by the Editors
MILLIONS of Filipinos suffered the wrath of super typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan). There are countless tales of death, loss and survival especially from Tacloban City, Leyte, which bore the brunt of the tropical cyclone.
Via a post on her Facebook account, Sheena Junia, 26, a close relative of OpinYon Chairman and President Ray Junia recounted how she had to surf the typhoon’s huge waves to save herself.
Here’s Sheena’s story:
She woke up around 5 a.m. of Friday, because of a loud bang on her door. It was the wind, much powerful than she was used to hearing. She could hear window glasses breaking from her neighbors’ houses. It sounded like the burst of automatic gunfire. Bad weather, she thought. She knew a strong typhoon was hitting the province. She saw it yesterday in the news. What she did not know was that it was going to be that strong.
Sheena tried to go back to sleep. She wanted to because she was too scared to listen to the howling wind. Maybe if she slept for a few more hours, it would go away. After two more hours of sleep, another huge bang on the door woke her up. This time, the wind was too strong that it knocked the door off, and then floodwater rushed in. She got up in a hurry. Her bed was submerged in water in seconds. It was now knee-deep inside her room. She hurried to get dressed but just after two minutes, the water has reached her waistline. It took her another two minutes to get her backpack and reach her new surfboard. It just arrived the day before. By then, the water was now neck-deep.
Surfing the Waves
Sheena mounted her surfboard and paddled her way out of the house. She couldn’t see anything. It was foggy, the water was black, and the wind was too strong that it was hard to keep her eyes open. But she kept paddling. She paddled against the strong current until she reached the entrance of their compound in Barangay Sagkahan Mangga, Tacloban City. She was hoping to find someone, but she could not see anyone or anything. Sheena said she decided to swim along the current which she knew would lead her to the back of the compound. There, she saw stairs that led to a door. She immediately paddled her way towards it, and tried to open it but it was locked.
She quickly stopped and noticed her bag was becoming too heavy, so she did away with some of its contents. They’re not important now.
If the water continued to rise, she might get trapped, she thought.
She knew she could not stay there, so she rode her surfboard again and paddled as hard as she could against the strong current to reach the front of the compound again. She saw a steel bar protruding from one of the broken walls nearby. She reached for it and held on to it tightly. Her surfboard kept her afloat. Every time the waves would hit her, she would fall off. But she was holding onto the steel bar so tight that she always managed to recover. She fell into the water about 4 times.
What felt like forever standing there-falling off-standing there-and falling off again was just really about 10 minutes.
The water kept rising, and brought with it more wood and other debris every time she opened her eyes. Sheena saw a woman floating. The woman—in her late 20s or early 30s—was alive. She appeared calm. The woman looked at her. She looked back. They both knew none of them would be able to do anything. She had to let the woman float away.
Call for Help
Sheena was just about to lose all her strength when she saw a group of people. In that group was a pregnant woman and a child–breaking a door open from a balcony nearby. She called for help. Most of them did not hear her, or maybe tried to ignore her. After a few more calls, one of the strangers looked at her direction. That gave her some comfort. There was nowhere she could plant her feet. She held on a window grill to start her way. She moved from one window to another until she reached the spot near where the other people were.
She was holding on to the grill, and her surfboard. She had to let one go so she can reach out for the hand of one of the strangers.
She took a leap of faith, and ditched her surfboard.
“I almost fell and barely made it,” she said.
The water was continuing to rise when she got to the balcony. They needed to move to the next house which was bigger. They passed through gutters and scaffolds. They all made it safely to the house, even if she slipped a few times. A few scratches here and there but nothing she was worried about it.
Riding the Storm Out
They stayed there, watching people drown to death outside. They could not do anything. This went on until around 10:30 am when the wind died down a bit. They started to help whoever they can.
Around 11 am, the water started subsiding, slowly unfolding the devastation caused by the strongest typhoon ever recorded in recent times.
Sheena remembers seeing a lot of dead bodies. Almost all houses in her neighborhood were destroyed. She had to stay at a friend’s house for three days. For the next few days, Sheena went out with her friends to look for food. Her friends have always treated her as one of the boys, so she went out to loot with them.
She remembers going to Robinson’s or Gaisano–malls that had supermarkets. “Literal na hanap buhay,” she said. (We literally looked for anything that can help keep us alive.)
She’s not proud of it—the looting.
