February 7, 2020
by Robert Alan Glover
Grant and Gabrielle Yago, students at Christ the King School in Nashville, were visiting family in the Philippines when the Taal volcano erupted last month. They contacted members of Christ the King who quickly donated money to help purchase relief supplies for those affected by the disaster.

Grace Yago and her children Gabrielle and Grant were visiting relatives in the Philippines when the Taal volcano erupted, Jan. 12, forcing thousands of residents to flee their homes.
The Yagos quickly jumped in to help relief efforts and reached out for help from students, faculty and families at Christ the King School in Nashville, where Gabrielle and Grant are in the eighth and sixth grade, respectively.
“Within three hours, the parents of these students had sent money, close to $500,” Grace Yago said. “I was not surprised at the amount of support we received from Christ the King School, because I know our parents there as people who are always ready to help.”
“We were passing the volcano en route to a tourist spot, I’d say we were about 19 miles away, and there were no signs of anything about to happen at all,” recalled ago.
“We were beyond the danger zone, but still felt the eruption and soon after had to start wearing masks,” she said.
“I was a little afraid, but our mom said that it would all be OK,” Gabrielle said. “For me the biggest problem was really the language barrier, because I don’t speak Filipino well and hadn’t been there since I was younger.”
If anything really affected Gabrielle – and in a positive way – it was, she explained, “how the people were still smiling, even though they had lost everything; their chickens, cows, water buffalo, and even the fish had died” from the ash fallout, Gabrielle said.
The Yago family’s return to Nashville was delayed five days until Jan. 19 because the volcanic eruption closed down flights into and out of the area.
Miraculously, no one was killed in the eruption but many domestic animals perished because the area was on lockdown, and no one could remain to care for them. The government only began allowing people to return to the affected areas more than two weeks after the volcanic eruption.
After the eruption, “We visited our local Catholic school and discovered that it had been converted into a relocation center, with the evacuees sleeping on cardboard, for lack of anything better,” Yago said.
The make-shift shelters were filled to capacity – anywhere from 1,200 to 2,000 people sought refuge at one site alone – and the Yago family helped at least 500 families over two days.
With the initial donation of $500 from Christ the King families, “we were able to buy blankets and mattresses,” Yago said.
“At Christ the King School we teach students to reach out to others who need it, and Grace’s sharing of her photos with everyone here at CKS really brought it home to us,” Principal Sherry Woodman said.
Offertory contributions from the week of the eruption, Woodman said, “were designated for relief to the area, and contributions the following week came from our teachers, families and students.”
The community “raised $800 in a short period of time,” she said.
“It feels good to have been one of the helpers, and I am happy to have done it, because no matter how small this gesture was, it still meant a lot to many people,” said Grant Yago, a student in Kenneth Stephens’ sixth grade class at Christ the King.
Grace Yago said the affected area around the Taal volcano “is mostly farmland and some fisheries, and these were the places evacuated, but I fear that the worst is yet to come.”
She recalled that, “Mount Pinatubo’s eruption (in 1991) was even longer, and as we all know, the ash fall from that eruption alone closed a U.S. military base permanently; with Taal we are still waiting for THE big one.”
Yago, who grew up in the Philippines and still has siblings who live there, described Taal as “a volcano within a volcano, and I believe that we need to pray for the people in those villages.”

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