The Honest Frustration of a Relief Volunteer


A lot of people volunteered to help out with the relief goods. A girl from Cebu who volunteered to help out got really frustrated with the slowing down of getting the relief goods over to the victims. She noted that many relief goods sent in by Indonesia were already pre-packed in a pouch and ready to distribute but then the volunteers with the DSWD were made to separate and repack the goods. To her, this posed a significant delay in getting the goods to the victims. She felt so bad seeing that other countries had gone out of their way to help out and send relief goods to the Philippines but then the bottleneck had to be in the Philippines with so many unnecessary delaying steps.

The original was in Cebuano and we have placed in a Tagalog and English translation so that more Filipinos can understand it.

Ms. Cherrey Mae Pancho Bartolata has no political agenda whatsoever. She was just frustrated with the delays that the whole repacking caused, knowing that every second counts in getting the already pre-packed relief goods over to the victims who need it most.

smaller screen-shot (cherrey)

(Original Cebuano)

Ang mga napadala dayon nga relief goods gikan Indonesia nga packed in a pouch and ready to distribute na mao’y gipabungkag ug gipanglahi lahi ang sulod sa among pagvolunteer. Wala ko kasabot ngano dili nalang idiritso ug hatag nga naka-pack naman. Ug maskin kami halos tanan nga nagvolunteer didto wala kasabot ngano murag walay sense of urgency nga ang ready na unta himoan paman jud ug higayon nga malangay.Ug amoa nang nalahi lahi ang uban gipayabo kay dili daw sa sako nga naay DSWD isulod kay didto sa naay NFA. Kaduhang kalangay.

Gasakit akong dughan samtang gipangkuha nako ang sulod sa pouch ug gipangbuwag. Kung sa pagdawat ato nga mga donation diritso ihatod sa mga biktima ni Yolanda, dili sila magutman ug maghulat mamatay. Nagsakit akong boot nga ang ubang nasod naghuna huna nga mapaspas ang atoa sang gobyerno wala ra sa ilang huna huna. Ngano mag cge paman ug repack ug pamungkag sa mga giandam na daan sa laing nasod.

Nanguli mi ug giputol namo among pagserbisyo. Kay samtang gipangbungkag nako ang sulod sa pouch’ nalooy ko sa mga tawo nga wala dayon naabtan ug hinabang. Naulaw ko sa mga nasod nga nag effort nga mapaspas ug padala sa ilang donation samtang atong gobyerno gipanghold lang ang mga donation kay kung wala pa na repack, wala pa naihap.

I am frustrated. I am angry. I feel hopeless.

Lesson learned, dili nako mo-volunteer sa gobyerno. Mas maayo sa private sectors nlang.

(Tagalog Translation)

Ang mga pinadala na na relief goods galing Indonesia na packed in a pouch and ready to distribute na ay pinabuksan at pinag-iba-iba ang laman ng aming pagvolunteer. Hindi ko naintindihan kung bakit hindi na lang idiritso ng bigay dahil naka-pack naman.At kami halos lahat na nagvolunteer doon ay hindi naintindihan na parang walang sense of urgency na ang ready na sana, gawan pa ng paraan para bumagal. At yung aming napaghiwalay ang mga laman, ang iba pinatanggal kasi hindi raw sa sako na may “DSWD” ilagay at dun sa may “NFA”. Ikalawang kabagalan.

Sumakit ang aking dibdib nung kinukuha ko ang mga laman ng pouch at pinaghiwalay. Kung sa pagtanggap ng mga donasyon, derecho silang hinatid sa mga biktima ng Yolanda, hindi sila gugutumin at maghintay na mamatay. Sumama ang aking loob na ang ibang bansa ay nag-isip na mapabilis ang pagtulong, eh ang ating gobyerno wala lang sa kanilang isipan. Bakit paulit-ulit ang pag-repack repack at pagbukas ng mga hinanda na ng ibang bansa?

