HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK...

CHURCH BELLS PEAL TODAY (NOV 8) FOR 'YOLANDA'; SOLONS DESCRIBE GOV'T REHAB EFFORTS AS 'ANOTHER DISASTER'  

NOV 10---PHOTO: PREPARING FOR POPE’S VISIT – Photo shows the interior of the Sto. Niño Church in Tacloban City which is undergoing rehabilitation in time for the visit of Pope Francis in January next year. (Linus Guardian Escandor II) Church bells peal at 6 p.m. today as the nation marks the first anniversary of the onslaught of super-typhoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan), which left at least 6,340 people dead, with 1,785 others still missing.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) also called on Filipinos nationwide to mark the “Yolanda’s” first anniversary as a National Day of Prayer in unity with those who survived the disaster. The CBCP call was embodied in a circular issued by CBCP president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas. As this developed, congressmen lamented the dismal performance of the government in rehabilitating areas severely affected by the super typhoon, which they described as “another disaster.” Villegas invited Church leaders and apostolic administrators around the country to a simultaneous ringing of church bells at 6 p.m., to be followed by the CBCP’s commemorative prayer. Villegas also encouraged prelatures, dioceses, schools, and organizations to conduct their own activities to mark the event.

The commemorative prayer is as follows: “Most loving Father, One year ago, the fury of Typhoon Yolanda made us experience darkness and the pain of losing everything; it made us understand the meaning of despair. But in the midst of all these, You never have forsaken us. In the most special way, You gifted us courage and strength to rise again. In the most loving way, You shielded us with mercy and compassion. And You accomplished miracles through those who came to our aid. And as we remember that day today, we thank You for the gift of faith, hope and love. We thank You for bringing us closer to You. We thank you for letting us live another day. Spare our nation from the wrath of nature, as we find ways to care for Your Creation. Glory be…”

ALSO: “We survived Yolanda. We can also survive without P-Noy,” Says a survivor who said she voted for Aquino; "We will rise where we fell."    

NOV 9 --PHOTO: ORPHANED Mark Diego Alcain, 9, lights candle for his mother Eva and sister Marian in Barangay Basper, Tacloban City. EDWIN BACASMAS  TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines—They have kept the faith. And they intend to keep it, with or without President Benigno Aquino III. Survivors of the most violent typhoon to ever make landfall did not hide their anger and disappointment over the President’s decision to skip this city during his whirlwind visit on Friday to the areas devastated by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” in Eastern Visayas. “We survived Yolanda. We can also survive without P-Noy,” said Corazon Alboro, 48. With other survivors, Alboro went to City Hall on Saturday to join the activities that the local government had lined up to commemorate the first anniversary of the deadliest disaster to hit the country in recent history.

She also went to look for the names of her still missing relatives on the list of Taclobanons who perished and went missing during Yolanda’s onslaught. Flowers and Masses ---The names of the dead and the missing were printed on large memorial tarpaulins that hung beside banners on which were written the words “Thank You” in front of City Hall. Thousands of residents who survived the wrath of Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) attended Masses in churches and other places of worship throughout the city as they tearfully remembered the day the monstrous storm surges swallowed their communities. They also brought flowers and lit candles at several mass graves where people who died in the disaster were buried. “We thank God for saving us. We also asked Him to help us find my brother and his daughter who remain missing up to this day,” said Maricel Alamora, 60, as she came out of the 6 a.m. Mass she attended at Sto. Niño Parish in Barangay 25-A.

We will rise where we fell ---Mr. Aquino should have set politics aside in dealing with the rehabilitation of the typhoon-stricken villages, said Mark Lester Morano, a father of two. “We will rise where we have fallen. We were able to live without P-Noy. We will live without him,” Morano said. Morano said he, his wife and their two young children aged 2 and 8 narrowly cheated death when their family’s house in Barangay 82-C, San Jose district, was swept away by walls of seawater whipped up by Yolanda’s violent winds. He said he was upset that the man he and his family helped win the presidency in 2010 had snubbed the city regarded as ground zero for the deadly cyclone. “I looked up to him as my idol. But now, I regret voting for him. What he did to us was a disrespect to the memory of his father, who was known for his love for ordinary Filipinos like us,” Morano said, referring to the President’s father and namesake, martyred opposition leader Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino only listens to ‘voices in his head’, cries Yolanda’ survivors

NOV 8 --A group of survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” hit President Benigno Aquino III for his alleged “incompetent” response a year after the tragedy. “It is clear that PNoy (Aquino’s monicker) only listens to voices in his head and not to us ‘Yolanda’ survivors who are supposed to be his bosses,” Dr. Efleda Bautista, chairperson of People Surge, said in a statement Saturday. “We have felt a year’s worth of the government’s vicious abandonment, corruption, deceit and repression, and have seen a year’s worth of news and studies that confirm this situation,” Bautista added.

People Surge was reacting to Aquino’s statement against his critics over the government’s response to help the survivors of the massive typhoon that killed more than 6,000 people during its onslaught on Nov. 8, 2013. Aquino made a speech on Guiuan, Eastern Samar which centered on his counter message to his government’s critics. “Despite our initiatives, I have a feeling that tomorrow, someone will still claim I ignored Tacloban. I leave it to you to find out who are saying this,” Aquino said during his visit to Guiuan Friday. Aquino said he would leave it to the public if his critics were correct that he deliberately left out Tacloban, the ground zero of “Yolanda.” “Your tantrums over legitimate criticism, your claim that you have done everything you can for Yolanda survivors when the government’s total aid output is easily outstripped by a single non-government organization,” Bautista said. * READ MORE...

ALSO Women entrepreneurs solemnly celebrate: COCA COLA, TESDA light up Tacloban’s streets

NOV 10 --PHOTO: Women micro-entrepreneurs take part in a ceremony in Tacloban on Nov. 8 to celebrate their resurgence a year after losing their businesses due to Super Typhoon Yolanda. MANILA, Philippines - It’s Christmas time once again in Tacloban after a year of misery and darkness. Residents of the city are in the mood to celebrate the joyous season after slowly picking themselves up from the massive devastation caused by Super Typhoon Yolanda in November last year. To help spread the yuletide cheer among Taclobanons, Coca-Cola Philippines, in partnership with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), launched its most unique holiday campaign by lighting up the streets of Tacloban and other areas in the country.

The first Coke parol (Christmas lantern) made from recycled materials was lit on Nov. 8, coinciding with the first anniversary of Yolanda. “The Tacloban leg is most special to us because it also marks the realization of the commitment we made one year ago to help the city get back on its feet. We do not commemorate the onslaught of the typhoon. What we want to celebrate is the resiliency of the people,” said Adel Tamano, Coca-Cola vice president for public affairs and communications. The parol lighting was part of the beverage firm’s Sari-Saring Happiness Day, which tapped sari-sari store owners as the new icons of Coca-Cola Christmas. The project aims to provide five million female sari-sari store and carinderia owners access to training and financing. Tamano said the country has gone through a lot of challenges so their company wants to send a reminder that even with trials, some truths remain the same.

