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SURVIVORS REMEMBER THE DEAD ON 1st DAY OF UNDAS AFTER YOLANDA  

NOV 2 ---Some family and friends of at least 2,000 who perished during super-typhoon Yolanda almost a year ago lit candles and offered prayers Saturday morning before unmarked graves in a cemetery here as city workers and volunteers planted white wooden crosses on plots separated by straw ropes. Many do not know where their dead actually lay on the 1.2-hectare property bought by the Tacloban city government in the Holy Cross Memorial Garden in Barangay Basper, where 2,764 plots have been contracted for both the identified and unidentified casualties of Yolanda.

ALSO: Pope hails poor, homeless as ‘unknown saints’  

NOV 3 ---ROME – Pope Francis has paid tribute to what he calls the “unknown saints” – those who flee war, hunger and poverty, the jobless and the homeless. Francis marked the Catholic Church’s Nov. 1 All Saints’ Day by celebrating mass and giving a homily Saturday in Rome’s sprawling Verano cemetery. He hailed those who are forced to flee their homes and villages to save their lives, risking hunger, illness and cold. He lamented that sometimes people regard these refugees, including hungry, ill children “as if they are of another species, not human.” Francis praised these suffering people as “unknown saints,” sanctified through their distress. Using his papacy to advocate for the poor, Francis said these people are pleading for peace, bread and work. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: Pope celebrates all saints day in Verano 

NOV 3 --PHOTO: Pope Francis at Rome's Verano cemetary - AP (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated mass at the Cemetery of Verano today to commemorate the feast of All Saints.
In his homily, Pope Francis spoke off the cuff, drawing from the Mass’s first reading taken from the book of Apocalypse, he focused on three images. The first was the warning against the devastation of the Earth to the four angels. Pope Francis said that there is a phrase that lies in the hearts of all of us: “we can destroy the world better than you” that is, Man has the capacity to devastate the world worse than the angels. “Devastate life, culture, values, hope”. He remarked “how much do we need this strength of the Lord, so that he would sign us with his love to destroy this insane career of destroying creation.”

Pope Francis then moved on to speak about an innumerable crowd mentioned in the reading. He compared them to the forgotten and thrown away in this life. “It seems that the people, the hungry and sick children do not count. They seem to be of a different species, not even human.This multitude stands before of God”. He exhorted in his homily that we think about the saints unknown to us. “Those who come from great tribulation in the many parts of the world. The Lord sanctifies these people through tribulation”, he said. Finally, Pope Francis offered a third image from the homily, that is God. “We are sons of God, but what we will be has not yet been revealed. But we have the hope that we will be like Him. The blessing of the Lord is hope. The hope that He will have mercy on His People”. He reminded the faithful that “in order to journey back to God the Father, in this world of devastation, of wars, of tribulation, we must act according to the beatitudes. It is this path that will save us. This path will lead us through problems and persecution, but only this path will lead us forward. “The people who go forward on the path of the beatitudes will reach God and become saints in that final meeting with Him”. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: Black candles lit for Yolanda victims  

NOV 2 --PHOTO FROM ABS-CBN: SHALLOW MASS GRAVE A YEAR AFTER YOLANDA
Photo by Fernando G. Sepe, Jr. for ABS-CBNnews.com SURVIVORS of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) under the People Surge Alliance remembered their dead on All Saints’ Day by holding memorials at mass graves in the towns of Tanauan and Palo in Leyte and in Tacloban City. The survivors placed black candles and wooden markers bearing the message ‘Remember the victims, remember the dead, remember the injustice’ at the unmarked graves, a solemn reminder of the countless lives lost after the typhoon unleashed its fury on Central Visayas. “I can’t begin to imagine the misery of our fellow victims whose loved ones have been left in the unmarked mass graves or those with kin who are still missing to date. We never ceased suffering from the heartless Aquino government’s abandonment as more victims continue to perish a year after Yolanda ravaged our communities,” Dr. Efleda Bautista, chairperson of People Surge, said.

