HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK...

'DEAD WALKING. CHILDREN VOICES CRYING FOR HELP' IN TACLOBAN'S BARANGAY 88   

OCT 31 --PHOTO: THE HAUNTING Those who died in this area of San Jose district, Tacloban City, the worst hit during Supertyphoon “Yolanda,” swarm with “voices crying for help,” strange footsteps, dogs eerily howling, the dead walking, according to residents there. RAFFY LERMA TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines—In February, a woman asked pedicab driver Ariel Avanzeńa to take her home to Barangay 88, San Jose district, considered the worst-hit area when Super Typhoon “Yolanda” struck ťlast year. The woman turned out to be one of the more than 400 people who died in Sitio Alimasag when the entire area was wiped out by storm surges spawned by the strongest typhoon to make landfall. Avanzeńa was just one of several residents in Sitio (settlement) Alimasag who claimed to have either seen ghosts or felt the presence of spirits a few days after Yolanda (international name: Haiyan).

The 24-year-old driver said that on Feb. 16, a woman disembarked from a jeepney, boarded his pedicab and asked to be taken home, just a few meters away from his own house. They talked during the five-minute ride. Their topic was the devastation caused by Yolanda. Before disembarking, the woman gave him P10 for fare and went inside the house. Among those killed ---The next day, Avanzeńa asked his father if he knew the woman who lived near their house. “My father told me that woman, whom he identified as Alice Magdua, was among those killed during the typhoon and remained missing up to this time,”ťAvanzeńa said. The experience had so shaken him that he didn’t work for almost a week. When he resumed work, Avanzeńa made sure that he was home before 8 p.m.—the time when he “met”ťMagdua. Magdua also seen ----Another resident of the village, Jamie Salode, 19, said she thought she also saw Magdua on a night in February. Salode said she was sitting by the window when Magdua passed by. “Before I saw her, the dogs started to howl as if they had seen something or somebody,” she said. Magdua’s house was located off a road from the main street of Barangay (village) 88. Salode’s house lies near the entrance of the sitio. Other residents of Barangay 88 claim to have seen ghosts or felt the presence of spirits. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Haunting tales abound in Phl  

NOV 1 ---Skulls are seen on ledges inside Opdas Cave in Kabayan, Benguet. Unearthed in 1971, the mass burial cave of the Ibaloi tribe has about 200 human skulls and skeletons, which have been carbon dated to be from 500 to 1,000 years old. VAL RODRIGUEZ MANILA, Philippines - For more than three decades, single mother Rosemary (not her real name), 45, has been suffering from dizziness, headaches, sleepless nights and body pains. She did not know where her sickness originated, but a local healer recently told her that an engkanto or spirit had been pursuing her since she was 14 years old, when she was still living in their family’s ancestral home in Parańaque. Such stories are common in the Philippines. Cultural anthropologist Nestor Castro, a professor at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, explained that supernatural beliefs exist primarily so that people can have an explanation for things they do not understand.

“In societies simple in terms of science and technology, sometimes they don’t understand natural phenomena, so they create beliefs to explain these things,” he told The STAR. But Castro stressed that it is just one possible explanation. “One other possible explanation is that they do indeed exist. Who are we to question people’s beliefs, especially those who saw it?” he said. He, however, cited a possible psychological explanation, saying people tend to believe what they want to believe: engkantos, angels, gods and other supernatural beings. “There is no particular bias against any religion,” he said. Voices, contusions ---“It’s really unusual. Sometimes I hear voices of males calling my name. I don’t really know why I have to be in this situation,” she told The STAR. * READ MORE...

(ALSO) ‘Yolanda’ survivors’ wish: Peace for missing kin 

NOV 1 ---PHOTO: FAMILIES of victims of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” release flowers and candles out to sea to remember their loved ones at Barangay 88 in San Jose district, Tacloban City, after a Mass that commemorated the departed. RAFFY LERMA
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines—Twelve-year-old Angeline Yano threw flowers into the waters of Cancabato Bay, wishing that her mother and five siblings were now at peace. She also prayed that she be guided so she could find the bodies of her mother and three siblings, especially since it has been almost a year since Supertyphoon “Yolanda” pummeled this city and the rest of the Visayas on Nov. 8, 2013. “I wish to see their bodies. I miss my mother and my siblings, especially Aira Mae,”ť Angeline said, crying.