“The truth is we can all derive happiness from sharing and spending time with the communities and the people who matter to us,” he said. “Share Sari-Saring Happiness Day is an entirely new way of celebrating the season. From the big lighting ceremonies that we usually hold in the city, we traveled to provinces and barangays and tapped the champions of our brand, the new icons of a unique Coca-Cola Christmas – your neighborhood sari-sari store owners,” added Coca-Cola Philippines vice president for marketing Jasmin Vinculado. Coca-Cola mounted the campaign to recognize the women who light up communities, and at the same time, help drive sales to their businesses. TESDA director Joel Villanueva said the project was in recognition of women’s crucial role not only at home but also in micro-enterprises.THIS IS THE FULL REPORT

ALSO: ‘Faith stronger than storm’; Victims find solace in Church Masses

NOV 9 ---PHOTO: YOLANDA SHOULD FEAR MY GOD’. Ester Cabrera Uy, who lost her house when Supertyphoon “Yolanda” battered Tacloban City, hears Mass as rain falls inside Sto. Niño Parish Church, whose roof was blown away by the storm. “My faith is stronger than Yolanda. She should fear my God,” one churchgoer said. RAFFY LERMA TACLOBAN CITY—A woman stood in front of the altar at Santo Niño Parish Church here on Sunday, unmindful of the rain falling on her from the damaged ceiling of the century-old church that had its roof ripped off by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” on Nov. 8. Next to her was another woman holding a red umbrella. A few steps away was a sobbing middle-aged man.

Nine days after Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) left the city in ruins, survivors of one of the strongest storms on record turned to their faith as they tried to make sense of the tragedy that had befallen them. “My faith is stronger than Yolanda. I didn’t fear Yolanda. She should fear my God,” Anita Carillo told the Inquirer after the Mass. “Even the rains cannot stop me from thanking the Lord for saving me and my family. He is truly a caring and loving God,” she said, wiping her face dry with a white veil. Others, like Marilyn Refugio of Sta. Rita town in Samar, dropped by the church to seek Divine Intervention in the search for her 67-year-old mother, one of the more than 12,000 people reported missing after Yolanda swept across the central Philippines. “I know God will lead me to my mother.

He is our only hope,” Refugio, 40, said, her voice breaking. Rosario Capidos, who attended an earlier Mass celebrated by Monsignor Alex Opiñano, said she went to church to reaffirm her faith and ask for courage in facing the tragedy that had befallen hundreds of thousands of people in the region. “We’re now homeless. But I’m very thankful I was able to save the two most important people in my life, my grandsons,” she said. Capidos and many others wept as they sang “The Lord’s Prayer.” In his homily, Opiñano reminded the typhoon survivors to keep their faith in God and to continue working together. “Just hold on to Him. It’s our strong faith in Him that will save us from this tragedy. We should draw our strength from him,” he said. “As the song goes, there’s got to be a morning after.”  Soothing sermons ---* CONTINUE READING

ALSO Still grief-laden at mass grave site: Prayers, tears one year after Yolanda

NOV 9 ---PHOTO: Grief stricken for Tacloban-- Sen Bongbong Marcos, Tacloban Mayor Romualdez, Rep Imelda Romualdez Marcos attending the Tacloban ceremonies at the mass grave site marking First Anniversary of devastating Yolanda.. Tacloban, Leyte --Survivors of the strongest typhoon ever to hit land wept at mass graves yesterday during ceremonies to mark one year since Super Typhoon Yolanda devastated central Philippines and condemned millions to deeper poverty. Yolanda (Haiyan) claimed more than 7,350 lives as it swept in off the Pacific Ocean, with its record winds and once-in-a-generation storm surges flattening entire towns.The monster storm tore across a corridor of Samar and Leyte where about 14 million people lived in farming and fishing communities that were already among the nation’s poorest.

The rebuilding effort has been painfully slow for most survivors, with millions poorer and many dangerously exposed to the next big storm as they still live in shanty homes along coastal areas. In an outpouring of grief, thousands marched to mass grave sites scattered across the typhoon zone yesterday to offer flowers, light candles and say prayers. Josephine Crisostomo, 41, whose three children died during the storm, was among a big crowd at a site on the outskirts of badly hit Tacloban City where more than 2,000 people were buried. “I miss my children terribly, especially John Dave who would have celebrated his birthday tomorrow... I miss you, son, I love you so much,” Crisostomo said. Using felt-tip pens, mourners wrote names of those who died on the hundreds of white crosses planted on parched earth in symbolic gestures as many of those buried there had not been identified.

“I am looking for my brother, but his name is not on the list of those buried here,” said 50-year-old Elena Olendan, her eyes welling with tears, as she wandered around the gravesite, about the size of six basketball courts. Olendan then found a cross at the far end of the mass grave and wrote her brother’s name, Antonio, on it. At the Tacloban gravesite, white doves and balloons were released after Bishop John Du led prayers at the site where close to 2,300 people are buried. At a city hall commemoration, 1,000 white balloons were released to signify acceptance of the human loss. Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez, who attended the ceremony, said yesterday’s solemn rites gave the survivors an opportunity to let emotions come out. “It’s bittersweet because while they survived, they lost their loved ones, their livelihood and their homes. Now is really the time for them to grieve,” Romualdez said. ‘On the road to recovery’ And while millions are enduring Yolanda-exacerbated poverty, there has been some remarkable progress from a year ago, partly due to international aid agencies pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the region. *READ MORE...

ALSO Buddhist Charity in Ormoc: New ‘Symbol of hope’ for ‘Yolanda’ survivors rising; Plastic houses for survivors in Leyte

The blue-and-white clad volunteers of Tzu Chi Foundation say a prayer before doing their daily activities in Palo, Leyte, on Jan. 21, 2014. The world’s biggest Buddhist charity has started the construction of 2,000 plastic houses for families displaced by the Super Typhoon “Yolanda.” PHOTO BY DANNY PETILLA ORMOC CITY, Philippines—A new “symbol of hope” for survivors of Super Typhoon “Yolanda” is fast-rising in this city, which was sent to its knees when storm surges and powerful winds of biblical proportions barreled through the Visayas region a year ago.

Tzu Chi Foundation, the world’s biggest Buddhist charity, has started the construction of 2,000 plastic houses for families displaced by the typhoon—internationally known as “Haiyan.” “This is a symbol of hope for typhoon survivors in Leyte,” Alfred Li, the foundation’s chief executive officer, told reporters on Saturday. “Our founder said we should help take care of the body (of the typhoon survivors). The construction of these houses is for that purpose,” he said. Li said the P500-million housing program was the biggest charity project of his group, which first caught the attention of the public when it sponsored a cash-for-work program in Tacloban City and nearby towns in Leyte province a few days after Yolanda struck on Nov. 8, 2013. * READ MORE...

ALSO Manila Times Editorial: Aquino tirade gets bitter retort from Waray victims --- “Noynoy Aquino Walang silbi! and “Noynoy Aquino Inutile!”

