PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK

SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT: POPE SENDS MESSAGE OF PEACE, HOPE 

DEC 7 ---Today, the Catholic Church marks the Second Sunday of Advent, with Church rites centering on preparations for the celebration of Christmas, which the Holy Father considers as “the hope for humanity.” Pope Francis’ list of prayer intentions for the year 2014 includes a message of peace and hope to the Catholic faithful as he prays for “the Birth of the Redeemer to bring peace and hope to all people of goodwill.” READ FULL REPORT...

(ALSO) Pope: "I shouldn't be the focus of my Philippine trip"
Pope Francis echoes an earlier message: 'From now on enough of Francis, just Jesus'!

PHOTO: OLD FRIENDS. Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle welcomes Pope Francis to the Pope Paul VI Audience Hall for a private audience of the Federation of the Asian Bishops' Conferences on October 17, 2014. Photo courtesy of Fr Yulito Ignacio MANILA, Philippines – Pope Francis wants Filipinos to make Jesus, not him as pontiff, the focus of his visit to the Philippines in January 2015. Quoting Francis, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said Wednesday, December 3: “It came from him: 'I should not be the focus. Jesus should be the focus.'” During a recollection for organizers and journalists involved in the papal visit, the cardinal added in Filipino, “Jesus – the Word of God fully alive – is what the Pope wants to bring us.” Catholics consider the Pope the Vicar of Christ, or Christ's representative, as the visible head of the Catholic Church.

ALSO: Jamie Rivera’s song picked for Papal visit 

Jamie Rivera (Publicity photo) Jamie Rivera (Publicity photo) Singer Jamie Rivera’s “We Are All God’s Children” is the official theme song of Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines from Jan. 15 to 19, 2015. In an interview with “Mornings@ANC,” Rivera shared that she called Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines, to ask if she could submit a song for the Papal visit. “Sabi ni Archbishop Socrates Villegas ‘Sige,’” she said. Rivera said she was thrilled in learning her song was picked by the Vatican. “Archbishop Villegas called me sabi ‘It will going to be the official song for the Papal visit,’” she recalled. Rivera’s song carries the message of solidarity with the poor and mercy to the weak. “I wanted to show kasi the humility of the Pope. Kasi nga he is known for being humble and very humane,” she said. Pope Francis will be the third pontiff to visit the Philippines after Pope Paul VI in 1970 and Pope John Paul II in 1981 and 1995. LISTEN AND SING WITH JAIME....

ALSO: 10.4 million Pinoys jobless – SWS  

DEC 7 ---The unemployment rate in the country has been on a downward trend since 2012, according to the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey that pegged the number of jobless adult Filipinos at an estimated 10.4 million. The results of the SWS third quarter survey – published in BusinessWorld on Friday – said the unemployment rate in the country for September this year is at 22.9 percent, the lowest since the 21.7 percent recorded in September last year. The latest survey result is lower by three points from the 25.9 percent unemployment rate recorded in the second quarter of 2014. According to the SWS, the adult unemployment rate in the country has been on a downward trend since the record-high 34.4 percent recorded in March 2012. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Like Yolanda, Ruby sets ‘island hop’ 

DEC 7 --BORONGAN, Eastern Samar—Interior Secretary Mar Roxas on Friday called on local government officials to be firm in implementing the evacuation of coastal communities in Eastern Visayas as Typhoon “Ruby” moved closer to areas battered by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” a year ago. Presiding over a meeting at the provincial capitol building, Roxas reminded officials to ensure that food items were already prepositioned near evacuation centers. --US NAVY FORECAST SHOWS TYPHOON TO PASS CLOSE TO MANILA Slow-moving typhoon “Ruby” will likely follow a similar “island-hopping” course taken by typhoon “Yolanda” last year that multiplied the devastation it caused as Ruby is expected to make landfalls in Visayas and Luzon five times starting this morning, the state weather bureau said yesterday. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Ruby blacks out Bicol, Visayas  

