20% of UP students affected by Typhoon Odette

| Written by Padayon UP

An estimated 20% of students of the University of the Philippines (UP) are still affected by the aftermath of Typhoon Odette, according to the UP Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA).

Many of these students live in four regions identified to be at high risk for the effects of typhoons: Regions VI, VII, VIII, and CARAGA. Roughly 17.2% of the University’s student population live in these regions, devastated by Typhoon Odette, which hit the country on December 16 and caused severe and widespread damage throughout central and southern Philippines.

Regions IV-B and X, considered moderate to high-risk regions where some provinces were also severely affected by Typhoon Odette, are called home by around 2.8% of UP’s student population.

Following the Typhoon, in Memorandum RAG 2021–53 dated December 20, 2021, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Richard Philip Gonzalo asked concerned units across the UP System to reach out to affected students. These units advised students to file applications, especially those with no records in the Student Learning Assistance System (SLAS). The University will document students needing support and fast-track financial aid processing. Gonzalo also urged the Student Affairs offices to meet with their respective scholarship committees to find ways to expedite the processing of financial assistance of those affected. Anticipating that some of the grantees will be in areas where banks have temporarily ceased operations due to the Typhoon, he encouraged Student Affairs units to explore alternative means of sending financial assistance to shorten the time for support to reach the students.

As of January 4, 2022, the University has 851 documented financially vulnerable students. One hundred and seventy-five (175) belong to households earning an annual income of less than P80,000. These students receive a monthly stipend of P5,000. However, there are 676 students from families earning P80,000 to P250,000 annually. These students may be struggling with the effects of the Typhoon. The OSFA expects these 676 students will file appeals for a monthly stipend.

With the widespread effect of the Typhoon, the University anticipates more undergraduate students filing applications in the SLAS during the restoration of internet connections in typhoon-affected areas, and Student Affairs units can reach out to these affected students.

In the aftermath of Typhoon Odette, the OSFA has met different stakeholders to find ways to expand the support to students. Meetings were held with the UP System Ugnayan ng Pahinungod and UP Padayon Public Service Office to mobilize volunteers and donors. Meanwhile, OSFA reported that the UP CU Student Affairs units have already started partnerships with their respective University Student Councils, Pahinungod offices, and alumni groups to organize campus-based fundraising activities.

The OSFA acknowledged the limitations of their data as the SLAS database only covers undergraduate, College of Law, and College of Medicine students. Some 33% of UP’s student body consists of graduate students. There is also a need to refine their data further. Currently, the University does not have comprehensive documentation on the complex situation of affected students, such as how many of them need learning assistance and what kind. Some reportedly need shelter, while some need financial resources to rebuild their homes and replace their learning devices. CU Student Affairs units have filed crisis reports to OSFA to update the number of students in need of help and those who will need support to continue their studies.

To expand the support to affected students, the office proposed establishing “Adopt-a-Student” programs in all CUs. These can provide support to those rendered as ineligible in the SLAS. Learning assistance options, such as gadget replacement, are also being arranged. Mental health will be a priority concern to ensure students can cope with their challenges. The OSFA will be working with students, alumni, and other groups who may support the operation of learning hubs and explore the provision of temporary living quarters so that students affected may continue their studies.

Given these activities, the University has launched Tabang sa Iskolar ng Bayan, A Fundraising Project for Students Affected by Typhoon Odette as a System-wide initiative to solicit donations. Donors can support specific beneficiary CUs and CU units. UP is asking its alumni, alumni groups, and friends to help the University heed the call of its Iskolar ng Bayan. On top of this raging pandemic, they are burdened deeply by the devastation of Typhoon Odette.

For members of the UP community, especially UP alumni, who are interested in helping support UP students impacted by the recent natural disaster, the University is accepting donations to augment the financial assistance for the students. Prospective donors may deposit their donations through the following official bank accounts:

Banco de Oro/BDO
Account Name: UP Foundation Inc
Peso Account Number: 0036-1014-7118

Bank of the Philippine Islands/BPI
Account Name: UP Foundation Inc
Peso Account Number: 003083-7423-12

UnionBank of the Philippines
Account Name: UP Foundation Inc
Peso Account Number: 1022 7002 9111

For donors who will need a Certificate of Donation (BIR Form 2322), kindly use the following bank details:

Landbank of the Philippines
Account Name: University of the Philippines System
Peso Account Number: 3072 1007 50
Dollar Account Number: 3074 0017 92

To help the University monitor the donations and ensure that your support reaches our students in need, please send a screenshot of the transaction receipt to [email protected].

(This article, written by Arlyn VCD Palisoc Romualdo, was first published in the UP System Website on February 11, 2022)