Angeline was among about 100 people who attended the Mass officiated by Fr. Hector Villamil for about 400 people who died in Sitio Mahusay, Barangay 88, the worst-hit village in Tacloban. The Mass was held at the open field in Sitio Mahusay, a few meters from the Cancabato Bay, where storm surges spawned by Yolanda pummeled this city. Angeline was accompanied by her aunt because her father, Tobias Jr., was out at sea, fishing. Only Angeline and Tobias Jr. survived the wrath of Yolanda. Her mother, Anita, 35, and five siblings perished during the killer typhoon. Of the five siblings, only the bodies of Anthony, 16, and Tobias III, 11, were found. The bodies of her other siblings—Annalou, 10; Annaliza, 4; and Aira Mae, 2—and her mother were still missing. Sitio leader Philip Lumbre said 100 people from Mahusay remained missing, including Angeline’s mother and three siblings. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Tradition, reunions bring Filipinos to cemeteries on ‘day of the dead’

NOV 1 ---PHOTO: Thousands of Catholic Filipinos troop to Manila North Cemetery to honor the departed in the annual observance of All Saints’ Day Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014 in Manila, Philippines. Filipinos take their time, sometimes camping overnight at cemeteries, and memorial parks, as they pay homage to their departed loved ones by offering flowers and prayers. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)MANILA, Philippines — Millions across the Philippines packed into cemeteries Saturday to pay respects to their dead, in an annual tradition that combines Catholic religious rites with the country’s penchant for festivity.

The Church appealed for a solemn and prayerful observation of the “day of the dead” and urged against turning gravesites into picnic spots. Police set up frisking booths at cemetery gates to confiscate alcoholic beverages, playing cards, portable karaoke machines and weapons as huge crowds, including children and the elderly, endured slow-moving queues. “It is very important for Filipinos to pay respects to their dead. This is also a chance for a family reunion,” 21-year-old government worker Mary Joy Pasigan told Agence France-Presse at a cemetery north of the capital Manila. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Let’s remember the saints, too – Tagle  

NOV 1 --PHOTO: President Aquino gives away yellow wristbands to passengers while inspecting security arrangements at the bus loading area of the JAC Liner terminal in Pasay City yesterday as part of ‘Oplan Ligtas Biyahe’ for the observance of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. MANILA, Philippines - Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle urged the Catholic faithful to pray to the saints today. Tagle said the public should remember that Nov. 1 is All Saints’ Day and it is intended to remember and pray for the saints.

“The Catholic Church is not against having enjoyment, but let us put it at its proper place. Most especially, let us not forget the meaning of our celebration,” Tagle said over the Church-run Radio Veritas. Dioceses and religious groups have organized the March of Saints wherein children dress up like their favorite saints and parade around the neighborhood to remind the faithful of the significance of All Saints’ Day. Tagle said he is hoping that the March of Saints would help revive the real meaning of All Saints’ Day. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Public parks now among Leyte’s cemeteries for ‘Yolanda’ victims 

Tanauan, Leyte — 3,000 CROSSES: Some parks and other public centers are now included in the list of cemeteries in the province as a result of super-typhoon Yolanda’s devastation that left more than 8,000 people dead and missing. In this town, for instance, a plan to build a welcome marker at the center island near the boundary with Palo town has been changed. There will now be a memorial park to remember the more than 300 people buried there. “This is not the only place converted into a mass grave. In the town proper, for instance, hundreds of dead are also buried there and there is also a mass grave at the back of a chapel in one of the barangays here,” said Jojo Sagulia who was visiting a relative who was buried in what was supposed to be a welcome marker site here in Barangay Calugcog. Sagulia recalled that right after the typhoon, he and other local residents with dead relatives were looking for a burial place but could not found one, since most of the cemeteries were either covered with tons of debris or still flooded.

He said someone started digging up at the welcome marker sign, saying there was need to bury the bodies of the typhoon victims, as these had started to decompose. “The bodies were just lined up alongside the street. Some of us started digging. Fortunately, a backhoe was sent here to help us,” said Sagulia. Boy Rabano said he was among the first to dig graves for his nine-year-old brother and 56-year- old mother who had drowned in the storm surge brought by typhoon Yolanda. “It’s good news that the local government decided not to transfer all those who were buried here,” said Rabano as he cleared the area where his brother and his mother were buried. Both Rabano and Segulia said they were thankful that some priests, seminarians, and nuns went to the burial to pray for their relatives. “The bodies were just piled up before they were buried. It was not a decent burial but I am sure that they (the dead) would understand the situation that we were in when they were buried here,” said Segulia. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Noy may still get what he wants; special powers from Congress 

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino will likely get the special powers he requested from Congress to be able to deal with the looming power shortage next year, a lawmaker said over the weekend. Oriental Mindoro Rep. Rey Umali, chairman of the House committee on energy, however, said the authority would exclude the option to lease modular generator sets. “We will give the President emergency powers authorizing him to contract additional capacity minus the option of leasing,” Umali said. He said the power would be limited to other options such as the so-called Interruptible Load Program (ILP) and suspension of required permits for additional generating capacity that can be available by March 2015.