DEC 8 ---PHOTO: Residents walk in the dark during a power outage after strong winds from Typhoon Hagupit toppled some electrical posts in Albay province, eastern Philippines on Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014. Typhoon Hagupit knocked out power in entire coastal provinces, mowed down trees and sent more than 650,000 people into shelters before it weakened Sunday, sparing the central Philippines a repetition of unprecedented devastation by last year's storm. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila) MANILA, Philippines - Typhoon Ruby knocked out power in at least five provinces, toppling down trees and power lines and sending more than 650,000 people fleeing into shelters before it weakened yesterday. Packing maximum sustained winds of 175 kilometers per hour and gusts of 210 kph, Ruby made landfall in Dolores, a coastal town in Eastern Samar Saturday night. Officials said the strong winds brought by Ruby could have caused major damage and knocked out power in the provinces of Sorsogon, Catanduanes, Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Masbate and Mindoro. “Based on initial reports, there has been no electricity in... Sorsogon, Catanduanes, Albay, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur, Masbate and Mindoro since yesterday evening,” said Maj. Angelo Guzman, spokesman for the military’s Southern Luzon Command. In the town of Dolores, power went out immediately as Ruby made landfall. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Infant dies in Iloilo evacuation center  

DEC 8 ---PHOTO: Filipino families sleep as they take refuge at a school used as an evacuation center as they prepare for Typhoon Hagupit in Legazpi, Albay province, eastern Philippines Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014. Typhoon Hagupit slammed into the central Philippines' east coast late Saturday, knocking out power and toppling trees in a region where 650,000 people have fled to safety, still haunted by the massive death and destruction wrought by a monster storm last year. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila) MANILA, Philippines - A toddler died of pneumonia in an evacuation center in Iloilo during the initial onslaught of Typhoon Ruby (international name Hagupit) yesterday. Balasan town Mayor Filomeno Ganzon said 16-month- old Althea Angelique Rojo died after suffering from convulsions. Rojo was taken to Jesus Colmenares District Hospital due to fever early morning yesterday. Her family was evacuated to the Balantian Elementary School, which shelters 863 families or 3,576 people. A 65-year-old man also died in Estancia town on Saturday. READ FULL REPORT...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Pope sends message of peace, hope

MANILA, DECEMBER 8, 2014 (MANILA BULLETIN)  by Christina I. Hermoso - POSTED DEC 7, 2014 -Today, the Catholic Church marks the Second Sunday of Advent, with Church rites centering on preparations for the celebration of Christmas, which the Holy Father considers as “the hope for humanity.”

Pope Francis’ list of prayer intentions for the year 2014 includes a message of peace and hope to the Catholic faithful as he prays for “the Birth of the Redeemer to bring peace and hope to all people of goodwill.”

Church rites will include the lighting of the candle of peace, the second purple candle in the Advent wreath. Also known as the Bethlehem candle, the second purple candle “serves as a reminder that Jesus was born in Bethlehem and that Jesus is King,” said Church officials.

The first purple candle, the symbol of hope, that was lit last Sunday on the First Sunday of Advent, will also be lighted.

According to the Church, the progression in the lighting of the candles symbolizes the various aspects of our waiting experience. As the candles are lighted over the four-week Season of Advent, it mirrors the darkness of fear receding and the shadows of sin falling away as more and more light is shed into the world.

Confessional prayers will be recited during the Eucharistic celebration as part of the period of anticipation and waiting for the Second Coming while preparing for the celebration of the First Coming of Christ at Christmas. Churchgoers are encouraged to go to confession “to welcome the dawning of the Birth of Christ with clean hearts.”

The traditional theme for the Second Sunday of Advent is “God’s Divine Love for Mankind.”


FROM RAPPLER.COM

Pope: I shouldn't be the focus of my Philippine trip Paterno Esmaquel II Published 6:22 PM, Dec 03, 2014 Updated 6:22 PM, Dec 03, 2014

Pope Francis echoes an earlier message: 'From now on enough of Francis, just Jesus'!