Nagsiuwian kami at hininto ang pagserbisyo (bilang volunteer). Samantalang pinagbubuksan ko ang laman ng mga pouch, naaawa ako sa mga taong hindi kaagad naabutan ng tulong. Nahiya ako sa mga bansang nag-effort na mapabilis ang pagpadala ng donasyon samantalang ang gobyerno natin pinahold lang ang donasyon kasi kung hindi pa narepack, hindi pa nabilang.

I am frustrated. I am angry. I feel hopeless.

Lesson learned, hindi na ako magvolunteer sa gobyerno. Mas mabuti pa sa private sectors na lang.”

(English Translation)

The relief goods sent from Indonesia which were in packed pouches and ready for distribution had to be unpacked, re-sorted and segregated as assigned to us in our volunteer work. I couldn’t understand why it shouldn’t be sent to the typhoon victims right away. Almost all of us volunteers couldn’t understand why there wasn’t any sense of urgency and that the ‘ready-to-go’ goods were being delayed. And among those goods that we had already segregated, some had to be taken out from the sacks again because we were told that they shouldn’t be in a sack that had the label DSWD – they should have been in the sack that had the label NFA (National Food Authority). This was another cause of delay.

It was heart-wrenching while I was taking the contents out from the pouches and segregating them. If those donations were released and distributed to the typhoon victims as soon as they were received, there shouldn’t have been any reason for these victims to starve and just wait to die. I am so upset as other countries are thinking of delivering the goods as soon as possible while our government just wasn’t thinking of that. Why do we have to keep on taking them out and repacking them when in fact those donor-countries had already prepared them as such: ready-to-go.

We went home and cut our service short. Because while I was taking those relief-goods out from those pouches, I felt a deep sense of pity for the victims who had never received any help or relief; and I felt ashamed to those countries whose efforts and their sense of urgency were undermined by the Philippine government who put their donations on hold, because what hasn’t yet been repacked isn’t considered counted.

I am frustrated. I am angry. I feel hopeless.

Lesson learned, I will no longer volunteer for the government. It is better to volunteer in the private sector.

* * *

(Click on each of the headings to read the full stories)

DSWD Responds to Cherrey’s FB Post

Dinky Soliman responded with some denials and excuses after Ms. Cherrey’s post went viral. She said in a DzMM radio interview:

“[H]indi ko ho alam saan nanggagaling yung, balita ko ho diyan ay ‘yung sa Facebook, nagsasabi na Indonesian goods yung nire-repack. Hindi ho namin ginagawa yun dahil, una, wala ho kaming oras para gawin yan. Pangalawa, yung nire-repack namin from abroad ay yung mga nakalagay pa sa kahon at sako.”

(“I don’t know where that came from, what I heard is the one of facebook, saying that it was Indonesian goods that were being repacked. We don’t do that because, firstly, we don’t have time to do that. Secondly, the ones we repacked from abroad are those that are still in boxes or sacks.”)

Still, another person – one of Dinky Soliman’s subordinates in the DSWD in Region VII contradicted Soliman’s disavowal of the repacking of relief goods because that person explained why repacking had to be done – thus confirming that there was indeed repacking being done. Even Manuel L. Quezon III ended up making another set of palusots (cop-outs) and excuses about why such repacking was “necessary” citing:

“DSWD staff asked the volunteers to check all the packs and remove any expired/damaged/breakable goods.”

He added:

“For example, if the donated relief contains ketchup bottles, volunteers would be asked to remove this so that it will not be difficult to handle and transport.” 

Cherrey reacts to the DSWD’s Responses

Cherry posted on facebook:

“Just because they explained what had been done, they think can make people believe that’s actually what happened? There was no checking of expiration date that happened that night. One thing, to check the expiry date? We were not instructed to check the expiration date. We were just asked to put it in a sack. If they wanted us to check the expiration date, then they should have let us check it right there and then. I couldn’t understand why they were publicly giving out different reasons when their instructions proved otherwise. If they gave us reasons that never really happened, then there is more reason that they should have really sent those packed goods right away.

If they wanted us to check for leaking canned goods, they were the ones who are likely to cause the leaking because they’d all be crumpled up in the sack when in fact they were very much in place and packed correctly in boxes when they came.

