BRITISH RELIEF WORKERS: TYPHOON VICTIMS ARE 'INCREDIBLY RESILIENT' PEOPLE

Officers and crew of British ship HMS Illustrious have ended their relief mission in the country and will bring home with them memories of “incredibly resilient” people who smile despite the tragedy that hit them. The Royal Navy helicopter carrier left Manila Thursday morning after a two-week relief operations in typhoon-ravaged areas, a task that the ships’ officials described as an “inspiring experience.” “It has been an amazing story and experience for the ship’s company to see the resilience of the people of Panay in particular where we were operating,” said Capt. Mike Utley, the ship’s commanding officer, told reporters last Wednesday.

ALSO:  Majority of ‘Yolanda’ casualties unidentified

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) on Thursday said 94 percent of those who perished from the “Yolanda” super typhoon could not be identified because they were already in an advanced stage of decomposition. The casualties that were recovered from the municipalities of Tacloban, Tanauan and Palo were added to the NDRRMC’s tally after they were certified by local government and health authorities. As of Dec. 12, the death toll has risen to 5,982.

ALSO: Christmas tree rises amid rubble in Tacloban; A tree of hope

From the trash left behind by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” has risen a tree of hope. Despite the thousands of people killed and the destruction wrought by the worst typhoon to hit the country in decades, Christmas will still be observed in this unsinkable city. Signifying the start of the Yuletide season, a 55-foot-high Christmas tree has been lighted to the cheers of residents on the grounds of Tacloban City Hall on Kanhura Hill. But it is no simple Christmas tree—its decor includes the used water bottles and galvanized iron pipes left behind by Yolanda when it raged through this city of 221,000 people on Nov. 8. The work took them two days to complete.


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British relief worker: Typhoon victims 'incredibly resilient' people

MANILA, DECEMBER 16, 2013 (PHILSTAR)  By Alexis Romero - Officers and crew of British ship HMS Illustrious have ended their relief mission in the country and will bring home with them memories of “incredibly resilient” people who smile despite the tragedy that hit them.

The Royal Navy helicopter carrier left Manila Thursday morning after a two-week relief operations in typhoon-ravaged areas, a task that the ships’ officials described as an “inspiring experience.”

“It has been an amazing story and experience for the ship’s company to see the resilience of the people of Panay in particular where we were operating,” said Capt. Mike Utley, the ship’s commanding officer, told reporters last Wednesday.

“Everywhere we went, people were prepared to work hard to get their villages and their communities back together. It was inspiring for everybody,” he added.

Air workers also praised the typhoon victims’ positive disposition despite the widespread impact of “Yolanda,” the strongest cyclone to hit the Philippines.

“[They are] extraordinary people… I went ashore every single day to the places we were operating and everywhere I went, everyone smiles despite the sometimes horrific destruction, you know, 90 or 95 percent of their homes were destroyed but they still smile,” Utley said.

Abigail Perry, humanitarian adviser of the United Kingdom’s (UK) Department for International Development (DFID), recalled how the typhoon victims appreciated the aid workers’ efforts.

“(There was an) initial sense of shock because of what happened to them but they were so welcoming. There were various signs saying ‘thank you’ to the teams on the ground. It was quite an emotional thing,” Perry said.

“It was an incredible welcome an incredible reaction and yes an incredibly resilient people,” she added.

HMS Illustrious or “Lusty” arrived in the Philippines last November 25 to deliver vital supplies and to provide ‘hands on’ help to Filipinos living in remote islands hit by the typhoon.

The aid mission in the Philippines is one of the last tasks of the 35-year old ship, which is scheduled to be decommissioned next year.

“With commercial operations increasingly able to meet the requirements of the Philippines, there is a decreased reliance on military assets and it is right that we return to our long planned commitments around the world,” said Commodore Clive Walker, commander of the UK Joint Task Force I the Philippines.

The DFID will continue to coordinate the British contribution to the government’s relief efforts.

”I think I will pay tribute to the government and the people for their resilience because if we look at the number of casualties, tragic as that is, the reality is when we compare that to the number of those who died in the Indonesian tsunami its relatively small,” said DFID team leader John Adlam.

The death toll from “Yolanda” has reached almost 6,000 but it is way smaller than that of the tsunami in Indonesia, which left more than 200,000 persons dead in 2004.

Lusty’s company of 650 officers and personnel and 300 additional troops from other major services have also repaired buildings, cleared debris, and delivered medical care to various parts of Visayas.

During the two-week mission, the ship has delivered 154 tons of stores, 142 tons of food and 15,869 tarpaulins. About 40,000 people benefited from the humanitarian mission.

“It’s an experience that the ships’ company will never forget,” Utley said.

Trevor Lewis, charge d'affaires of the British embassy, said their government would work closely with Philippine authorities to determine how they can help in the recovery efforts.

“What we need to avoid is overlap of efforts, duplication of efforts and duplication of resources. We need to make sure that what we do meet the requirements of the government and also meet the requirements of the international community,” Lewis said.

“We are still confident that the aid we have distributed to the Philippines have reached the people that needs to be reached and we will continue to work with the government and the NGOs (non-government organizations) to make sure that remains the case.”

The British government’s contribution to the humanitarian efforts has exceeded £60 million while that of the British public has reached £73 million.

FROM MANILA BULLETIN

Majority of ‘Yolanda’ casualties unidentified by Mary Rose A. Hogaza December 12, 2013 (updated)


NDRRMC said 94 percent of those who perished from
the “Yolanda” could not be identified because they were
already in an advanced stage of decomposition.