OLD FRIENDS. Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle welcomes Pope Francis to the Pope Paul VI Audience Hall for a private audience of the Federation of the Asian Bishops' Conferences on October 17, 2014. Photo courtesy of Fr Yulito Ignacio OLD FRIENDS. Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle welcomes Pope Francis to the Pope Paul VI Audience Hall for a private audience of the Federation of the Asian Bishops' Conferences on October 17, 2014. Photo courtesy of Fr Yulito Ignacio

MANILA, Philippines – Pope Francis wants Filipinos to make Jesus, not him as pontiff, the focus of his visit to the Philippines in January 2015.

Quoting Francis, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said Wednesday, December 3: “It came from him: 'I should not be the focus. Jesus should be the focus.'”

During a recollection for organizers and journalists involved in the papal visit, the cardinal added in Filipino, “Jesus – the Word of God fully alive – is what the Pope wants to bring us.”

Catholics consider the Pope the Vicar of Christ, or Christ's representative, as the visible head of the Catholic Church.

The Pope will visit the Philippines from January 15 to 19 primarily to comfort the survivors of the Bohol earthquake and Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in the Visayas. (READ: Vatican releases Pope's Philippine itinerary)

The theme of his visit is “mercy and compassion.” (READ: Spend more than 6 hours in Visayas, Pope asked)

'Enough of Francis'

During Wednesday's recollection, Tagle added that focusing on Jesus is also “the whole point of the Advent season,” a 4-week period of waiting for Christmas that began on Sunday, November 30.

He explained: “The Advent season is a reminder to us: The one who will come is Jesus. But are we looking for him? Are we interested in him? Do we long for him?”

Even before reminding Filipinos to focus on Jesus during his visit, Francis has already warned Catholics about too much attention on him.

In a speech on May 18, 2013, two months after he was elected pontiff, Francis said: “What is the most important thing? Jesus. If we forge ahead with our own arrangements, with other things, with beautiful things but without Jesus we make no headway, it does not work. Jesus is more important.”

The Pope added: “I would like now to make a small complaint, but in a brotherly way, just between ourselves. All of you in the square shouted, 'Francis, Francis, Pope Francis.' But where was Jesus? I should have preferred to hear you cry: 'Jesus, Jesus is Lord, and He is in our midst!'”

“From now on enough of 'Francis,' just 'Jesus'”! – Rappler.com


FROM MANILA BULLETIN

Jamie Rivera’s song picked for Papal visit by Rowena Tan November 13, 2014 (updated) Share this:


Jamie Rivera (Publicity photo)

Jamie Rivera (Publicity photo) Singer Jamie Rivera’s “We Are All God’s Children” is the official theme song of Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines from Jan. 15 to 19, 2015.

In an interview with “Mornings@ANC,” Rivera shared that she called Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines, to ask if she could submit a song for the Papal visit.

“Sabi ni Archbishop Socrates Villegas ‘Sige,’” she said.

Rivera said she was thrilled in learning her song was picked by the Vatican.

“Archbishop Villegas called me sabi ‘It will going to be the official song for the Papal visit,’” she recalled.

Rivera’s song carries the message of solidarity with the poor and mercy to the weak.

“I wanted to show kasi the humility of the Pope. Kasi nga he is known for being humble and very humane,” she said.

Pope Francis will be the third pontiff to visit the Philippines after Pope Paul VI in 1970 and Pope John Paul II in 1981 and 1995. LISTEN AND SING WITH JAIME: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=au9yNz1l8rM


FROM PHILSTAR

10.4 M Pinoys jobless – SWS By Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 7, 2014 - 12:00am 1 48 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - The unemployment rate in the country has been on a downward trend since 2012, according to the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey that pegged the number of jobless adult Filipinos at an estimated 10.4 million.

