Wednesday, Mar 03

Bringing hope and inspiration to college students

February 10, 2017 | Nyanza Nakar

More than 30 students and teachers from the University of the Philippines’ School of Health Sciences along with Filipino-Chinese businessmen from Tacloban City, pooled efforts to install makeshift classrooms to hasten the resumption of classes in the said school. The construction started last February 9. 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】

Story Highlights

  • Twelve temporary classrooms were donated by Tzu Chi Foundation for the students of University of the Philippines Manila School of Health Sciences. The school buildings were severely destroyed by typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) last November 2013.

  • As a way of extending thanks to the Buddhist charity group , the students and teachers also helped in assembling and installing the temporary classrooms last February 9.


Three months after typhoon Yolanda, the students from the University of the Philippines Manila School of Health Sciences (UPMSHS) in Palo municipality, Leyte earnestly hope that classes would resume in their school and recover from the tragedy that befell upon them.

Up until now, destroyed buildings are seen within the school’s premises. The buildings cannot be cleared of debris yet because of asbestos – a fiber that was used as insulation (and a chemical that was proven to have adverse effects on health).  The cleanup needs the help of a toxicologist.

“After the typhoon, we don’t know how to start again because the school was almost completely wiped out and many of our students’ dormitories were destroyed as well. It’s really sad to think that our school heavily bore the typhoon’s brunt,” says Anabel Ganzo, one of the professors in the university.

Although the establishment was severely destroyed by Yolanda, Ganzo is still grateful that Tzu Chi Foundation was there to help them on their way to recovery, especially for the school’s class resumption.

The Buddhist group installed 12 makeshift classrooms in the campus of the University of the Philippines Tacloban last February 9. Five of these will serve as classrooms while the rest will be used as dormitories for the students. More than 200 students will benefit from this donation.

In a meeting with the Tzu Chi volunteers, the UP administration of the School of Health Sciences suggested that several of these prefabricated rooms could be used as dormitories so that students will not have a difficult time in travelling from Palo to Tacloban.

Consequently, many students helped the Tzu Chi volunteers in installing the units. The former showed their interest in learning like screwing bolts using a battery-operated screw driver. One of them is 19-year-old Rosielen Colibato.

“We are here to help because you also helped us. Despite what we’ve been through after the storm, I’m glad that someone like (Tzu Chi) came here to help us. It’s wonderful to know that we are slowly recovering again,” she says.

Colibato hails from a poor family in Parañaque City, and thankfully, she was accepted as a scholar in UPMSHS. Since college, she stays in a boarding house in Palo. Sadly, the house where she stays was also wiped out by the strong typhoon last November.

Professor Sylvia Sustento could not find the words to say in extending her thanks to the Buddhist organization for their invaluable help. She volunteered to assist in installing the makeshift classrooms as a way of giving importance to the organization’s aid.

“The students really wanted to help in the assembling of classrooms because they are happy with you (Tzu Chi) in coming here. There is no help that’s too little or big when everyone’s effort is concerned,” says the Biology instructor.

According to Sustento, they plan to resume classes on February 15 after the installation of these rooms.

Aside from the teachers and students, several businessmen from Tacloban City also chipped in their efforts for this activity. They have their own businesses to attend to but chose to forgo it momentarily so that they could help in the installation of the makeshift classrooms. One of them in Donnie Young.

“I saw how Tzu Chi Foundation managed to help the whole of Tacloban. That’s why we decided to form a group who will assist in constructing the makeshift classrooms. It feels nice to help out,” he mentions. He was among the Filipino Chinese businessmen who headed in Palo last February 9 to erect the temporary learning spaces.

  • 2_DSC_8780_NN A Taiwanese Tzu Chi volunteer gathers the students saying a few reminders before installing the makeshift classrooms. He reminds everyone to take care while assembling the rooms so that accidents won’t happen. 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】

  • 3_DSC_8792_NN A Tzu Chi volunteer teaches several Filipino-Chinese businessmen and UP teachers on how to start assembling the learning spaces. 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】

  • 4_DSC_8797_NN Professor Sylvia Sustento (center) asks a Tzu Chi volunteer if any more help is needed while installing the temporary classrooms. She is deeply thankful because the organization donated several units of prefabricated rooms to help the school resume classes as soon as possible. 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】

  • 5_DSC_8799_NN Nineteen-year-old Rosielen Colibato helps in putting screws in a battery-operated screw driver. She says that contributing efforts for the makeshift classrooms’ completion is her way of extending gratitude for Tzu Chi’s help. 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】

  • 6_DSC_8807_NN Local volunteers help one another in erecting a prefabricated classroom for the students of UP School of Health Sciences. They endure the hot weather just to finish the installation. 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】

  • 7_DSC_8809_NN Businessman Donnie Young helps in installing temporary learning spaces. He was inspired by the Buddhist group’s rehabilitation efforts which has helped Tacloban recover. Young momentarily left his business endeavours to allot time in helping the volunteers in the installation process. 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】

  • 8_DSC_8810_NN With everyone’s efforts, the learning spaces are slowly being erected in the grounds of University of the Philippine School of Health Sciences. 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】

  • 9_DSC_8818_NN Despite the hot weather, local volunteers continue to assemble the frames of the prefabricated classrooms. A total of 12 units were donated to the University of the Philippines School of Health Sciences that will be used as temporary classrooms and dormitories. 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】

  • 10_DSC_8842_NN A picture of devastation is seen here at the University of the Philippines School of Health Sciences caused by typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). It delayed the education of over 200 students in medicine.【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】

  • 11_DSC_8847_NN Due to the high waters and strong winds brought by Yolanda last November, buildings in University of the Philippines School of Health Sciences were destroyed. 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】

  • 12_DSC_8850_NN Debris are not yet cleared in this building due to the threat of asbestos – a fiber material that is used as insulation for the buildings. According to the administration, they needed the help of toxicologist to remove the said waste. 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】