A year later after Haiyan

Editorial Note;
By Ernesto Regis

What began as just another storm of the season, became a historic event no one could ever imagined. Today we reflect back on the 1 year anniversary of the strongest typhoon ever recorded to hit the Philippines. We watched in awe as it came closer to the island and realized how bad it was going to be. Filipinos all over the world were anxious and worried about their families back home. We became helpless as the wrath of the typhoon took over the province, killing and distroying everything in its path.

Today, the people of leyte have moved on and continued their daily life. Not everyone has had the full recovery of the aftermath of the hurricane, but the resilience of the community is what keeps them going. Some are still living in temporary shacks, others are still going to school with the infrastructure still incomplete. In many cases, some just relied on what they’ve gotten from the aid sent during the first recovery last year.

We are very fortunate, for those of us that live in North America, that we don’t have to worry about the problems they’ve faced. But, we also have the responsibility to recognize the challenges they are facing.
Upright and resilient, the people of leyte have shown to us their determination, courage and purpose to move on, which exemplifies the true nature of filipinos. Failure does not come from falling down, but rather failure is not getting up. Hence “Tindog Leyte” has defined the people of leyte as people with resilience.

Our hope is that we can continue to help and recognize the situation in a more altruistic approach to the people of leyte. They must learn to live despite their losses. To the people of leyte we share our thoughts with you to remember the people who have lost their loved ones, and pray with you in this sad event.

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Nine months after typhoon Haiyan…

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Sometimes stories can be very difficult to justify when your sources comes from the main stream. At times it can get very redundant and confusing that it losses it’s soul purpose in providing the truth.

In times like today, social media is just that, a source of main stream information. It has become part of our daily life that one can read a story, and it will come and go in a few days. Even if it is a huge disaster that will take a long time to recover, so many unfortunate events out there, it can be easily forgotten.

The big cities are still struggling to fight what is needed to be done, in essence for the forgotten ones, this has become almost a losing battle. The smaller barrios are now at the tipping point where once the shelters provided were meant to be temporary is becoming permanent. Many barrangay’s regard their schools, just like the church, a pride of the community. The centre of knowledge where their children can learn and get a better future. However, as time goes by many wonder if it will still be there.

The small villages are suffering the consequences of political debacle and egotism. Practically nowadays, politicians are worried about their credibility to be re-elected than taking action of what is necessary.

To see the faces of these children is to see the harsh reality they are still challenged with. Rain or shine they go, even if the ground is muddy or the roof is leaking. Resilience can only go for so long, but if nobody helps them soon the whole village will die. It’s their home and nobody should dictate what and where they should go.

As the 9th month anniversary draws near, we shouldn’t be seeing infrastructure that are still in poor condition anymore. A sign of progress should be evident, but the voices of these people and the children are getting silenced more so than ever before.

To us, it may mean nothing, to them it’s their future. We have the inner willingness to help others in any we can. It’s our nature to see humanity and dignity in others who have very little to hang on to.

What If…

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What If…

What if, there was a government that was honest and true to their words. Would we see suffering of unequal treatment of the victims? No, everybody would get a fair treatment. Rich and poor would receive the same amount of supply and aid that everyone is entitled to. A ration of rice and a portion of canned food would be distributed according to the number of people in the family. Top government salary could be cut back to reduce or freeze property and business taxes. Implement temporary tax free incentive programs in tourism and agriculture.

What if…

What if the 8.1 billion dollars that was given to help the victims of Haiyan was there. Would we see people crying for help to build there homes and basic infrastructure? No, the things we could use to rebuild our province is to develop programs that promote economic job opportunity. We could take advantage of this fund as a clean slate, start all over again. Build community homes to help the people who lost their land. Instead of temporary shelter, why not create a housing program that will become permanent for the residence. Give the citizens of Leyte a sense of pride by giving them an education that will lead to self sustaining experience which in turn will benefit the community. Start fresh, build jobs and opportunity that will empower the people not to rely on foreign aid anymore.

What if..

What if there was no political stigma between the province and the government of the Philippines. Would we see rallies? No, peoples need would be heard and answered. A line of communication that would be heard not only in the cities, but also the smaller barangays. Major infrastructures will be dealt with according to priorities of the community. Health care could be provided to people with the basic needs, and children should have direct access to healthcare no matter what the case is. A nutrition program could be mandatory to all elementary schools with basic ration of fruits and grains. We could all take advantage of this program to help extinct hunger that plagues our province.

We can only imagine these scenarios if our society does not change its attitude towards our current situation. Nothing is impossible, people can make it happen, but it takes a community to make change happen. Typhoon Haiyan did not happen to us for no reason, it happened to us because it renewed our sense of hope…it is up to the people how they want to envision their future. Democracy does not work for the government it’s the people that makes democracy happens. HOPE~hold on pain ends.