PRESIDENT Benigno S. Aquino 3rd’s attack against critics of the criminally slow, laggard, incompetent and inadequate administration effort to aid Yolanda/Haiyan victims and rehabilitate their communities earned him bitter retorts. The statement of the Hustisya (Victims United for Justice) civil society organization of Samar and Leyte Filipinos began with the Waray Bisayan shout: “ Noynoy Aquino, waray puros! (“Noynoy Aquino Walang silbi! and “Noynoy Aquino Inutile!”) The President on Friday lashed at those who continue to criticize his administration’s criminal negligence and laggard work to rebuild the hardest-hit areas in Leyte and Samar.

His attack against critics were published in all the major newspapers and broadcast by radio and TV networks. He gave the speech in Guiuan. Samar, where he went instead of attending the commemoration ceremonies in Leyte’s Tacloban City. The People Surge Alliance for Yolanda Survivors, another Waray folk organization, gathered some 20,000 people to protest PNoy’s attack on critics of his administration’s criminal negligence and criminally inadequate and overly delayed efforts to ease the sufferings of the victims. People Surge said, “A criminal in denial is the worst criminal of all. The government’s criminal negligence led to thousands of deaths and massive persisting damages in the aftermath of the disaster.” “It is clear that PNoy only listens to voices in his head, and not to us Yolanda survivors who are supposedly his bosses.

We have felt a year’s worth of the government’s vicious abandonment, corruption, deceit, and repression, and have seen a year’s worth of news and studies that confirm this situation,” said Dr. Efleda Bautista, chairperson of People Surge. “Your tantrums over legitimate criticism, your claim that you have done everything you can for Yolanda survivors when your government’s total aid output is easily outstripped by a single NGO, and your unnatural fixation at our P40,000 comprehensive cash assistance demand when we have laid down our comprehensive calls for immediate and far-reaching aid solutions, reveal too much about your sheer incompetence, hubris, and complete disconnect to the situation here in Yolanda Ground Zero. You really deserve to be ousted,” Bautista asserted. * READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

Church bells peal today for ‘Yolanda’ Solons describe gov’t’s rehab efforts as ‘another disaster’


PREPARING FOR POPE’S VISIT – Photo shows the interior of the Sto. Niño Church in Tacloban City which is undergoing rehabilitation in time for the visit of Pope Francis in January next year. (Linus Guardian Escandor II) PREPARING FOR POPE’S VISIT – Photo shows the interior of the Sto. Niño Church in Tacloban City which is undergoing rehabilitation in time for the visit of Pope Francis in January next year. (Linus Guardian Escandor II) ANOTHER DISASTER

MANILA, NOVEMBER 10, 2014 (MANILA BULLETIN) by Christina I. Hermoso & Charissa M. Luci - Church bells peal at 6 p.m. today as the nation marks the first anniversary of the onslaught of super-typhoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan), which left at least 6,340 people dead, with 1,785 others still missing.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) also called on Filipinos nationwide to mark the “Yolanda’s” first anniversary as a National Day of Prayer in unity with those who survived the disaster.

The CBCP call was embodied in a circular issued by CBCP president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas.

As this developed, congressmen lamented the dismal performance of the government in rehabilitating areas severely affected by the super typhoon, which they described as “another disaster.”

Villegas invited Church leaders and apostolic administrators around the country to a simultaneous ringing of church bells at 6 p.m., to be followed by the CBCP’s commemorative prayer. Villegas also encouraged prelatures, dioceses, schools, and organizations to conduct their own activities to mark the event.

The commemorative prayer is as follows: “Most loving Father, One year ago, the fury of Typhoon Yolanda made us experience darkness and the pain of losing everything; it made us understand the meaning of despair. But in the midst of all these, You never have forsaken us. In the most special way, You gifted us courage and strength to rise again. In the most loving way, You shielded us with mercy and compassion. And You accomplished miracles through those who came to our aid. And as we remember that day today, we thank You for the gift of faith, hope and love. We thank You for bringing us closer to You. We thank you for letting us live another day. Spare our nation from the wrath of nature, as we find ways to care for Your Creation. Glory be…”

* POLITICS REARED UGLY HEAD

House minority bloc member, Gabriela party-list Rep. Luz Ilagan, described the government’s performance in rehabilitating Yolanda-hit provinces as “another disaster.”

“From the very start, when politics reared its ugly head, the survivors were doomed. It’s been a year and yet many of the dead are not yet buried! Should that not have been the priority? Even the accounting of the casualties is a victim of PNoy’s strange and stubborn refusal to accept the truth that the deaths reached more than 10,000. When they stopped counting the dead after 6,000, the unaccounted and unidentified were thrown into limbo,” Ilagan said.

One year after the Yolanda disaster, the death toll remains unclear. As of April 17, 2014, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) confirmed 6,340 deaths. However, there were also claims that the fatalities could reach 18,000.

Ilagan further complained that the relief operations “were selective and in utter disarray,” adding “only the valiant efforts of private groups saved the day.”

She lamented that even the distribution of relief goods was politicized, which showed the government’s lack of concern for the “Yolanda” survivors.

ROTTEN RELIEF GOODS

“Proof of government’s ineptitude and politicking – the rice and other relief goods rotted. What did PNoy’s ally, (Palo) Mayor (Remedios) Petilla do? She literally buried her sins,” Ilagan said.

Ilagan said long-term and sustainable assistance should be extended to the typhoon survivors.

“Today, many survivors need counseling. Many have no income. The promised bunkhouses are cheap, flimsy, and inadequate. They also suspiciously cost a lot! A dismal failure! Even with the appointment of a rehabilitation czar. What can he show as performance? Where did the billions of donations go?” Ilagan asked.

Another member of the House minority bloc, ABAKADA party-list Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz anticipates that it would take some time for the 14 provinces hit by Yolanda to recover, lamenting the snail-paced rehabilitation efforts of the Aquino administration.

“Sadly, the situation in the Yolanda areas has yet to normalize, a lot of the victims have yet to regain their footing as government’s best plans have yet to gain traction. It will probably take some time before the residents of the affected areas get back on their feet and move on,” he said.

President Aquino’s allies – Deputy Speaker and Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao and AKO Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe – cannot help, but agree with their opposition colleagues’ observations.

“Judging from what I have been reading, there has been too much delay.

Between the time of devastation and today, what we have seen thus far are plans and blueprints.

P167.9-B YOLANDA REHAB FUND

The Executive must begin implementing,” Aggabao said, referring to the October 29 approval of the 8,000-page P167.9-billion Yolanda Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan.

“I think the government should now be making those bold moves that would show tangible benefits to the affected people like permanent housing and jobs,” Aggabao stressed.

Of the Yolanda rehabilitation and recovery fund, P75.67 billion will go for resettlement projects for the victims; P35.14 billion for infrastructure development; P30.6 billion for livelihood and continuity of economic activities and business; and P26.4 billion for social services in disaster-stricken communities.

Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone whose province was heavily battered by “Yolanda” said the government should provide sustainable livelihood to the survivors.

“The rehabilitation and reconstruction of public infrastructures are going on. What should be given extra push are livelihood projects such as small agri-business, fishing, and farming, among others and resettlement,” he said.

Batocabe said “much is to be desired” to ensure the full-blown implementation of rehabilitation and recovery plan, recommended by Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (PARR) Secretary Panfilo Lacson to extend resettlement, infrastructure, livelihood, and social services in the “Yolanda”-affected areas.