The official government count of casualties stopped early this year at 6,300 deaths and more than 1,000 missing. An estimate made by forensics expert Raquel Fortun placed the deaths at around 18,000. Some survivors who have yet to recover from the impact of Yolanda were affected by subsequent hazards. The Ocenars, a family still living in a tent city in March this year, perished when their tent caught fire. A number of typhoons, including Glenda and Mario, added to the misery of the survivors. “We tremble with indignation over government plans to build over a massive unmarked grave in the town plaza of Tanauan and another one in the town of Palo as part of an ongoing beautification frenzy in welcoming Pope Francis. What an ungodly thing to do to score brownie points with the Pope’s visit! ” Bautista said. “As we remember our dead on All Saints’ Day, we also solemnly vow to continue our struggle to claim justice from the Aquino government.We have suffered too long and lost too much, but we continue to demand the accountability of our leaders as our lasting tribute to our loved ones lost to the vicious impacts of Yolanda,” she added. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: No Halloween story more frightful than Yolanda’ 

NOV 2 --Tacloban City – Ghost stories and faces of monsters that color Halloween have ceased to elicit fear from those who had experienced the horror of death that was caused by super typhoon Yolanda on Nov. 8, 2013. Arlene Ortega, 46, a survivor who now lives in one of the bunkhouses here, said the howling sound of the wind, rushing water, and the cries of people pleading for help painted a real horror story, one that has made stories of ‘tiyanak,’ ‘kapre’ or zombies more amusing than frightening. “I am not afraid of anything anymore,” Ortega told the Manila Bulletin in an interview. “There is nothing scarier than living in the days when Tacloban City was turned into a horror city,” she added. How could she forget the sound of the strong winds which she described as that of a thousand dogs howling,” she said. That, and the sight of winds blowing away roofs, and the storm surge sweeping away what was left of those houses and the people inside them, is a nightmare that cannot go away, she said. HOWLING NIGHTMARE The nightmare is still fresh on the minds of those who live in the bunkhouses. Each was ready to narrate how they lived in the horror of that moment and still until today, how they remember the sound of the loud screams of people calling for help, which gradually faded as death claimed each voice.

“They said somebody will die when dogs howl, maybe the sound of wind was the sign that a lot of people will die that day,” Ortega said. But the horror continued after the storm. Dead people littered the streets and that was the most horrible scene I saw then, said Margie Cruz, another bunkhouse resident. Then, hunger came. The week after the super typhoon pounded Samar and Leyte, the living ignored the dead on the streets, bravely going out to look for food. The scene of people having nothing to eat was terrible, she said. NOT SCARY HALLOWEEN Last Friday, as the celebration of Halloween appeared around the city, Cruz said children were not afraid of the scary décor and the costumes of ghosts and monsters. “They are now more afraid of rain and the sound of the wind,” said Cruz as she narrated how her children would cry and hide in fear every time they hear the sound of a thunder. NOT IMAGINATION Ghosts and monsters are only products of imagination. But we saw how ‘Yolanda’ brought death and destruction and real horror stories right before our eyes, she said.THIS IS THE FULL REPORT

ALSO: True ghost story from Leyte’s saintly priest 

NOV 2 ---PHOTO: SUPERTYPHOON CASUALTIES Supertyphoon “Yolanda” survivor Ramon Ballon, 59, visits the resting place of his wife and two grandchildren at a mass grave in San Joaquin Parish in Palo town, Leyte province. Ballon says he comes to visit the gravesite three times every day starting 4:30 a.m. RAFFY LERMA LEYTE, Philippines—One night after the devastating Typhoon “Amy” of Dec. 8, 1951, flooded Tanauan town for weeks, a young Catholic priest named Cipriano V. Urgel cloistered himself inside the walls of a church to pray for the dead. Inside the chapel of the Our Lady of the Assumption Parish at Barangay Bontay, the 33-year-old Urgel prayed the responso, the traditional Latin prayer for the dead. (Prayers were said in Latin in the Catholic Church before the liberalizing reforms of the Vatican Council II of 1962.)