“We had to do it to survive,” she said.
Hunger and Thirst
She remembers being thirsty, and trying to buy a small bottle of tea for PhP200. But they would not sell it to her. She remembers trying to ride a pedicab offering to pay a thousand pesos, but the driver did not want money. They wanted water as payment. She had none.
Sheena arrived in Manila Tuesday, Nov. 13, night via a commercial flight. She now has fever. She feels weak. She said whatever happened to her is just starting to sink in. She said she does not want to go back to Tacloban, but she has not heard from her mother and grandfather who lived in Tolosa town.
If she does not hear from them in the next few days, she will come back to Tacloban and look for them.
Sheena used to operate airport vans in Tacloban for a living. She does not know how she’ll start again.
“I won’t be able to make plans until I know my family is safe.”
Sheena’s fight for survival goes on.
- Rappler Newscast Special Edition | November 16, 2013 (rappler.com)
- Surfing the waves of Haiyan for survival (rappler.com)
- INC conducts ‘Lingap sa Mamamayan’ relief and medical mission in Tacloban City (businessmirror.com.ph)
- After Yolanda: When prioritizing the living over the dead is just another option (examiner.com)
- Meeting a monster: First person account (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Typhoon Yolanda death toll nears 6,000, Justin Bieber visits Tacloban (theglobaldispatch.com)
- Romualdez recounts how gov’t withheld help in ‘Yolanda’ aftermath (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Hell Hath No Fury Like A Woman Scorned (vixsterbee.wordpress.com)
- In the eye of the storm: TV reporter tells his story (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Politics, lack of command hound Tacloban (rappler.com)
Bracing for Tougher Times Ahead
By Al Labita
AFTER nearly a decade of a benign uptick, the country’s inflation rate – the cost of buying goods and services — is threatening to disrupt the economy’s growth trajectory. Currently pegged at a year-to-date 3.5 percent, the rate is poised to dangerously breach the central bank’s five percent band limit as prices of basic commodities showed signs of an upward trend. Blame the inflation’s looming downsides on the wave of disastrous events unleashing cost-push pressures on an economy susceptible to price distortions.
By and large, the Moro separatist attacks in Zamboanga city, the destructive 7.2 quake in Bohol and the mind-boggling storm surge in Eastern Visayas had conspired and dented the economy. Admittedly, the fortuitous incidents triggered waves of price elasticity with a seemingly upward bias. Most likely, inflation will soar to five percent by end this year as monetary authorities had earlier projected.
BSP Under Pressure
That forecast, however, was anchored on pre-crisis scenarios or at a time the economy was robust. But with the economy under siege by inflationary pressures, monetary authorities are likely to clamp down on money supply – technically referred to as M3 – to rein in any sudden gyration of inflation. This ensues once inflation rate breaks through the five percent threshold level which is very likely, taking into account the new challenges on the ground.
Intervention measures, which can be damaging to the economy in the long run, can range from a hike in interest rates to tightening of overnight lending and borrowing policies. For those in the corporate sector, an economy’s downward spiral could hurt profits and limit stock price appreciation. A regime of high Inflation rate also robs companies of market value since they are forced to raise prices of the goods they sell to recoup investment costs. While they can pass on the costs to the consumers, the goods they sell are in the final reckoning become worthless each day.
Poverty and Prosperity
Given the economy’s new twists and turns, Bangko Sentral is likely feeling the pressures to revise upward its inflation expectation to factor in a creeping surge in prices. A single percentage rise in inflation can spell a difference between poverty and prosperity.
Lately, inflation – the bane of any economy – was acting up anew as supply bottlenecks erupted in calamity-stricken areas, creating an artificial shortage of basic commodities.
What exacerbated the situation was the massive destruction of farm-to-market roads constricting the extent of the delivery system to where the commodities are critically needed. Based on Department of Agriculture (DA) data, food production areas bore the brunt of super typhoon Yolanda with damages piling up to nearly P7 billion. Rice fields and fisheries stocks accounted for the biggest losses at P2.23 billion and P1.16 billion, respectively.
Toll on Aggie
Yolanda also took its toll on high-value crops such as coconut, mangoes, cassava, bananas and vegetables. Overall, the DA estimated that the calamity dislocated 214,522 metric tons of goods from 134,085 hectares of farmland. The figures exclude devastated agricultural infrastructure, facilities and equipment for irrigation systems in Eastern Visayas, a key food production basket. Leyte province alone chalked up P2.22 billion in losses, about half of which represents ruined palay.
