ILOILO – Six months before Ilonggos remember the second year of their life after Super Typhoon Yolanda, a prominent Italian family seeks to bring smiles to faces of the survivors here.
Cousins Antonia and Salvatore d’Amico of Società d’Amico di Navigazione, an international marine transport company, have donated US$100,000 (Php4,517,597.67) for the building of two patrol boats cum ambulance for Iloilo.
The donation from d’Amico family, who has been involved in shipping business since 1936, aims to provide “comfort and assurance” to the survivors in times of emergencies.
“We want to give something to the people of Iloilo [that can] help them forget the damages of the typhoon…because you deserve it. We cannot make you forget the personal tragedy that struck your family but if there is a small thing that we can do, we hope to do it through this donation,” Salvatore said.
Prior to this, d’Amico family has provided financial aid to their Filipino personnel who were affected by the monster storm last year.
“When the typhoon hit the Philippines, we suffered a lot. Although we are far away, we could feel the difficulties that whole area was facing. Immediately, we tried to provide assistance. We decided to help the families of our seafarers,” he said.
But Paolo, the father of Antonia who is also the chairman of the company insisted that they need to do more.
Salvatore emphasized that this is a gesture of gratitude to the Philippines “for what she has been doing for d’Amico family in all these years which is the base of the success of our company.”
Società d’Amico di Navigazione’s business involves the management and operation of dry cargo vessels and tankers and provision of international shipping services.
In the Philippines, the company builds and repairs vessels, as well as crew selection and training through its subsidiaries Sirius Ship Management and d’Amico International Ship Management Philippines.
Meanwhile, Provincial Administrator Raul Banias said that the donation is made possible through the help of Italian Ambassador Massimo Roscigno, whose wife Agnes is a relative of Governor Arthur Defensor Sr.
“This is a perfect donation because Yolanda destroyed two of our patrol boats and we are trying to replace it. It is manna from heaven,” he said.
It is also an answer to the dream of the governor of having a patrol boat cum sea ambulance that can serve the people living in more than 30 islands in Northern Iloilo.
Banias said many pregnant women in those isolated islands have died due to late referral to hospitals and hopefully, the donation can help prevent it.
The two patrol boats will be 40 feet tall, 18 feet wide and 55 feet long. Each will have a rubber boat that can ferry the patients to the shoreline during low tide.
The provincial government will provide the manpower and additional resources for its continued operation and maintenance once built.
It will likewise provide basic training on rescue and life support to the crew who will man the boats.
Neglected by Donors
Italian Ambassador Massimo Roscigno said he suggested Iloilo to be the recipient of the donation since the province is somehow “neglected by international donors”.
“I think this part of the Philippines is a little bit neglected by international donor in the post-Yolanda recovery efforts. As you all know, many concentrated in the provinces of Leyte and Samar. Iloilo is also badly-hit,” he said.
The Italian envoy added that the donation will perform a very important social function and he is happy to be instrumental in making it happen.
Of the P4.5-million, P3.3-million will be used to build the two patrol boats, according to Maria Teresa Chan of One Meal Program, the group who received the money on Sunday (June 21).
The remaining P600,000, on the other hand, will be used to purchase the two rubber boats with 30 horsepower outboard engine and P500,000 for the basic rescue and medical equipment and supplies.
Chan said they will deliver the patrol boats cum ambulance to the provincial government in three months’ time.
“This would really go a long way in helping make a difference in the lives of our fellow Ilonggos and as a trustee of your donation, we assure you that will be answerable for every centavo that comes out from this donation,” Chan assured the benefactors.
Banias explained that they have decided to course the donation through a non-government organization to avoid the government’s long and tedious bidding process for aid.