What happened that night has become part of the “hidden” legend about Urgel, a much-loved priest and educator who would rise to become the first archbishop of the Archdiocese of Palo in 1982. Other voices Inside the chapel that night 63 years ago, the young Urgel was praying the “Hail Mary” in Latin under his breath, when he heard a voice from somewhere answering with the “Holy Mary,” also in Latin. But when he looked around, there was no one there but himself. Frightened by this otherworldly experience, the priest stopped praying. He hardly slept that night. The next night, Urgel again prayed the responso. When he began praying the Hail Mary, this time several voices answered with the Holy Mary. Again, he looked around to find that he was the only one inside the chapel. Instead of allowing himself to be frightened again, Urgel went on praying, even going on to say the Holy Rosary, with a chorus answering and joining him, their voices rising to a great crescendo. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Gov’t forms rapid response teams vs Ebola  

NOV 3 ---PHOTO: Government health workers practice wearing protective suits on the first day of training on hospital management for the Ebola virus at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Alabang, Muntinlupa City. AP  MANILA, Philippines - Teams of doctors and health workers are ready for immediate deployment to treat Ebola patients in far-flung areas in the country. Department of Health (DOH) spokesman Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy said the government has formed rapid response teams composed of health workers specially trained to prevent the spread of the disease. “We have three rapid response teams composed of two doctors, a medical technologist and nurses, and they would be deployed to the provinces where there will be a possible case of Ebola,” Lee Suy said. The rapid response teams will guide other health workers in the area on how to respond to Ebola.

The government decided to form rapid response teams to limit the movement of Ebola patients “so we could also limit the possible transmission of infection,” Lee Suy said. Dr. Julie Hall, World Health Organization (WHO) country representative, said the teams would still undergo more comprehensive training than other health workers. A group of 122 doctors from DOH-retained hospitals have completed a specialized training on Ebola prevention, while health workers from private hospitals nationwide will start a similar training today. Hall also said there is no need to enforce a mandatory quarantine of returning Filipino workers or other travelers since Ebola is not infectious until patients develop fever. People from Ebola-affected countries just need to notify the DOH and undergo voluntary quarantine or observe their health condition for 21 days. So far, 126 Filipino workers have returned from Ebola-affected countries and they are free from the deadly disease, Lee Suy said. Repatriation eyed  At this time, the government is preparing for the possible return of all Filipino workers from Ebola-affected countries in West Africa. * READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

Survivors remember the dead on first Undas after Yolanda

TACLOBAN CITY, NOVEMBER 3, 2014 (ABS-CBN) By Arlene Burgos, ABS-CBNnews.com - Some family and friends of at least 2,000 who perished during super-typhoon Yolanda almost a year ago lit candles and offered prayers Saturday morning before unmarked graves in a cemetery here as city workers and volunteers planted white wooden crosses on plots separated by straw ropes.

Many do not know where their dead actually lay on the 1.2-hectare property bought by the Tacloban city government in the Holy Cross Memorial Garden in Barangay Basper, where 2,764 plots have been contracted for both the identified and unidentified casualties of Yolanda. But some appeared to be comforted by assurances from local authorities that each of the crosses would soon have a number corresponding to the identity of the deceased, resulting from DNA tests performed on bodies found after the Nov. 8, 2013 tragedy.

The formal blessing of the mass grave – to be highlighted by a memorial Mass and offering of flowers – happens next Saturday, exactly a year after Yolanda. But those saying prayers in the cemetery chose to come earlier in keeping with the Filipino tradition of visiting loved ones’ graves on All Saints’ Day, November 1.

For some Taclobanons who survived the tragedy and the loss, remembering the dead is a painful act that came with their efforts to move on from the trauma of losing livelihood, lives and loved ones.

‘Nagbuwis ng buhay si Mama’

One of those struggling to move on is Ralph Dacatimbang, 20, whose mother died when rising water swept away their house in Fatima Village, the junction of Leyte and Samar roads.

* Dacatimbang managed to hang on to a wire from an electrical post, with his mother behind his back, and several other neighbors hanging on to her. He said he knew his mother deliberately stopped hanging on to him, and just chose to be swept away.

“Nakita niyang nahihirapan ako. Bumitaw ang Mama, nagbuwis ng buhay,” he said.