About the breakable bottles, they could’ve just let us take those out from the pouch instead as we also checked the expiration dates of those canned ones and if they do pass the expiration date, they will no longer be taken out.

They were proving that those processes had become very unnecessary because their reasons couldn’t justify what really happened there.

“[H]indi ko ho alam saan nanggagaling yung, balita ko ho diyan ay ‘yung sa Facebook, nagsasabi na Indonesian goods yung nire-repack. Hindi ho namin ginagawa yun dahil, una, wala ho kaming oras para gawin yan. Pangalawa, yung nire-repack namin from abroad ay yung mga nakalagay pa sa kahon at sako,” Soliman said.

My two cents about this statement by Ms. Dinky Soliman:

1] She doesn’t really know what’s happening there.

2] She had been told a different story by the people in charge there.

3] She knows but she’s denying it.

Because, I know and the 3 other people who were with me, truly know what happened that time.

I have found people in the net who shared the same sentiment.

I have tried gathering them already to attest that we are telling the truth.

My Facebook post wants to stress the fact that this is an emergency situation. The goods that were already pre-packed from/by Indonesia should already be distributed.

I am not the only person who had been pointing that out. Anderson Cooper, Peque Gallaga and Lucy Torres have shared their sentiments about the slow/delayed distribution and lack of organization in the process.

Anderson Cooper said,

“The bottomline, the only thing that matters, this is all kind of just a bizarre side show, the only thing that matters is what’s happening on the ground and is it getting to people who needed it most? And clearly there had been big delays, big lack of organization on the part of the Philippine government on the ground there. That has starting to get better. There is starting to be more food distribution by the World Food Program and others. But it’s certainly been far too long and you know time is the enemy of the people. They are desperate for food, for water and for medical attention.” 

Dinky and her subordinate contradicted each other

Dinky and subordinate contradict each other

Cherry further added in another Facebook post:

Dinky Soliman said in an official statement that: “We do not repack, much more relabel, the individually packed international donations that are sent to us.”

I am not sure if Ms. Dinky Soliman knows about the televised explanation of her DSWD Region 7 staff in TV Patrol Central Visayas. Tell me if what they’ve had shown there wasn’t called repacking. Also, what they had shown they had packed were not what somebody from a certain university had packed the the following day, whole day Saturday November 16 (My batch was the one who unpacked the pouches, sorted, segregated and placed in sacks Friday Noveber 15 9:30PM) and not also the way they had said they packed it. What was shown to the media was completely different. 

Also, did DSWD Region 7 call up the media? Why did they have NO MEDIA/NO PHOTOS/NO VIDEO ALLOWED during their normal operations? Does it mean that they only want the media in by invitation and when they are prepared?

A lot of people have already read my piece of the story, but I’d like to share other people’s sentiments.

Below is from Ralph Llanos (Facebook post here). I tried to translate his post for everyone to read:

“Who had helped in Mactan Airbase to repack? Options for this story are in one government agency. Everyone who tried to help in his own simple way was a live witness. The relief goods from Indonesia were taken out when it’s already in ready-to-distribute pouches for the people. They had it taken out just to be replaced by the DSWD-labeled cellophane. Then the ready-to-eat crispy rice and noodles that looked expensive were segregated. Instead of making the repacking faster, it was stopped because they ran out of DSWD-labeled cellophane. Wooooowww! Lami ra? (Cebuano slang) You don’t have to react to that? So we are not just gonna say anything to avoid complications? #istoryasamamutosay #DMD“”” #MACTAN AIRBASE DSWD”

Then another one is from an Instagram user, ayh_cubacub with a screenshot of a certain account (listed as Siobethisgirl) which I can not determine which social media site it was from.

SiobethisgirlI tried to translate the post for everyone to read:

“I suggest that you give these relief goods yourself. It’s such a shame to hear about what happened at Mactan Airbase, Cebu. The volunteers for relief operation almost felt like crying when they witnessed what’s happening there. Relief goods from Indonesia that were already packed and ready for distribution had been repacked per instruction from DSWD. The contents were segregated and the crispy rice and crispy noodle were no longer included in the repacked relief goods and worst, they had the plastic replaced with a laric bag with a DSWD label. Grabe. Instead of making the operation faster and easier, that’s what the agency of the government did.”