“We still need to improve on our response time and absorptive capacity to immediately rehabilitate, rebuild and reconstruct communities flattened by the super typhoon. But then the strength of the typhoon and the magnitude of damage are unprecedented which require us to adapt new strategies in responding to the crisis while ensuring transparency and accountability,” he said.

“But, let us leave that to the executive to get their acts together. Besides, the magnitude of disaster is so overwhelming and unprecedented and hence, we are still learning how to cope with this unusual crisis,” he added.

Earlier, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate filed House Resolution 1638 urging the Lower Chamber to conduct a probe into the government’s slow rehabilitation efforts, the disbursement of supplemental fund and donations, and actual death toll related to the Yolanda disaster.

Meanwhile, Some P563 million has been raised by the Catholic Church for the victims of “Yolanda.”

Fr. Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of the CBCP’s National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice, and Peace (NASSA), said most of the donations came from the 41 various Caritas Internationalis member-organizations in six continents.

In a CBCP News post, Gariguez said that at present NASSA is currently overseeing the construction of 3,753 permanent housing units or disaster resilient-shelters, 1,600 of which were recently completed and are already livable. (With a report from Leslie Ann G. Aquino)

FROM THE INQUIRER

“We survived Yolanda. We can also survive without P-Noy,” Marlon Ramos @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:24 AM | Sunday, November 9th, 2014


ORPHANED Mark Diego Alcain, 9, lights candle for his mother Eva and sister Marian in Barangay Basper, Tacloban City. EDWIN BACASMAS

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines—They have kept the faith. And they intend to keep it, with or without President Benigno Aquino III.

Survivors of the most violent typhoon to ever make landfall did not hide their anger and disappointment over the President’s decision to skip this city during his whirlwind visit on Friday to the areas devastated by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” in Eastern Visayas.

“We survived Yolanda. We can also survive without P-Noy,” said Corazon Alboro, 48.

With other survivors, Alboro went to City Hall on Saturday to join the activities that the local government had lined up to commemorate the first anniversary of the deadliest disaster to hit the country in recent history.

She also went to look for the names of her still missing relatives on the list of Taclobanons who perished and went missing during Yolanda’s onslaught.

Flowers and Masses

The names of the dead and the missing were printed on large memorial tarpaulins that hung beside banners on which were written the words “Thank You” in front of City Hall.

Thousands of residents who survived the wrath of Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) attended Masses in churches and other places of worship throughout the city as they tearfully remembered the day the monstrous storm surges swallowed their communities.

They also brought flowers and lit candles at several mass graves where people who died in the disaster were buried.

“We thank God for saving us. We also asked Him to help us find my brother and his daughter who remain missing up to this day,” said Maricel Alamora, 60, as she came out of the 6 a.m. Mass she attended at Sto. Niño Parish in Barangay 25-A.

We will rise where we fell

Mr. Aquino should have set politics aside in dealing with the rehabilitation of the typhoon-stricken villages, said Mark Lester Morano, a father of two.

“We will rise where we have fallen. We were able to live without P-Noy. We will live without him,” Morano said.

Morano said he, his wife and their two young children aged 2 and 8 narrowly cheated death when their family’s house in Barangay 82-C, San Jose district, was swept away by walls of seawater whipped up by Yolanda’s violent winds.

He said he was upset that the man he and his family helped win the presidency in 2010 had snubbed the city regarded as ground zero for the deadly cyclone.

“I looked up to him as my idol. But now, I regret voting for him. What he did to us was a disrespect to the memory of his father, who was known for his love for ordinary Filipinos like us,” Morano said, referring to the President’s father and namesake, martyred opposition leader Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr.

* Like Morano, Alboro said she also voted for Mr. Aquino as she thought she saw in him the qualities of a good leader.

“Maybe he chose to forget us because of politics. That’s wrong. Good leaders don’t do that,” she lamented.

‘Life goes on’

Fisherman Cecilio Nablo, of Barangay 25, carefully placed a white flag on his small fishing boat before he set out to sea at Cancabato Bay just in front of City Hall.

When storm surges washed away coastal communities in the city, bloated bodies of typhoon victims were fished out of the bay.

Written on the flag were the words, “Brgy. 25. Ride to survive. Commemoration all the victims of Typhoon Haiyan. Nov. 8, 2014.”

Nablo said he himself wrote the message. “Tuloy lang ang buhay (Life goes on),” he said.

Pledge of cooperation


LACSON AND ROXAS

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman and Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Panfilo Lacson led two separate commemorative activities in Tanauan town, the second most devastated area after Tacloban, and Ormoc City.

“We will not abandon you. We will be with you all the way,” Roxas told typhoon survivors in Ormoc.

Lacson said P413 million had been earmarked for various rehabilitation projects in Ormoc, including P59 million for the repair of its damaged civic and sports center.

Roxas congratulated the local officials and residents of Ormoc for the close coordination and cooperation they showed in rebuilding their communities, saying their response to Yolanda was worth emulating.

He said the Department of the Interior and Local Government would adopt their “best practices” in developing a manual for disaster preparedness.

Hopes and dreams

In Tanauan, an agricultural town located a few kilometers from Tacloban, the Cabinet secretaries led the wreath-laying ceremony at the Yolanda memorial wall.

“The highest form of respect we can give to those who perished is our pledge of cooperation to help one another get back on their feet,” Roxas said in his speech.

Etched on the memorial wall were the names of 1,380 victims who, Roxas said, “represented the hopes and dreams that could have been.”

“Because we have many partners, rest assured that we are focused on our job and that no one will be forgotten,” he said.

Aquino only listens to ‘voices in his head’—‘Yolanda’ survivors Bong Lozada @BLozadaINQ INQUIRER.net 2:33 PM | Saturday, November 8th, 2014


President Benigno Aquino III. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

MANILA, Philippines – A group of survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” hit President Benigno Aquino III for his alleged “incompetent” response a year after the tragedy.

“It is clear that PNoy (Aquino’s monicker) only listens to voices in his head and not to us ‘Yolanda’ survivors who are supposed to be his bosses,” Dr. Efleda Bautista, chairperson of People Surge, said in a statement Saturday.

“We have felt a year’s worth of the government’s vicious abandonment, corruption, deceit and repression, and have seen a year’s worth of news and studies that confirm this situation,” Bautista added.

People Surge was reacting to Aquino’s statement against his critics over the government’s response to help the survivors of the massive typhoon that killed more than 6,000 people during its onslaught on Nov. 8, 2013.

Aquino made a speech on Guiuan, Eastern Samar which centered on his counter message to his government’s critics.

“Despite our initiatives, I have a feeling that tomorrow, someone will still claim I ignored Tacloban. I leave it to you to find out who are saying this,” Aquino said during his visit to Guiuan Friday.

Aquino said he would leave it to the public if his critics were correct that he deliberately left out Tacloban, the ground zero of “Yolanda.”

“Your tantrums over legitimate criticism, your claim that you have done everything you can for Yolanda survivors when the government’s total aid output is easily outstripped by a single non-government organization,” Bautista said.