His mother’s body was found a week later, far from their house. He tried his best to find decent burial for her, but no one could help him. For a while, he, his brother and sister did what they could to give a semblance of funeral to her. But the overwhelming stench of decaying bodies has been too much. “Ang amoy ng patay nagkalat sa daan; ang aso kumakain na ng patay,” he said. They ended up bringing their mother to the mass grave.

How her mother died and the hardship of events that followed are among painful memories Dacatimbang has been trying to move on from.

He is looking forward to November 8 because by then, he said he learned from authorities, the plots would have numbers, and he would be able to visit his mother on the grave where she actually lies.

For now, he chose to bring white flowers, light white candles and kneel beside one of the nameless plots.

He said he and his siblings decided they will let their mother’s remains stay on this cemetery.

No separate plots, no white crosses

Not everyone is able to look forward to the assurance of their dead being on the exact grave where they have chosen to plant a cross or tombstone on. Not everyone is able to provide a cross or tombstone.

In the mass grave outside the San Joaquin Parish Church, crosses out of wood planks that look like they were fished from the rubble bore names written with marker pens, while sticks held up trampolines or paper posters bearing the fallen’s pictures and messages from relatives and friends.

Papoose Lantajo, chairman of Barangay San Joaquin, Leyte, said families settled with the approximate area where they have laid their loved ones when numerous bodies were being recovered in Palo, Leyte.

Lantajo, 48, lost his father to the super-typhoon, and was only able to recover the body four days after the typhoon's onslaught.

He said he and the parish priest thought of burying the bodies in front of the church where these were collected after being found. A clearance was sought from authorities.

As a result, some plots in the San Joaquin mass grave have even unrelated people together. The graves are marked by signs bearing the enumeration of the names of the deceased who are supposedly buried there.

By Saturday morning, visitors of the San Joaquin mass grave started arriving. After offering flowers, lighting candle and praying, they would clean up wild grass from the grave. Then they would visit other graves and do the same.

Lantajo said there are 371 plots in their mass grave. Many of the dead, he said, were from concrete houses near the church that were downed by the storm surges.

P3K for P35K

There were 2,273 bodies for DNA testing by the National Bureau of Investigation, said Tacloban’s Assistant City Administrator Brando Bernadas. These were bodies found in Tacloban, and have been allotted for in the Holy Cross graves.

The Tacloban City government acquired the plots for a price of P3,000 each, when this would usually go for P35,000 apiece. Bernadas said what is important for the local government is to provide decent burial for the deceased.

In the future, the local government is looking at replacing the wooden crosses with more permanent and lasting markers. He said for now, what matters is those who have survived Yolanda will be able to remember their dead in a proper burial area.

As of January, government pegged the death toll from the super typhoon at 6, 200, with the majority coming from Eastern Visayas, particularly Leyte.

FROM PHILSTAR

Pope hails poor, homeless as ‘unknown saints’ By Associated Press (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 3, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

ROME – Pope Francis has paid tribute to what he calls the “unknown saints” – those who flee war, hunger and poverty, the jobless and the homeless.

Francis marked the Catholic Church’s Nov. 1 All Saints’ Day by celebrating mass and giving a homily Saturday in Rome’s sprawling Verano cemetery.

He hailed those who are forced to flee their homes and villages to save their lives, risking hunger, illness and cold. He lamented that sometimes people regard these refugees, including hungry, ill children “as if they are of another species, not human.”

Francis praised these suffering people as “unknown saints,” sanctified through their distress.

Using his papacy to advocate for the poor, Francis said these people are pleading for peace, bread and work.

FROM RADIO VATICAN IN ROME

Pope celebrates all saints day in Verano


Pope Francis at Rome's Verano cemetary - AP

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated mass at the Cemetery of Verano today to commemorate the feast of All Saints.

In his homily, Pope Francis spoke off the cuff, drawing from the Mass’s first reading taken from the book of Apocalypse, he focused on three images. The first was the warning against the devastation of the Earth to the four angels. Pope Francis said that there is a phrase that lies in the hearts of all of us: “we can destroy the world better than you” that is, Man has the capacity to devastate the world worse than the angels. “Devastate life, culture, values, hope” .
|
He remarked “how much do we need this strength of the Lord, so that he would sign us with his love to destroy this insane career of destroying creation.”