Umali said the House might be able to approve the emergency power request within the month or two weeks after Congress resumes session on Nov. 17. President Aquino has asked Congress for authority to tap additional capacity next year after Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla sounded the alarm over a looming power shortage in the summer of 2015. Petilla said the Luzon grid would need 9,011 megawatts, higher than this year’s demand of 8,717 MW on the back of the projected growth in the economy. He proposed to invoke Section 71 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001, the power reform law, to be able to tap additional capacity in the summer of 2015. The EPIRA, which privatized the power sector, prohibits the government from constructing power plants. However, Section 71 of the law states the President, upon determination of an imminent shortage of supply of electricity, may ask Congress for authority through a joint resolution, to establish additional generating capacity under such terms and conditions that Congress may approve. * READ MORE...


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‘Dead walking’ in Tacloban’s Barangay 88


THE HAUNTING Those who died in this area of San Jose district, Tacloban City, the worst hit during Supertyphoon “Yolanda,” swarm with “voices crying for help,” strange footsteps, dogs eerily howling, the dead walking, according to residents there. RAFFY LERMA

TACLOBAN CITY, NOVEMBER 3, 2014 (INQUIRER) Joey A. Gabieta @inquirerdotnet - In February, a woman asked pedicab driver Ariel Avanzeńa to take her home to Barangay 88, San Jose district, considered the worst-hit area when Super Typhoon “Yolanda” struck ťlast year.

The woman turned out to be one of the more than 400 people who died in Sitio Alimasag when the entire area was wiped out by storm surges spawned by the strongest typhoon to make landfall.

Avanzeńa was just one of several residents in Sitio (settlement) Alimasag who claimed to have either seen ghosts or felt the presence of spirits a few days after Yolanda (international name: Haiyan).

The 24-year-old driver said that on Feb. 16, a woman disembarked from a jeepney, boarded his pedicab and asked to be taken home, just a few meters away from his own house.

They talked during the five-minute ride. Their topic was the devastation caused by Yolanda.

Before disembarking, the woman gave him P10 for fare and went inside the house.

Among those killed

The next day, Avanzeńa asked his father if he knew the woman who lived near their house.

“My father told me that woman, whom he identified as Alice Magdua, was among those killed during the typhoon and remained missing up to this time,”ťAvanzeńa said.

The experience had so shaken him that he didn’t work for almost a week.

When he resumed work, Avanzeńa made sure that he was home before 8 p.m.—the time when he “met”ťMagdua.

Magdua also seen

Another resident of the village, Jamie Salode, 19, said she thought she also saw Magdua on a night in February.

Salode said she was sitting by the window when Magdua passed by. “Before I saw her, the dogs started to howl as if they had seen something or somebody,” she said.

Magdua’s house was located off a road from the main street of Barangay (village) 88. Salode’s house lies near the entrance of the sitio.

Other residents of Barangay 88 claim to have seen ghosts or felt the presence of spirits.

* San Jose is considered the worst-hit area in Tacloban, where more than 1,000 people died during storm surges spawned by Yolanda. At least 400 of them were from Sitio Alimasag.

Anna Mae Versoza, 19, and three months pregnant, said that days after the storm, dogs howled “eerily” every night.

“It was frightening and the hair on our backs would stand every time we heard the dogs howl. This would usually begin at midnight until the wee hours of morning. We could not sleep,”ťVersoza said.

Children’s voices

There were times when they heard “voices”ťasking for help.

“There was nobody outside but we could hear people shouting, asking for help and crying,” said another resident, Alfreda Ilo, 49.

“Sometimes, we would hear footsteps coming from different directions. We just prayed and waited for all of these to stop,”ťshe added.

Sometimes, they heard children’s voices crying for help.

‘Leave us in peace’

The same thing happened in nearby Sitio Payapay, also in San Jose district.

Loregilyn Baynaco, 27, and mother of two children aged 9 and 5, said the dogs would howl at night, followed by strange voices.

“It was scary. We could hear these voices just close to our tents. We could not sleep and would just pray and ask the spirits to leave us in peace,” she said.

Three bodies

Security guard Raymund Barbosa, 21, claimed he saw a man in one of the classrooms in Leyte Colleges, also in San Jose district, while doing his nightly rounds in February.

“He was just sitting there and then he vanished,”ťBarbosa said.

Barbosa said at least three bodies were found on the school grounds after the onslaught of Yolanda.

The lack of power supply at that time made Barangay 88 more eerie. But the screams, cries and voices subsided when power was restored in Barangay 88 in March.

The residents said they could still hear and feel the spirits’ presence but not as much as before.

Spiritualist Marcial Martinez said it was not surprising that some people would see or feel the spirits after the onslaught of the super typhoon.

“These people died unexpectedly during Yolanda and they could not accept that they had died,” he said.

Martinez, 60, lives with his wife, Virgie, and daughter Marian inside the Tacloban public cemetery in Barangay El Reposo, where around 50 people who died during the super typhoon were buried.

