"IF THIS IS A DREAM, I HOPE I NEVER WAKE UP" - 'ONDOY' EVACUEE

[PHOTO AT LEFT - President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s granddaughters, Mikaela (right) and Monique lead the distribution of the relief goods to victims of Typhoon “Ondoy” Tuesday (Sept. 29) at Malacañang which was opened to the public as a center for relief operations on instructions of the President. (Bert Canilang/OPS-NIB Photo)]

MANILA, OCTOBER 3, 2009 (MALAYA) BY REGINA BENGCO - THREE-week-old Irene Oclarit sleeps soundly on a warm mat and blankets while surrounded by dry, comfortable pillows. She occupies only about two square meters of the thick red carpet of the heavily curtained and air-conditioned Ceremonial Hall of Malacañang Palace which has been converted into an evacuation center.

Her mother, Evelyn, said Irene had chills Wednesday night because she got wet Saturday night while fleeing the floodwaters that engulfed their home in Caliraya st., Bgy. Tatalon in Quezon City.

Irene was placed inside a styrofoam container, which was originally used to keep fish on ice at the nearby market, and floated – Joseph-like – on the flood waters while her father and mother swam beside her, carrying her three small siblings to a nearby evacuation center.

"My husband is five feet five inches tall but we could barely see his head above the flood waters while he swam," she recalled.

She said she is glad of the warmth and comfort in Malacañang Palace, which she saw only for the first time, except on television.

Jonna Lloren, 30, who is seven months pregnant with her fourth child, said she and her three kids came to the evacuation center in Quezon City with only the clothes on their backs. Her husband Roel could not be at her side because he could not leave the factory in Valenzuela City where he worked due to the flood waters around it.

Lloren recalled staying at the roof of their house until the waters subsided. She said she could not bear the condition at the evacuation center because it was congested and many people, including those who were not really calamity victims, were jostling for relief goods.

She said staying inside Malacañang Palace, even for a few days, is like "living in a real palace, like a dream, from which I will not wake up."

Lorraine Hilario, who will celebrate her sixth birthday today as an evacuee inside the Palace, slept out of exhaustion. Beside her, someone placed a white teddy bear with a red shirt and a color plastic drum.

Hilario, her siblings, and their nannies took a boat from their flooded house in Pasig City, rode a utility van to Manila and another jeepney to Malacañang complex. They were referred by a Philippine ambassador who knows their mother, Lourdes, a nurse working at the Makati Medical Center. Their father stayed at home to guard their flooded house and mini-store.

The Oclarits, Llorens, and Hilarios are among six families staying the Ceremonial Hall. It is a far better place compared to the hallways of the Mabini Hall in another side of the Palace complex where more than 100 evacuees are staying.

Presidential Management Staff director general Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said the Ceremonial Hall can hold 10 families or about 50 persons.

At the Ceremonial Hall, presidential daughter-in-law Ma. Viktoria "Kakai" Manotok-Arroyo, attends to the families and checks on their needs. Kakai is the wife of President Arroyo’s youngest child, Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado Ignacio Jose Maria "Dato" Arroyo.

Kakai’s two kids - Eva Viktoria ("EV"), 5, and Diosdado Miguel ("Diggy"), 2, played with the children using toys that the presidential grandchildren bought or donated from their own stash.

Little Diggy was huddled with the smaller children, playing jumping, while his elder sister EV was running and dancing around.

To entertain the kids, a small television was placed on the platform where President Arroyo delivers her speeches and administers oaths of offices and awards. The platform was being used by two families while the children ran around.

Christine Bautista said she did not know that her kids were playing with the presidential grandchildren until she was told by reporters.

Some of children, including EV, were drawn towards baby Irene, waiting to play with her when she woke up but Kakai shooed them away.

Kakai said the presidential grandchildren watched the effects of storm Ondoy on television and were told to share with less fortunate children.

She said EV, who was teary eyed while watching Ondoy’s devastation on television, earlier joined cousins Mikaela Gloria ("Mika") and Marie Angelique ("Monique"), daughters of presidential son and Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo, and their nannies at the relief center in Kalayaan Hall to repack relief goods.