Dinky Soliman denied that they were repacking but her subordinates in DSWD Region 7 called the media and showed otherwise. I think they should communicate first, so that they can plan a unified answer. Do I have to let everyone know what’s happening here?


Ms. Cherrey Mae Pancho Bartolata is not the only person talking about the DSWD “repack and relabel” operations over at Mactan Airbase. Many others have come forward and shared the same story. She has no political agenda whatsoever as she is just a young girl from Cebu who volunteered to help out but saw a lot of inefficiency and time-wasting needless processes going on.

When her Facebook post went viral, the DSWD (Dinky and her subordinate) and Noynoy apologists like Manolo Quezon all scrambled to come up with as many excuses, “explanations”, and palusots (cop-outs) that they could come up with, but they all ended up making complete fools of themselves as they never even thought of coming together to discuss a unified strategy for coming up with excuses.

Dinky said that there was no repacking, while her subordinate, on the other hand, confirmed that there was indeed such repacking and simply gave excuses in trying to explain why the repacking was done, while the grandson of Mr. Philippines-Run-Like-Hell – Manuel “Manolo” L. Quezon III made another set of “palusots” (cop-out excuses) saying that it wasn’t repacking but instead it was “inspection for defects/expiry dates, etc.”

What a bunch of bumbling buffoons!

They can’t even get their spiel straight to save themselves! Can’t they coordinate themselves so that they have consistent answers? Well, no. It turns out they are just so reactive and incapable of forward thinking. Someone had the bright idea of repacking the already pre-prepared relief goods so that they’d be placed in bags with certain “special” labels on them to let people know “it came from them.”

Well, no it did not: It came from the Indonesians! (Terima Kasih, Indonesia!) But as it turns out, Cherrey’s complaint went viral and the incompetent fools panicked to make excuses up on the fly.

Had the Philippines had a Parliamentary System, Manolo Quezon (an Undersecretary) and Dinky Soliman (a Secretary) would have already lost their ministerial positions in a quick Vote of No-Confidence called by the Parliament itself! Too bad, we’re in a lousy Presidential System, so they serve at the President’s pleasure. It’s all up to Noynoy — himself a totally incompetent fool who got elected all because of his dead parents’ “heroic-and-saintly” reputations.

Here’s another Facebook post that Cherrey posted when she saw what kind of cop-out response the DSWD came up with to counter Cherrey’s whole point about the delay caused by the needless repacking of ready-to-distribute goods sent in by the Indonesians:

logical errorDamn, this Cebuana is smart!

Indeed, it is ridiculous that when Cherrey’s complaint was about the delay in getting the goods over to the victims, the only response that the DSWD Region VII folks could provide is “We are not stealing.”


All of what’s been going on in DSWD is consistent with the incompetence and wrong priorities of the grossly negligent and incompetent Noynoy Aquino Administration.

Let’s see what the smart Cebuana has to say about the whole incident:

Cherrey -- Battle

So how is it that a young girl like Cherrey has much more sense than this bunch of bumbling buffoons: Dinky Soliman, Manolo Quezon, Mar Roxas, and Noynoy Aquino?

It’s an emergency, for Chrissakes! There’s no time to do all this wasteful repacking! The whole point of relief operations is to save people’s lives! Get the relief goods to them ASAP! It does not matter if people know where the relief goods came from or not, and all this bureaucracy (and all the crap about proper protocol or “rules on how it’s done”) takes a back-seat to achieving real results: saving people’s lives.

Save us from Stupidity!

Noynoy Aquino, Mar Roxas, and Dinky Soliman:

Do you people know anything about proper prioritization of tasks for emergencies?

The only thing we’ve heard from you people has been bureaucratese about “following the doctrine” where the “local government units are the first responders.” Can you people please cut the crap? People died because of that same idiotic line of thinking both during the Luneta Bus Hostage Crisis and now Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda.