These spirits need prayers so they can find peace, said Martinez.

‘They wouldn’t leave’

He said these spirits usually roamed on Tuesdays and Fridays—the days when Catholics recite the Sorrowful Mystery when praying the rosary.

“In death, they are distressed. They don’t want to leave yet. But if we continue to pray for their souls, they will stop their visits,”ťMartinez said.

Fr. Amadeo Alvero, spokesman of the Archdiocese of Palo, agreed with Martinez, saying offering prayers would help these “unsettled spirits”ť to leave the earthly world.

They need prayers

“Perhaps the souls of many who died during Yolanda are asking for our prayers. For indeed, they need our prayers,” he said.

Alvero asked the faithful to remember those who perished during the super typhoon on All Souls’ Day on Nov. 2 and on Yolanda’s first anniversary on Nov. 8.

“Let us pray for their eternal repose,”ťAlvero said.

FROM PHILSTAR

Haunting tales abound in Phl By Jose Rodel Clapano and Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 1, 2014 - 12:00am 1 1 googleplus0 0


Skulls are seen on ledges inside Opdas Cave in Kabayan, Benguet. Unearthed in 1971, the mass burial cave of the Ibaloi tribe has about 200 human skulls and skeletons, which have been carbon dated to be from 500 to 1,000 years old. VAL RODRIGUEZ

MANILA, Philippines - For more than three decades, single mother Rosemary (not her real name), 45, has been suffering from dizziness, headaches, sleepless nights and body pains.

She did not know where her sickness originated, but a local healer recently told her that an engkanto or spirit had been pursuing her since she was 14 years old, when she was still living in their family’s ancestral home in Parańaque.

Such stories are common in the Philippines.

Cultural anthropologist Nestor Castro, a professor at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, explained that supernatural beliefs exist primarily so that people can have an explanation for things they do not understand.

“In societies simple in terms of science and technology, sometimes they don’t understand natural phenomena, so they create beliefs to explain these things,” he told The STAR.

But Castro stressed that it is just one possible explanation.

“One other possible explanation is that they do indeed exist. Who are we to question people’s beliefs, especially those who saw it?” he said.

He, however, cited a possible psychological explanation, saying people tend to believe what they want to believe: engkantos, angels, gods and other supernatural beings.

“There is no particular bias against any religion,” he said.

Voices, contusions

“It’s really unusual. Sometimes I hear voices of males calling my name. I don’t really know why I have to be in this situation,” she told The STAR.

* Rosemary said she found contusions in different parts of her body, prompting her mother to bring her to a doctor when she was 16 years old. The family doctor, however, failed to determine the cause of the symptoms and simply prescribed a tranquilizer to fight the pain caused by headaches and dizziness.

But her unusual experiences did not stop.

“I feel someone is looking at me every time. I feel I have company. I hear voices and there was a time that I heard snoring, but no one is beside me,” she said.

Rosemary said there is a constant smell of cigarettes, even while taking a bath.

“Once, when I finished taking a bath, I (noticed) several bruises on the left part of my arms… It wasn’t there before I took a bath,” she recounted.

She also cited instances when she survived “freak accidents.”

“I had three accidents. But it’s like someone is with me all the time that I was saved from them,” she said.

Recently, Rosemary was shocked to see a reddish bruise on her upper right leg with what appeared to be a face of a man. This prompted her to consult a popular healer in Rizal, undergoing the ritual commonly known as “tawas.”

Rosemary said the result was clear: she was being haunted by an engkanto, who has followed her from her old house to the condominium where she now lives with her daughter.

Upon learning of the engkanto, the healer told Rosemary to spill agua colonia in her restroom to make the elementals leave.

She also received what is commonly known as pangontra to counter the elemental.

But only time can tell if this will solve Rosemary’s problems. For now, the mystery remains.

Castro noted that stories about the supernatural tend to increase in times of calamities as people look for something to blame or to trust in.

Belief in good spirits is also prevalent in instances when people ask duwende (dwarf) for numbers to bet in a lottery.

“Filipinos always want to be sure, so when someone is sick, we go to the doctor. But we also ask the opinion of a local healer, pray in the Church and offer incense to the Buddha,” he said.

“This is who we are, we want results, regardless of the process,” he added.

Elementals in the 21st century

But Castro said that as societies become more technologically advanced, it is possible that belief in the supernatural may diminish as previously unexplained phenomena are now understood by science.

“But admittedly, there are still things that, up to now, can’t still be explained by science,” he said.

The anthropologist noted that the advances in mass media, particularly the Internet, are a contributing factor in the continuing proliferation of urban legends and stories about supernatural beings.

He cited instances when a video supposedly showing students being possessed, which has recently gone viral, has enriched the discussion on these concepts, regardless of whether they believe the claim or not.

