Two months later: Building back Bohol

Two months later: Building back Bohol

On December 18, 2021, super typhoon Odette (with the international name Rai) ravaged many parts of the Visayas and Mindanao regions of the Philippines. The province of Bohol recorded the most fatalities, at 108 as of January 5, 2022. Images and videos of broken trees and electric posts, destroyed houses, and flooded communities surfaced on the internet. 

This is not the first time that a damaging natural catastrophe destroyed Bohol. In the past decade alone, a 72.-magnitude earthquake on October 15, 2013 destroyed over 79,000 infrastructures on the island. 222 people died, and 976 people were confirmed injured.

But if these unfortunate events revealed anything, it is that Bohol has always been a resilient island, and the Bol-anons are resilient people.

Despite damaging typhoons here in the Philippines, various relief drives are quick to take place after yet another calamity. Soon, images and videos of different relief efforts–from celebrities and influencers to regular citizens–also spread throughout the web. 

TaskUs, a global provider of outsourced digital services that has a site in Tagbilaran City, ran a voluntary employee donation campaign from December 2021 to January 2022. TaskUs employees in the Philippines and in other countries, as well as some of its clients, donated funds that were channeled to the company’s employee relief operations. The said drive managed to collect 2.6 million pesos.

TaskUs’s Rebuild Program aims to provide financial assistance to TaskUs employees and their family members that they can use to reconstruct or repair their damaged homes.

“The donations that we raised through this drive were used for the TaskUs Rebuild Program, which helped affected teammates in Bohol,” explained Dan Nacarato, TaskUs Senior Vice President, Head of Southeast Asia. “Our teammates can reimburse their house repair costs. For others who can’t afford to start their home repairs, we provided immediate assistance for their construction costs.”

Right after the typhoon, the company sent out door-to-door rescue teams to different municipalities across Bohol–some were riding ATVs while some had to travel only on foot–to trace and check in on TaskUs teammates, as the entire island did not have electricity and communication signal during those days. 

Among the employees who were helped and assisted by TaskUs were Jenneth and Moderator Boiser. They were rescued by the TaskUs door-to-door rescue team in Ubay, Bohol. “Typhoon Odette is by far the strongest typhoon that hit Bohol. It was the most challenging time of my life. My family was heavily affected. We lost our home and livelihood,” Jenneth said.

They have been included in the list of beneficiaries of the TaskUs Rebuild program. The Boisers were also among those who were provided with food packs, relief assistance, medicines, and temporary shelter, among others.

As of this writing—two months after Typhoon Odette’s onslaught—there are 181 TaskUs employees who have been granted financial assistance from the donations of employees and clients.

TaskUs was also able to provide over 200 employees and their families temporary shelter at several hotels and accommodations in Panglao and Tagbilaran City. 105 employees and families, meanwhile, were temporarily housed at TaskUs Lizzy’s Playground, located at the JLU Centre Bloc on Rajah Sikatuna Avenue, Tagbilaran City.

While super typhoons such as Odette can reveal the vulnerability of an island to natural calamities, they can also reveal the strength of its people. Getting past the holidays, Bohol is now, slowly but surely, recovering from the damages caused by Typhoon Odette. Electricity and communications signals have been restored in most parts of the island. Most houses are now being repaired or reconstructed and major tourism landmarks have already reopened, although still with some visible damages around. 

“Bohol has always withstood major natural calamities. Earthquakes, typhoons, floods, a pandemic—you name it. But our resilience as an island has always stood out, too,” said Province of Bohol Governor Arthur Yap. “Thanks to the many private individuals as well as private and public agencies here and abroad, Bohol is now on its way to recovery. With your help and support, we can build back Bohol together.”

TaskUs’s Bohol site is a special office for the company as it is one of the new sites that it opened in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. That fact was probably a prelude already to what kind of synergy there would be between TaskUs and Bohol: resilient, agile, and determined. Now with the help of external organizations and individuals, the teamwork has become even stronger to make the dream of building a better Bohol work.