The results of the SWS third quarter survey – published in BusinessWorld on Friday – said the unemployment rate in the country for September this year is at 22.9 percent, the lowest since the 21.7 percent recorded in September last year.

The latest survey result is lower by three points from the 25.9 percent unemployment rate recorded in the second quarter of 2014.

According to the SWS, the adult unemployment rate in the country has been on a downward trend since the record-high 34.4 percent recorded in March 2012.

The pollster said seven percent of the respondents involuntarily left their jobs, while 12 percent resigned. The survey was conducted from Sept. 26-29 among 1,200 respondents nationwide.

Optimism up

In addition to a lower unemployment rate, the latest survey results showed that optimism for work availability in the next 12 months improved.

The net optimism on job availability increased by eight points to a “fair” 12 from a “mediocre” four rating in the second quarter survey.

The SWS said 33 percent of the respondents think the number of jobs in the next 12 months will increase, while another 33 percent said it would stay the same.

Twenty-two percent of the respondents said they think job availability would decrease, while the remaining 12 percent of respondents said they have no idea.


FROM THE TRIBUNE

Like Yolanda, Ruby sets ‘island hop’ Written by Tribune Wires Sunday, 07 December 2014 00:00

US NAVY FORECAST SHOWS TYPHOON TO PASS CLOSE TO MANILA


BORONGAN, Eastern Samar—Interior Secretary Mar Roxas on Friday called on local government officials to be firm in implementing the evacuation of coastal communities in Eastern Visayas as Typhoon “Ruby” moved closer to areas battered by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” a year ago. Presiding over a meeting at the provincial capitol building, Roxas reminded officials to ensure that food items were already prepositioned near evacuation centers. “We cannot let the people go hungry when food packs are already available. Make sure that rice and other relief goods are delivered without delay,” Roxas told the officials. INQUIRER PHOTO


Slow-moving typhoon “Ruby” will likely follow a similar “island-hopping” course taken by typhoon “Yolanda” last year that multiplied the devastation it caused as Ruby is expected to make landfalls in Visayas and Luzon five times starting this morning, the state weather bureau said yesterday.

Pag-asa weather forecaster Manny Mendoza said if typhoon Ruby continues its track at 13 kilometers per hour (kph) towards west direction, it is expected to make a landfall in Samar between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. today and in Masbate at about 2 p.m to 4 p.m. today, and in Sibuyan Island between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. also today.

Mendoza also said typhoon Ruby was also expected to make another landfall in Romblom between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. tomorrow and then a landfall in Oriental Mindoro around 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. of the same day.

Yolanda made six landfalls with the first having happened in Guiuan town of Easter Samar at 4:40 a.m. on Nov. 8 last year followed by Tolosa town of Leyte at 7 a.m., while the third landfall was in Daang Bantayan in Cebu at 10 a.m.

Yolanda made its fourth landfall in Bantayan Island also in Cebu at 10:40 am and the fifth in Concepcion town in Iloilo at 12 noon.

Yolanda also passed through Boracay island of Aklan, Semirara of Antique, and San Jose of Mindoro before it made its 6th landfall in Busuanga, Palawan around 8 p.m., Nov. 8 last year.

Pag-asa’s forecast, however, conflicts with that of the US Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center, with the American service predicting Ruby will get closer to Manila.

Regardless, tens of millions of people live in the typhoon’s path, including those in the Visayas region who are still struggling to recover from Yolanda’s devastation 13 months ago.

Mendoza said that once ‘Ruby’ makes landfall, the typhoon may also weaken its strength due to friction effect with landmass.

Mendoza also sees the possibility of a lesser wind strength due to the effects the northeast monsoon, ridge of high pressure and trough of low pressure area (LPA).

As the typhoon moves closer to Visayas and Luzon, he said its outer spiral will bring rains and gusty winds in some areas of Luzon including Metro Manila starting Sunday evening or Monday morning.

Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda said based on a telephone talk with Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pag-asa) Deputy Administrator Landrico Dalida Jr. that typhoon “Ruby” will hit Masbate, the province nearest to Albay at a distance of 70 kilometers, Saturday.

