ONE MONTH AFTER 'YOLANDA' PH FACES HUGE CHALLENGES

A month after one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded hit this country, masses of survivors are living amid rubble in rebuilt shanty homes and experts say reconstructing destroyed communities will take years. The sight of people sleeping and cooking in wasteland towns highlights the overwhelming problems as an initial, frenzied emergency relief effort transforms into one focused on long-term rehabilitation.

ALSO: Staying strong, Army soldier starts rebuilding

Yes, Yolanda, there will be Christmas in Tacloban City and other areas devastated by the supertyphoon a month ago. Residents, like this family in San Jose district in Tacloban, are rebuilding and have in fact started to celebrate the season by putting up Christmas trees amid the rubble of their homes.

ALSO: In the eye of the storm: TV reporter tells his story

(Editor’s Note: The writer, Rodrigo 'jIGGY' Manicad, Jr. is senior news producer and anchor for GMA 7.) "I will return to Tacloban this week—as a journalist and a survivor. With P200,000 entrusted to me by about 2,000 boatmen of Pagsanjan town in Laguna province, I will start a soup kitchen for those who remain in the city, and perhaps outside it. And bring school supplies for about a thousand kids. I also need to go back to meet my fears and deal with my trauma head on. This story, my story, has to have closure."


ONE MONTH AFTER 'YOLANDA' PH FACES HUGE CHALLENGES


http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/files/2013/12/Yolanda-Tacloban.jpg
A typhoon survivor stands on rubbish in Tacloban, central Philippines on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. One month since Typhoon Haiyan, signs of progress in this shattered Philippine city are mixed with reminders of the scale of the disaster and the challenges ahead: Bodies are still being uncovered from beneath the debris. Tens of thousands are living amid the ruins of their former lives, underneath shelters made from scavenged materials and handouts. AP

TACLOBAN CITY, DECEMBER 9, 2013 (INQUIRER) By Bong Lozada Agence France-Presse - A month after one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded hit this country, masses of survivors are living amid rubble in rebuilt shanty homes and experts say reconstructing destroyed communities will take years.

The sight of people sleeping and cooking in wasteland towns highlights the overwhelming problems as an initial, frenzied emergency relief effort transforms into one focused on long-term rehabilitation.

“A lot of people have received emergency assistance, but this is just the beginning,” Matthew Cochrane, a spokesman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the worst-hit city of Tacloban, told AFP.

The Philippines endures more than 20 major storms a year but Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) was the most destructive on record, with at least 5,796 people killed and another 1,779 missing, according to government data.

Yolanda also made history as having the strongest winds ever recorded to make landfall, striking the eastern island of Samar with gusts of 315 kilometers an hour.

But surprise storm surges proved to be more devastating than the winds, sending walls of water up to two storeys high through dozens of mostly poor coastal communities on Samar and neighboring Leyte island.

More than a million homes were damaged or destroyed, while water rushed through schools and other supposedly safe coastal buildings used as evacuation centers, killing many people sheltering there.
Permanent homes a top priority
Cochrane said one of the top priorities, exactly one month after Yolanda struck on November 8, was building new homes and communities for roughly 500,000 families.

But with the process expected to take up to five years and cost billions of dollars, many people have already left evacuation centres and started the rebuilding themselves, often using salvaged material.

In Tacloban, 81-year-old Gnerio Trinidad sat at the weekend inside her tiny wooden home that was rebuilt on stilts above a putrid swamp of debris, as her neighbours threw broken furniture and shattered coconut trees onto a fire.

“I’m afraid that another typhoon will come, but there’s nowhere else to go… if the government gives us another place to live, we will move,” Trinidad said as her three grandchildren played in the house.

In a neighboring district, 18-year-old Ronnie Melaflor had recently finished erecting a makeshift Christmas tree using a bamboo pole and tinsel. It stood on broken concrete and tiles next to his family’s wooden hut.

“We can’t put a tree inside, but I still want to celebrate Christmas,” said Melaflor, who escaped the devastation wrought upon his community by sheltering with his seven siblings and parents in a nearby school.

Outside of the cities, the government and relief workers are rushing to help tens of thousands of farmers who lost their livelihoods in the storm.

The next rice harvest must be planted this month, so urgent programmes are underway to clear farms of debris, fix irrigation channels and get seeds out to remote areas.

“This is a huge issue for food security… it’s going to be an enormous challenge to meet the deadline,” Ian Bray, a spokesman for international charity Oxfam, told AFP.

