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Tacloban stirs back to life

Amid the chaos and destruction left behind by Super Typhoon Yolanda, the new home of Geraldvin Balicog is taking shape. The shell of a new home for his wife, Marietta, and one-year-old daughter, Lover Gem, stands among the ruins on the outskirts of Tacloban City – one of the areas worst hit by the violent storm on Nov. 8.

ALSO: Corporations continue giving aid

The SM Group of companies vowed to raise P100 million for a calamity fund for Tacloban, Ormoc, Samar, Bohol, Cebu, Iloilo, Capiz and Bicol, which were ravaged by the strong earthquake and Super Typhoon Yolanda.

ALSO: GPH, MILF peace panels show solidarity with typhoon victims
 


Tacloban stirs back to life By Jonathan Carson (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 20, 2013 - 7:00am


A man repairs his typhoon-damaged home near the San Juanico bridge in Tacloban City yesterday. ERNIE PEÑAREDONDO

TACLOBAN, NOVEMBER 21, 2013 (INQUIRER) Amid the chaos and destruction left behind by Super Typhoon Yolanda, the new home of Geraldvin Balicog is taking shape.

The shell of a new home for his wife, Marietta, and one-year-old daughter, Lover Gem, stands among the ruins on the outskirts of Tacloban City – one of the areas worst hit by the violent storm on Nov. 8.

The Balicogs’ new house is surrounded by complete devastation.

Houses in the path of the storm surge, which hammered the coast in three or four tsunami-like waves, were battered to pieces. It seems that nothing in this area was spared from the wrath of Yolanda.

Balicog has been working on the structure since Monday, using the materials from his original house, which was destroyed by the typhoon, and some materials given to him by a neighbor.

It is a small sign of progress in this devastated community. A sign that some victims are starting to pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives in the face of extreme adversity. A new beginning.

About 5 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 8, the strong winds of Yolanda snapped a large branch from a tree that crushed the roof of Balicog’s house, hitting him on the head.

Balicog and his family took shelter in a concrete building next door and when they returned to their house later in the day, they found it had been completely wiped out.

Balicog’s wife ran a canteen at the house so it was also a source of income for the family.

“I have to work hard because I have a family to support,” he said. “I don’t know how long it will take to finish. I build as I find the materials.”

Balicog, who was a maintenance worker at Gaisano Mall before the storm hit, was among the few who decided to rebuild from scratch so soon after losing everything.

Thousands of people have fled Tacloban City and other areas in Leyte and Samar affected by the storm to Manila and Cebu, opting not to deal with the aftermath.

It was understandable. The damage is overwhelming and a functional future could be years away. When body bags still haven’t been removed from the roadside almost two weeks after a disaster, one has to question how long it’s going to take to restore a sense of normality for the people who live here.

For many, it’s a matter of doing what they can with what they can scavenge from the rubble. Makeshift shacks are popping up where houses once stood. They provide temporary shelter from the elements and a place to call home, but they will not withstand another storm, let alone another Yolanda.

President Aquino said on Monday that communities were already starting to talk about replanting crops and rebuilding homes, but he wanted to make sure that, with the support of government, they were of reasonable quality.

“We want to rebuild them in a better situation able to withstand the typhoons that come to our country every year,” Aquino said.

Lolita Flores, 50, a schoolteacher at Tanauan National School, said Filipinos have a unique ability to pick themselves up after being knocked down that, for many people, was rooted in a strong Christian faith.

Flores’ house was washed away and she wants to rebuild two smaller houses. One on where her house originally stood and another close to the mountain so that they can flee to higher ground in the event of another storm surge.

“We do have resilience. Some of us have a belief – a belief in God,” she said.

A street market was launched in Tacloban City this week selling everything from bananas to brandy. It is another sign that people are getting on with life after a heartbreaking period of immense loss.

It is still raw and it still hurts, but there is a sense that people are taking it in stride.

Many of the goods being sold are suspected loot from stores that were robbed in the days after Yolanda, but some, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, are legitimate produce that have been scarce until now.

There is color, activity and life in the streets of Tacloban once more. A far cry from the scene on Nov. 8.

Rolando Montano was gathering sheets of roofing iron from the debris and loading them on a pedicab yesterday morning.

Montano said he was going to fence off his property before rebuilding his house near the sea in Tanauan.

Montano, a rice farmer and father of 10, said he ideally wanted to sell his property and move further inland because he feared for his safety on the coast, but he didn’t want to flee the area like so many others already have.

He has lived here all his life. His roots are here. “Where I will go?” he asked.