Pope Francis then moved on to speak about an innumerable crowd mentioned in the reading. He compared them to the forgotten and thrown away in this life. “It seems that the people, the hungry and sick children do not count. They seem to be of a different species, not even human.This multitude stands before of God”.

He exhorted in his homily that we think about the saints unknown to us. “Those who come from great tribulation in the many parts of the world. The Lord sanctifies these people through tribulation”, he said.

Finally, Pope Francis offered a third image from the homily, that is God. “We are sons of God, but what we will be has not yet been revealed. But we have the hope that we will be like Him. The blessing of the Lord is hope. The hope that He will have mercy on His People”.

He reminded the faithful that “in order to journey back to God the Father, in this world of devastation, of wars, of tribulation, we must act according to the beatitudes. It is this path that will save us. This path will lead us through problems and persecution, but only this path will lead us forward.

“The people who go forward on the path of the beatitudes will reach God and become saints in that final meeting with Him”.

FROM THE MANILA TIMES

Black candles lit for Yolanda victims November 1, 2014 11:38 pm by NEIL A. ALCOBER REPORTER


PHOTO FROM ABS-CBN: SHALLOW MASS GRAVE A YEAR AFTER YOLANDA Photo by Fernando G. Sepe, Jr. for ABS-CBNnews.com

SURVIVORS of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) under the People Surge Alliance remembered their dead on All Saints’ Day by holding memorials at mass graves in the towns of Tanauan and Palo in Leyte and in Tacloban City.

The survivors placed black candles and wooden markers bearing the message ‘Remember the victims, remember the dead, remember the injustice’ at the unmarked graves, a solemn reminder of the countless lives lost after the typhoon unleashed its fury on Central Visayas.

“I can’t begin to imagine the misery of our fellow victims whose loved ones have been left in the unmarked mass graves or those with kin who are still missing to date. We never ceased suffering from the heartless Aquino government’s abandonment as more victims continue to perish a year after Yolanda ravaged our communities,” Dr. Efleda Bautista, chairperson of People Surge, said.

The official government count of casualties stopped early this year at 6,300 deaths and more than 1,000 missing. An estimate made by forensics expert Raquel Fortun placed the deaths at around 18,000.

Some survivors who have yet to recover from the impact of Yolanda were affected by subsequent hazards. The Ocenars, a family still living in a tent city in March this year, perished when their tent caught fire. A number of typhoons, including Glenda and Mario, added to the misery of the survivors.

“We tremble with indignation over government plans to build over a massive unmarked grave in the town plaza of Tanauan and another one in the town of Palo as part of an ongoing beautification frenzy in welcoming Pope Francis. What an ungodly thing to do to score brownie points with the Pope’s visit! ” Bautista said.

“As we remember our dead on All Saints’ Day, we also solemnly vow to continue our struggle to claim justice from the Aquino government.

We have suffered too long and lost too much, but we continue to demand the accountability of our leaders as our lasting tribute to our loved ones lost to the vicious impacts of Yolanda,” she added.

FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

No Halloween story more frightful than Yolanda’ by Aaron B. Recuenco November 2, 2014 Share this:

Tacloban City – Ghost stories and faces of monsters that color Halloween have ceased to elicit fear from those who had experienced the horror of death that was caused by super typhoon Yolanda on Nov. 8, 2013.

Arlene Ortega, 46, a survivor who now lives in one of the bunkhouses here, said the howling sound of the wind, rushing water, and the cries of people pleading for help painted a real horror story, one that has made stories of ‘tiyanak,’ ‘kapre’ or zombies more amusing than frightening.

“I am not afraid of anything anymore,” Ortega told the Manila Bulletin in an interview. “There is nothing scarier than living in the days when Tacloban City was turned into a horror city,” she added.