Hundreds of thousands of people will also need some form of help to address the mental trauma of living through what many in the mainly Catholic country have likened to hell.

“In a disaster like this it’s not just about meeting the physical reconstruction needs, it’s about addressing the mental scars,” said International Federation of the Red Cross spokesman Patrick Fuller.

Church services on Sunday were part of that healing process, with survivors listening to sermons focused on hope and resilience.

“Whatever hardships and sufferings we have had, we should try to move on and forget and start all over again,” Father Isagani Petilos told a morning mass at Tacloban’s Santo Nino Church, which still has missing windows and holes in its roof.

“We have to learn to accept what happened in our lives, and we can still hope that there’s a beautiful life ahead.”

But candlelight prayer vigils at mass graves as night fell, to commemorate one month since the disaster, showed the priest’s advice would be impossible for many to follow.

Hundreds turned up at the grave sites to light candles and chant prayers in unison, including Irish Ann Maraya, a 20-year-old nanny who lost her parents, sister, aunt and an uncle.

“I came to pray that their souls will rest in peace,” Maraya said.

‘Big differences’

Another UN official, Luiza Carvalho, said that although reconstruction efforts in the affected areas went full swing, but the United Nations said that a full rehabilitation is still a long way to go.

Carvalho, the resident and Humanitarian Coordinator of the United Nations to the Philippines, said that there have been “big differences” that happened in Tacloban a month after her first visit, a statement from the UN said.

She added that Tacloban airport has resumed operations, water systems reconnected and the city hall has opened to continue its functions.

“It is encouraging to see significant progess in such a short space of time but we need to remember there is a long road ahead,” Carvalho said.

The UN has supported the Philippine government in all of the response concerning relief and rehabilitation efforts and has so far reached three million people with food assistance and more than 20,000 families received rice seeds.

According to the report, 100,000 children up to 2-years-old, pregnant women and new mothers would be assisted with feeding programs for the next six months.

Medical teams are covering 25 municipalities and cash-for-work projects were launched to re-ignite the economy.

The UN statement said shelter and livelihood remained as the top priority for the humanitarian efforts to get the people’s situations back to normal.

“The people of the Philippines are known the world over for their resilience,” Carvalho said. “You just have to see Tacloban and how the recovery of the city, which was so badly damaged, is underway,” Carvalho said.

“Working with the government, the humanitarian community will continue to assist in the creation of livelihoods and to provide shelter solutions for the many people whose homes were destroyed.”

In the report, the next challenges would be the reopening of schools and the restoration of public buildings.

Also, the international community has rallied to support the affected communities and would still continue the efforts well into 2014 if needed.

“We are grateful for the international outpouring of support and we ask that it continues in the months ahead to enure people have access to sufficient food and clean water as well as to help provide the tools and equipment to enable them to rebuild their homes,” said Carvalho.

“These inputs are essential to enable people to return to a productive and healthy life.”

Staying strong, Army soldier starts rebuilding By Nikko Dizon Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:30 am | Sunday, December 8th, 2013


http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/files/2013/12/tacloban-christmas-tree-yolanda-1.jpg
Yes, Yolanda, there will be Christmas in Tacloban City and other areas devastated by the supertyphoon a month ago. Residents, like this family in San Jose district in Tacloban, are rebuilding and have in fact started to celebrate the season by putting up Christmas trees amid the rubble of their homes. RICHARD A. REYES

INFANTA, QUEZON—Army Pfc. Jessie Ponce, a brawny 27-year-old soldier, took a deep breath and shook his head to hold back the tears.

“I don’t want to show them that I am affected, too. If we will all show weakness, nothing will happen to us,” Ponce told me inside the nipa hut that served as office to the First Infantry Battalion’s Bravo Company under the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division here in Infanta.

The youngest in a brood of six, Ponce lost a brother, a sister, a sister-in-law, two young nephews and two nieces in the storm surge in Tacloban City at the height of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” on Nov. 8.

His mother, Winifreda, brothers Philip and Eric, their families, brother-in-law Lilo and nephew Cesar survived. It was for them that Ponce had to show a brave front.

Of the nine soldiers from the 1st IB who hailed from Eastern Visayas, it was only Ponce who lost family members in the storm.

I had wanted to find Ponce.

The day after the storm, his brother Eric came up to me at the Tacloban police headquarters while I helped people make calls on the satellite phones provided by Smart, this time not as a journalist. In my battle dress uniform, I literally wore my other identity as a Navy reserve officer that Saturday night.

