• Typhoon ‘Yolanda’ reportage

    Ma. Isabel Ongpin

    Ma. Isabel Ongpin

    Close relatives have been to northern Palawan and northern Cebu to do relief work.

    Here is some feedback. In Bogo, Cebu, which admittedly was not as damaged as Tacloban and other parts of Leyte, but still had casualties and destruction, there was surprising order. Going to the Bogo City Hall as a first step, they noted a public list of barangay and what help they had received from whom. So it was easy to choose one that needed help and had not yet been assisted. Whereupon a guide took them there where the barangay captain was waiting with the people who needed relief all lined up in an orderly and peaceful fashion. The Bogo City Hall also had posted prominently a list of fatalities and wounded so relatives or friends who came from outside could be informed right away.

    In the Malapascua and Daanbantayan area which were scenes of destruction, people waited for relief without taking the law into their own hands.

    The report from Northern Palawan indicated that Coron was not as badly damaged as claimed and the islands around it had damage but it was mitigated by mangroves that were intact and had not been decimated for firewood. I suspect that is what happened in Leyte. The degradation of the environment such as mangroves which protect land from ocean depredations in times of high tide or storms makes these events more destructive.

    The islands of Northern Palawan are populated by Tagbanuas who are an ethnic minority. But they do have radio and television and apparently knew of the coming typhoon and its path because they went to high ground and even harvested what crops they could before evacuating. They lost roofs, huts, bancas but not their lives.

    Needed urgently: plywood, nails, glue
    The very necessary things all the above communities need (like Leyte and Samar) are plywood, nails and glue to make bancas. Followed by tarpaulins to keep the elements away until they can rebuild their houses. And fuel for bancas until the fishing is stabilized. In urbanized areas like Tacloban where the typhoon blew urbanities away from modern technology to less civilized behavior—food and water, medical services including psychotherapy.

    There are many other needs, the worst is not yet over because sickness, desperation, grief will be around for some time.

    The helper of a friend here in Metro Manila had twin daughters whom she was supporting as a single mother. Both of them were studying here but one twin requested to visit her grandmother in Leyte for the All Saints’ holiday in early November. She never came back and her grandmother, too, is gone. The mother went to bed that Thursday night (typhoon hit in the early hours of Friday) apparently unaware that a typhoon was barreling toward Leyte. Her phone was on silent. When she woke up the next morning, she had 38 missed calls from her daughter and finally a text, “Mother, you may not see me anymore.”

    Somewhere near Palo, a family lived near a river (not the sea). When the storm surge came the water in the river rose and rose. Their house was one storey and they struggled toward the roof which was soon gone leaving them holding on to the rafters with the water coming up to their necks. Grandmother and grandfather washed away together with 5-year-old twins in their care. Their mother was an overseas worker in Taiwan and the father was working in Ormoc.

    Another family had P240,000 in cash in the house because they were about to build a house for an overseas worker relative. They lost their house and the money when the storm surge swept through their area leaving them only with what they were wearing not including shoes.

    An orphan boy who lost his parents and three siblings was evacuated to Villamor. In the evacuees’ hangar, he was given food and water, clothes, and told to choose a toy from a stack of them available. Volunteers saw him thoughtfully choose one for himself and three for each one of his siblings.

    It is hard to comprehend what has happened in the last few weeks.



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    1 Comment

    1. Please allow me to express my two cents worth about the many things written about Yolanda. I understand that this is tangential to your column but because for lack of more appropriate venue.
      In this time of calamity, ventilating natural genuine anger whether in the form: discontent, disapproval, condemnation, outrage, or indignation over things that contradict human nature and norms of society is necessary. It is healthy. In this time of calamity to disseminate anger indiscriminately amounts to inciting, planting, to inflaming, or fomenting displeasure or anger. In time of calamity, is it counterproductive to the victims. Getting them angry will not alleviate their situation, rather it will compounds their already damage emotional and psychological state, not to mention their physical and economic state. To engage in this manner is to use the calamity for some personal agenda. For the victims, compassion and creative remedial action are what are needed at this moment.