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Angels without wings: Tales of hope and compassion

By the time Hinobaan Councilor Jason Tupas hie to Batangas, he would have brought with him more than 750 boxes of face masks.

Hinobaan Councilor Jason Tupas with his trusty bike has gone places, literally. He and his fellow riders have been touring the country and organizing relief ops for victims of war and calamities. Photo taken from Jason Tupas Facebook page
Hinobaan Councilor Jason Tupas with his trusty bike has gone places, literally. He and his fellow riders have been touring the country and organizing relief ops for victims of war and calamities. Photo taken from Jason Tupas Facebook page

This is enough to help approximately 37,000 people who might be in danger of contracting respiratory complications – no thanks to the eruption of Taal volcano, an event that so far has displaced thousands of residents in nearby areas.

The eruption has created a rise in the demand in face masks – and some rather enterprising people have jacked up prices of the now coveted N95 masks. Some have bought the masks by the bulk and increased the prices hundred-fold.

This new level of opportunism had sparked outrage in social media, earning condemnation from concerned citizens as well as spurring good Samaritans to act, to do something to help.

Indeed, the natural disaster had brought out the best and the worst in people.


One of these efforts would be that of the young Hinobaan councilor who himself is not new to relief efforts. Jason and his fellow riders have been going the rounds around the country, visiting one disaster- or war- torn site after another to deliver a kind word, a donation, a helping hand.

First was war-torn Marawi, then the North Cotabato quake, then the recent typhoon in Capiz.

Now, Taal.

“I saw the severity of the situation and thought of doing something,” he tells DNX.

He wanted to convert online outrage to action, thus the birth project From Negros and Panay with Love: Para sa Taal.

Councilor Jason Tupas packs the masks with volunteers and kindred spirits before transporting them to stricken areas in Batangas. | Photo furnished to DNX by Jason Tupas

He and fellow concerned netizens banded and spearhead the collection of face masks because, as Jason observes “that is the most urgent need”.

He was thus pleasantly surprised that in less than three hours that the campaign kickstarted, he had already collected 500 boxes of face masks. And the donations keep on coming.

Others have also donated cash, water containers, even generator sets.

“We will personally deliver this to the victims before the weekend,” he reveals.

The cause is supported by “various groups, organizations, and personalities” in Negros and Panay.


Mary Catherine “Cathy” Abayon was one of those who personally witnessed how quickly the masks disappeared in drug store counters when she tried to buy some for herself and the guards at the condo in Makati where she is currently based.

Volunteers distribute the face masks to Bauan, Batangas, one of the towns that were affected the most by the Taal’s eruption. | Photos taken from Mary Catherine Abayon’s Facebook account

“When I got there, I was told face masks are not available anymore because the ones they have there are all ‘reserved’. Apparently, a lot of people called them to hold a number of boxes for them,” Cathy told DNX.

Cathy, herself trained as a flight attendant on protocol during emergencies, sensed the urgency in the situation, as well the necessity of having a mask ready during a volcanic eruption and the possible consequence of one who is caught flat-footed just because they were deprived of the chance to do so.

“I thought to myself: What about the ones without access to phones and thus were unable to make reservations? What about those living in Batangas?”

Face masks, by the boxes, have been collected by Mary Catherine Abayon and immediately sent to Batangas, especially to areas stricken by the eruption. | Photo taken from Mary Catherine Abayon Facebook

With those questions in mind, Cathy decided to go on socmed overdrive.

She reactivated her long-dormant accounts and launched a massive online campaign for masks along with good friend Nestor Guilaran.

One of her friends also hooked her up with a shop in Pasig which sells first aid equipment.

She bought 150 pieces out of her own money, then waited for donations.

Her hard work had paid off.

Now the masks have made their way to the people who need it.

“I just feel sad that people would sometimes abuse their privilege just because they can,” Cathy says.

Thus, like Jason, she decided to take matters into her hands.

She was outraged, and she turned that outrage into something positive.

“I believe there is still a little humanity in all of us,” Jason says of the efforts of people who took time to donate masks, adding, “It is just a matter of turning this compassion into action.”

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