How could she forget the sound of the strong winds which she described as that of a thousand dogs howling,” she said. That, and the sight of winds blowing away roofs, and the storm surge sweeping away what was left of those houses and the people inside them, is a nightmare that cannot go away, she said.

HOWLING NIGHTMARE

The nightmare is still fresh on the minds of those who live in the bunkhouses. Each was ready to narrate how they lived in the horror of that moment and still until today, how they remember the sound of the loud screams of people calling for help, which gradually faded as death claimed each voice.

“They said somebody will die when dogs howl, maybe the sound of wind was the sign that a lot of people will die that day,” Ortega said.

But the horror continued after the storm. Dead people littered the streets and that was the most horrible scene I saw then, said Margie Cruz, another bunkhouse resident.

Then, hunger came. The week after the super typhoon pounded Samar and Leyte, the living ignored the dead on the streets, bravely going out to look for food. The scene of people having nothing to eat was terrible, she said.

NOT SCARY HALLOWEEN

Last Friday, as the celebration of Halloween appeared around the city, Cruz said children were not afraid of the scary décor and the costumes of ghosts and monsters.

“They are now more afraid of rain and the sound of the wind,” said Cruz as she narrated how her children would cry and hide in fear every time they hear the sound of a thunder.

NOT IMAGINATION

Ghosts and monsters are only products of imagination. But we saw how ‘Yolanda’ brought death and destruction and real horror stories right before our eyes, she said.

FROM THE INQUIRER

True ghost story from Leyte’s saintly priest Danny Petilla @inquirerdotnet
Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:58 AM | Sunday, November 2nd, 2014


SUPERTYPHOON CASUALTIES Supertyphoon “Yolanda” survivor Ramon Ballon, 59, visits the resting place of his wife and two grandchildren at a mass grave in San Joaquin Parish in Palo town, Leyte province. Ballon says he comes to visit the gravesite three times every day starting 4:30 a.m. RAFFY LERMA


LEYTE, Philippines—One night after the devastating Typhoon “Amy” of Dec. 8, 1951, flooded Tanauan town for weeks, a young Catholic priest named Cipriano V. Urgel cloistered himself inside the walls of a church to pray for the dead.

Inside the chapel of the Our Lady of the Assumption Parish at Barangay Bontay, the 33-year-old Urgel prayed the responso, the traditional Latin prayer for the dead. (Prayers were said in Latin in the Catholic Church before the liberalizing reforms of the Vatican Council II of 1962.)

What happened that night has become part of the “hidden” legend about Urgel, a much-loved priest and educator who would rise to become the first archbishop of the Archdiocese of Palo in 1982.

Other voices

Inside the chapel that night 63 years ago, the young Urgel was praying the “Hail Mary” in Latin under his breath, when he heard a voice from somewhere answering with the “Holy Mary,” also in Latin. But when he looked around, there was no one there but himself.

Frightened by this otherworldly experience, the priest stopped praying. He hardly slept that night. The next night, Urgel again prayed the responso. When he began praying the Hail Mary, this time several voices answered with the Holy Mary. Again, he looked around to find that he was the only one inside the chapel.

Instead of allowing himself to be frightened again, Urgel went on praying, even going on to say the Holy Rosary, with a chorus answering and joining him, their voices rising to a great crescendo.

* Urgel went on with his nightly communion with the strange voices until they waned in frequency and then stopped altogether.

Lost souls

He would later learn that the chapel was the site of an old cemetery before the church was built in the 1870s.

“Those were the lost souls who made their way back. They finally found their eternal rest,” said Fr. Oliver T. Mazo, assistant parish priest of the Sto. Niño Church in Tacloban City.

Mazo, who finished his theology studies in Rome, said he learned about Urgel’s story through the oral history handed down from clergy to church members through the years.

Saintly priest

These events—already part of a hidden oral history of the local Catholic Church here—are preserved by a select group of priests and laity who were privileged to hear Urgel’s unusual personal testimony when he was still alive.

Originally from Hilongos, Leyte, Urgel was the parish priest of Tanauan from February 1951 to March 1960. He was ordained at age 27 on March 17, 1945.

