Human Face

‘1000 and 1 Malongs’ for Taal volcano evacuees

/ 05:08 AM January 23, 2020

Some Facebook friends and I have embarked on “1000 and One Malongs” for the Taal volcano evacuees now in evacuation centers in Batangas province and surrounding provinces as well.

A malong (tube garment commonly used in Southern Philippines and in parts of Southeast Asia) is multifunctional. It can be used as a blanket, tapis, baby carrier, head wrap, body wrap when it is cold, body cover when bathing in the open, prayer shawl, or as daily outer wear, etc.


We have partnered with the Sarilaya urban women who sew for a living. Among their products are custom-made canvas bags for seminars, etc. (That’s a plug. They custom-made my “Defend Press Freedom” canvas bags.) They lowered their labor cost as a show of solidarity with the women evacuees.

Facebook friend Nina B. Tomen (Bishop Ambo David’s co-writer of a series of inspirational books) was first to sound the call on Facebook, and I joined suggesting Sarilaya women as sewers. A few clicks and we were on our way. The malongs will be ready in a few days.


In case you want to do the sewing yourself, the single-size malong measures 1 meter in width (after the two sides have been joined to form a tube) and 1.25 in length. The double-size malong is longer at 1 meter by 1.5 meters. I did an online search for cheaper, ready-made ones but they will have to be shipped all the way from Mindanao and there will be shipping costs added. So Sarilaya opted for Divisoria and found good cloth with ethnic designs. The women are now busy sewing.

“1000 and One Malongs” is my own whimsy take from “One Thousand and One Nights,” a tale from the Arabian Nights—if you remember—where Scheherazade avoids death in the hands of a cruel king by telling 1,001 stories for 1,001 nights.

If you have malongs to share, you can simply bring them to drop-off points that you know so they could be included in the packs. No need to centralize, although I have contacted the Good Shepherd Sisters in Quezon City who can receive them. The address is 1043 Aurora Boulevard, Quezon City, c/o Sr. Flor Tio, RGS of the Euphrasian Community which is in the compound. The gate is beside the LRT station near Katipunan Ave. The sisters have a relief operation in Batangas City where they run a college.

I have seen a mock fashion show posted online where evacuees modeled some of the outrageous stuff from thoughtless donors (I don’t want to call them matapobre), examples of which are a security guard uniform, stiletto-heeled boots, a Girl Scout uniform, party wear, etc. So much for Pinoy humor amid the aftermath of a calamity—make that an ongoing calamity, because the worst is still to come, science experts say.

The evacuees do not need stiletto heels and party wear. They need basic stuff like hygiene kits, blankets, mats and pillows, daily wear (shorts, T-shirts, new underwear, slippers), medicine, water, food.

Speaking of food, a friend, photojournalist Alex Baluyut, has been making hot meals on site for thousands of evacuees in disaster areas these past years. His Art Relief Mobile Kitchen (ARMK) has attracted volunteers. How ARMK came to be is a story in itself. Mabuhay ang ARMK!

I was sent a slide show showing the Filipino bayanihan spirit amid the aftermath of the volcanic eruption and other disasters for that matter. Done and posted on Facebook by Dherick Dee, it has “We Are the World” as background music (of USA for Africa in the 1990s), making it all the more heart-tugging and tear-inducing. I was in tears.


There are no words, no voiceover, just “We Are the World,” one of my all-time faves as a so-called boomer, and scenes of relief work and aid being brought with smiles to the evacuees, and the rescue of pets and farm animals left behind in the volcano island. Oh, I love that picture of a rescuer with an armful of chickens! This is not a sickening poverty porn slide show but a show of resilience and hope. And, most of all, of Filipino bayanihan.

Let us brace ourselves for the worst and give our best.

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Inquirer calls for support for the victims of Taal volcano eruption
Responding to appeals for help, the Inquirer is extending its relief to the families affected by the recent eruption of Taal volcano.
Cash donations may be deposited in the Inquirer Foundation Corp. Banco De Oro (BDO) Current Account No: 007960018860.
Inquiries may be addressed and emailed to Inquirer’s Corporate Affairs office through [email protected]
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TAGS: Batangas, charity, evacuees, Malong, Taal Volcano
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