Amid a grim picture in the agriculture sector, the government’s think tank, the National Economic Development Authority (Neda), is less upbeat about the economy’s growth prospects. In a statement, it predicted that growth of local output – or Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – in this year’s last quarter could be trimmed by 0.3 to 0.8 of a percentage point to 4.1 percent.
Hardly significant, the reduction would nonetheless bring down the government’s GDP target of attaining 6-7 percent GDP growth target by end this year, quite ambitious for an economy weakened by a string of disasters, both man-made and natural. Such bleak outlook, Neda says, could linger through 2014 because of the reduced production capacity in typhoon-affected areas.
Opportunity and Risk
What bears watching is the extent of the government’s fiscal spending to mount a multi-billion peso rehabilitation program which can be potentially inflationary. Officials boast that with improved tax revenues, the government has more than enough fiscal space to go on a splurge. Initial estimates placed the rehab cost at P10 billion to defray the costs of repair of infrastructure and other facilities.
In effect, the government has no choice but to part with its revenues which otherwise could have been wasted in the pockets of the notoriously corrupt and the inept. The choice is simple: reconstruct and resuscitate a disaster-ravaged economy or risk prevalence of abject poverty.
- The one word that will convince conservatives that inflation is actually low (theweek.com)
- ‘Yolanda,’ Yule spending to hike inflation (businessmirror.com.ph)
- Is a Money Market Savings Account an Effective Hedge against Inflation? (ally.com)
- How do they calculate inflation? (mercedescoleman.wordpress.com)
- Retail inflation jumps to 9-month high in November (thehindu.com)
- Mexico Rate Cut Unlikely as Growth Picks Up, Central Banker Says (bloomberg.com)
- Indian Future expected Inflation rate (greatlaker.wordpress.com)
- Go On Turkey, Once More For Clarity (blogs.wsj.com)
- Retail inflation shoots up to 11.24% in November (thehindu.com)
- 2014 inflation revised upward, may hit 4.5% (businessmirror.com.ph)
In the Midst of Tragedy
by Herman Tiu-Laurel
IN the midst of the tragedy of the 6th category mediocrity and incompetence that is BS Aquino and his government team the volunteerism of many Filipinos gave hope.
Taipan Millan, a young citizen with a group of his peers mobilized members of civic and business groups like the Rotary Club of Caloocan and companies like Frabelle Fishing Corporation to ship food and relief goods to various parts of Leyte and Samar that were not being reached by the mainstream foreign and government relief operations getting clogged up on the roads and airports.
Fishing vessels Chrysanthemum and Brilliant Star leaves Sangley for Tacloban while Woodrose from Navotas goes to Ormoc, Sogod, Tacloban, Biliran, Tanauan and Guian, and Verbena leaves Navotas for Sogod only.
One of our OpinYon writers, Liza Gaspar sought help to locate her Aunt Noemi and family in Brgy. San Isideo, Sta. Fe, Leyte. We’ll ask Frabelle Fishing to radio their ship captains to help in the search when arriving in the different disaster towns. Others who have need to search for anyone there can text us at our numbers below which we will relay to the ships.
The Spirit of Struggle
As the nation struggles with the crisis in the Visayas other daily struggles continue. The rise in Meralco power rates in November-December due to ill-timed maintenance operations of Malampaya raises the question: “Doesn’t the DoE have an obligation to keep power rates steady and at continuously affordable rates anymore to help people and enterprises maintain predictable overhead cost?” The authorities used to ensure such steady supply to make home and business planning possible by maintaining a balance in the power supply mix.
In the midst of the continuing struggle heroes often go unsung, but this week we will sing our hymns of praise to Mang Naro (Genaro) Lualhati, one of the leaders of LAMP (Lawyers Against Monopoly and Poverty) who in 2003 won the P30-billion refund of the income tax Meralco had been charging to consumers (which it is still doing).
Mang Naro passed away last week at the age of 92 leaving behind his message through his son Antonio, that the struggle for people’s justice against the power plunder of Meralco and its cohorts in the ERC and Congress should be sustained.