Death message

Eric caught my attention because he staggered towards me. He was obviously in pain. He had his right hand on his left rib, and he bent a little to the left. He had fresh, shallow wounds on his arms and legs.

“Ma’am,” he said with a faint voice, his eyes red. “I am Eric Ponce, a police officer. My brother is in the Army. His name is Pfc. Jessie Ponce. He’s assigned in Laguna.”

Eric struggled with the message he wanted to send: “Please tell him our brother, sister and their children are dead. Our mother is alive.”

Eric also told me that many of his fellow police officers in the city were either dead or missing. I promised him I would find a way to reach the military headquarters in Manila. Eric simply said, “Thank you,” and left.

It was only on the morning of Nov. 11 that I managed to inform Col. Romeo Brawner of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Operations Office about Eric’s request to send a radio message to his brother.

Little did I know that around that time, Ponce had already begun his three-day journey from Laguna, where the 1st IB was based, to Tacloban to check on his family.

In the days I spent in the broken city, I saw how trying to find each other after the storm became an excruciating pursuit because of the uncertainty of it all. The search ends up only in three ways—joy, sorrow or a mixture of both.

I had to know whether the Ponce brothers found each other. Eric asking for my help often played out in my head, even after I had returned to Manila.

Two weeks ago, I asked the AFP Public Affairs Office to help me track down Ponce. I was told he was already in Quezon.

“I talked to my sister and brother a day before the storm. I told them they should leave their houses and stay with my mother because her house had a second floor,” Ponce said.

Ponce was used to such kind of disaster operations. Along with his fellow soldiers, he would help people evacuate from their homes in preparation for the onslaught of a typhoon.

On higher ground

In fact, Ponce had helped some residents move to higher ground as rains also lashed parts of Laguna a day before Yolanda struck Eastern Visayas.

“I wasn’t worried when the storm arrived in Tacloban that Friday. I didn’t feel uneasy. I knew they were all in our mother’s house,” Ponce said.

Because he was in the field, Ponce got to see on TV what had happened in Tacloban City only on Sunday night.

“The news showed videos of Ormoc, Dulag, Tolosa, Palo and finally Tacloban. I saw how badly hit the city was. I began to worry. I became very anxious. I couldn’t reach my siblings on their cell phones. The next morning, I asked my commander if I could go to Tacloban right away to check on my family,” Ponce said in Filipino.

Ponce and the other 2nd ID soldiers from the storm-ravaged provinces were immediately allowed to go on leave.
He stuffed his bags with canned goods and clothes, especially the ones his family could use. He bought medicines for his mother, who was recovering from a mild stroke. He made sure he had enough money with him.

He took a road trip back to his hometown, which he left when he felt it offered him nothing much for his future.

Backtrack

Ponce went to Manila in 2007 and found work as a “striker” in a military camp. He befriended an Army sergeant who was assigned to the office of then AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Alexander Yano.

In the company of the men in uniform, Ponce decided he wanted to become one of them. His friend helped him sign up for the Army.

In 2010, on his first visit since he left home, he told his family that he had become a soldier.

“There was a collective shock on their faces,” Ponce chuckled.

He is, after all, the baby of the family. But they were all happy for him. He finally found a stable job to secure his future. But in 2011, his father Carmelito died of a heart attack. Moreover, he had lost contact with his eldest sibling, Alvin, who had left for Manila to find a job.

Ponce arrived in Tacloban City in the morning of Nov. 13.

“I didn’t recognize the city. Wasak talaga (It was ruined). I was disoriented. I couldn’t find my way to our village … to think I grew up in Tacloban,” he said.

As he neared their village, a neighbor rushed to him. “He told me that our entire village was gone, that there was nothing to go back to, and that I should go to the evacuation center because my family was there,” Ponce narrated.

The neighbor also told him who had perished.

The bodies of his older brother Giovanni and his young son Aljur were found, still in each other’s arms. Giovanni’s wife, Marichu, and daughter Princess were dead as well.

The remains of his sister, Jocelyn, were found in the debris more than two weeks after the storm. Ponce was at the site with Jocelyn’s husband, Lilo, when she was recovered.

Jocelyn and Lilo’s children, John-John and Sharibal, were also killed. The bodies of Princess and John-John have yet to be recovered.

At the evacuation center, Ponce found Eric, Philip, their mother, Lilo, and their nephew, Cesar, Giovanni and Marichu’s eldest son. At 4 years old, Cesar had suddenly been orphaned.