Media – with the quick transfer of information from one society to another through films, among others – also play a role in the “borrowing” of culture.

He cited the Hollywood interpretation of vampires and how they are likened to the local aswang, even as these are relatively different creatures.

“I don’t look at cultural borrowing as something totally negative,” he said. “But having said that, we should be critical of what is being borrowed, what we should not borrow.”

He noted the lack of a national consensus on this matter, citing cases when various groups try to lobby against practices involving the supernatural, for instance when an Aswang Festival was held in Capiz.

Throw away the belief?

Castro stressed that there is nothing wrong in having an agenda to change the current belief system.

He, however, cautioned advocates to be careful in doing so as it could create a vacuum that may have negative results.

The anthropologist cited the case of believing in engkantos, who are known to be guardians of the forests.

“The belief was helping the environment. Before, cutting trees is not something that you can do (because you are afraid of the elementals). Now people do not hesitate to cut trees,” he said, calling it an unintended effect of having such beliefs.

“We hope that anthropologists can provide explanations on why people believe these (things). What are the unintended effects and benefits of these practices,” he added.

Belief in the supernatural has a place in the Philippine society, Castro noted.

For instance, our fascination of horror movies and experiences contribute to strengthening the bond between friends and families.

FROM THE INQUIRER

‘Yolanda’ survivors’ wish: Peace for missing kin Joey A. Gabieta 
@inquirerdotnet Inquirer Visayas 1:39 AM | Saturday, November 1st, 2014


FAMILIES of victims of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” release flowers and candles out to sea to remember their loved ones at Barangay 88 in San Jose district, Tacloban City, after a Mass that commemorated the departed. RAFFY LERMA
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines—Twelve-year-old Angeline Yano threw flowers into the waters of Cancabato Bay, wishing that her mother and five siblings were now at peace.

She also prayed that she be guided so she could find the bodies of her mother and three siblings, especially since it has been almost a year since Supertyphoon “Yolanda” pummeled this city and the rest of the Visayas on Nov. 8, 2013.

“I wish to see their bodies. I miss my mother and my siblings, especially Aira Mae,”ť Angeline said, crying.

Angeline was among about 100 people who attended the Mass officiated by Fr. Hector Villamil for about 400 people who died in Sitio Mahusay, Barangay 88, the worst-hit village in Tacloban.

The Mass was held at the open field in Sitio Mahusay, a few meters from the Cancabato Bay, where storm surges spawned by Yolanda pummeled this city.

Angeline was accompanied by her aunt because her father, Tobias Jr., was out at sea, fishing.

Only Angeline and Tobias Jr. survived the wrath of Yolanda.

Her mother, Anita, 35, and five siblings perished during the killer typhoon.

Of the five siblings, only the bodies of Anthony, 16, and Tobias III, 11, were found.

The bodies of her other siblings—Annalou, 10; Annaliza, 4; and Aira Mae, 2—and her mother were still missing.

Sitio leader Philip Lumbre said 100 people from Mahusay remained missing, including Angeline’s mother and three siblings.

* Rowena Versoza, 40, and Angeline’s aunt, said the girl mostly stayed with her because Tobias Jr. had to work.

“There were times when I just suppressed my emotions whenever I saw her alone and crying. There were several instances when she and her father would just stare at each other, both crying. It is very heartbreaking to see both father and daughter cry,”ť said Versoza, mother of 21-year-old Aldwin.

She would just ask her niece to go out and play with other children in the village so she could temporarily forget her pain.

Lorna Mabag, 36, offered flowers and candles for her five children during the Mass on Friday.

The bodies of Angel, 10; Rodel, 9; Rommel, 6; Ericar, 4; and Lena, 2, were buried in a mass grave in Barangay Basper, 14 kilometers from the city proper.

“Losing my five children in a snap could make any mother lose her sanity. I am just trying to be strong because of my husband and my three other children, who still need me,”ť said Mabag, trying to hold back her tears.

Her husband, Bonifacio, 45, and other children Rafael, 18; Abegail, 14; and Jonel, 11 months, whom she gave birth to on Nov. 14, live in a makeshift house in Sitio Mahusay.

In his homily, Father Villamil said the survivors had so much to be thankful for despite what Yolanda took from them.

“There is nothing more precious than life itself. We may have lost all our worldly possession but what is important is that we are all safe,”ť he said.

“This is the lesson we have learned from Yolanda,”ť he added.

Tradition, reunions bring Filipinos to cemeteries on ‘day of the dead’ Agence France-Presse 12:58 PM | Saturday, November 1st, 2014


Thousands of Catholic Filipinos troop to Manila North Cemetery to honor the departed in the annual observance of All Saints’ Day Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014 in Manila, Philippines. Filipinos take their time, sometimes camping overnight at cemeteries, and memorial parks, as they pay homage to their departed loved ones by offering flowers and prayers. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

MANILA, Philippines — Millions across the Philippines packed into cemeteries Saturday to pay respects to their dead, in an annual tradition that combines Catholic religious rites with the country’s penchant for festivity.

