MANILA, NOVEMBER 18, 2013 (MANILA BULLETIN) A devotee cries during Sunday Mass at Santo Nino Church after the Super typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban City. (REUTERS) (Reuters)

Survivors of Typhoon Haiyan flocked to ruined churches on Sunday, kneeling in prayer under torn roofs as the Philippines faced an enormous rebuilding task from the storm that killed at least 3,681 people and displaced 4 million.

At Santo Niño Church, near the waterfront in the flattened city of Tacloban, birds flitted between the rafters overhead as women moved through the pews with collection plates. At the end of mass, the Roman Catholic congregation broke into applause.

Rosario Capidos, 55, sat crying in one row, hugging her nine-year-old grandson, Cyrich.

Capidos had been sheltering at home with nine other members of her family when Haiyan struck on November 8. As the waters rose, she floated her three grandchildren on a slab of styrofoam through a road flooded with debris and shipping containers to a nearby Chinese temple. Her family survived.

“That’s why I’m crying,” she said. “I thank God I was given a second chance to live.”

A massive relief effort is finally kicking into gear, nine days after one of the most powerful typhoons on record wreaked havoc across the impoverished area in the central Philippines with monster winds and a deadly storm surge of sea water.

Philippine authorities and international aid agencies face a mounting humanitarian crisis, with the number of people displaced by the catastrophe estimated at 4 million, up from 900,000 late last week.

Nearly half a million houses were damaged by the storm, half of them destroyed, according to the United Nations.

While aid packages have begun to reach more remote areas, much of it carried by helicopters brought by the USS George Washington aircraft carrier, the United Nations said people were still going hungry in some mountainous provinces.

It said information about several provinces in the west of the Visayas region remained “limited”, with 60 percent of people in towns in the northeast part of Capiz province needing food support.

“I remain concerned about the health and well-being of the millions of men, women and children who are still in desperate need,” U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said in a statement.

President Benigno Aquino, caught off guard by the scale of the disaster, is scheduled to visit affected areas on Sunday. He has been criticized for the slow pace of aid distribution and unclear estimates of casualties, especially in Tacloban, capital of hardest-hit Leyte province.

There are 1,186 people missing, according to the national count. The official death toll has only risen by 60 since Friday, giving hope that initial local estimates of 10,000 dead were overstated.

The government estimated damage to infrastructure and agriculture at about 10 billion pesos ($230 million), the bulk of it in the farming sector. The United Nations warned that economic and human cost could rise if aid did not reach farmers in rice-growing regions in time for the next planting season in December and January.

It also said that fishing, another crucial food source, had been placed in jeopardy by the storm.

“The destruction of boats, fishing gear, fish ponds and related equipment left many families with no means of livelihood and decreased protein intake,” the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

Leyte towns assured of food aid by Czarina Ong November 17, 2013

Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II on Sunday assured the public that all 40 municipalities in Leyte will be served by the government’s “conveyor belt food supply.”

Officials of Hilongos and Palompon, the only Leyte towns that had not been reached by relief goods, managed to establish contact with the government’s logistics hub in Ormoc City last Saturday and started bringing food packs and other relief items back to their constituents who survived the wrath of super typhoon Yolanda.

“Now we can say we have given relief goods to all the towns of Leyte,” said Roxas, who is also vice chairman for disaster preparedness of the National Diaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

“This is only the start and we know it’s not enough. But we are assured that relief will be delivered regularly because the main supply routes have been opened, and the conveyer belt of food is working,” he added.

Roxas said relief efforts will continue as long as it’s needed.

He also said distribution would be divided into two hubs, one in Tacloban servicing 24 towns and the other in Ormoc, servicing 16 towns.

The affected municipalities of Eastern Samar, on the other hand, will get their food supply from the logistics hub set up at the airport in Guiuan.

On Saturday, a total of 114,438 food packs from the Tacloban and Ormoc hubs were distributed either by helicopter drop in remote barangays or by trucks.

He said they delivered 45,162 food packs on Friday, up from only 15,477 on Thursday.

The food packs include six kilos of rice, six canned goods (thee sardines, three corned beef), eight instant noodles and eight sachet of coffee.

Each food pack for a family of five is guaranteed to last two to three days.

Roxas noted that although the tonnage for the food packs distributed has been increasing daily, only 32 towns of Leyte were reached by relief operations last Saturday.

Officials from eight Leyte towns failed to pick up their daily supply from the Tacloban and Ormoc hubs because of lack of transportation or fuel.

DSWD opens more repacking hubs by Ellalyn De Vera November 17, 2013 The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has stepped up relief operations for families in typhoon-hit Eastern Visayas to produce 2.04 million family food packs within two weeks.

To facilitate this, DSWD has set up additional repacking stations around Metro Manila in addition to the DSWD-National Resource Operations Center in Pasay City.

The satellite stations are in De La Salle University on Taft Avenue, Manila; Ateneo de Manila University on Katipunan, Quezon City; and the Ninoy Aquino Stadium in Manila. Repacking is also being done in Camp Aguinaldo and in Villamor Air Base.

Regional repacking centers in Regions 5, 7, 10, and 13 remain open.

The department said those who want to volunteer for repacking may go to any of the hubs.

In the National Capital Region these are:

• Ninoy Aquino Stadium, Rizal Memorial Sports Complex M. Adriatico Street, Manila. The contact persons are Director Honorita Bayudan, 0918-387-2061/380-8143; Director Chi Redaja, 0917-599-0870/592-6953; and Director Mariz Maristela, 240-5886.

• Ateneo de Manila University (College Covered Courts) Katipunan Ave., Loyola Heights, Quezon City. The contact person is Johnny Miranda, 0916-428-6437/422-2521.

• De La Salle University ( North and South Conservatory) 2401 Taft Ave., Manila. The contact persons are Joseph Rosal of COSCA, 525-4267 local 147; and Nyca Lofranco, 0917-599-0027/592-6110.

• Camp Aguinaldo. Contact Person is Director Paz Sarino, 0920-948-4998

• Villamor Air Base, Multipurpose Hall, Pasay City. Contact Person is Director Ping Shalim, 0917-819-5086, 853-5128, 853-5003, 853-4944, 853-4995 and 853-5057.

In Region 5:

• Albay Astrodome, Legazpi City, Albay, (052) 480-5754

In Region 6:

• DSWD Regional Office, MH del Pilar Street, Molo, Iloilo City, (033) 300-0526

In Region 7:

• Mactan Air Base, Mactan Island, Cebu. Contact person is Beth Cabalda, (032) 232-9507; 0916-4371532

In Region 13:

• DPWH Area, Equipment Service Brgy. Luna, Surigao City.

Volunteers are encouraged to call or text beforehand for their shift schedule.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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