Salceda said the typhoon, which used to be a super typhoon, said the speed of Ruby moved faster by 22 hours, based on the information of Dalida.

Heavy rain and strong winds pounded the eastern part of the country as millions sheltered from Ruby that threatened more devastation to areas yet to recover from a deadly super typhoon last year.

Across the country, people huddled in evacuation centers and their homes as the typhoon churned towards the country with the eye of the storm making landfall last night.

“This is it. I know you are tired, not enough sleep, not enough food, too much coffee,” Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II said as he called for a final effort to bring more people in vulnerable areas to safe shelters.

“This is our last push. Every person we can save now is one less we have to look for after the typhoon passes,” he said.

Roxas was speaking at a nationally televised planning conference from the eastern island of Samar, which was forecast to be the first hit when Ruby arrives bringing with it winds of 185 kilometres (115 miles) an hour.

The televised planning was evidently held to make up for the uncoordinated response to typhoon Yolanda where politics hampered relief and rescue operations last year.

Tacloban City is headed by Mayor Alfred Romualdez, a political opponent of Roxas and President Aquino.

Ruby is expected to take three days to cut across the Philippines, passing over mostly poor farming central regions, then possibly the southern regions of the densely populated capital of Manila.

Yolanda was the strongest storm ever recorded on land, with winds of 315 kilometres an hour.

It also generated tsunami-like storm surges that claimed more than 7,350 lives, making it one of the Philippines’ deadliest natural disasters.

In Tacloban, one of the cities worst-hit by last year’s supertyphoon, thousands of traumatised typhoon survivors crammed into schools, churches and other evacuation centers yesterday.

“We are afraid. People are panicking,” Alma Gaut, 36, whose house was destroyed and mother died during Yolanda, told AFP as she huddled in the second floor of a university with more than 1,000 other people.

“All we have is a tattered, plastic sheet to sleep on. My grandmother is already feeling the cold.”

Outside, the town appeared almost deserted as heavy rain fall and trees bent with the wind in what residents feared was an ominous prelude to another disaster.

Local media outlets showed steadily worsening weather yesterday afternoon in the eastern regions facing the Pacific Ocean, with waves more than one meter high pounding coasts and flash flooding in some towns.

In Catbalogan, the capital of neighbouring Samar island, authorities were preparing for water surges more than one storey high.

More than 10,000 people had been ordered into safe buildings, according to mayor Stephany Uy-Tan.

“We don’t want people to panic but I ordered forced evacuations so they would be safe,” Uy-Tan said.

“There are always some people who say the wind is not yet that strong, that there is still no rain... we just have to explain that there is a huge possibility of a storm surge,” she added.

In the eastern region of Bicol alone, authorities said they were aiming for 2.5 million people — half the local population — to be in evacuation centers by yesterday night.

The Philippines endures about 20 major storms a year which, along with regular earthquakes and volcano eruptions, make it one of the world’s most disaster-plagued countries.

The storms regularly claim many lives but they are becoming more violent and unpredictable because of climate change, according to the United Nations and many scientists.

Yolanda was the world’s deadliest natural disaster last year.

In 2011 and 2012, there were consecutive December storms that together claimed more than 3,000 lives and were the word’s deadliest disasters of those years.

And in July this year, typhoon Glenda killed 111 people when it cut across Manila, paralysing the capital for days, and other parts of the main island of Luzon.

Pag-asa said it expects to place Metro Manila under public storm warning signal on Sunday or Monday as typhoon “Ruby” moves closer to Luzon areas.

In an interview, Pag-asa weather forecaster Jori Loiz said once typhoon Ruby reaches the areas of Marinduque and Mindoro, the typhoon’s outer spiral will affect Metro Manila.

Loiz expects signal no. 2 or 1 will be raised for Metro Manila Sunday evening or Monday, with its residents in low lying and mountainous areas are alerted against possible flashfloods and landslides. Metro Manila is also expected to expwerience occasional rains with occasional gusty winds.