The Church appealed for a solemn and prayerful observation of the “day of the dead” and urged against turning gravesites into picnic spots.

Police set up frisking booths at cemetery gates to confiscate alcoholic beverages, playing cards, portable karaoke machines and weapons as huge crowds, including children and the elderly, endured slow-moving queues.

“It is very important for Filipinos to pay respects to their dead. This is also a chance for a family reunion,” 21-year-old government worker Mary Joy Pasigan told Agence France-Presse at a cemetery north of the capital Manila.

* Pasigan carried her five-year-old niece past cramped corridors of tombs to offer sunflowers and orchids to her dead grandparents.

Conchita Pura, 60, brought sandwiches for her two-hour vigil at the tombs of her aunt and uncle.

“We come here to light candles and offer prayers so that their sins may be forgiven,” she told AFP.

“Getting here is painful, but I must endure it to observe tradition,” she said.


Teenagers have their pictures taken inside a coffin being displayed outside the Manila North Cemetery as Catholic Filipinos honor the departed in the annual observance of All Saints’ Day Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014 in Manila, Philippines. Filipinos take their time, sometimes camping overnight at cemeteries and memorial parks, to pay homage with flowers and prayers to their loved ones. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines meanwhile said praying for the dead was a “duty” as it appealed to Catholics to “bring back the holy”.

Instead of adopting Western Halloween celebrations and dressing up as vampires and monsters, Catholics should consider posing as saints, the CBCP said in a statement.

But at the Manila North Cemetery, the mood was more festive than solemn as popular fast food chains set up carts selling roasted pig, dim sum, noodles, fried chicken, and steamed pork buns.

The annual pilgrimage to the cemeteries also triggers a mass exodus from Manila, when tens of thousands travel to interior provinces where their relatives are buried.

Police have been placed on the highest alert since Thursday to secure cemeteries and transport terminals.

President Benigno Aquino III inspected Manila’s sea, air, and bus terminals on Friday and ordered authorities to remain vigilant, his spokeswoman, Abigail Valte, told state-run radio DZRB

“(Aquino) will spend the weekend monitoring their updates to ensure the safety of commuters who will visit the graves of their loved ones in the provinces,” Valte said.

FROM PHILSTAR

Let’s remember the saints, too – Tagle By Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 1, 2014 - 12:00am 4 18 googleplus0 0


President Aquino gives away yellow wristbands to passengers while inspecting security arrangements at the bus loading area of the JAC Liner terminal in Pasay City yesterday as part of ‘Oplan Ligtas Biyahe’ for the observance of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.

MANILA, Philippines - Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle urged the Catholic faithful to pray to the saints today.

Tagle said the public should remember that Nov. 1 is All Saints’ Day and it is intended to remember and pray for the saints.

“The Catholic Church is not against having enjoyment, but let us put it at its proper place. Most especially, let us not forget the meaning of our celebration,” Tagle said over the Church-run Radio Veritas.

Dioceses and religious groups have organized the March of Saints wherein children dress up like their favorite saints and parade around the neighborhood to remind the faithful of the significance of All Saints’ Day.

Tagle said he is hoping that the March of Saints would help revive the real meaning of All Saints’ Day.

* P-Noy inspects NAIA,

Port Area

Meanwhile, President Aquino yesterday inspected the North Port Passenger Terminal in Tondo, Manila and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 and the bus terminals of JAC Liner Inc. and DLTB in Pasay City to check the readiness of these facilities for the influx of people who would leave Metro Manila to observe All Saints’ Day elsewhere.

Aquino was accompanied by Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and other Cabinet officials.

At the DLTB bus terminal, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. told reporters that Aquino was happy with the preparations and that all precautionary measures were taken for the safety of the passengers.

Unlike past inspections, nobody got reprimanded or called to task yesterday.

At the Port Area, the President only asked that the luggages near the emergency exit of the MV St. Leo The Great ferry be fixed so the lane would be cleared of any blockage.

“Aside from that, he was really gladdened by what he saw…our fellowmen were comfortably waiting there,” Coloma said.

The President also asked Rear Admiral Luis Tuason Jr. of the Philippine Coast Guard to deploy more K-9 dogs as additional security and precautionary measure.

At the NAIA Terminal 3, Aquino only wanted the X-ray machines and clearing of cargo to be more efficient.

“There was no overloading anywhere and at the airport we saw that there was an area for early arrivals because it was suggested that they (passengers) come three to five hours instead of one to two hours in the past,” Coloma said.

“No one was rushing, there was no congestion,” he added.