Esperon said there are now 121 families temporarily sheltered at the Mabini Hall. He said the relief repacking operations have been expanded to include Heroes’ Hall at the Palace proper because the grounds could not be used due to the rains.

While evacuees arrived in Malacañang, President Arroyo went to Bgy. San Jose in Rodriguez town in Rizal, which was also called "Erap City" (after former president Joseph Estrada) to check on the progress of relief and rehabilitation operations.

Arroyo was mobbed as she joined volunteers in giving relief goods on a house to house basis to ensure that help is given to everyone. Air Force helicopters had dropped bags of relief goods before but the distribution was not equitable.

Statement of the President - From the Office of the Press Secretary, Malacañang.

[PHOTO AT LEFT - President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo visits the inmates of the Tahanang Walang Hagdan Community Friday (Oct. 2, 2009) along Aida Street, Marick Subdivision, Sto. Domingo in Cainta Rizal. The President dropped by the TWH community after she presided over the National Disaster Coordinating Council Meeting at the Sangguniang Bayan Session Hall in Cainta, Rizal. (Marcelino Pascua/OPS-NIB Photo)]

Sa pagsapit nitong ika-anim na araw magmula nuong humagupit sa atin ang typhoon Ondoy, patuloy ang madalian at malawakang paghatid ng mga ahensiyang pamahalaan ng tulong at saklolo sa mga nasalanta't nangangailangan.

Una, isasailalim sa price control ng DTI ang mga construction materials.

Ikalawa, mamamahagi ang Bureau of Fire Protection, MWSS at LWUA ng libreng tubig pang-inom sa mga lugar na binaha.

Ikatlo, tutulong ang Philippine Air Force sa pagsundo at paghatid ng mga pagkain at donasyon mula sa kabisayaan at Mindanao.

Ika-apat, magbigay ang DSWD ng tulong sa paglibing ng mga binawian ng buhay dahil sa bagyo.

Ika-lima, inaatasan natin ang PAGASA na sila ang magbibigay-alam sa ating mamamayan kapag muling mangyari ang pangangailangang magpakawala ng tubig mula sa ating mga reservoir. Sa ganitong paraan ay maiintindihan ng publiko ang gagawin at hindi nila ito ika-pangangamba.

[PHOTO AT LEFT -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo watches the staff of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) distributing relief goods to victims of Typhoon Ondoy during her visit to Barangay San Jose in Montalban, Rizal Thursday (October 1, 2009). (RICO BORJA/OPS-NIB Photo)

Ika-anim, mag-aangkat ng isang milyong cup noodles upang sagutin ang kakulangan.

Labis nating ikinatutuwa ang pagdagsa ng kawanggawa at kabutihang loob mula sa ating mga kababayan para sa mga nasalanta ng Bagyong Ondoy. Nandiyan ang malalaking kumpanyang dumukot ng malalim sa kani-kanilang bulsa at namuno rin sa pangangalap ng donasyon mula sa libu-libong mga bukas palad.

[PHOTO AT LEFT - President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo watches the volunteers repacking goods and other items for the victims of Typhoon Ondoy during her visit Friday (October 2, 2009) at the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC, Rizal Chapter) on Shaw Boulevard in Barangay Kapitolyo, Pasig City. At left is PNRC Rizal Chapter Disaster Management Chairman Amado Sanglay. (Marcelino Pascua/OPS-NIB Photo]

Nandiyan din ang mga karaniwang mamamayan, lalo na sa kabataan, na tahimik na nag-volunteer sa pangongolekta, pag-empake, at pamamahagi ng trak-trak na relief goods para sa mga binaha sa Marikina, Cainta, Pasig at kay dami pang ibang dako ng kamaynilaan at karatig-lugar. Nandiyan din ang mga kagawad ng pamahalaan at civil society na nagbuhos ng kanilang panahon upang palawigin ang kanilang serbisyong bayan at abutin ang gaano mang kaliit o kalayong nangangailangan ng tulong.

Totoo nga na buhay pa at maalab sa dibdib ng bawat Pilipino ang dakilang diwa ng bayanihan.

