Over the span of three weeks, we were at Sta Ana, Cagayan for a series of Water Search and Rescue (WaSAR) Training for the municipalities of Camalaniugan, Sta Praxedes and Sta Teresita, Cagayan.  The Jaime V. Ongpin Foundation, Inc, (JVOFI) was commissioned by the World Food Programme (WFP) to manage a series of Disaster Preparedness and Response Project trainings for selected municipalities in Cagayan and Benguet Province.

HOW FAR WILL WE GO? We left Baguio City when it was still dawn and after hours of driving, 13 hours to be exact, we finally arrived at Villa Saturnina, Sta Ana, Cagayan, the sun was already setting. In between the 3 weeks, we had to travel back and forth from Baguio City to Sta. Ana, Cagayan – it took us 16 hours in one of our travels home.

Though I admit, about 10th hour of our travel I was already asking myself, why do I do this?  How far (literally and figuratively) will I go. Well, the answer came when I met the 10 trainors of Rescue29 whose bond, passion and fulfillment inspired me to go further.

For the span of three weeks, we had different participants. The trainors had the same energy, agility and vigor in handling the trainings. One time I asked, are you not lured of higher pay overseas for life responders. I got straight no’s.  They wouldn’t go as far as overseas as they have found their fulfilment in where they are. In the words of one of the trainors “iba yung fulfillment pag alam mong may isang taong patuloy na nabubuhay dahil sayo”. And this is how far they have been, to which most us has not been, they’ve gone further, looking beyond themselves.

And as they train future emergency responders, they share not only their skills but also their passion in equipping future responders to commit in serving to save lives.

They strive to be the best they can be when it comes to the struggle of saving lives. From their stories I observed how demanding their profession can be. Sometimes because of lack of support. At times, they have to leave their families so as to perform their duties – they are husbands too and fathers to their kids, so they make sure that their families are safe before they head to their duties. Sometimes they don’t get the credit they deserve, even they were the ones who rescued other people get the credit for them. That being said they still had the smiles on their faces. “It’s part of the job, and we love what we do, we become genuine even to other people”. Sometimes when we walk along the street, somebody will just tap our back and say, thank you for rescuing us during the typhoon.

These stories alone provided enough motivation to go further, to be really serious in pursuing disaster risk management initiatives and hopefully the participants were not only able to take home additional skills but were able to catch the hearts of the trainors “to serve, so others may live”.