Police force deployed

Thousands of people yesterday started to flock to cemeteries in southern Metro Manila, but the situation remained peaceful, the Southern Police District (SPD) said.

As of noon yesterday, the crowd estimate was already at 27,753 in cemeteries in Pasay, Taguig, Muntinlupa, Parańaque and Pateros.

SPD director Chief Supt. Henry Rańola said the SPD has deployed 1,579 officers to be augmented by 200 officers from the National Capital Region Police Office and by a 2,495-strong force multiplier group composed of barangay security teams, amateur radio groups and security guards.

The SPD is also keeping watch on 13 bus terminals, four airports, 20 shopping malls and stations of the Light Rail Transit and Metro Rail Transit that are located in its jurisdiction.

The Quezon City Police District, meanwhile, has not only deployed uniformed personnel but also undercover cops to ensure round-the-clock security at cemeteries and terminals in the city, QCPD director Senior Supt. Joel Pagdilao said.

Intelligence operatives in plain clothes are assigned at the Araneta Center bus terminal to monitor any untoward incident that might disrupt the safe transit of passengers bound for the provinces.

An intelligence operative at the terminal explained they have to not look like a policeman so it will not defeat the purpose of their undercover work. Their work complements that of uniformed policemen assigned to areas of convergence.

Rerouting in Camanava

The Northern Police District, for its part, has deployed 661 police officers to monitor traffic and maintain peace and order at the 24 cemeteries in Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela (Camanava).

Caloocan City Mayor Oscar Malapitan also announced rerouting schemes in roads leading to these cemeteries.

He said portions of Mabini Street from the north side of Gen. San Miguel to the boundary of Caloocan-Malabon would be closed to all kinds of vehicular traffic from 12:01 a.m. on Nov. 1 up to 6 a.m. on Nov. 2.

Portions of the south side of C-3 road from the entrance gate of La Funeraria Paz will be also closed to all kinds of vehicular traffic from 12:01 a.m. on Nov. 1 up to 6 a.m. on Nov. 2.

One-way traffic will be observed at the North Luzon Expressway east service road leading to Eternal Gardens on both south to north direction from 4 a.m. to 12 midnight on Nov. 1.

Vehicles coming out from the main gate of Eternal Gardens are advised to turn right going north and take Baesa Road to Quirino Avenue going to Novaliches.

Soldiers on standby

The military alert during All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day remains normal but troops, especially those who are on field duty, are on standby for any eventuality, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said.

The military will not upgrade its alert status, but is giving field commanders a free hand to adjust security measures when needed.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council operations center, on the other hand, will remain on blue alert for the weekend to ensure enough manpower in the event of an emergency. A blue alert places half of the personnel in the operations center on standby.

The Philippine Red Cross (PRC), meanwhile, has set up first aid stations in cemeteries, along highways and in major bus terminals and port areas nationwide to ensure the safety of people who will be visiting their departed relatives today.

A total of 170 cemeteries, 25 major highways and 95 welfare desks will be manned by more than 1,700 PRC staff and volunteers.

The PRC has also dispatched ambulances along major highways, PRC secretary general Gwendolyn Pang said. – With Mike Frialde, Reinir Padua, Mayen Jaymalin, Rey Galupo, Alexis Romero, Jaime Laude, Aurea Calica

FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Public parks now among Leyte’s cemeteries for ‘Yolanda’ victims by Aaron B. Recuenco November 3, 2014

Tanauan, Leyte — Some parks and other public centers are now included in the list of cemeteries in the province as a result of super-typhoon Yolanda’s devastation that left more than 8,000 people dead and missing.

In this town, for instance, a plan to build a welcome marker at the center island near the boundary with Palo town has been changed. There will now be a memorial park to remember the more than 300 people buried there.

“This is not the only place converted into a mass grave. In the town proper, for instance, hundreds of dead are also buried there and there is also a mass grave at the back of a chapel in one of the barangays here,” said Jojo Sagulia who was visiting a relative who was buried in what was supposed to be a welcome marker site here in Barangay Calugcog.

Sagulia recalled that right after the typhoon, he and other local residents with dead relatives were looking for a burial place but could not found one, since most of the cemeteries were either covered with tons of debris or still flooded.

He said someone started digging up at the welcome marker sign, saying there was need to bury the bodies of the typhoon victims, as these had started to decompose.

“The bodies were just lined up alongside the street. Some of us started digging. Fortunately, a backhoe was sent here to help us,” said Sagulia.

Boy Rabano said he was among the first to dig graves for his nine-year-old brother and 56-year- old mother who had drowned in the storm surge brought by typhoon Yolanda.

“It’s good news that the local government decided not to transfer all those who were buried here,” said Rabano as he cleared the area where his brother and his mother were buried.

Both Rabano and Segulia said they were thankful that some priests, seminarians, and nuns went to the burial to pray for their relatives.

