The Taal Volcano announcement made worldwide news due to the devastation it has caused. Unfortunately, some Filipino virtual assistants have been affected by this natural disaster.
Is my virtual assistant affected?
If your VA is based in the provinces of Batangas, Cavite or Laguna, then YES, they are affected. How badly they are affected though, depends whether they’re in the danger zone, which is the area closest to the volcano.
If they’re in the danger zone, it’s most likely they have been forced to evacuate. The danger zone towns are as follows.
Batangas: Agoncillo, Alitagtag, Balete, Cuenca, Laurel, Lemery, Lipa City (especially lakeside areas), Mataasnakahoy, San Nicolas, Santa Teresita, Taal, Talisay, Tanauan City, Calaca, San Jose, San Luis
Cavite: Tagaytay City, Alfonso, Amadeo, Indang, Mendez, Silang
Laguna: Calamba City
The rest of Batangas, Cavite and Laguna were not compelled to evacuate but are still affected by varying degrees of ashfall and earthquakes. Between the 3 provinces, Batangas is the most affected and a state of calamity has already been declared there.
The rest of Luzon, like Metro Manila, was affected by light ash fall for several days. The island groups of Visayas and Mindanao are not affected.
My VA is in an affected area. How bad is it?
If your VA lived in any of the towns listed in the danger zone, it’s likely they’re in an evacuation center. If they have relatives in safer areas, they may have relocated there instead of staying in the evacuation center. People living in the danger zone were forced to evacuate due to heavy ashfall which has collapsed some homes and cut off power, water and internet connection in these towns.
Based on news releases and our contacts in that area, those who managed to go to the evacuation areas do have enough food and clothes. We know that most of these evacuation centers have water and electricity but not all of them would have internet or a cell signal. Evacuation areas that do have mobile and internet connection do allow the evacuees to use them, but relief and emergency workers are given priority access.
Those in the evacuation areas have reported needing more of the following items:
- Drinking Water
- N95 Masks
- Easy-to-open goods
- Bread and biscuits
- Tumblers for drinking water
- Sleeping mats or mattresses/bed bags
- Non-prescription medicine and first aid kits
- Baby/infant needs
- Cleaning materials (laundry soap, pails, paper towels, etc)
Virtual assistants in the affected provinces (but not in the danger zone) are relatively safe. They did experience some ISP and cell service disruption due to the earthquakes and ashfall. But according to the ISPs, they have already resumed services in most of these areas, especially in cities and public areas like malls, government offices, etc.
I want to help. How can I help?
You can help in several ways.
You can donate to organizations working directly with the evacuees like the Philippine National Red Cross. They’re already on the ground providing medical support and relief to the affected areas.
You can also send cash to your affected VA though your usual payment channels. They may not be able to use it now, but it can help them get back on their feet.
If you have other virtual assistants who are based in Luzon but are not in the affected areas, you can send them money and they can arrange the logistics of sending aid to your affected VA’s. Your team can refer to the list above if they want to donate goods. They would have better access to other organizations (like the DSWD, Caritas Manila, The University of the Philippines, etc) who are travelling to the affected locations to send aid. It’s more likely than not that they’re already doing it now since several VA communities in the Philippines have already sent and pledged support for those affected.
When will I be able to communicate with my VA’s in the affected areas?
To be honest, we don’t know. The Taal volcano is still showing some volcanic activity and there’s still some ash fall. Internet and mobile services are still unreliable in the affected areas and will continue to do so until the situation resolves.
We have seen some VA’s use mobile internet services to communicate with their clients and continue working. However, this is limited to those who don’t live in the danger zone or who didn’t relocate to an evacuation area.
Filipino virtual assistants are resilient and will try to communicate with you as soon as they can. Your patience is appreciated and will help your VAs get back up in these trying times.
Please note that Onlinejobs.ph will NOT be collecting any donations of any kind. We believe its best to course this directly to the people and organizations who are part of the relief operations.