Pag-asa weather forecaster Alvin Pura added that based on all available data as of 4 p.m., the eye of Typhoon “Ruby” was located at 195 km East of Catarman, Northern Samar (12.1°N, 126.4°E) with a maximum sustained winds of 175 kph from 195 kph earlier and gustiness of 210 kph, or 10 kph lower than earlier forecast.

Pura said typhoon Ruby continued to move westward and accelerate its speed from 13 kph to 16 kph.

He also said that at such constant speed and movement, Ruby is expected to make a landfall in Dolores, Eastern Samar between 8 and 10 p.m. Saturday, and will be associated with strong winds, storm surge of up to 4.5 meters) and heavy-intense rainfall.

He said 34 areas in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao were placed under public storm warning signals (PSWS).

The areas under Signal No. 3 (winds of 101-185 kilometers per hour expected in at least 18 hours) are the provinces of Catanduanes, Albay, Sorsogon, Burias Island and Masbate including Ticao Island in Luzon; and Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Samar and Biliran in Visayas.

” Residents in low lying and mountainous areas are alerted against flashfloods and landslides. Likewise, those living along the coast are warned on the occurrence of big waves associated with storm surge which may reach up to 4.5 meters,” it warned.

Pag-asa said that areas under storm signal no. 2 (Winds of 61-100 kilometers per hour expected in at least 24 hours) are Camarines Sur and Romblon in Luzon; Capiz, Northern Cebu including Cebu City, Bantayan Island, Camotes Island, Leyte and Southern Leyte in the Visayas; and Dinagat province in Mindanao.

” Residents in low lying and mountainous areas are alerted against possible flashfloods and landslides,” it warned.

Public storm warning signal no. 1 (Winds of 30-60 kph is expected in at least 36 hours) is hoisted over Southern Quezon, Camarines Norte, Batangas, Marinduque, Oriental Mindoro and Occidental Mindoro in Luzon; Antique, Iloilo, Guimaras, Northern Negros, Rest of Cebu and Bohol in the Visayas; and Surigao del Norte including Siargao Island and Dinagat Province in Mindanao.

” These areas will have occasional rains with occasional gusty winds,” it warned.

The estimated rainfall amount is from 7.5 to 20 millimeters per hour (heavy to intense) within the 600-km diameter of the typhoon.

Due to the effects of typhoon Ruby and the Northeast Monsoon, the sea condition will be rough to very rough over the seaboards of Northern Luzon, eastern seaboard of Central and Southern Luzon, seaboards of Visayas and over northern and eastern seaboards of Mindanao.

Fisherfolks and those using small seacraft are advised not to venture out over the said seaboards,” it warned. AFP


FROM PHILSTAR

Ruby blacks out Bicol, Visayas (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 8, 2014 - 12:00am 0 2 googleplus0


Residents walk in the dark during a power outage after strong winds from Typhoon Hagupit toppled some electrical posts in Albay province, eastern Philippines on Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014. Typhoon Hagupit knocked out power in entire coastal provinces, mowed down trees and sent more than 650,000 people into shelters before it weakened Sunday, sparing the central Philippines a repetition of unprecedented devastation by last year's storm. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

MANILA, Philippines - Typhoon Ruby knocked out power in at least five provinces, toppling down trees and power lines and sending more than 650,000 people fleeing into shelters before it weakened yesterday.

Packing maximum sustained winds of 175 kilometers per hour and gusts of 210 kph, Ruby made landfall in Dolores, a coastal town in Eastern Samar Saturday night.

Officials said the strong winds brought by Ruby could have caused major damage and knocked out power in the provinces of Sorsogon, Catanduanes, Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Masbate and Mindoro.

“Based on initial reports, there has been no electricity in... Sorsogon, Catanduanes, Albay, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur, Masbate and Mindoro since yesterday evening,” said Maj. Angelo Guzman, spokesman for the military’s Southern Luzon Command.