How is it that a young girl from Cebu knows much more about proper prioritization of tasks and understands the urgency of getting relief goods over to the victims in the shortest time possible and you people don’t?

Here are two cents on what’s going on:

Mar Roxas and Dinky Soliman probably realize that Noynoy Aquino doesn’t really care much about competence in getting things done and instead cares more about loyalty. Some good people who were competent but had disagreements with Noynoy were either sidelined or disappeared mysteriously. Does anyone really know what happened to the competent late DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo whom Noynoy essentially sidelined in favor of his favorite shooting buddy Rico Puno?

So instead of speaking their minds, the two decided to turn themselves into mindless zombies. Even if Noynoy Aquino (or his handlers) give them lousy directives, they just follow. They’re afraid to speak up and disagree.

Noynoy tells Mar about the “LGU’s are First Responders Doctrine” and regardless of how stupid that “Doctrine” is, Mar follows. Like a zombie. Mar even wears Yellow when visiting the disaster zones if only to prove his “undying loyalty” to Noynoy, knowing that during the campaign for the 2010 Presidential Elections, Mar’s use of blue was interpreted by certified Noytard Conrado de Quiros to mean that Mar was disloyal to Noynoy. This was followed by the sudden rise of the “Noynoy-Binay” campaign launched by Noynoy’s inner circle. This was also partly because during the early part of the campaign, Mar – clearly Noy’s intellectual superior who outranked Noynoy within the Liberal Party – was said to have “bossed” Noynoy around and told him what to do. As a result of this, Mar was essentially ditched and Binay became the Vice President, not Mar. Mar seems to have learned from that experience and this is why Mar is now sucking up to Noy by sticking to Noy’s script (no matter how stupid the script about the “LGU = First Responders Doctrine” sounds) and by covering up for Noynoy at every possible instance.

(Mar doesn’t realize he is being used as a scapegoat. Recent reports about the cold-war between the National Government and the Tacloban City Government were made to appear like the clash was between Mar Roxas and Alfred Romualdez, with Noynoy acting as the mediator between the two. Hello? Noynoy’s family has an issue with the Romualdezes, not Mar!)

Ultimately, this is what Noynoy’s cabinet is like. It’s a club composed of yes-men (and women) who get into Noy’s good graces only because of sucking up to him, not doing the right thing to make the country successful.

Well, once again, this wouldn’t happen in a Parliamentary System. Cabinet ministers answer to Parliament and are always grilled by the Opposition. Cabinet Ministers who foul up get sacked by the Parliament. It doesn’t matter if he or she is the Prime Minister’s best friend. If a minister fouls up, he’s out. And if the Prime Minister fouls up, he too gets replaced. (If the Philippines were parliamentary Noynoy would have been given a no-confidence vote right after the Luneta Bus Hostage Massacre!)

Well, how did we end up with this mess? It’s our lousy Presidential System. Our system allows incompetents who only need name-recall and “brand equity” to win elections and impose their incompetence on the entire country. That said, it’s high time we all shifted over to the Parliamentary System where Cabinet ministers and the Prime Minister are held accountable to the representatives of the people. And now that the PDAF has been declared unconstitutional, you can be assured that the number of scumbag trapos will be reduced, making it easier for real do-gooders to get themselves elected and serve the people to the best of their ability.

Super-typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan should serve as the wake-up call we all need to get our act together and fix our society at the core.

CoRRECT™ the Constitution!

