besides food and water are sacks of clothes.

However, with the sheer volume of garments, town officials are already allowing non-evacuees to take some home, Hernandez said. 

"Sobra-sobra ang aming natatanggap. Kung mapapansin mo ang ating mga evacuees halos nagsawa na sa pagpili o pagkuha ng damit na kanilang mapapakinabangan," he said.

The clothes are collected in a pile at municipal hall, where evacuees from the nearby covered court and other evacuation centers come to sort through heaps. 

Some evacuees, such as Minerva Villanueva from Lemery, pick out their daily attire from the pile and wear them at once. 

"Ang dala lang namin tig-dalawang pirasong damit, panty tig-isa lang. Nagmadali kaming umalis. Dito na lang kami namili," she said.

"Maraming kasya. Malalaki, maliliit nakukuha namin. Susuotin na namin dahil minsan mabango naman ang mga damit. Ayus naman, hindi naman siya makati."

Hernandez said that, to keep the clothes from getting dirty, the local government unit returns the clothes to sacks in the afternoon before covering and guarding them overnight. 

Instead of getting clothes, the LGU would rather receive blankets and mats, as well as food and uncooked rice. 

ALL OUT FOR EVACUEES

Evacuees at the city center are also making use of a mobile shower and kitchen lent by Pasig City. 

Local health workers have provided medicines to evacuees who have been complaining of colds and coughs. In at least one evacuation center, 20 to 30 evacuees have been given medication for a variety of ailments. 

Meanwhile, the LGU has been giving local farmers livelihood by buying vegetables grown in the mountain area of San Luis. 

Farmers are unable to sell in the markets of now-restricted Taal and Lemery towns.

Evacuees cook the vegetables stocked at the evacuation center. 

Residents not directly affected by the eruption also arrive at mealtimes to hand out cooked rice and viands. 

Timoteo Cuento had a pig slaughtered to provide lunch for evacuees. The money was sent by his relatives in Singapore. 

"Ang inisip ko ay magpakain na lang sa evacuees dahil nakikita ko maraming dumadating na tulong tulad ng relief pero ang pagkain kulang sa kanila," he said.