In the town of Dolores, power went out immediately as Ruby made landfall.

“There are many trees that have toppled, some of them along the highway,” Dolores town police chief Senior Inspector Alex Robin said.

“We are totally in the dark here. The only light comes from flashlights,” he said.

Shallow floods, damaged shanties and ripped off store signs and tin roofs were a common sight across the provinces hit by Ruby.

“Many houses, especially in the coastal areas, were blown away by strong winds,” said Stephanie Uy-Tan, mayor of Catbalogan City in Samar.

“Trees and power lines were toppled, tin roofs were blown off and there is flooding.”

Eastern Samar province Rep. Ben Evardone said electricity was knocked out early Saturday in Borongan city, about 70 kilometers south of Dolores, where the government has set up a command center for rescue and relief operations headed by Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II.

Evardone said the strong winds also felled trees and ripped off roofs. “You can hear the whistling of the wind,” he said.

Several typhoon-lashed villages isolated by downed telephone and power lines were out of contact, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman said.

Roxas added they had difficulty establishing contact with local communities affected by the typhoon.

“We are now on our way to Dolores from Borongan but we are stalled by fallen trees and power lines, which we are now clearing,” Roxas said in text message via satellite.

Authorities were verifying reports that three people were killed in Iloilo in the aftermath of the storm.

While officials expressed relief so far, they were quick to warn that Ruby, also known as Hagupit – Filipino for whip or lash – was still on course to barrel across the Southern Tagalog region before starting to exit Tuesday into the South China Sea.

Ruby considerably weakened, dropping sharply to 170 kph with sustained winds of 140 kph yesterday.

Authorities, however, are still bracing for worst-case scenarios, pointing out Ruby is still a potentially deadly storm.

“It’s too early to tell,” Philippine Red Cross secretary-general Gwendolyn Pang said. “Let’s cross our fingers that it will stay that way. It’s too close to Christmas.”

Even if Ruby will not directly hit Metro Manila, the capital region will experience heavy to intense rains as the typhoon passes through its projected path, forecasters said.

As of 5 p.m. yesterday, the eye of the storm was located 20 kilometers west of Masbate City.

Typhoon signal No. 3 was hoisted in the provinces of Masbate, Ticao Island, Burias Island, Marinduque, Romblon and Oriental Mindoro.

The areas under signal No. 2 include Sorsogon, Albay, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Lubang Island, Quezon, Occidental Mindoro, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Northern Samar, Samar, Biliran, Aklan, Capiz, Northern Cebu, including Cebu City; Bantayan Island and Camotes Island.

Areas placed under signal No. 1 include Zambales, Bataan, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Pampanga, Bulacan, Rizal, Catanduanes, Northern Palawan, Iloilo, Antique, Guimaras, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte, the rest of Cebu and Metro Manila.

The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Ruby is expected to make its third landfall on Sibuyan Island between 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. today with strong winds, storm surge and heavy to torrential rain.

After hitting Sibuyan, Ruby is forecast to slam through Oriental Mindoro this morning.

PAGASA said Ruby was slowly moving west-northwest at 10 kph, which means more rainfall and a risk of landslides and flash floods.

PAGASA senior forecaster Jori Loiz said there is a possibility that Metro Manila will be placed under typhoon signal No. 2.

Loiz said Eastern Visayas can expect improvement in the weather as Ruby is expected to move away on Thursday.

‘Yolanda – the best teacher’

Army troops had been deployed to supermarkets and major roads in provinces in Ruby’s path to prevent looting and chaos and clear debris, all of which slowed the government’s response last year when typhoon Yolanda hit the Visayas.

Unlike in past years, many people readily left high-risk communities now, Soliman said.

“Yolanda was the best teacher of all,” Soliman said. “People did not need much convincing to move to safety. In fact many of them volunteered to go.”

Malacañang said local governments are now better prepared to deal with natural calamities, taking lessons learned from Yolanda.