Beware of Gift Trojan Horses
While Filipinos have to accept any and all offers of aid and support now, they should also be wise and wary. An Internet blogger reminds us citing, Claro M. Recto “walang libre sa kano” U.S. writer, David Swanson in “Let’s Take Advantage of Suffering Filipinos!” sarcastically headlines a report on a USA Today columnist proposal to “…use the U.S. military to aid those suffering in the Philippines—as a backdoor means of getting the US military back into a larger occupation of the Philippines…. While the Philippines’ representative at the climate talks in Warsaw is fasting in protest of…the earth’s climate”.
Swanson also headlines, “How the US can dress up war as disaster relief to the Philippines”. The U.S. is puffing up its aircraft carriers and military relief role to: 1) justify to Americans massive US military spending and, 2) its pivot to Asia. Deprecating BS Aquino and RP government highlights incompetence to justify U.S. insertion. Meanwhile jet setting Pinoy anthropogenic global warming alarmist Yeb Sano waxes melodramatic using the Leyte tragedy to fast and reinforce false “man-made global warming (GW)” theory. Go to Center for Research on Globalization’s list of funding for the fraud.
The Next Disaster
It’s not “if” but “when” the next natural disaster will strike the Philippines and our families in the line of another super typhoon or an Intensity 9 earthquake. Government should lead in getting every barangay to fabricate heavy equipment at the lowest cost–see Open Source Ecology for free plans on how ordinary people can make hydraulic cranes, forklifts, bulldozers to free people from heavy debris; instead of PhP60 billion CCT going to waste. Learn from Cuba which buses threatened communities by the hundreds of thousands to safe grounds, as in Katrina with only two deaths compared to U.S. 1,800 deaths.
I am not leaving the fate of my children and grandchildren to mediocrities in government or the NGOs. I am buying used car jacks, crowbars ad steel cables for every room my houses my children’s homes. I constantly monitor seismic news and typhoon news. Dusan Zupka of the U.N. International Secretariat for Disaster Reduction opined, “I would dare to say that Cuba is a good example for other countries in terms of preparedness and prevention.” The people’s welfare is top priority for the revolutionary Cuban government, in the Philippine the people is last in priorities.
It’s from Peque Gallaga: “We cry desperately for demonstrable government response–we get almost next to nothing. It is increasingly apparent that local media goes hand in hand with self-servicing Malacañang press releases…What our leaders tell us is contradicted by …by the victims in these areas who are slowly able to give us the true picture of the realities of the situation….I read Marvin Xanth Geronimo who was there when Yolanda struck: that TV personalities and politicians like Mar Roxas and Ted Failon going to Tacloban for the photo op. They never helped;… Korina Sanchez calling Anderson Cooper “misinformed”. Cooper was in Tacloban. Korina was not…
“All those people who charge us for criticizing, for being negative, for Aquino bashing – I am done with these people. In a very Yellow Army way, they try to hide behind an illogical argument that we cannot help if we criticize.…. This man (Aquino) who is totally unprepared for the most difficult job in the country.
So my friends, as far as I’m concerned, you choose him or you choose the people. But if you instruct me again to stop bashing this man … I will unfriend you in Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram, and out in our leaderless streets.” As bad is a business newspaper’s headline lately, “7% growth rate still possible” says rating agencies when Yolanda proves their growth are meaningless to the people.
(Catch Herman Tiu Laurel’s weekly show at GNN Destiny Cable Channel 8, Skycable Channel 213, www.gnntv-asia.com Sat., 8 p.m. and replay Sun., 8 a.m.; tune to 1098AM, Tues. to Fri. 5pm; ; visit http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com; and text reactions to 0923-4095739)
- WHAT IF? A Doomsday Scenario (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
- Navotas fishermen deliver aid to ‘Yolanda’ survivors (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Korina Sanchez reports from Ormoc, Anderson Cooper still in Tacloban (entertainment.inquirer.net)
- Philippines destruction ‘a great human tragedy’ as more than 10,000 feared killed (thestar.com)
- With 10,000 believed dead, Philippine typhoon ‘a great human tragedy’ (ctvnews.ca)
- More than 10,000 feared dead as Typhoon Haiyan slams Philippines islands (theprovince.com)
- Philippine typhoon deaths climb into thousands (news.yahoo.com)
- Anderson Cooper: We honor Filipinos’ strength (globalnation.inquirer.net)
- Anderson Cooper to Korina Sanchez: Go to Tacloban (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Anderson Cooper-Korina Sanchez tiff goes viral on the Internet (technology.inquirer.net)
Death and Survival
TYPHOON Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) has left the Philippines totally devastated.