“The bodies were just piled up before they were buried. It was not a decent burial but I am sure that they (the dead) would understand the situation that we were in when they were buried here,” said Segulia.

* He pointed to one grave where, he recalled, the bodies of 11 family members were piled up before they were buried.

In Tacloban City, 36-year old Firie Jill Ramos narrated how some friends had to to bury their loved ones at the center islands after typhoon Yolanda.

“They had no other option that time. They just put a cross on the area where the bodies were buried,” said Ramos. The bodies, however, were later exhumed later and were given decent burial elsewhere as soon as the situation normalized.

It was recalled that both the local and national government decided to come up with mass graves to immediately bury thousands of people whose bodies littered the streets. This was to prevent the spread of disease.

3,000 WHITE CROSSES

In a mass grave in Tacloban City, some 3,000 white crosses were set up for unidentified victims who were buried there.

The city government plan was to put the white crosses where relatives could light a candle for their kin who might have been buried there.

Some of those who went to the area just put the names of their dead and missing relatives on some of the white markers.

Tacloban City and the towns of Palo and Tanauan were the worst-hit areas, accounting for almost all of those dead who died and missing. Each of the three areas have their respective mass graves. The biggest is in Tacloban City.

FROM PHILSTAR

Noy may get special powers he requested from Congress By Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 3, 2014 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino will likely get the special powers he requested from Congress to be able to deal with the looming power shortage next year, a lawmaker said over the weekend.

Oriental Mindoro Rep. Rey Umali, chairman of the House committee on energy, however, said the authority would exclude the option to lease modular generator sets.

“We will give the President emergency powers authorizing him to contract additional capacity minus the option of leasing,” Umali said.

He said the power would be limited to other options such as the so-called Interruptible Load Program (ILP) and suspension of required permits for additional generating capacity that can be available by March 2015.

Umali said the House might be able to approve the emergency power request within the month or two weeks after Congress resumes session on Nov. 17.

President Aquino has asked Congress for authority to tap additional capacity next year after Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla sounded the alarm over a looming power shortage in the summer of 2015.

Petilla said the Luzon grid would need 9,011 megawatts, higher than this year’s demand of 8,717 MW on the back of the projected growth in the economy.

He proposed to invoke Section 71 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001, the power reform law, to be able to tap additional capacity in the summer of 2015.

The EPIRA, which privatized the power sector, prohibits the government from constructing power plants. However, Section 71 of the law states the President, upon determination of an imminent shortage of supply of electricity, may ask Congress for authority through a joint resolution, to establish additional generating capacity under such terms and conditions that Congress may approve.

* The Department of Energy (DOE) estimates a power shortage of 700 megawatts next summer, taking into account the need for reserves of 647 MW, equivalent to the size of Sual, the biggest plant in Luzon.

To address the shortage, Petilla proposed to lease or purchase modular generator sets to augment supply in the Luzon grid next year.

Power generators, however, opposed the plan, saying that government should no longer compete with the private sector.

Umali said the special powers would likely be limited to the ILP and other provisions that would speed up the availability of power next summer.

“The ILP is still there,” Umali said.

Under the ILP, big power users with large generating capacities will be asked to use their own power to ease demand from the grid and will be compensated for it.

Umali said the ILP option is unlikely to push power prices too high. He said the additional cost to consumers if ILP would be called upon by power distributor Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) could even be lower than the previous estimate of 7.5 centavos per kilowatt-hour (kwh).

He said the 7.5 centavos per kwh considers the use of ILP for three to five hours for five days a week.

Umali, however, said ILP participants may only be needed two to three hours for five days a week as there would also be additional capacity from new power plants.

He said the amount needed to compensate ILP participants might be lower than the P200 million that was earlier estimated by Meralco, based on the three-to-five hour usage.

As of Oct. 13, Meralco has secured ILP commitments of 149.5 MW but big power users have until Dec. 1 to sign up for the program for the summer of 2015. Those who fail to sign up before the deadline will not be compensated even if they are called upon to use their own power, Umali said.

Petilla said he is not against the ILP, saying he is only pushing for the lease of modular generator sets as a contingency measure.

“The ILP might just work,” Petilla said.

Umali said the special powers to be given President Aquino would also allow the government to help power plants that will be online by March 2015 to do away with the tedious permitting procedures.

“Powers will be provided to do away with the processing. There will be a suspension of laws that will have impact on new capacity,” Umali said.

Some of the capacities that are expected to come in next summer are First Gen Corp.’s Avion plant with 100 MW by April 2015; the 36 MW uprating of Millennium Energy’s Limay plant to be ready by March 2015; 10 MW from Petron’s Bataan plant to be ready by December 2014; 60 MW from JG Summit’s Batangas plant for commissioning in January 2015 and 20 MW from the Botocan hydroelectric plant in Laguna for completion in December 2014.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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