Typhoon Ruby was one of the stronger typhoons to hit the Philippines in 2014.
Forecasters originally predicted it would make landfall in Borongan, Eastern Samar. The Cabinet Secretaries and national goverment operations were thus centralized in this area. Unfortunately, the typhoon veered and made landfall in Dolores town instead. Dolores is 65 kilometers away from Borongan.
It became imperative for the government to reach Dolores as soon as possible. However, there was no way for cars and trucks to pass through the roads. Trees had fallen and the road to Dolores was filled with debris. In the middle of one roadblock, Mar decided to get off the road and borrow a motorcycle from the nearest resident. There was no helmet available. Despite the road being slippery, Mar trudged on. And though he fell at one point, he got back up and carried on his task. The national government reached Dolores in record time despite the obstacles.
The personal account of Congressman Kit Belmonte, a member of the Congressional Oversight Committee of the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (PDRRM) Act of 2010, is illuminating:
Speaking of that motorcycle ride, there were two cabinet secretaries, two congressmen, and two generals making those last 20 hectic kilometers from the stalled convoy to Dolores in the tail of the storm, and approaching twilight in borrowed motorbikes. Among ourselves, we had several combat veterans, several experienced motorcycle riders, and a couple of iron-man finishers. And let me tell you that most of us would have quit to wait for the rest of the convoy if not for Sec Mar leading the way.
There was a whole off-road stretch of at least fifty meters of mud capped by an eerie cemetery that made every one’s knees tremble (from fatigue or fear, I don’t know). Of course, we all fell, slipped, and slid in the sometimes knee-deep mud and fallen trees. But it was only Sec. Mar’s picture that was published, out of context, by someone who waited for him from the relative safety of the road.
But it was all worth it when we saw the gratitude and relief in the eyes of the people of Dolores when we finally broke through. They were no longer isolated, they had not been left alone, and their national government was with them. Together, they were going to get through this crisis and rebuild.
In the end, the United States had nothing but praise for the government efforts post-Ruby.
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