Story behind loss

There, Ponce learned what had happened. The whole family had sought refuge in their mother’s home but the water kept rising until it reached the second floor. They all hung on a wood in the ceiling but it gave in after huge logs hit the walls of the house.

Eric held their mother tight as they clung to the wood. But his siblings and their children fell into the water. Their neighbors struggled in the water as well.

Lilo tried to grab Jocelyn and their children but the current was strong. They just couldn’t hold on to each other. Something also hit Lilo in the chest, another log perhaps, that weakened him.

“Lilo was angry with himself because he grabbed every person he saw in the water and lifted them to wherever they could hang on. But his own family, he wasn’t able to save,” Ponce said.

“I told him there was no one to blame for what happened,” he added.

In the rubble of their mother’s home, Ponce and a friend took shots of hard drink. They needed the alcohol at night to numb the pain in their hearts.

Their village, Barangay 35 in Pampango district, was nearly deserted, but Ponce decided to stay in their home. It was there, under the night sky, that he planned what to do the next day: clear the debris in the house, see how he could repair the house, look for food, and find the bodies of his missing loved ones.

His military training kicked in, especially in the clinical planning of his activities and keeping his focus on the tasks he wanted to accomplish in a day. To do it, Ponce made a conscious effort not to dwell too much on his loss.

“Stay strong … don’t entertain negative thoughts,” Ponce would tell himself. His grief should not get in the way of his being a soldier as well. He was, in fact, in Quezon for his mandatory marksmanship training. He should not be distracted by his mourning.

He also made the decisions for the family, such as giving strict orders for them to stay in the evacuation center where at least food and water were being rationed regularly.

“I was the only one in our family who could actually think straight that time. Everybody was in shock. Lilo was often spaced out,” Ponce said.

New life

On Nov. 19, his sixth day in Tacloban, Ponce received a most-awaited news: his wife, Shielma, had given birth to their first child.

“I didn’t know you could be happy and sad at the same time,” Ponce said. His mother cried upon learning that she had a new granddaughter.

Ponce was to see baby Reign Jeshiel only on Nov. 30. As expected of a soldier, he reported first to his unit after leaving Tacloban the day after Jocelyn’s body was found.

“My daughter looked so fragile, I was so afraid to hold her because I might break her bones,” Ponce said, adding that Shielma, a schoolteacher, thought he was acting crazy.

Ponce was grateful that his wife and her whole family understood why he had to rush to Tacloban even when she was so close to giving birth.

Yesterday, he was back in Tacloban City. He brought his mother’s medicines again and he began to repair their house. Ponce was also thankful that the military understood his need to attend to his family.

Shortly before the storm, Eric was persuading him to spend Christmas with their mother and the rest of the family in Tacloban.

Dec. 24 is Ponce’s birthday, which coincides with Eric’s graduation from police training that would finally make him a full-fledged cop. By that time, Shielma should have already given birth.

For Ponce’s family, there is so much to celebrate this Christmas.

“They asked me to bring only one thing, a ball. They told me that John-John and Aljur were always fighting over one ball they had in the house,” Ponce said. “It’s so easy to buy one. But there’s no Aljur or John-John to give it to now.”

Ponce said he had yet to think about his birthday or Christmas. He’s still trying to comprehend the tragedy, and in picking up the pieces of his family’s shattered life, he’s taking it one day at a time.

In the eye of the storm: TV reporter tells his story By Jiggy Manicad Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:29 am | Sunday, December 8th, 2013


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Photo by Ryan Leagogo/INQUIRER.net

(Editor’s Note: Manicad is senior news producer and anchor for GMA 7.)

SAN JOSE, TACLOBAN - For the first time in the many years that I have been a television journalist, I prayed hard while I did my work, as if it were my last assignment.

My crew and I were right in the middle of the monster winds and whipping rain brought by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” in Tacloban City.

We had kept the camera rolling to document this powerful storm that would leave thousands of people dead, millions homeless, and a people realizing that in the fight between man and nature, nature always has the upper hand.

A month after Yolanda (international name: “Haiyan”) struck, I can’t help thinking how fortunate my team was to have survived the storm’s onslaught.

Whenever I see stories about the survivors, especially the children, I am shocked at the magnitude of the devastation that the storm brought.

Yolanda was different from all other storms that I had covered.

I can never forget the waves turning sideways, to their left and smashing right onto communities, not the coastline. I would later learn that the waves pushed five or six ships into Anibong village in Tacloban, killing scores of people.

