A small group of friends faces the impact of a mammoth disaster.

Typhoon Ulysses struck Central Luzon near midnight of November 11 and brought over 24 dreadful hours of downpour onto its path. As a result, numerous typhoon victims were left with damaged houses, little to no means of survival, and low-spirits.

Seeing how there are other people in dire need of aid from the typhoon, a small group of Marist Grade 12 students and alumni could not stand idle. With the burning desire to help, Enrico Zapata, Symon Revilla, Carlos Gutierrez, Marcus Dela Cuesta, Luis Aguila, and Germaine Gayda founded a donation drive called “Marista Cares.”

“Initially, I just wanted to give out lugaw,” Zapata said as he pointed out how Marista Cares started with humble goals. 

When Zapata and his friends got together, they realized how they could help on a much larger scale. Thus, creating “Marista Cares,” a donation drive open for anyone who can help. They named it so because they believed in the solidarity of the Marist community.

“Naisip namin na mga Marista talaga ang tutulong. ‘Marista’ [kasi] as a community,” Zapata commented as he expressed his faith in fellow Maristas.

May magtitiwala ba sa amin? Kaya ba talaga namin ‘to?

Symon Revilla

On November 23, 2020, Revilla marked Marista Cares’ start by posting on Facebook that their team was accepting clothes, canned goods, rice, and any amount of money to be donated to the victims of the typhoon. They admittedly said that starting the donation drive was not easy. 

“Will we fail? May magtitiwala ba sa amin? Kaya ba talaga namin ‘to? Kaunti lang [ang] maitutulong namin, baka magalit sila [typhoon victims]” were just some of the doubts that filled their minds. 

They later proved their doubts wrong by collecting more than Php 21,000.00 worth of donations. Not only that, but more Maristas joined to help in packing and distributing the donations within Marikina, specifically at H. Bautista Street, Barangay Tumana, and Barangay Malanday. 

The Marista Cares team and Marist alumni prepares the donated relief goods.

The group grew with the addition of Grade 12 students Miguel Dumlao, Alfonso Joaquin Santos, Christian Tud, Russell Reyes, Dion Romero, Patricia Villamor, Rusty Pableo, and Ferdinand Rodil. Other alumni also contributed to the cause.

Seeing the success of their first donation drive, they decided to do a second run in Montalban. As they were now experienced, the run went more smoothly, spread word to more people, and therefore, accumulated more donations than the first donation drive. They collected Php 43,500.00 worth of donations, more than twice of what they gathered in their first run. 

“Mas marami na sumali, mas-confident na kami… Mas kaya na,” Revilla remarked about their bolstered excitement on conducting a second donation run.

The team sets the goods for their second donation run.

When asked whether or not they would do it again, they answered with a wholesome “definitely,” considering that they would sleep around 11 PM or 12 AM and wake up early to accept, prepare, pack, and give out donations. 

“Sana walang isa pang typhoon, pero kung may opportunity to help people, then we’ll do it again,” shared Zapata.

Revilla and Zapata, along with the team of Marista Cares, were humbled by the experience of helping the victims of typhoon Ulysses. They realized the privilege they had from studying in a private school, desired to share their belongings, and helped those who truly needed it.

Through their cause, they were able to prove that pure intent, especially that of a collective group, is bigger than any disaster. Andrew Pacleb and Angel Zafra // Photos courtesy of Marista Cares team

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