45 Days Later…

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Many of us will be fortunate enough to celebrate this holiday season with our close friends and family members. Children will receive Christmas presents, many will gather for a huge feast of turkey, dressing and desserts, while some of us will ring in the new year with champagne and resolutions we’ll try to keep.

This year, for the people of MacArthur Leyte, Christmas and New Year’s celebrations will not come. As the world is already aware, on Nov. 8th 2013, super-typhoon Haiyan barreled through the Phillipines, affecting the island of Leyte, where the town of MacArthur was one of many that were affected by its’ destructive wrath. Many homes and livelihoods are disrupted to the point where everything that once existed is either completely gone, or reduced to rubble. Not only are private residences affected, but infrastructure and municipal services (including postal and emergency response agencies) are also crippled. Schools have been destroyed, and roads are blocked with debris, leaving the region to rebuild from scratch, leaving remote villages the last to receive assistance.

A month and a half after the super-typhoon’s destruction, people are still recovering from the shock and devastation. This slow process makes plans to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s unfathomable. When a natural disaster affects a large area and population, although a certain level of chaos can be expected in the early stages, it can be assumed that relief efforts would be as fair and efficient as possible. In MacArthur, it has been nothing but fair and efficient. To this day we still hear people crying for help. Relief has been distributed only five times to MacArthur since it arrived two weeks after the typhoon. Aid is received in the form of a weekly rations kit to sustain a family until the next delivery. One hoping to bring something home to survive can expect to receive 2 kilos of rice instead of 10, 4 canned goods instead of 12, and to have their medicines stolen and sold on the black market. To exacerbate this, villagers from remoter areas within the municipality of MacArthur have to walk for miles to pick up their aid due to inflated gas prices. There are only a few villages that receive direct aid drop-off, yet for many alternate routes to get to the drop centers are required because direct roads are still blocked. Only a month after the typhoon, the Department of Social, Welfare and Development announced that aid would be cut back towards the end of December, stating families with special needs and the elderly would be eligible for additional “aid” delivered at certain drop centers. Many feel two months is not enough time to recuperate and are frustrated at the premature removal of government assistance.

From Typhoon Haiyan to today, the town of MacArthur has been without electricity, thereby relying on one of the most environmental friendly sources of energy to function: the sun. Solar light kits are in high demand and are selling at inflated costs. Few can afford them and those who do can only get one per household. Other sources of light, like candles and gas are precious commodities. Slow clean up of the debris and decay, combined with stagnant pools of water on the side of the road, have contributed to the rise of mosquito borne diseases. Dengue fever has become prevalent and medicine is essential to families who have fallen ill with it. Many schools are still without roofs, while a few in the smaller villages have to work in open-air rooms.

Now that the Christmas holiday season is here, lets think about the families that are still waiting for theirs. We know what it is like to be surrounded by loved ones and celebration, but for the people of MacArthur Leyte, they have very little to celebrate. We could all give them hope, spirit, and dignity to start all over again. Please visit our Facebook page campaign Aid for Typhoon Haiyan Victims. Thank you and madamo nga salamat ha iyo.

Aid For Typhoon Haiyan Victims

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We at AFTHV, sometimes forget that there are people behind this small organization that also deserves to be recognized. In fact these few members have gone far beyond their duties to help run our Facebook campaign. These three people have done so much to make things happen from the beginning of our campaign up to the end of our last donation drive. They also come from different background in there perspective career, but they all share a common goal, to help the victims of typhoon Haiyan.

I would like to share with you three of our people that have helped AFTHV become a reality, Brian Hungerford, Brittni Smallwood, and Juliet Corpuz.

Brian Hungerford is a registered nurse working in the field of home visiting nurse program. His passion to help people has resonated also to helping the people of Leyte. He is the cofounder of AFTHV and have helped me immensely in developing and organizing the idea of Facebook campaign. Brian has also helped by donating medics supplies that were sent on the last donation drive to the people in MacArthur Leyte. We know being a nurse is a career of compassion and caring for the people, we can’t thank him enough how much he has done for running this innovative idea to become a reality.

Brittni Smallwood, has been with us at the very beginning of the campaign. As a news reporter for WIVB buffalo news, she helped us expose our campaign through the media and reported the devastation that happened in Leyte. Residing in Buffalo, NY she became a great asset to us because she was able to reach the American viewers. Her willingness to help spread the word of our campaign has proven to us that she cares for the the victims of Haiyan. She prays that all the victims will be served equally and that the people of Leyte will return to its normalcy soon. Brittni will be doing a follow up story in the near future, she knows that if she can help a little bit by telling our story on TV it will go long way in the future.