The storm surge also killed Roel Bacarra, one of three drivers we hired as soon as we arrived in the city on Nov. 6.

Roel was driving his newly acquired Mitsubishi Adventure, on his way to pick up our GMA News TV Quick Response Team (QRT) production people from their hotel when the water swallowed his vehicle.

His relatives found his body and his vehicle, as well as a laptop and lapel mic the QRT group left with him. His family returned these items to the team after informing them of Roel’s death.

I’m a victim, too

I was among the millions of people affected by this storm. This was the only time in my career that I considered myself a victim as well, not just a journalist who was sent to cover an event and report it.

Before Yolanda struck, I thought the assignment would be just like my other disaster coverage. I had never really experienced a direct hit because more often than not, the typhoons I covered changed paths.

My team, composed of video journalists Ding Lagoyo, Winston Lucas and me, went over the SOPs: make a list of the places we would rush to after the storm hits to get stories, do an ocular if possible, and stock up on supplies such as biscuits and water in case we get stranded while traveling.

On Thursday, Nov. 7, we went to the towns of Palo, Tanauan and Tolosa to get a feel of the preparations for the storm.

In Tanauan and Tolosa, mothers and their children were already in evacuation centers. The men were left to secure their homes. It was night when we arrived in Palo, where the mayor told us that the people had been advised that storm surge of up to 15 meters high was possible.

Back in Tacloban, I told our driver, Jun, to meet us early in the hotel on Friday. I told him we would have a tough day. It turned out to be an understatement.

The storm

At around 3 a.m. on Friday, I was awakened by strong winds. The glass windows in my hotel room started to rattle, as if they were resisting being blown in.

I managed to send a report to “Unang Hirit” and Super Radyo dzBB, where I mentioned that the walls of our hotel room were starting to crack from the pounding of the wind.

The whirling winds gave me the feeling that we were inside a washing machine. I saw the waiting sheds being toppled, and a coconut tree outside our room getting snapped in two. By 7:30 a.m., all communication lines, including the Internet, went dead.

Filming beside our hotel, we felt like ants being blown away. I saw a piece of tin roofing flying toward where we were standing. I shouted at Ding and Winston to watch out. I jumped back while Ding and Winston landed in a plant box in the hotel terrace.

After eight hours, the winds calmed. We decided to walk around the city to see the extent of damage from the storm.
Right away, we saw bodies—those of men, women and children—and animals.

Going on foot

We had a satellite in Palo. But since fallen trees and electric posts littered the roads, the only way to get there was by foot, which meant five to six hours’ walk.

We were worried about the team of my fellow reporter Micaela Papa. They were staying in a hotel that faced the sea. We had to find them ASAP.

As we waded through the flood and dodged debris, we saw how downtown Tacloban had been turned upside down. Vehicles lay on top of one another. Bodies were littered on the streets.

I was quite worried about leptospirosis, as I had a small cut on my left knee. But we had to get to Palo to get to the satellite. I decided I’d just have my prophylaxis later.

There were around 10 fatalities, mostly children, in Panalaron Central School that was used as an evacuation center. This was where I met Jaymar Caindoy who was carrying his dead child, 6-year-old Ellen Shane. She drowned in the evacuation center as the water rushed in.

This early, people started to ask for help—food and water, medicines for the wounded. But there were no authorities to hear the people’s pleas, boost their spirit or bring order.

We bumped into the Inquirer’s DJ Yap and Niño Jesus Orbeta in the streets of downtown Tacloban. They, too, had begun to record everything they saw. We all knew that our main problem was how to send our stories to Manila. Our best bet was our satellite in Palo.

People must know

Some journalists might think it was naïve of me to help DJ find a way to file his stories for the Inquirer. In a world away from Yolanda, journalists do not exactly help one another. You even find a way to keep the others from sending stories to ensure your scoop.

But this was no time for competition. People outside of Leyte must know what had happened to all of us who got caught in the storm. The more avenues for information to get out, the better.

I told DJ it might be possible for him to use our satellite communications, similar to an intercom that connects our team in Palo to our headquarters in Quezon City, and maybe, dictate his story, word for word, to a GMA 7 staffer in Manila, who would then e-mail it to the Inquirer.

Niño, on the other hand, could digitize his photos and our satellite engineer could send them to GMA 7 the way we send videos, then our staff in Manila would convert it again to photos and e-mail them to the Inquirer.

