Words and photos by Enzo O. de los Reyes
LAST MONDAY, AC Motors executives, together with 30 volunteer members of the Philippine motoring media and through the Ayala Foundation, conducted relief operations for Taal evacuees. The group consisted of 32 vehicles — 10 brand new Kia K2500 Kargo and Karga units and 22 demo units from Volkswagen, Kia, Maxus, Honda and Isuzu – all loaded with relief goods, consisting of assorted necessities such as mattresses, blankets, towels, sleeping mats, hygiene kits, underwear, and sacks of rice for at least 1,200 families. Participants for the relief efforts converged at the Honda Magallanes dealership early Monday morning for a pre-departure briefing given by members from the Ayala Foundation.
The Taal relief operations took the place of AC Motors’ 2020 Media Thanksgiving Night. The six brands under AC Motors, which is under AC Industrials, a subsidiary of Ayala Corporation, are Volkswagen, Kia, Maxus, KTM (motorcycles), Honda, and Isuzu. The latter two brands have Ayala-owned dealerships while Volkswagen, Kia, Maxus and KTM are importers and distributors with dealerships as well. AC Motors decided to forego the party intended for the Philippine motoring media and instead, allocated the budget to purchase vital relief goods and supplies to help fellow countrymen in dire need; hence, the involvement of the motoring media volunteers.
The relief operations were AC Motors’ response to the widespread effect of Taal volcano’s sudden eruption on January 12. The subsequent ashfall, earthquakes, and the continuing threat of further explosive eruptions have led to the mandatory evacuation of nearly half a million people residing within the 14-km radius of the volcano’s designated “danger zone.” Most of the evacuees are now in various centers in Batangas, Cavite and Laguna provinces. The donations were conducted in a straightforward manner with no ceremonial turnovers, photo ops, or fanfare.
Kia Philippines is also celebrating its first anniversary this January 30 under Ayala management, which had a very successful 2019. In its effort to give back to society on a long-term basis, Kia donated 10 brand new Kia K2500 Kargo and Karga units through Ayala Foundation to the most affected LGUs through the provincial government.
The volunteers were clustered into six groups that were divided to be able to distribute the relief goods to six evacuation centers: Alitagtag, Santa Teresita, San Jose, San Luis, Padre Garcia and Mataas na Kahoy.
Apart from the six evacuation centers the volunteers visited, three other areas where evacuees were located — in Barangay Madalunot in Calaca, Barangay Caloocan in Balayan, and Barangay Bagong Pook in Rosario — were identified. Evacuees in these locations would also be given relief goods, via the office of the Batangas Provincial Governor Hermilando Mandanas.
After the distribution, the volunteers regrouped at the Batangas Provincial Capitol, where the 10 Kia Karga K2500 units were turned over. Currently, the donated vehicles are being used to carry relief items from the Provincial Evacuation Center to hard-to-reach areas in the province. These vehicles will later be assigned to affected municipalities that need them most.
Arthur Tan, Group President and CEO of AC Industrials, said during the pre-departure briefing, “The project is a collective effort from everybody, from Ayala Corporation to AC Motors to Ayala Foundation to the motoring media. Special thanks to Kia Philippines for donating 10 brand new Kia K2500 light trucks which can be used extensively for relief operations in Batangas.”
He added, “Moving forward, I hope this is the beginning of how we have to work together in order to help our country in being able to be prepared for natural disasters.”
Ayala Foundation president Ruel Maranan, who addressed the local groups at the provincial capitol, said, “The relief operations are just the beginning. We have a long way to go in the recovery and rehabilitation of the affected areas. Keep the heart. Keep the faith. We are here to help you all the way, as long as you need us.”