FROM THE PHILSTAR

Corporations continue giving aid (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 20, 2013 - 12:00am


Survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda arrive at Villamor Airbase in Pasay City yesterday. JOVEN CAGANDE

MANILA, Philippines - Corporations continue to extend aid to calamity-stricken areas in the Visayas.

The SM Group of companies vowed to raise P100 million for a calamity fund for Tacloban, Ormoc, Samar, Bohol, Cebu, Iloilo, Capiz and Bicol, which were ravaged by the strong earthquake and Super Typhoon Yolanda.

Gladiz May Latiza of SM City Marilao said the calamity fund will be used to rebuild homes, community centers, schools and churches and for relief operations.

Latiza said Operation Tulong Express is now accepting relief goods and cash donations through its accounts in BDO and Chinabank.

The SM Foundation is taking the lead in relief efforts. It has sent out thousands of relief packages consisting of bottles of mineral water, rice, ready-to-eat food and instant noodles to affected communities in the Visayas.

The Robinsons Malls, on the other hand, will launch this week “The Christmas Tree of Hope” to raise more funds for typhoon victims.

Peace brokers of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) were elated with the outpouring of support from Moro communities for typhoon victims in the Visayas.

The two panels, in a joint statement, also expressed solidarity with communities affected by the deadly typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) onslaught.

“Several colorful trees will be displayed in Robinsons malls and our customers are invited to buy Christmas balls, proceeds of which will go to Serviam Foundation,” said Arlene Magtibay, Robinsons Land Corp.’s general manager for commercial centers division.

The Robinsons Malls’ “The Gift of Change” donation drive is in full swing in Leyte, Northern Cebu, Roxas and Iloilo. Thousands of relief bags containing canned goods, rice, water and hygiene kits have been dispatched and volunteers who will assist in distribution have been deployed.

For its part, Megaworld Foundation, the corporate social responsibility arm of leading property developer Megaworld Corp., turned over P1 million to ABS-CBN Foundation Sagip Kapamilya for relief efforts in typhoon-ravaged areas.

Globe encourages donations

Meanwhile, Globe Telecom, through its Bangon Pinoy (#BangonPinoy) program, has pledged P15 million to help community reconstruction activities of Gawad Kalinga (GK) in typhoon-devastated provinces and hold mobile caravans to encourage donations for disaster relief efforts.

The amount will be used primarily to build houses in GK Rotary Village in Barangay Tambulilid in Ormoc, Leyte for the benefit of 100 families, while part of the funds will be set aside for livelihood support to the residents.

A significant portion of the P15 million will come from the sale profits of Globe’s Tattoo Prepaid Mobile WiFi from now until yearend and the 100 percent profit donation from the plans sold by Tattoo Home Broadband in November and December 2013.

About 5,000 units of various Tattoo Prepaid Mobile Wifi and stick devices will also be given to typhoon victims.

The telecom giant also rolls out its Globe Prepaid On the Go caravan to raise subscribers’ awareness on various ways to help typhoon victims.

Through the caravans, Globe subscribers may donate via any of five options.

With every peso loaded in the Globe Prepaid On the Go Caravan, Globe Prepaid will match it with the same amount of donation. Through SMS, text RED<space>AMOUNT to 2899; the amount can be any of the following denominations: 5, 25, 100, 300, 500 or 1,000.

Subscribers may also donate their old phones to subscribers in affected areas.

For redemption of Globe Rewards points in 5, 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1,000 denominations, text DONATE<space>YOLANDA<amount> to 4438.

Another way is through GCash donation to Red Cross via Mobile GCash APP or by dialing *143#> GCash > Others > Donate > Amount > MPIN > Red Cross.

Aid from foreign firms

The Credit Suisse staff in the Asia Pacific region will also donate to GK and Habitat for Humanity Philippines, which the bank has been partnering with.

Both charities will be working to provide emergency relief to victims in the short term and on rebuilding efforts in affected communities in the long term.

The bank has pledged $400,000 for relief efforts and will support the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in their operations.

Fuji Xerox Co., for its part, donated ¥10 million.

Canadian fertilizer giant Canpotex based in Saskatchewan will donate $100,000 to the Canadian Red Cross to assist in relief efforts in the Philippines, said president and chief executive officer Steve Dechka.

This donation validates the company’s focus on long-term relationships and commitment to its loyal Philippine customers and their affected families, he added.

As the world’s premier potash exporter, Canpotex has been a major supplier of potash to the Philippines for over 41 years. At this difficult time in the Philippines, Canpotex and its shareholders are sensitive to the needs of its Philippine customers and the role that they play in helping meet the growing global demand for food.

Airlines fly relief goods for free

Airlines have also helped in relief operations and medical missions.

Qatar Airways yesterday airlifted for free to the Clark International Airport (CIA) eight tons of relief goods from Filipino workers in Qatar.