* * *

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    By the way, Pork is forbidden in the Old Testament. There has been some debate among Filipino netizens about what is more important when it comes to fixing the problems of the Philippines. Much of it has
  • Nápoles & Pork Barrel: It’s the Lousy SystemNápoles & Pork Barrel: It’s the Lousy System

    There's been a lot of anger expressed regarding Janet Nápoles, her daughter Jeane, their lavish lifestyles, and the Pork Barrel scam that funded it all. Everyone seems to be screaming about the need to
  • 1987 Constitution Kicks FedEx Out1987 Constitution Kicks FedEx Out

    Perfect timing. Just what we needed for the Constitutional Reform campaign... The Court of Appeals just recently reiterated its decision uphold the 1987 Constitution to ban FedEx from operating in the
  • Benign0 is just as clueless as “Benigno”Benign0 is just as clueless as “Benigno”

    Yes, you read it right. We're talking about Benign0 (the "Get Real Philippines" guy who uses the "Jimi Hendrix" avatar on the left) being just as clueless as his "namesake" Benigno S. Aquino III. Why
  • Polls aren’t just for Metro Manila: Why Federalism?Polls aren’t just for Metro Manila: Why Federalism?

    by: Jan Emil Langomez Risa Hontiveros, Bam Aquino, Nancy Binay, Chiz Escudero: What do these political candidates have in common? It’s simple really, all were born and raised within Metro Manila. These
  • Nancy Binay – Don’t hate the player, hate the game!Nancy Binay – Don’t hate the player, hate the game!

    Nancy Binay is joining in the Senatorial Race because she can and because she has the necessary name-recall in order to win. She's joining the race because she has exactly what the current Philippine system
  • Should the Philippines Turn Parliamentary?Should the Philippines Turn Parliamentary?

    By Rep. Florencio B. Abad It is unfortunate that enlightened debate about the proposed shift in the form of government has been hampered by allegations of hidden motives by Senate leaders and by a public
  • Chicken or the Egg: Culture Change or System Change?Chicken or the Egg: Culture Change or System Change?

    People often wonder about what determines the success of a society. Is it the culture or is it the system? Quite recently, as the debate on Constitutional Reform progresses and as more and more people realize
  • Lynching LaurelLynching Laurel

    Herman Tiu-Laurel: Anti-Foreign Direct Investment yet he is wearing Western business suit, speaking English, writing in English in his column, and is partly Chinese. Certified hypocrite. Real
  • Constitutional Change NowConstitutional Change Now

      (originally published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, 21st November 2012) by Peter Wallace Let me give you a few points to ponder when considering whether or not we need to open up the economy by
  • A Tale of Two CountriesA Tale of Two Countries

    (Borrowed from the Far Eastern Economic Review) by William McGurn (June 1994) Editor's note: While it is true that this is an old article from June 1994, the author William McGurn's analysis is so
  • Making the economic comeback w/ higher private FDIMaking the economic comeback w/ higher private FDI

    Dr. Gerardo Sicat (taken from the Philippine Star - originally published: 13 June 2012) by Dr. Gerardo Sicat As economic opportunity knocks on the country, the question is how to maximize the
  • Tables and Ladders (Exposing Esposo, Part 2)Tables and Ladders (Exposing Esposo, Part 2)

    Billy Esposo is awarded a medal by the oligarchs for defending Monopoly by the Oligarchs and fighting against enabling job creation through Constitutional Reform Almost nineteen months ago, Orion wrote an
  • It’s all about CompetitionIt’s all about Competition

    Competition forces you to shape up, or ship out! It is well-known that the concept of healthy and fair competition has the effect of an "invisible hand" that essentially results in benefits and
  • It’s the Economy, Student!It’s the Economy, Student!

    The PhD President: Respected by leaders of developed and progressive countries; envied and villified by small-minded, rumor-mongering, TFC-watching and ABiaS-CBN-brainwashed Pinoys By Dr. Gloria Macapagal
  • ‘Sensya na po, Sir…’‘Sensya na po, Sir…’

    Tara, party! Once upon a time, may isang galanteng gustong mag-imbita sa kanyang mga kaibigan na mag-party sa bahay... Mr. GALANTE: "Uy mga kaibigan, MAY PARTY AKO SA SABADO!! Kainan, Inuman, Kantahan,
  • Let’s Talk Basketball – by Figo CantosLet’s Talk Basketball – by Figo Cantos

    I’ve been an advocate of the CoRRECT™ Movement for almost a year now. After getting in touch with Orion Pérez Dumdum during a Christmas Celebration of the Bagumbayan-VNP (Gordon-Bayani 2010)