“So far, they are better prepared, the information coming from the ground said our local government units are better prepared,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.

“It is better to err on the side of prudence and on the side of caution.”

Traumatized by Yolanda’s massive death and destruction in November last year in the central Visayas that’s being partly whipped by Ruby, more than 650,000 people readily fled to about 1,000 emergency shelters and safer ground.

The government, backed by the 120,000-strong military, launched massive preparations to attain a zero-casualty target.

Officials warned of storm surges up to five meters high in some areas, flash floods, landslides and winds strong enough to tear apart even sturdy homes.

Nearly 100 domestic flights have been canceled and inter-island ferry services suspended, stranding thousands.

In Metro Manila, authorities cancelled classes for the start of the week amid forecasts of heavy rain today.

In Tacloban City where Yolanda’s storm surges killed thousands of people and leveled villages, many residents fled to storm shelters, a sports stadium and churches even before authorities urged them to evacuate.

Ruby’s ferocious winds destroyed some of the palm-thatched houses built by aid agencies for survivors of last year’s typhoon, according to Tacloban Vice Mayor Jerry Yaokasin.

But there was no repeat of the storm surges that did the most damage during Yolanda, Yaokasin said.

“There is a collective sigh of relief. The initial assessment is that there are no casualties. We are better prepared after Yolanda, up to 50,000 people were packed in evacuation centers,” Yaokasin said.

“But the transitional shelters made of nipa were blown away. Our biggest challenge is how to provide for those who were displaced because of that.”

Around 650,000 people have been moved to safety, including in Tacloban. A UN humanitarian agency spokesman, Denis McClean, said in Geneva that it was one of the largest peacetime evacuations in Philippine history.

Eleven countries, meanwhile, have offered to help the government in its relief efforts in areas affected by Ruby. – Michelle Zoleta, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Edu Punay, Delon Porcalla, Alexis Romero, Helen Flores, Lawrence Agcaoili, Lalaine Jimenea, Celso Amo, Ed Amoroso, Mayen Jaymalin, Danny Dangcalan, Ben Serrano, Juancho Mahusay, AP


FROM PHILSTAR

Infant dies in Iloilo evacuation center By Jennifer Rendon (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 8, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Filipino families sleep as they take refuge at a school used as an evacuation center as they prepare for Typhoon Hagupit in Legazpi, Albay province, eastern Philippines Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014. Typhoon Hagupit slammed into the central Philippines' east coast late Saturday, knocking out power and toppling trees in a region where 650,000 people have fled to safety, still haunted by the massive death and destruction wrought by a monster storm last year. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

MANILA, Philippines - A toddler died of pneumonia in an evacuation center in Iloilo during the initial onslaught of Typhoon Ruby (international name Hagupit) yesterday.

Balasan town Mayor Filomeno Ganzon said 16-month- old Althea Angelique Rojo died after suffering from convulsions.

Rojo was taken to Jesus Colmenares District Hospital due to fever early morning yesterday.

Her family was evacuated to the Balantian Elementary School, which shelters 863 families or 3,576 people.

A 65-year-old man also died in Estancia town on Saturday.

However, the death of Ernesto Baylon was not associated with the typhoon.

Iloilo Provincial Administrator Raul Banias, a medical doctor, said Baylon may have had a pre- existing disease.

“We have yet to confirm if he indeed died due to hypo-thermia,” he said.

A report from the Western Visayas Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said Baylon died around 8 p.m. of Saturday.

He was allegedly left alone at home while his family was in the evacuation center.Jennelyn Castor, 35, was reported to have died of pre-eclampsia in Ajuy, Iloilo Saturday night.

She had sought temporary shelter in her relative’s house in Barangay Sto. Rosario to escape the wrath of Ruby.

In Leyte, the provincial police reported that a one- month-old boy and a 62-year-old man died of illness at an evacuation center in Baybay City but their deaths have yet to be validated. – With Alexis Romero


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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