* People Surge, alongside other “Yolanda” survivors under the Daluyong National Network of Disaster Survivors, called for the ouster of Aquino for his “continuing negligence a full year after ‘Yolanda.’”

Bautista said that the still fictional P40,000 comprehensive cash assistance to the survivors indicate Aquino’s neglect. “You deserve to be ousted.”

A year after the devastation of “Yolanda”, the government barely cracked the one percent mark of building the necessary housing for the survivors.

Around 250,000 families are still in need of permanent homes which the massive cyclone tore down.

Only 1422 households have been relocated to permanent shelters.

Coca-Cola, TESDA light up Tacloban’s streets By Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 10, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Women micro-entrepreneurs take part in a ceremony in Tacloban on Nov. 8 to celebrate their resurgence a year after losing their businesses due to Super Typhoon Yolanda.

MANILA, Philippines - It’s Christmas time once again in Tacloban after a year of misery and darkness.

Residents of the city are in the mood to celebrate the joyous season after slowly picking themselves up from the massive devastation caused by Super Typhoon Yolanda in November last year.

To help spread the yuletide cheer among Taclobanons, Coca-Cola Philippines, in partnership with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), launched its most unique holiday campaign by lighting up the streets of Tacloban and other areas in the country.

The first Coke parol (Christmas lantern) made from recycled materials was lit on Nov. 8, coinciding with the first anniversary of Yolanda.

“The Tacloban leg is most special to us because it also marks the realization of the commitment we made one year ago to help the city get back on its feet. We do not commemorate the onslaught of the typhoon. What we want to celebrate is the resiliency of the people,” said Adel Tamano, Coca-Cola vice president for public affairs and communications.

The parol lighting was part of the beverage firm’s Sari-Saring Happiness Day, which tapped sari-sari store owners as the new icons of Coca-Cola Christmas.

The project aims to provide five million female sari-sari store and carinderia owners access to training and financing.

Tamano said the country has gone through a lot of challenges so their company wants to send a reminder that even with trials, some truths remain the same.

“The truth is we can all derive happiness from sharing and spending time with the communities and the people who matter to us,” he said.

“Share Sari-Saring Happiness Day is an entirely new way of celebrating the season. From the big lighting ceremonies that we usually hold in the city, we traveled to provinces and barangays and tapped the champions of our brand, the new icons of a unique Coca-Cola Christmas – your neighborhood sari-sari store owners,” added Coca-Cola Philippines vice president for marketing Jasmin Vinculado.

Coca-Cola mounted the campaign to recognize the women who light up communities, and at the same time, help drive sales to their businesses.

TESDA director Joel Villanueva said the project was in recognition of women’s crucial role not only at home but also in micro-enterprises.

‘Faith stronger than storm’; Victims find solace in Sunday Masses Marlon Ramos @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:49 AM | Monday, November 18th, 2013


YOLANDA SHOULD FEAR MY GOD’. Ester Cabrera Uy, who lost her house when Supertyphoon “Yolanda” battered Tacloban City, hears Mass as rain falls inside Sto. Niño Parish Church, whose roof was blown away by the storm. “My faith is stronger than Yolanda. She should fear my God,” one churchgoer said. RAFFY LERMA

TACLOBAN CITY—A woman stood in front of the altar at Santo Niño Parish Church here on Sunday, unmindful of the rain falling on her from the damaged ceiling of the century-old church that had its roof ripped off by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” on Nov. 8.

Next to her was another woman holding a red umbrella. A few steps away was a sobbing middle-aged man.

Nine days after Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) left the city in ruins, survivors of one of the strongest storms on record turned to their faith as they tried to make sense of the tragedy that had befallen them.

“My faith is stronger than Yolanda. I didn’t fear Yolanda. She should fear my God,” Anita Carillo told the Inquirer after the Mass.

“Even the rains cannot stop me from thanking the Lord for saving me and my family. He is truly a caring and loving God,” she said, wiping her face dry with a white veil.

Others, like Marilyn Refugio of Sta. Rita town in Samar, dropped by the church to seek Divine Intervention in the search for her 67-year-old mother, one of the more than 12,000 people reported missing after Yolanda swept across the central Philippines.

“I know God will lead me to my mother. He is our only hope,” Refugio, 40, said, her voice breaking.

Rosario Capidos, who attended an earlier Mass celebrated by Monsignor Alex Opiñano, said she went to church to reaffirm her faith and ask for courage in facing the tragedy that had befallen hundreds of thousands of people in the region.

“We’re now homeless. But I’m very thankful I was able to save the two most important people in my life, my grandsons,” she said.

Capidos and many others wept as they sang “The Lord’s Prayer.”

In his homily, Opiñano reminded the typhoon survivors to keep their faith in God and to continue working together.

“Just hold on to Him. It’s our strong faith in Him that will save us from this tragedy. We should draw our strength from him,” he said. “As the song goes, there’s got to be a morning after.”

Soothing sermons

* In Guiuan town, Eastern Samar, grieving survivors of Yolanda also gathered in shattered churches on Sunday, listening to soothing sermons, asking questions of God and feeling a ray of hope.

Nine days after some of the strongest winds ever recorded and tsunami-like waves destroyed dozens of coastal towns and killed thousands of people, the services offered a moment to escape the grinding battle to survive in the wastelands.

Aid has been slow reaching the millions of affected people, but an enormous international relief operation picked up momentum over the weekend, bringing food, water and medical supplies and airlifting basic necessities to isolated communities.

About 300 people in Guiuan, the first town to be hit by Yolanda, attended Sunday Mass in the courtyard of the ruined 400-year-old Immaculate Conception church.

“I wish to thank the Lord. We asked for his help for all the people who survived this typhoon to be able to eat and continue a life that is hopefully more blissful,” Belen Curila, an elegantly dressed 71-year-old, told Agence France-Presse.

“The Lord has strengthened our faith and made us stronger in order for us to survive and start off all over again,” she said.

Delivering the homily, Fr. Arturo Cablao commended the community’s strength of spirit, as parishioners—some of them silently weeping—stood among twisted roofing sheets, glass shards and mud.

About 80 percent of the Philippines’ 94 million people are Catholic, a legacy of Spanish colonial rule, and their steadfast faith was on display throughout the central islands that were devastated by Yolanda.

Reassured

In Tacloban, the capital of Leyte that was one of the hardest-hit cities, hundreds of devotees sat on flood-soaked pews at the 124-year-old Santo Niño Parish Church.

Violeta Simbulan, 63, said the priest’s sermon promising that God would always be there offered her comfort while trying to cope with losing two cousins and an aunt in the disaster.

“Yes, I was reassured. As long as I have faith and constantly pray to God,” Simbulan said.

“Despite what happened, we still believe in God,” said the Rev. Amadeo Alvero, who oversaw worship at the peach-colored church on Sunday. “The church may have been destroyed, but our faith is intact, as believers, as a people of God, our faith has not been destroyed.”

The sun shone for the first service, but by the second, rain was falling through a gaping hole crisscrossed by wooden beams in the roof of the downtown church and landmark. Its windows were blown out, and winds now snap at a silver cross on top of its steeple, which hangs upside down.