MANILA -The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) on Thursday said 94 percent of those who perished from the “Yolanda” super typhoon could not be identified because they were already in an advanced stage of decomposition.

The casualties that were recovered from the municipalities of Tacloban, Tanauan and Palo were added to the NDRRMC’s tally after they were certified by local government and health authorities. As of Dec. 12, the death toll has risen to 5,982.

Earlier, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said they will not be able to identify all the casualties because of the bodies’ severe stage of decomposition. It appears also that not many have medical or dental records of their missing persons.

Meanwhile, the disaster agency reported that the number of missing individuals due to super typhoon Yolanda has not changed for more than a week. NDRRMC said since December 3, 1, 779 individuals remain missing, noting that normally as the death toll rises, the number of missing decreases. But the NDRRMC said none of the recovered bodies matched any of the missing.

Latest data also show that Yolanda left 27, 022 individuals injured. The killer typhoon also affected 12 million individuals and displaced 3.9 million individuals.

On November 8, Yolanda hit the Philippines and made history as the strongest typhoon that ever made landfall in the whole world.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Christmas tree rises amid rubble in Tacloban By Joey A. Gabieta Inquirer Visayas 2:08 am | Friday, December 13th, 2013


TREE OF HOPE Hundreds of people watch the lighting
of the giant Christmas tree in front of City Hall. But it is
no simple Christmas tree—its decor includes the used
water bottles and galvanized iron pipes left behind by
Yolanda when it raged through this city of 221,000 people
on Nov. 8.  VER NOVENO/CONTRIBUTOR

TACLOBAN CITY—From the trash left behind by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” has risen a tree of hope.

Despite the thousands of people killed and the destruction wrought by the worst typhoon to hit the country in decades, Christmas will still be observed in this unsinkable city.

Signifying the start of the Yuletide season, a 55-foot-high Christmas tree has been lighted to the cheers of residents on the grounds of Tacloban City Hall on Kanhura Hill.

But it is no simple Christmas tree—its decor includes the used water bottles and galvanized iron pipes left behind by Yolanda when it raged through this city of 221,000 people on Nov. 8.

“The tragedy should not give us a reason not to celebrate Christmas and I am glad that City Hall has its own Christmas tree,” said Bella Cular, 45, whose house on Santo Niño Street was among those destroyed by the typhoon

“That gives us hope that all is not lost, that Christmas is still with us,” Cular said.

Little stars

The unique tree was put up by personnel of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), who also used materials from their office.

Senior Jail Officer Eric Elizan of the BJMP, who designed the tree, said his men collected some 1,500 empty and colored plastic bottles, which they then cut into little stars.

The plastic bottles and iron pipes were collected from the debris in the streets.

Aside from BJMP personnel, 70 inmates helped cut the bottles into small stars.

The BJMP personnel then assembled the tree in front of the City Hall on Monday using the iron pipes as the frame of the tree. They attached the little stars and about 500 lights onto it.

Very special tree

The work took them two days to complete.

Elizan described the Christmas tree as “very special” considering that Tacloban is still reeling from the effects of Yolanda.

“It may look simple to some but for us, it’s very special as this will bring joy to our people. It heralds that Christmas is coming despite the tragedy,” Elizan said.

City Mayor Alfred Romualdez, his wife, Councilor Cristina Gonzalez-Romualdez, and cousin businessman Benjamin Philip Romualdez led the lighting ceremony.

‘It inspires us all’

Members of the Tzu Chi Foundation, a Taiwanese group, witnessed the event.

The foundation has launched a cash-for-work program, giving temporary employment to more than 10,000 typhoon survivors in the city. They clean up the streets strewn with debris.

Councilor Romualdez said it was “nice” to put up a Christmas tree after the onslaught by Yolanda.

Fr. Amadeo Alvero, spokesman of the Archdiocese of Palo, said the tree would “inspire us all because we know that in spite of what happened, we can still celebrate Christmas.”

Faith endures

Alvero said that the traditional Simbang gabi (dawn Mass), to start on Dec. 15, would be held even if churches had been destroyed or damaged—and even without electricity.

Alvero is one of the assisting priests of Santo Niño Church in the biggest parish in Tacloban.

“We will continue with the highest form of prayer, which is the Holy Mass, despite the tragedy,” Alvero said. “We may have lost everything but our faith will continue to live.”

Curfew remains

Chief Supt. Henry Lusanas, police regional director for Eastern Visayas, said the 8 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew in the city would not be lifted as long as the situation had not normalized.

The curfew will be lifted only when power is completely restored in the city, Lusanas said.

Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla has vowed to restore power by Dec. 24. At present, parts of the city’s main streets have power from the Leyte II Electric Cooperative.

As of Thursday, the official death toll from Yolanda stood at 5,982, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

Of that number, 5,133 were from Leyte—including 2,367 unidentified victims in Tacloban.

There are still 1,779 missing and more than 27,000 injured.

Damage to infrastructure has reached P18.2 billion while damage to agriculture stands at P17.3 billion.

A total of 12.1 million people were affected by the storm, 3.9 million of whom were displaced, the NDRRMC said.

Nearly 94,000 people are staying in over 300 evacuation centers.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development said it had distributed 2.9 million food packs and nearly 323,000 liters of water to survivors.—With a report from Nikko Dizon


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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