With an official death toll of 2,357 (and going up) and 600,000 people displaced—tales of death, destruction and survival have come to light recently as “normalcy” slowly returns to the provinces which suffered the brunt of the tropical cyclone.
Perhaps a side-effect of the Janet Lim-Napoles pork barrel scandal, but the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has confirmed that most of the donations will not be handed over to government agencies, but instead sent—as directly as possible—to the affected communities.
Worse, there are also reports that US Marines escorting cargoes of relief goods from the United Nations have been instructed not to let Philippine government officials and politicians get their hands on relief goods that are scheduled to arrive in Samar aboard five C130 planes.
Has the image of the Filipino government official gone so crookedly low that he can’t be trusted even during this time of great crisis?
You fill in the answer to this one, reader.
Survivors became increasingly frustrated with the government’s slow response to distribute badly needed food and water. Tacloban City officials have reported that only 20 percent of the typhoon victims have received aid. There have been reports and video footage of near anarchy as some people resorted to looting warehouses and shops to find food, water and supplies. The images are enough to make anyone cringe.
The storm has passed but the death toll continues to rise. Eight people were crushed to death when alleged looters decided to raid a government stockpile of rice in the town of Alangalang, Leyte. In another incident, a homeowner shot and killed a number of persons outside his home thinking they were out to rob him of his food and supplies.
Looters, officials said, should not be treated as criminals since they are just desperate for food and water. It’s all a matter of survival and self-preservation. But what about those who break into ATM machines, are stealing television sets, chest freezers and small appliances essential for survival? It has also become a field day for common thieves.
President Benigno is embattled as ever, this time fending off supposed false reports on the number of deaths, which was initially pegged at above 10,000. At ground zero, aid workers and survivors are increasingly becoming skeptical of the President’s comments.
They expect PNoy to give it to them straight like the promises of his “Daang Matuwid”.
- 8 dead in rice looting in typhoon-hit Philippines (boston.com)
- 8 dead in rice looting in typhoon-hit Philippines (stripes.com)
- Haiyan/Yolanda: Eight die in food stampede amid desperate wait for aid (crofsblogs.typepad.com)
- Desperation triggers anarchy in typhoon-hit areas (worldnews.nbcnews.com)
- Eight killed in typhoon food crush (itv.com)
- Philippines typhoon: eight die in food stampede amid desperate wait for aid (theguardian.com)
- Typhoon Haiyan Death Toll Tops 10,000, According To Official Estimates (huffingtonpost.com)
- 8 Dead in Rice Looting in Typhoon-Hit Philippines (abcnews.go.com)
- Storm survivors ‘desperate for aid’ (bbc.co.uk)
- 8 dead in looting of government warehouse in typhoon-ravaged Philippine town, official says – @AP (seattlepi.com)
Help Typhoon Yolanda Victims in Leyte
The OpinYon Relief Ops is asking everyone to join us in helping our fellow Filipinos affected by Typhoon Yolanda in Leyte. You can send donations in either cash or kind (canned goods/old clothes/blankets/non-perishables) to Musikgarten Manila in Robinsons Galleria, EDSA corner Ortigas Avenue, or the OpinYon Editorial Office in San Pedro, Laguna. Please share this poster as much as you can so more people can help. Thank you very much! Let’s match our words with deeds.
- My Heart Bleeds For The Victims of Typhoon Yolanda (arlene1956.wordpress.com)
- Palompon City Ravaged by Typhoon Yolanda (+Video) (theepochtimes.com)
- Tacloban Takes Direct Hit from Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) (jacksaunsea.wordpress.com)
- Let us help victims of typhoon #YolandaPH (mokongperspektib.wordpress.com)
- Philippines Appeal for HELP. (icookonboard.wordpress.com)
- DPWH personnel displaced by ‘Yolanda’ go back to work for typhoon rehab (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Tanauan, Leyte: Unknown Number of Casualties, Massive Damage From Haiyan (theepochtimes.com)
- Unity Amidst Typhoon Yolanda’s Fury (filipinismo.wordpress.com)
- Ormoc City, Tolosa, Dulag: Power Outages, Damage in Leyte After Typhoon Yolanda Hits (theepochtimes.com)
- #YolandaPH (rowjie.wordpress.com)