It was one of dozens of churches across the Visayas that were attended by thousands, many homeless and grieving. Some came to give thanks for surviving, others to pray for the souls of the departed.

“Coming to Mass gives people hope that things will eventually get better,” said churchgoer Marino Caintic.

Solace

In typhoon-wracked Roxas City, Capiz province, residents forced to live in makeshift tents after losing their homes also turned to faith in search of solace amid the devastation.

“Yes, there are a lot who came in today than usual,” Fr. Michael Vasquez said after saying Mass at the Immaculate Conception Metropolitan Cathedral in the city.

“After all, it’s to God we all turn,” he said.

Roxas was one of the worst-hit areas in Capiz, where Yolanda destroyed 98,438 houses, displacing 130,368 people.

The city, however, suffered fewer deaths, with only 6 people reported killed, according to the provincial disaster council.

“They learned their lesson … to save their lives rather than their material possession,” Vasquez said.

A 25-year-old woman who lost her home in the coastal village of Baybay came to Mass carrying her two-month-old son, admitting it was her first time to go to church in several months.

“I prayed to God to help us,” she said.

Jun Anomis, 19, who sells cigarettes and candies outside the cathedral, said the storm leveled his family’s house.

Used tarpaulin found among storm debris now serves as shelter for the family, but Anomis said they were grateful to be alive.

In his homily, Vasquez exhorted the congregants to keep their faith and not to lose hope.

Test of faith

Although many devotees in the Philippines were seeking comfort in God on Sunday, for some the scale of the disaster and personal tragedy were proving a severe test of their faith.

Asked why would God allow a storm so powerful and so deadly to obliterate the region, claiming the lives of so many innocents and causing immense suffering, Alvero used an argument familiar to followers of the Abrahamic faiths.

“We are being tested by God, to see how strong our faith is, to see if our faith is true,” he said. “He wants to know that we have faith in him in good times, as well as in bad.”

Fr. Edwin Bacaltos, the parish president at Redemptorist Church in Tacloban, had been asked the same question by many parishioners.

“I didn’t give them any theological answer. I just listened and kept quiet. It’s not the time to rationalize,” he said.

Bacaltos said he also had struggled, breaking down while trying to say Mass on the first Sunday after the disaster.

“I had difficulty. I saw so many people killed. They were just there,” he said, pointing to bodies that had been strewn along the nearby seaside.

“But this is not God’s punishment. I have told them that God still loves us. Because God is a compassionate God. He will not abandon us.”—With reports from AP and AFP

FROM PHILSTAR

Prayers, tears one year after Yolanda By Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 9, 2014 - 12:00am 1 10 googleplus0 0


Grief stricken for Tacloban: Sen Bongbong Marcos, Tacloban Mayor Romualdez, Rep Imelda Romualdez Marcos attending the Tacloban ceremonies at the mass grave site marking First Anniversary of devastating Yolanda.

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – Survivors of the strongest typhoon ever to hit land wept at mass graves yesterday during ceremonies to mark one year since Super Typhoon Yolanda devastated central Philippines and condemned millions to deeper poverty.

Yolanda (Haiyan) claimed more than 7,350 lives as it swept in off the Pacific Ocean, with its record winds and once-in-a-generation storm surges flattening entire towns.

The monster storm tore across a corridor of Samar and Leyte where about 14 million people lived in farming and fishing communities that were already among the nation’s poorest.

The rebuilding effort has been painfully slow for most survivors, with millions poorer and many dangerously exposed to the next big storm as they still live in shanty homes along coastal areas.

In an outpouring of grief, thousands marched to mass grave sites scattered across the typhoon zone yesterday to offer flowers, light candles and say prayers.

Josephine Crisostomo, 41, whose three children died during the storm, was among a big crowd at a site on the outskirts of badly hit Tacloban City where more than 2,000 people were buried.

“I miss my children terribly, especially John Dave who would have celebrated his birthday tomorrow... I miss you, son, I love you so much,” Crisostomo said.

Using felt-tip pens, mourners wrote names of those who died on the hundreds of white crosses planted on parched earth in symbolic gestures as many of those buried there had not been identified.

“I am looking for my brother, but his name is not on the list of those buried here,” said 50-year-old Elena Olendan, her eyes welling with tears, as she wandered around the gravesite, about the size of six basketball courts.

Olendan then found a cross at the far end of the mass grave and wrote her brother’s name, Antonio, on it.

At the Tacloban gravesite, white doves and balloons were released after Bishop John Du led prayers at the site where close to 2,300 people are buried.

At a city hall commemoration, 1,000 white balloons were released to signify acceptance of the human loss.

Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez, who attended the ceremony, said yesterday’s solemn rites gave the survivors an opportunity to let emotions come out.

“It’s bittersweet because while they survived, they lost their loved ones, their livelihood and their homes. Now is really the time for them to grieve,” Romualdez said.

‘On the road to recovery’

And while millions are enduring Yolanda-exacerbated poverty, there has been some remarkable progress from a year ago, partly due to international aid agencies pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the region.

* Some of the big successes of the campaign have been the restoration of electricity within a few months, quick replanting of rice crops and sanitation programs that prevented major outbreaks of killer diseases.

A year after the tragedy, the United Nations declared the Philippines to be “well on the road to recovery” as efforts to rebuild the livelihoods of local communities begin to yield results.

The UN agencies, however, also observed that much work remained to be done in assisting those still afflicted by displacement and lost employment opportunities.

On Friday, the eve marking the first year after Yolanda, UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) director general Jose Graziano da Silva declared that farmers are the backbone of this recovery and the key to build community resilience to future disasters.

“Their work now will ensure that when the next typhoon hits, the impacts are smaller and they are able to recover quicker,” Da Silva said.

Yolanda left an estimated $12 billion in damages in the agricultural sector.

Within hours after Yolanda made landfall, 1.1 million tons of crops suffered severe damage.

Coconut farmers, for instance, lost some 44 million trees to the storm, dealing a debilitating blow to their livelihoods. Coconut trees take six to eight years to become productive again.

At the same time, nearly two-thirds of fishing communities lost their productive assets.

“Farmers have been key responders in this emergency. We helped them source seed to plant in time. They, in turn, filled local markets with rice four months later,” said Jose Luis Fernandez, FAO representative to the Philippines.

“Without their perseverance, food aid and other forms of humanitarian assistance would have been required much longer and for many more people,” he added.

Leveraging nearly $40 million in support from the international community, FAO and local authorities have funneled assistance to 150,000 farming and fishing families or some 750,000 people in four critical areas of intervention: rice and corn farming, fisheries and coastal communities, coconut-based farming systems and coastal/mangrove forest rehabilitation.

“With one-third of the country relying on the agriculture sector for their livelihood, it is crucial to get people back on their feet as quickly as possible and assist them in rebuilding their lives,” Fernandez said.

In a briefing yesterday from Geneva, the UN humanitarian agencies also underscored the gains made by the Philippines a year after the tragedy.

Julie Hall of the World Health Organization explained that, from a health perspective, the past year had been very challenging for the Philippines, which had lost 600 health facilities in the storm.

Hall said the international community’s response had been overwhelming as aid poured in to the affected areas and around half of the damaged facilities had been repaired or were in the process of reparation.