At sa boluntarismo, hindi ito matatawaran o mababakuran. Sa mga darating na linggo, maari pa tayong dalawin ng mga bagong bagyo.

Kaya’t nawa’y mamamalagi sa ating lahat ang diwa ng pagtutulungan at boluntarismo, upang muli maitatawid ang anumang bagong hamon na dala ng kalikasan, taas-noo, kapit-bisig, magkakabalikat bilang magkakalahi at tunay na magkakapatid.

PGMA orders preemptive evacuation in preparation for Pepeng

Prepare for the worst.

This was the instruction given by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the governors of the provinces expected to be hit by super typhoon Pepeng as the country braced to mitigate losses to lives and property.

In a meeting of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), the President ordered the governors of Camarines Norte, Catanduanes, Isabela, Cagayan, Pollilo, Quezon and Aurora to undertake “pre-emptive evacuation” of their constituents from the danger zones to safer grounds.

The President said she wanted them to be prepared for the worst to mitigate losses to lives and properties.

At the same time, she said, “we pray that the storm will not hit us and be grateful if it does not.”

The President also reminded the local officials of Metro Manila and Rizal provinces, especially those whose areas are still under floodwater, to undertake precautionary measures. She asked the Department of Public Works and Highways to act double time in its clearing of debris and obstructions on the streets and waterways.

She asked the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) to update local officials regarding of water releases from the dams so that the people will be better prepared. TOP

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Palace assures enough relief funds

The national government has enough funds to sustain ongoing relief and reconstruction efforts for victims of tropical storms “Ondoy” and “Pepeng”.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) can use a P500-million standby fund on top of the P2 billion that has already been disbursed this week for relief and rehabilitation operations.

“They (DBM) are setting aside an additional P6 billion. I think we will have enough funds to sustain these efforts,” Remonde said, adding that Congress is expected to approve an additional P10 billion to augment the present funds.

Remonde also thanked volunteers from the private sector such as corporations, socio-civic groups, and sorority and fraternity organizations who are helping Malacañang’s “Oplan Sagip Bayan” in soliciting donations and in repacking and distributing relief goods.

“These entities are so numerous that I will not attempt to name each one of them. But I wish to thank them, on behalf of our suffering countrymen, for their kindness and generosity,” Remonde said.

Remonde said the Philippine government also wants to thank all foreign donors for their generous support in cash and kind to help the country provide temporary relief to all victims of “Ondoy”.

He noted donations from neighboring countries are the result of the foreign relations policy that has been pursued by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. TOP

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PGMA declares state of national calamity

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today approved the proposal of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) to place the entire country under a state of national calamity.

A state of national calamity gives local government units (LGUs) access to their calamity funds, protects consumers from price manipulators, speeds up the rehabilitation of areas devastated by typhoon “Ondoy”, and provides immediate assistance to those still to be hit by super storm “Pepeng”.

Presiding at the NDCC meeting at the Cainta Capitol, the President received updates from her Cabinet on relief, clearing and rehabilitation efforts undertaken in Metro Manila and redirected efforts to Cainta and other parts of Rizal province which are still under flood water.

Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila proposed expanding price control coverage to include petroleum products, oils and lubricants, auto repair, and even funeral services, which have reportedly doubled their rates since “Ondoy” hit the country last Saturday. He said placing price ceilings on petroleum products is now being reviewed by the Department of Justice.

Favila said price monitoring should not just cover retailers but also wholesalers, suppliers and viajeros.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will coordinate closely with the Philippine National Police and local government units to enforce price controls at the local levels.

“When we declare an establishment closed for overpricing and revoke their business name, the LGUs do not revoke the business permits, so they continue operating legally. This makes a mockery of our effort,” Favila explained adding that he is also working closely with the Securities and Exchange Commission for the revocation of corporate records of shops that are found overpricing essential items like food commodities, construction materials and medicines,” Favila said.

Meanwhile, the President asked the Metropolitan Waterworks Sewerage System (MWSS), the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA), and the two private concessionaires in Metro Manila—Manila Water Co. and Maynilad Water Services, Inc.—to help the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in supplying potable water to the hapless victims of “Ondoy”.

Based on the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), over 3 million people have been affected by “Ondoy”.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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