Concepcion Ondocan is coping with loss after so many of her friends and neighbours were killed in a mudslide that swept away 300 homes. Photo by Jen Hardy/CRS
By Jen Hardy, CRS Communications Officer
Lush trees dominate the landscape in the tropical Philippines. But in this mountainous section of Mindanao, brown, barren landscape now stretches into the distance.
The trees that stayed standing were stripped bare on 3 December, as Typhoon Bopha devastated areas of Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental. In many areas, every tree, stretching to the mountains in the distance, lies snapped on the ground.
Massive banana plantations have been flattened, leaving only traces of homes and other structures. Bananas sit rotting in the mud, and plantation labourers worry that with no bananas to harvest they’ve lost their incomes just as they’re grappling with so much other loss.
Fele Ondocan is thankful that her home in Andap barangay is only damaged, not totally destroyed.
“The roof and part of the frame blew away, but we found it nearby. We’re relieved, because we can’t afford to buy new materials,” she said. “We can fix the home. Our neighbours lost everything.” Continue reading
By Merlie “Milet” B. Mendoza, advisor to Caritas Manila
Migration is a key issue in my country. Filipino nurses, caregivers, domestic helpers, entertainers, engineers, teachers and construction workers are present in all corners of the globe. There are several million documented overseas Filipino workers.
Even if the phenomenon has, on the one hand, tremendously improved the economic well-being of many Filipinos as well as the country; on the other hand, it has resulted in a depressing social hazard. Countless mothers have left their children to go work abroad, poor women are taken advantage of and often become victims of exploitation, violence and sexual slavery. Continue reading
Excessive rains forced officials to release water from dams. Overflowing rivers are now flooding almost the entire province of Pangasinan, according to initial reports.
Debbie DeVoe, CRS Regional Information Officer, sends in a field report from the Philippines.
CRS’ Director of Emergency Operations Pat Johns and I joined Sister Rosanne Mallillin of Caritas Philippines on a visit this morning to assess the widespread damage in Pangasinan province, one of two provinces currently experiencing extensive flooding and landslides. CRS is a Caritas member from the USA.
On Sept. 26, 2009, Typhoon Ketsana hit the main island of Luzon in the Philippines, causing extensive damage in Manila and the surrounding areas. About an hour outside of Manila, the residents of Santa Rosa in Bulacan province were hit hard, living right next to a river that flooded. Twelve days later they are still digging the mud off the streets and from the drains and cleaning and drying the possessions that weren't destroyed by the storm.
By Debbie DeVoe, CRS Regional Information Officer, from the Philippines
This isn’t an easy entry to write. There’s a part of me that doesn’t even want to share the story of what I saw today. I had heard that 12 people had been killed by a landslide, but it wasn’t until I saw their submerged houses that the reality of that fact hit home.
The Arayat National Park is home to Mount Arayat, a mid-sized mountain that peaks out from mist, standing guardian to a neighborhood of close-set houses at its base. The park’s barracks were no longer needed by the government, so families had moved in, with 10 to 12 families living in each.
In some fields in the Philippines, more than two feet of water still remains.
by Debbie DeVoe, CRS Regional Information Officer, from Tuguegarao, Philippines
This past Saturday, a second typhoon hit the northern part of the Philippines. Fortunately the impact was not nearly as devastating as that of the earlier Typhoon Ketsana on the greater Manila area. Typhoon Parma is still hovering over the region, however, causing concern that it will hit the north again—and perhaps harder.
Today, Catholic Relief Services (a Caritas member in the US) staff visited the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao to tour some of the areas most affected by Typhoon Parma with Caritas Philippines (known locally as Nassa).
Fr. Manuel Catral, the archdiocese’s social action director, told us that he began contacting parish priests as soon as the storm subsided. A dozen dioceses have reported damage, with hundreds of houses destroyed and many more in need of repair. Diocesan staff provided food to people in immediate need and are now exploring opportunities to help families in the area repair or rebuild their homes.
Students at Saint Paul University in Manila pack thousands of items to deliver to flood victims after Typhoon Ketsana. Now they await Typhoon Parma.
Caritas and the people of the Philippines are bracing for Tropical Storm Parma, which is expected to hit the country today. Over four million people live in the path of the severe storm. The Philippines was hit less than a week ago by Typhoon Ketsana, which caused some of the worst destruction in decades. Currently Parma is a stronger storm.
At the Aid Center of the Diocese of Antipolo, CRS workers load up food and other items being distributed by Caritas.
By Laura Sheahen, Catholic Relief Service (A Caritas Internationalis member)
Tropical storm Ketsana (local name: Ondoy) struck Manila and surrounding areas on Saturday, Sept. 26. The massive flooding that resulted killed over 200 people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes. Most returned to find their belongings destroyed.
Caritas Philippines (NASSA) began ministering to flood victims immediately. Caritas gave victims bottled water and food like noodles, crackers, canned sardines, and rice.
Local Catholic dioceses partnered with NASSA and also provided used clothing. Hundreds of volunteers–often Catholic teens and college students–helped pack the items. NASSA will also distribute medicine and non-food items like cookware, hygiene kits, underwear, sleeping mats, blankets, mosquito nets, and more.
Caritas Philippines (NASSA) has launched a national appeal for the flood victims of Tropical Storm Ketsana. The diocesan Caritas are responding throughout the country. We spoke with Fr Anton Pascal, Executive Director of Caritas Manila, earlier this morning.
There has been extensive damage to lives and properties affecting 10 million people in Metro Manila in the Philippines. Tropical Storm Ketsana (locally called “Ondoy”) dropped a month’s worth of rain on Manila in just 12 hours Saturday. The disaster was the worst the capital had experienced in nearly half a century.
So far we’re still in the rescue and relief phase. All sectors of the country are working together, including the Catholic Church through Caritas. The weather, although better, is still raining. There is still no electricity in many areas and heavy flooding making it very difficult to rescue people from their homes and to retrieve dead bodies from the flood waters.
Catholic News Service reported that Pope Benedict XVI offered his prayers for the peoples of the Philippines, Taiwan, China and Japan facing the death and destruction of recent typhoons and earthquakes.
“I want to demonstrate my spiritual closeness to all those who find themselves in situations of serious difficulty and I ask everyone to pray for them and for those who lost their lives,” the pope said Aug. 12 at the end of his weekly general audience.
“I hope the relief of solidarity and the help of material aid will not be lacking,” he told pilgrims gathered in the courtyard of the papal villa at Castel Gandolfo.