Hall, however, noted that levels of functionality between health centers varied, medicine was running out and a recent uptick in mental health issues could be observed.

Meanwhile, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs spokesperson Jens Laerke said the UN humanitarian wing had served roughly 3.7 million people with food assistance, almost one million with rehabilitated water systems and established 4,900 temporary learning spaces for children.

He said that OCHA had been humbled by the extraordinary resilience of the Filipino people who had pushed through the disaster and towards recovery individually and collectively.

For its part, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said it was now focusing on the remaining 20,000 people still living in 56 displacement sites across typhoon-affected areas after the majority of the 4.1 million displaced persons had returned home to rebuild or been relocated.

As UNHCR worked to provide those still displaced with shelter, water and sanitation, spokesman Adrian Edwards said the agency was also lobbying for the government to adopt legislation protecting the rights of displaced people.

He said the passage of such legislation would be very timely as the country welcomes crucial steps in attaining sustainable peace in the southern Philippines.

The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the Philippines on behalf of the Humanitarian Country Team to mark the anniversary remembered all those who lost their lives and acknowledged the extraordinary resilience of the Filipino people.

“We are privileged to have been able to contribute to the humanitarian response led by the government of the Philippines and will continue to support recovery efforts at all levels and in particular through the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery and relevant line ministries,” said Luiza Carvalho, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the Philippines.

The build-up to the anniversary had focused renewed attention on the pace of the reconstruction effort, with President Aquino criticized by many for a perceived lack of urgency.

Roughly one million people need to be moved away from coastal areas that are deemed vulnerable to storm surges, according to a P3.6-billion government master plan for rebuilding the typhoon zones.

However, those plans have already fallen behind schedule, delayed by problems in finding new land that is safe and suitable for 205,000 new homes.

Across the typhoon-hit islands, schools, health centers, gymnasiums and other important community buildings are also yet to be rebuilt or repaired.

In a speech at the typhoon-hit town of Guiuan on Friday, President Aquino defended the pace of the reconstruction and recovery program, saying he was determined to ensure it was carried out correctly rather than rushing the reconstruction work.

“Curse me, criticize me but I believe I must do the right thing,” Aquino said.

“I am impatient like everyone else but I have to stress that we can’t rebuild haphazardly. We have to build back better... let’s get it right the first time and the benefits should be permanent.”

Challenges

While the exact figures for the dead and missing are still being collected, the physical recovery remains a challenge. The typhoon demolished about a million houses and displaced more than four million people in the region.

Overall damage was estimated at P571.1 billion, including about 16 million knocked-down coconut trees, a major source of livelihood.

With the loss of income, about a million more people were pushed deeper into poverty, according to the Asian Development Bank.

Building more than 200,000 new houses for the poor, who were left with nothing, is proving difficult.

The government, backed by international donors, has built temporary bunkhouses and shelters, but many residents have hammered back their shacks in the same coastal villages where they were hit by the storm – and which have been officially declared “no-build zones.”

About 3,000 people still live in tents in Tacloban, though the city government has pledged to move them to permanent housing by the end of the year.

Under the long-term plan to protect against similar typhoon onslaughts, the government wants to build an elevated road connecting Tacloban to two coastal towns that will also serve as a dike.

“Like you, I am impatient,” President Aquino told residents of Guiuan, the first town that was literally hammered down by Yolanda. “We can’t be reckless as we build back better.”

Just like the town of Guiuan, Tacloban was the worst hit by the storm and the other outlying regions have crawled back from the rubble. Shopping malls, hotels and offices have reopened, with cars, taxis and motorcycles clogging downtown streets – the same spots where huge mounds of debris and bodies lay scattered weeks after Yolanda blew away. Yet, human scars are harder to overcome.

Four months after she lost her husband and home to Yolanda’s fury, Agnes Bacsal gave birth to their sixth child – a sprightly boy, whose company has eased the family’s pain.

Other survivors, like fisherman Ben Pedrero, still struggle. His wife and son perished in the monster storm and more than 40 other relatives are still missing.

“In just a blink of an eye, they were all gone,” the 61-year-old Pedrero said.

“I’ll only overcome this tragedy when I die myself,” he added, wiping tears with his shirt as he helped relatives roast a pig and prepare food for yesterday’s anniversary.

The seven-meter high waves also took away Pedrero’s house with all its precious belongings – his family’s pictures and personal mementos. Also gone was his fishing boat, his only source of income.

Like him, Bacsal still relies on dole-outs mostly from relatives and friends. Without her husband, tricycle driver Jonathan, and her house, she now lives with her six children in a shack built from storm debris.

Amid continuing adversity, Bacsal’s family is being held together by faith – an altar with rosaries and the images of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary adorn a wall – and a bubbly, new family member, 7-month-old baby John William. His cries filled the bare shack.

“He gives me joy, just by being beside me,” Bacsal said, cradling her baby.

A 14-year-old daughter, Maria Jean, beamed with optimism. “I’ll be the best businesswoman in Asia and bring them out of here someday,” she said when asked about her plans.

With help from relatives and friends, Bacsal was able to send Maria Jean to high school. They scrimp on grocery items recently donated by a city official and were able to sell extra foodstuff to neighbors in a sari-sari store.

Jun Janedo, 32, also owns a store selling local delicacies to visitors as his means of livelihood. He used to live in the coastal area of Tacloban.

Although he lost his house and everything in it, Janedo was fortunate to account for his wife and three children alive after the storm surge brought about by the typhoon.

“A day before Yolanda struck, we evacuated to safer ground. But we lost our house and everything inside,” Janedo said.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II said local businesses would restore normalcy in the economy in the region and the delivery of basic commodities will be stable again once the public markets are rehabilitated.

“With the completion of the local government buildings, the municipal employees can work effectively and give more efficient services to their constituents,” Roxas explained.

Roxas assured the affected towns that the national government is ready to assist them as they rebuild their lives and be accustomed to disaster preparedness measures.

Officials said some P570 million in additional funds is needed for the recovery and rehabilitation of local infrastructures, local bridges, slaughter houses and water facilities in Yolanda stricken areas.

Rolyn Zambales, chief of the Office of the Project Development Service, said rehabilitation of local infrastructure like bridges, slaughter houses and water facilities in Yolanda stricken areas was not included in the initial assessment.

“The construction activities at the 184 more municipal halls, civic centers, public markets are ongoing, 28 others are under procurement,” Zambales said. – With AP

FROM THE INQUIRER

‘Symbol of hope’ for ‘Yolanda’ survivors rising; Plastic houses for survivors in Leyte Marlon Ramos @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:40 AM | Monday, November 10th, 2014


The blue-and-white clad volunteers of Tzu Chi Foundation say a prayer before doing their daily activities in Palo, Leyte, on Jan. 21, 2014. The world’s biggest Buddhist charity has started the construction of 2,000 plastic houses for families displaced by the Super Typhoon “Yolanda.” PHOTO BY DANNY PETILLA

ORMOC CITY, Philippines—A new “symbol of hope” for survivors of Super Typhoon “Yolanda” is fast-rising in this city, which was sent to its knees when storm surges and powerful winds of biblical proportions barreled through the Visayas region a year ago.