Juliet corpuz , is perhaps the happiest, most charitable person to have had in our campaign . Her passion to help organize the delivery of our care packages has been a huge help for us. Juliet, also runs her own charitable work called live to give , and she surely has proven to us that she lives to give. Juliet and I organized the donation drive which we collected and delivered boxes to the people of Leyte. We couldn’t have done a successful drive without her cheerful and proactive help in the logistic part of our campaign.

Although we are a very small organization, we have a very big project that we continue to pursue. Our goal is to continue to help the small villages after typhoon Haiyan, and to raise awareness of the current situation in Leyte. We know how hard and how long it takes to get help done in the under represented towns, but with our campaign, we continue to spread the word in hopes that someday we will be sharing success stories instead of pleas for help. Please like our page if you feel this is important to you, we thank you for your support.

A Mother’s Legacy

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It’s not about how much we receive but also what we can learn from the devastation. A teachable moment that we perhaps can take out and apply it to our daily life.

I had to modify this blog as it was written in both languages. We hope that you can share this and apply it to your family as a message of hope and love to others.

Ever since childhood, I’ve always tried to show my children how to be humble. Lately, after the super typhoon, my husbands relatives brought my eldest son to get some sacks of palay (wheat). He carried and lifted it, but with only 2 sacks as his share. Of course, he was disappointed, because many got 4 and he only got 2. So I told him not to be too concerned about it, perhaps they need it more than we do. I felt so sad about my son’s effort because he wanted to help the family so much through his own way. On our way home he was still feeling disappointed, so I told him, eventually they too will run out of supply but don’t worry, we are still fortunate we got some than nothing at all. My oldest daughter also said that we’re still more blessed than the others in our village because we still have our small monthly salary to rely on. Some don’t even have any salary and rely on food stamp. I share my story, because even if my family is mistreated, we are still blessed and have a small grace coming to our family. It may not be financially big but at least we are moving on and getting stronger despite of all those trials and tribulations that my family has gone through and still experiencing it.

To all waraynon, let’s all hope for the best and let our attitude be: ” AN ENDLESS HOPE and not a HOPELESS END” Tindog Waraynon!!!!”

Hope and faith is what keeps this family going. A tragedy that could have immensely damaged their family values, but instead it became a life lesson and a good example of what we leyteans are all about.

Focus on the People.

Media has it’s way of over sensationalizing topics that can take away the focus of the real issue. This week I saw an article that made that case ever so clearly. There were a couple of headlines that made its way to the top and one if them had absolutely nothing to do with the helpless Haiyan victims. This whole Lee-Navarro subject is just a hype to avoid the governments responsibility to help the real issue with the people of Leyte. Secondly, the image that was posted on an international report caused a stir among the leyteans. Photo op is huge for many local political representatives, and their exposure is important to them, even though we know it’s not going to get them any further in the next election. As a waray-waray myself, I know exactly how my fellow people can be very sensitive to certain issues. We tend to over react to images before we can even find out exactly what the real story behind it. In fact I know this because, like many of my fellow people, I too reacted this same way because, that’s how we waray-waray are, we are very sensitive to certain issues and we conclude ourselves by either expressing with anger or with disappointment and not going any further with story.

But sometimes we must think out of the box. Some issues are far greater to be ignored or avoided especially when it affects a large community. Oftentimes, the opposing group or the medias, that prefer to be unbiased, will not address issues that perhaps we think are important to us. Locally, we want action, we want to see results, but it can only happen if we disregard what others will say. At times the media or the opposition party will likely use tactics that are thought provoking and will even try to divert attention by focusing on other issues. This is a very common practice used to divert attention to topics that we perhaps think is important to us.

We leyteans must think outside the box. We mustn’t fall into self-criticism, be it seeing in a form of an image of someone we hate, or subject that has no relation to our situation. I sympathize how you feel the anger and rage when you see a subject you don’t like, but that only fuels the discontent to ourselves. The outside world does not know that, nor cares to know what’s going on locally. They care more of the big picture, the real issue that are affecting the many.

I hope you understand this is not a rant, but rather take it as an advise that we mustn’t take away the focus of what’s the real issue here. If we are to make a real difference in this world, we must work together for the common good. We must fight for what is right to us. This is the real story, educate the whole world what’s been happening in Leyte and show them the injustice that we have all experienced since typhoon Haiyan. Real stories like the plea from Janice Dorado in MacArthur Leyte who needs helps in there school infrastructure. Amelita Flores from Tabu, Dulag whose village is in dire need of basic aid still. These are genuine stories that we all could focus on and spread the help they call out by liking FB Aid for Typhoon Haiyan Victims.

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