Monthly Archives: January 2014

The Legacy of Typhoon Haiyan

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Last weeks program on NOVA, it provided us a different perspective on how a typhoon is formed and why Haiyan became the perfect storm. This week our feature blog could not have been more fitting. We tried to answer the questions brought to us by an enquiring student. This email comes to us from a young student name Jesus Pacheco, of Catalonia, Spain. Here at AFTHV we always encourage our youths to be part of a very important discussions, not just knowing the event, but understanding the impact it has on the people affected by the typhoon and what we can learn from the calamity.

These were the four questions that were brought up;

1. What news were in the city when they heard there would be a strong typhoon?

The bigger cities had warnings to heed the upcoming storm. Weather reports from local radios and televisions provided informations and social media also kept up with the people of the Philippines updated. However the smaller barrangays did not understand the degree of what was about to come. Filipinos, in general, are used to typhoon in the area. This was just beyond what they had expected.

2. What happened after this typhoon?
Were there a lot of help from other countries to rebuild what was broken, to help people who had lost their homes, etc?

The Majority of Northern leyte was wiped out. Tacloban City became ground zero because it also got hit with a huge storm surge. When the local meteorologist announced the arrival of the typhoon, they did not take it into consideration of the storm surge. It was barely mentioned. If the surge was factored in to the warning, it could’ve saved more lives in the area. Evacuation could have been implemented ahead of time. The storm surge was so strong, it even lifted a cargo ship on to the mainland.
Help did not arrived until five days later, as there were lack of organization and poor management on the government’s part.

3. How is the city now?

Currently the major cities are getting the basic humanitarian aid and rebuilding of the infrastructure, however the smaller villages, like the ones we have been campaigning, are left unattended or are last to be served. What could’ve have been done, with all the donated funds to the country, is to establish a rehabilitation program. If the funds were used properly, local civic government could’ve provided seasonal contract employment to the local people to help the clean up, and not just rebuilding of the infrastructure, but also provide incentives to private sectors that will drive the unemployment rate low. When you offer work, people will spend money, when you spend money, there will be demand for other goods to be sold, thus creating local economy which leads to taxes back to civic funds. It can only be done if the local representatives understands the repercussions of what can happen when you work for the people.

4. What do you think they should have done to the country to avoid this catastrophe?

Local government needs to implement emergency respond programs and slush funds to make sure the next disaster recovery is more organized. Unfortunately, the present government administration has failed to provide even the basic need to aid the victims from the calamity. Non-governmental aid has far exceeded the help to re-establish the populated areas. Foreign aid and NGO’s have come together in support of helping the victims of Haiyan. Don’t you think it’s time to act what Leyte deserves from the current administration?

Two Months Later…

Another year has passed and many of us were fortunate enough to celebrate the season of love and friendship with those that are near and dear to us. We unwrapped our gifts, enjoyed turkey, sweets, maybe some egg nog and alcohol and relaxed, surrounded by   image

the coziness of what we each are fortunate enough to call home. We celebrated the birth of a new year and resolved once again to be better people in the months ahead.

But for some, like the victims of Super-typhoon Haiyan, Christmas came and went without celebration as people continued to grieve their losses and line up for their rations which were meagre to start out with and had been pillage by the hands that held them first.
November 8 2013. Super-typhoon Haiyan barreled through the island of Leyte, and the town of MacArthur became one of the many that were affected by the storm’s destructive wrath.
A new life greets them in the coming year. Homes, livelihoods, and for some, friends and family, gone. Stores, schools and churches, gone. Roads blocked with debris hampers the rescue efforts and, in some of the hardest hit areas, the stench of the dead hangs as a grim reminder.

Two months later the people in these areas struggle to recover from this disaster. Christmas was celebrated in line for rations and blessings were counted by those who had lost only their homes and belongings but not their family.
Rescue and aid efforts have been very slow in coming. Aid should be meted out fairly to all in the area but in the town of MacArthur, a town too small to be newsworthy, the dispensing of aid has been less than fair.
When aid finally arrived in the town of MacArthur it was not till two weeks after the typhoon and only five times in total since then. People walk for miles because of the extreme gas prices or wait in line in the heat, hoping to receive enough rations to survive. What they get has been pillaged by the hands that delivered it. 10 kilos of rice becomes mysteriously pared down to two, canned goods arrive 2 out of a dozen. Medicine intended for the victims becomes waylaid to be sold on the black market.

Just a month after the typhoon, DSWD (Dept. of Social, Welfare, and Development), announced that aid will be cut back near the end of December. Only families with special needs, and the elderly will be receiving further supplies, and it will only be delivered to certain drop centers. Two months of sparse help. Hardly long enough to help a community whose world was erased in a few short hours to begin to live again.
In MacArthur Leyte help from the local infrastructure is slow. The town still has no electricity, thereby relying on one of the most environmentally friendly sources of energy, the sun. Solar light kits are in high demand so the price of these kits is very high. Only a few can afford them and those who can could only get one for a household. Prices for other sources of light like candles and gas are still inflated. Debris still remains on the side of the road sitting in stagnant pools of water for weeks. The rise of mosquito borne diseases like dengue fever has become prevalent. Medicines are essential to families who have gotten sick from it.

Christmas is over for us but the spirit of giving is year round. Please find it in your heart to help the so soon forgotten victims in the outlying villages like MacArthur Leyte who have bravely tried to find something to celebrate about. Perhaps we who have had so much to be thankful for this holiday season could find it in our hearts to give them a little help, a little dignity, and a perhaps, a lot of hope. Perhaps our resolution to be come better people could start right .

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