Tzu Chi Foundation, the world’s biggest Buddhist charity, has started the construction of 2,000 plastic houses for families displaced by the

typhoon—internationally known as “Haiyan.”

“This is a symbol of hope for typhoon survivors in Leyte,” Alfred Li, the foundation’s chief executive officer, told reporters on Saturday.

“Our founder said we should help take care of the body (of the typhoon survivors). The construction of these houses is for that purpose,” he said.

Li said the P500-million housing program was the biggest charity project of his group, which first caught the attention of the public when it sponsored a cash-for-work program in Tacloban City and nearby towns in Leyte province a few days after Yolanda struck on Nov. 8, 2013.

* After attending the commemoration of Yolanda’s first anniversary, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Presidential Assistant for Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Panfilo Lacson led the inspection of the ingenious shelter program in a 50-hectare property in Barangay (village) Liloan.

Dignity

Li said the land was donated by the family of Mayor Edward Codilla.

“More than the value of these shelters, I think the more important thing is the sense of dignity that these structures give the survivors,” Roxas said.

“They will now have a place of their own which offers privacy. Besides dignity, these houses will also give them a sense of safety,” he added.

Each of the 27-square-meter structures costs P100,000, Li said. Its roofing and walls are made of beige-colored polypropylene, a type of hard plastic, joined together by steel metals.

Each unit has three bedrooms, a small kitchen, a living room and a “self-contained” toilet. It also has a “skylight panel” that allows ventilation.

Like camping tents, the four corners of the houses will be tied down to the concrete floor with steel cables, allowing them to withstand winds of up to 175 kilometers per hour.

Besides screen windows, tiled floors make the houses more decent than the temporary bunkhouses that the government has built for the survivors.

Site at ground zero

Since the project began last month, Li said 50 houses had been completed. The charity intends to build at least 500 houses more by December, he said.

Li said the foundation was planning to construct 2,000 houses in Ormoc and another 300 in Palo town, also in Leyte.

He said his group was discussing with the officials of Tacloban City a possible site in the area known as ground zero for the deadly cyclone.

“While we are Buddhists, we hope to finish this as a Christmas gift to the people,” Li said.

Cost-efficient

Li said the shelters were cost-efficient since each house required only 10 people to assemble. With proper training, he said a 10-member construction team could finish a house in just one day.

“We are now training 20 to 30 groups to help us build the houses. All the materials, which were imported from the United States, are already here and are ready to be assembled,” he said. “In time, this place will be a new barangay.”

Roxas said the government may replicate Tzu Chi’s unique housing program in other typhoon-stricken areas.

“This is a product of Tzu Chi’s best practices. They have developed their own design. I think we can learn something from their engineering experience,” Roxas said.

MANILA TIMES EDITORIAL

Aquino tirade gets bitter retort from Waray victims
November 8, 2014 9:57 pm


TIMES EDITORIAL CARTOON: ONE YEAR AFTER YOLANDA

PRESIDENT Benigno S. Aquino 3rd’s attack against critics of the criminally slow, laggard, incompetent and inadequate administration effort to aid Yolanda/Haiyan victims and rehabilitate their communities earned him bitter retorts.

The statement of the Hustisya (Victims United for Justice) civil society organization of Samar and Leyte Filipinos began with the Waray Bisayan shout: “ Noynoy Aquino, waray puros! (“Noynoy Aquino Walang silbi! and “Noynoy Aquino Inutile!”)

The President on Friday lashed at those who continue to criticize his administration’s criminal negligence and laggard work to rebuild the hardest-hit areas in Leyte and Samar. His attack against critics were published in all the major newspapers and broadcast by radio and TV networks.

He gave the speech in Guiuan. Samar, where he went instead of attending the commemoration ceremonies in Leyte’s Tacloban City.

The People Surge Alliance for Yolanda Survivors, another Waray folk organization, gathered some 20,000 people to protest PNoy’s attack on critics of his administration’s criminal negligence and criminally inadequate and overly delayed efforts to ease the sufferings of the victims.

People Surge said, “A criminal in denial is the worst criminal of all. The government’s criminal negligence led to thousands of deaths and massive persisting damages in the aftermath of the disaster.”

“It is clear that PNoy only listens to voices in his head, and not to us Yolanda survivors who are supposedly his bosses. We have felt a year’s worth of the government’s vicious abandonment, corruption, deceit, and repression, and have seen a year’s worth of news and studies that confirm this situation,” said Dr. Efleda Bautista, chairperson of People Surge.

“Your tantrums over legitimate criticism, your claim that you have done everything you can for Yolanda survivors when your government’s total aid output is easily outstripped by a single NGO, and your unnatural fixation at our P40,000 comprehensive cash assistance demand when we have laid down our comprehensive calls for immediate and far-reaching aid solutions, reveal too much about your sheer incompetence, hubris, and complete disconnect to the situation here in Yolanda Ground Zero. You really deserve to be ousted,” Bautista asserted.

The victims vented this angry response during the second day of the People Surge’s ‘Global Surge’ protests over Aquino’s unconscionable neglect of disaster-affected communities.

The protesters grew to a mammoth crowd of 20,000 people, composed of different survivor and grassroots mutual aid groups under the Daluyong National Network of Survivors.

The survivor’s protest actions include a nationally-coordinated “survivor walk” by cultural workers across the Philippines wearing mud to symbolically represent disaster victims, and the burning of a 9-foot effigy of PNoy depicted as a vulturous monster atop a tank. This, according to People Surge, depicts state abandonment of victims and militarization of disaster-affected communities.

“We are facing so many injustices—anti-poor and pro-big business rehabilitation projects, corruption of disaster funds, militarization of dissenting survivor communities, and worsening environmental destruction and climate change. The biggest stumbling block and worst destabilizer in the post-Yolanda situation is the President himself and his cohorts. The first step to take in holding the disaster President Aquino to account is to remove him from his seat of power and submit him to mechanisms for accountability,” Bautista demanded.

People Surge and other survivors groups and people’s mutual aid movements, under the newly-formed Daluyong National Network of Disaster Survivors, are calling for the ouster of President Noynoy Aquino for his continuing disastrous criminal negligence a full year after Yolanda.

Excerpts from Hustisya statement

We demand justice, as we stand firm that the Aquino government is guilty of criminal neglect. Pres. Noynoy Aquino bragged that the government is prepared for the coming disaster, but later justified its ineptness amid the overwhelming destruction from the supertyphoon.

The Aquino government declared a “state of national calamity” four days after, only when the people had become too desperate for food, water and shelter. More lives were lost and put in danger in subsequent days, while government agencies were ready making different excuses why help did not reach the people on time.

We hold the Aquino government accountable for the massive loss of lives and the absence of much-needed relief and rehabilitation. The people looked for ways to survive while enduring the pain and sudden loss. Various cause-oriented individuals and groups, both locally and internationally have set foot in the areas affected, way earlier than the government, way much earlier than Pres. Aquino himself.

The national government, that should have the means, the resources and machinery for disaster response, was quick to pass the blame.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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