Last week, Emirates Airlines transported for free to CIA 13 tons of relief items from Filipino workers in Dubai.

Clark International Airport Corp. president and CEO Victor Jose Luciano said the relief goods include tents, medical items, food and blankets. These would be turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for distribution to typhoon victims in Tacloban and Ormoc.

Tiger Air Philippines and AirAsia Zest have offered free air transport of relief goods from donors in Pampanga to typhoon-ravaged areas in the Visayas.

Among the first relief goods to be airlifted by the airlines are those from the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Central Luzon Television Ch-36.

Also slated for airlifting are relief goods solicited by LGC Group, San Fernando Filipino-Chamber of Commerce, Mekeni Foods Corp., House of David Group, Romac Group of Companies, Patient Care Corp., Solana Land, Celtech, 3rd District Rep. Oscar Rodriguez, and People’s Lumber.

The Airbus Corporate Foundation has also coordinated flights of relief goods and rescue and medical teams to the country.

Airbus A340-300 flew 28 logistics and emergency rescue specialists and nearly 30 tons of water purification equipment and energy biscuits from Lyon in France to Cebu. This mission was jointly organized with one of the foundation’s French partners, the Action Contre la Faim (Action Against Hunger).

The new A321 of Philippine Airlines (PAL), meanwhile, was used to send a medical team of 10 doctors and nurses and 11 tons of medical equipment and food to Manila from Germany. This flight was facilitated by PAL and two German partners of the Airbus Corporate Foundation, the Humedica e.V. and Kühne & Nagel.

“The Philippines has been struck by a true human disaster and it is natural that we look at all possibilities about how we can contribute in facilitating relief in this tragic situation quickly and efficiently,” said Fabrice Brégier, Airbus president and CEO and chairman of the Airbus Corporate Foundation.

In a related development, the 100-strong contingent of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA)’s “Doctors on Boat” program sailed yesterday to Bantayan Island in Cebu.

They brought P50 million worth of medicine, medical and surgical supplies, water, food and other relief items.

The PMA introduced the program when Typhoon Ondoy hit the country in Sept. 2009. – With Dino Balabo, Ding Cervantes, Ric Sapnu and Sheila Crisostomo

GPH, MILF peace panels show solidarity with typhoon victims By John Unson (philstar.com) | Updated November 20, 2013 - 2:00pm

COTABATO CITY, Philippines - Peace brokers of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) were elated with the outpouring of support from Moro communities for typhoon victims in the Visayas.

The two panels, in a joint statement, also expressed solidarity with communities affected by the deadly typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) onslaught.

“Disasters often result to the disruption of peace, the destruction of property, and the breakdown of law and order,” the GPH and MILF panels said in a communique emailed by the Mindanao Press Bureau of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

The two panels said man-made disasters, such as armed violence, also cause devastation and loss of lives.

“It is, thus, a moral responsibility for all to give maximum importance to protection of life and the right to live in a peaceful and humane society,” the two panels stated in their joint statement of sympathy with typhoon victims in the Visayas.

Typhoon Yolanda “is a reminder,” a call for unity among all people, irrespective of cultural identities and political convictions, to face boldly these hardships and work together to mitigate, if not prevent, future disasters, the two peace panels pointed out.

Residents of Marawi City, meanwhile, have positively been responding to a local 'piso-piso' collection campaign by cause-oriented groups and peace advocacy outfits, said Samira Gutoc, a former sectoral representative to the 24-seat Regional Legislative Assembly in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Marawi City is a component area of ARMM, which also covers all of the city’s neighbouring towns in Lanao del Sur.

“We have been seeing Maranaws from all walks of life shell out money to help sustain the rehabilitation of typhoon-ravaged communities in the Visayas,” said Gutoc, now a full-time peace advocate involved in various humanitarian projects.

Civil society organizations in Marawi City and Lanao del Sur, local officials and peace-advocacy groups jointly launched early this week the 'Oplan Tabang Visayas' in a bid to pool their relief efforts together.

The inter-agency, multi-sectoral initiative has a makeshift monetary collection center inside the campus of the Mindanao State University in Marawi City.

The administration of the university, which is Mindanao’s biggest state-run school, has also been helping push the objectives of the relief campaign forward.

Gutoc said different Moro organizations have also been collecting 'malong,' a traditional protective outfit resembling a sack with open hemlines, also used as a blanket, from Meranaw families, to be donated to displaced residents of Visayas.

Gutoc said Meranaw folks in Marawi City and Lanao del Sur are grateful to the local Catholic community, led by Fr. Chito Suganob, and the Christian members of local police units, and public school teachers, for helping in the relief efforts.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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