“He was a saintly priest who cared for his flock, and did great things for simple folks like me,” remembers Marina V. Dorego, a 75-year-old catechist and church worker who was one of Urgel’s close friends.

A grandmother to 25 grandchildren, Dorego was a high school freshman when she met Urgel for the first time at Assumption High School, across the road from the Assumption Church here.

“I heard about that story from my mother Fortunata and my theology professor (at Divine Word University) Leatriz Mazo,” said Igmedio Tolibas, 59, another church worker who was privy to the story.

Dead souls returning

Urgel—who died on April 22, 1985 at age 66—and his somewhat secret story about his communion with the dead have resurfaced at a time when the local community is suddenly replete with stories about the dead communicating with the living.

There are the blood-curdling wails of human voices coming in the dead of night as dogs howl without end from mass graves around here. Or the hair-raising tales of nocturnal passengers vanishing into thin air after boarding jeepneys and tricycles, leaving behind wet seats and watery floors. And the recurring dreams and nightmares relayed by survivors about receiving messages from dead relatives.

But do the dead really come back to haunt the living?

This question becomes even more resonant as the nation commemorates the day of the dead today, and a little more than a week after that, the first anniversary of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan), the most powerful storm to hit land in history.

More than 7,000 casualties of Yolanda and its deadly storm surges are scattered in several mass graves in this town and the neighboring town of Palo, and Tacloban, the capital city. A few hundreds more are buried in remote sites and several more lost at sea. Only a few casualties were recovered by their relatives and given decent burials in local cemeteries.

The scientific view

But science seems to counter the religious view of these apparitions.

According to Althea Fernandez, a sociology professor at the University of the Philippines Tacloban, these phenomena partake of a kind of mass hysteria as people are overwhelmed by the devastating toll of a disaster.

“Their relatives and loved ones all died an instant death. That stress is too much to bear,” Fernandez said.

To which Mazo, the priest, countered: “These are not urban legends. These are testimonies from people who experienced the phenomenon themselves.”

“This story has long been hidden, maybe it is time that more people know the truth,” Tolibas said.

FROM PHILSTAR

Gov’t forms rapid response teams vs Ebola By Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 3, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Government health workers practice wearing protective suits on the first day of training on hospital management for the Ebola virus at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Alabang, Muntinlupa City. AP

MANILA, Philippines - Teams of doctors and health workers are ready for immediate deployment to treat Ebola patients in far-flung areas in the country.

Department of Health (DOH) spokesman Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy said the government has formed rapid response teams composed of health workers specially trained to prevent the spread of the disease.

“We have three rapid response teams composed of two doctors, a medical technologist and nurses, and they would be deployed to the provinces where there will be a possible case of Ebola,” Lee Suy said.

The rapid response teams will guide other health workers in the area on how to respond to Ebola.

The government decided to form rapid response teams to limit the movement of Ebola patients “so we could also limit the possible transmission of infection,” Lee Suy said.

Dr. Julie Hall, World Health Organization (WHO) country representative, said the teams would still undergo more comprehensive training than other health workers.

A group of 122 doctors from DOH-retained hospitals have completed a specialized training on Ebola prevention, while health workers from private hospitals nationwide will start a similar training today.

Hall also said there is no need to enforce a mandatory quarantine of returning Filipino workers or other travelers since Ebola is not infectious until patients develop fever. People from Ebola-affected countries just need to notify the DOH and undergo voluntary quarantine or observe their health condition for 21 days.

So far, 126 Filipino workers have returned from Ebola-affected countries and they are free from the deadly disease, Lee Suy said.

Repatriation eyed

At this time, the government is preparing for the possible return of all Filipino workers from Ebola-affected countries in West Africa.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the Department of Labor and Employment is just waiting for the notification from the DOH before deciding on the repatriation of Filipino workers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The DOH is expected to come out with the recommendation next week.

The government is also requiring clearance for Filipino workers returning from West Africa and for those who will be going back to Ebola-affected countries.

Baldoz said the government only allows the contract processing and deployment of returning Filipino workers who have the required clearance from the DOH.

She gave assurance that alternative employment is available for Filipino workers who would not be able to return to West Africa. – With Ding Cervantes


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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