But we found our equipment wet and damaged, and the only thing we could do was to do a live broadcast.
Ding, Winston, DJ, Niño and I began our long walk to Palo. The biscuits and water we had started to dwindle.

Some residents approached us and asked for some. We shared whatever we had, especially with the children.
We reached Palo by nightfall. The rain was pounding. Our satellite team was in their truck, still traumatized.

Together with the team of Love Añover, they sought shelter inside the cathedral at the height of the storm, only to see the roof getting torn off piece by piece.

Broadcast from Palo

I managed to convince the team to set up the satellite. Ernie, our systems engineer, tried to blow-dry all our equipment. The others repaired the audio and lighting systems.

Finally, I got on the air on “24 Oras.” By 9 p.m., I was again back on the air, this time on “State of the Nation” with Jessica Soho on GMA News TV. After my 35-minute report, we decided to walk back to Tacloban to look for fuel and more supplies for the entire satellite team and mine.

It was eerie on the road. As the wind blew, damaged roofs squeaked. We were also aware that on the roads lay the bodies of the storm’s victims.

We arrived in Tacloban before dawn and found Micaela and her crew sleeping on the floor of our badly damaged hotel. I invited her team, that of Kapuso Foundation and Al Jazeera to share our room.

We all stayed in the hotel. The next day, people were a lot hungrier, thirstier and more desperate.

I, too, was already tired, hungry, but had to be positive. Like everyone else, I wasn’t a journalist anymore. I was a victim now. I was among those who walked the streets like zombies. But I couldn’t show this to my team. I had to be strong and act like a leader. Once again, I found myself praying. Really, really hard.

The looting

We returned to Palo, again on foot. People asked me for water, for help. I saw the looting. I saw one man stealing a cash register. I shouted at him: “Hey, can you eat that? Put it back! You’re shameless!”

Others began to shout at him. The man dropped the cash register for a few seconds then picked it up and ran away.

We arrived in Palo in time for “24 Oras Weekend.” People started to swarm around me, thrusting pieces of paper at me so that I could read their names and tell their relatives that they were alive. (Later, our senior vice president for news and public affairs, Marissa Flores, would ask our team to post these “proof of life” notes online, and was later picked up and storified by The New York Times, Asian Wall Street Journal, BBC and CNN.)

As I wrapped up my report, I told my producers I was going to do a “walk through” of the people standing behind me so that their families watching our newscast would know they were OK.

Among those who stood behind me was Niño. His neighbors in Guinobatan town, Albay province, saw the newscast and ran to his parents’ house to tell them that he “had been found!”

I also learned that the Inquirer editors were much relieved to hear from me that DJ, who was too shy to face the camera, was OK as well.

Return to Manila

We returned to Tacloban, where we all took a C-130 flight to Cebu on Sunday morning—journalists and fleeing residents alike. From there, we caught a flight back to Manila and straight to our waiting families’ arms.

My wife, Marnie, told me she had been praying hard for me. My daughters, Sam and Sabina, told me how much they missed me. They were the ones who helped me adjust to the world away from an unspeakable tragedy.

A few days ago, Sam told me she wanted to share her and Sabina’s toys with the children in Leyte who had lost their own toys. My daughters, young as they were, could somehow comprehend the misery brought by Yolanda.

In search of closure

I will return to Tacloban this week—as a journalist and a survivor.

With P200,000 entrusted to me by about 2,000 boatmen of Pagsanjan town in Laguna province, I will start a soup kitchen for those who remain in the city, and perhaps outside it. And bring school supplies for about a thousand kids.

I also need to go back to meet my fears and deal with my trauma head on. This story, my story, has to have closure.

FROM FACEBOOK: About the writer


Rodrigo Jiggy Defeo Manicad Jr. is the son of Rodrigo Manicad Sr. and Lusviminda Defeo Manicad. He was born on the 15th of November 1974. Biography Rodrigo Jiggy Defeo Manicad Jr. is the son of Rodrigo Manicad Sr. and Lusviminda Defeo Manicad. He was born on the 15th of November 1974.

He finished elementary and secondary in San Pablo Colleges. He took Mass Communication in the University of the Philippines. As a kid, he loved animals specially dogs. As a matter of fact, his dog Tikboy was chosen as one of the K-9 dogs of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

He worked as assistant editor of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). Years later, he found himself back in Manila, becoming one of the writers of the popular show Magandang Gabi Bayan in Channel 2.

He later transferred to GMA 7 for he wanted to be become a newscaster. Fortunately, he got the shot and is currently working as a reporter of Reporters Notebook"


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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