Cause for celebration
Tomorrow, April 15, is literally a red-letter day, especially for the cause of humanitarian aid—it is the 69th founding anniversary of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC).
Formally inaugurated in Malacañang in 1947 with former First Lady Aurora Aragon Quezon as its first chair, PRC traces its roots to the revolutionary era—specifically on Feb. 17, 1899, when the Malolos Republic approved the Constitution of the National Association of the Red Cross upon the initiative of the Brains of the Philippine Revolution, Apolinario Mabini.
Since then, PRC has evolved to become the foremost humanitarian organization in the country, committed to provide quality life-saving services to those in need, especially in times of disasters and other vulnerable situations.
The organization’s mantra of “Always First, Always Ready, Always There” has seen PRC grow into a reliable first responder, providing relief, rehabilitation, rescue and welfare services, and other forms of intervention during crises and emergencies.
Responsive to the needs of the times, the organization has continuously reinvented itself to stay relevant and indispensable. Where it used to be involved only in providing blood as well as managing and distributing donated goods during relief operations, the organization now focuses on a more holistic approach to uplift the condition of the most vulnerable. Where it used to offer short-term palliatives, it now offers a wider array of humanitarian services ranging from preventive medicine to therapeutic counseling and youth leadership.
At the same time, PRC offers assistance, expertise and extra hands even during the most prosaic moments when it could be of some help.
Largely unheralded, its volunteers participated in forest fire response activities in Mt. Apo in Davao from March 29 to April 3. PRC Davao City chapter’s search and rescue team was mobilized to help in the firefighting efforts, building fire lines to help prevent the further spread of the fire that had been raging since March 26.
In El Niño and drought-stricken communities, PRC is currently working with local government units (LGUs) for the distribution of relief goods like rice in the face of a possible food shortage because of the lean harvest.
The organization has also become an expected, and a welcome presence as well, in the annual Holy Week exodus from the city. In this year’s Lenten rush, it served a total of 4,308 people as it provided ambulances and put up first aid stations in churches, beaches, swimming pools/resorts, gasoline stations, bus terminals, ports, parks, highways and other public places.
And there was “Yolanda,” when the government’s social welfare system and infrastructure broke down—overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the 2013 catastrophe brought on by the world’s strongest typhoon so far. Even while LGU officials and staff were themselves at a loss on how to cope with the disaster and reach disaster sites, PRC was there. Amid the bickering, finger-pointing and accusations of plundered relief goods between local officials and national government agencies, PRC remained the one constant that international donors banked on, knowing that under PRC’s auspices, their contributed goods would safely and promptly reach the intended beneficiaries.
Thanks to its largely voluntary, independent and autonomous funding, PRC remains a credible organization, its proven integrity the best antidote to compassion fatigue caused by the constant politicking in our midst.
PRC lives by the seven fundamental principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement—humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality. It continues to provide six major services: blood donation and supply, disaster management, safety, health, social services, as well as youth and volunteer services.
In recent years, PRC has worked to bring its services even closer to the community, moving its headquarters to a more accessible location on Edsa and Boni Avenue in Mandaluyong, with a state of the art Operations Center and blood bank meant to improve even more the quality of its services. PRC has also built several warehouses and logistics hubs in different regions nationwide to ensure speedier response when disaster hits. The organization has even expanded its humanitarian reach, servicing other disaster-affected countries like Nepal, which was crippled by a strong quake last year.
Such initiatives have made the Philippine Red Cross one of the strongest Red Cross organizations in the world, certainly enough cause for celebration.
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