Category Archives: Philippines

Philippines typhoon: waiting to leave Leyte

Gerardo Amantillo (74) and Jovita Amantillo (74) from Basey, close to Tacloban on Leyte island. They were swept out of their home by waves and survived by clinging onto the roof of a neighbours house. They are photographed at Ormoc pier, where they were queuing for over 30 hours to get a boat off the island. (Photo: Eoghan Rice - Trócaire / Caritas)

Gerardo Amantillo (74) and Jovita Amantillo (74) survived by clinging onto the roof of a neighbours house. They are photographed at Ormoc pier, where they were queuing for over 30 hours to get a boat off Leyte island. (Photo: Eoghan Rice – Trócaire / Caritas)

By Eoghan Rice

Filipinos are opening their homes to victims of Typhoon Yolande, giving shelter to people whose houses were destroyed in the devastating storm.

Over 900,000 people are thought to be displaced as a result of last Friday’s typhoon. Many are seeking shelter with friends and family until their own homes can be repaired.

At Ormoc pier on Leyte island, people wait for boats to take them from one of the worst affected islands.

One family, the Baldescos, said that they had decided to leave the island until the situation there improved and while they were gone had allowed neighbours to live in their home.

Others are being supported by family members. Gerardo and Jovita Amantillo (both 74) were at home when Typhoon Yolande struck. Like so many others in the Basey region, they had prepared for strong winds but had not expected the storm to bring in such huge waves.

When more than two metres of water rushed into their house, they were swept away but miraculously managed to survive.

“The water rushed into our house and swept us outside,” said Gerardo. “We managed to grab onto the roof of a neighbour’s house and that is what saved us. We had to hold on to the roof for two hours before the storm ended.”

Their wooden house was destroyed and for the past week they have been staying with neighbours. However, one of their sons lives in an unaffected region of neighbouring Cebu island and they plan on staying with him “probably for the next six months”.

As they prepare to leave behind the island they have called home for decades, the meager few possessions they have with them is a reminder of how much people here lost.

Eoghan Rice is a communications officer for Caritas member Trocaire.

Leave a comment

Filed under Asia, Conflicts and Disasters, Emergencies, Philippines

International and local Caritas efforts underway in the Philippines

Packing aid a church centre in cebu for the worst hit communities in the Philippines. Carole Reckinger/Caritas Luxembourg

Packing aid a Church centre in Cebu for the worst hit communities in the Philippines. Carole Reckinger/Caritas Luxembourg

Aid is rushing to the Philippines from Caritas organisations around the world after Super Typhoon Haiyan (local name Yolanda) battered the country last weekend.

Caritas Germany have just ordered 10,000 shelters, hygiene kits and household kits for one of the worst hit islands of Leyte, due for delivery next week. Caritas member Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has chartered a 747 jet to transport 40,000 tarpaulins. A plane left Holland yesterday with 24 tonnes of tarps and 3300 medical kits from Caritas Netherlands (Cordaid).

The international Caritas relief effort is coordinated with the national Caritas and the local Church. Fr. Edwin Gariguez, Executive Secretary of Caritas Philippines-NASSA, has been part of an International Caritas Humanitarian Team on Leyte.

“We have never faced anything of this magnitude,” he said. “We greatly appreciate the support and solidarity from Caritas members around the world. By working together in a coordinated way, we can help save lives and rebuild communities.”

Catholic Relief Services will begin handing out 28,000 temporary shelters in the hard-hit Philippine city of Ormoc this weekend. The weatherproof tarpaulins will go to residents whose homes were destroyed by the typhoon.

The tarps, along with kits containing hygiene and household items, are coming by boat from Cebu City and will be stored in the gymnasium of a Catholic school as the distribution is organised.

Ormoc, a city of 190,000, is on the western side of Leyte, across a small range of mountains from the provincial capital Tacloban. Both cities experienced 13-foot tidal surges and devastating winds after Haiyan came ashore with winds approaching 200 mph. There are estimates that 90 percent of the structures in Ormoc were damaged or destroyed.

International Caritas Humanitarian Team member Eoghan Rice of Irish Caritas agency Trócaire said the situation in Ormoc is calm: “Boats are coming in with aid. There is a lot of helicopter activity. Assistance is arriving.”

The Caritas team has been able to travel to Tacloban and to other remote areas of Leyte. “From what I have seen, it’s a very calm situation,” he said. “People are waiting very peacefully for aid to arrive.”

He says that the same mild atmosphere is present at the docks, where 6000 people are queuing up to leave on ferries to nearby Cebu. In the queue for the boat, he met by chance a Philippine family with relations in his hometown of Dublin.

Rollie Baldesco with his wife Mapeth and children Karyl, Esme and Ellyza wait for a boat to take them from Leyte island to nearby Cebu. (Photo: Eoghan Rice - Trócaire / Caritas)

Rollie Baldesco with his wife Mapeth and children Karyl, Esme and Ellyza wait for a boat to take them from Leyte island to nearby Cebu. (Photo: Eoghan Rice – Trócaire / Caritas)

Rollie and Mapeth Baldesco, both 41, and their children Karyl, 17, Esme, 4 and Ellyza, 6, are from Tacloban, where over 4000 people are now said to have died. “We almost didn’t make it,” said Rollie. “We were hiding downstairs from the wind, but we didn’t expect the wave to come. We had to grab the small children and swim upstairs.”

The need of aid in Tacloban is great. “Our house was ruined. We had no water. We were able to survive on some tinned food. We had to leave the city because we were afraid of disease as there are bodies on the street,” he said.

In addition to the Ormoc distribution, CRS plans to give shelters to residents of Palo on the eastern coast of Leyte about 10 miles south of Tacloban. Office space has been secured in Catholic church buildings there.

Caritas relief operations include a number of areas. “We’re trying to reach the devastated areas. But it’s still very difficult. There’s still no electricity or petrol, and no communications with people on the ground,” said Msgr Broderick Pabillo, Auxiliary Bishop of Manila, the President of Caritas Philippines (NASSA).

The Church has delivered eight truckloads of food packs, water, clothing and cash to the Archdiocese of Capiz, where tens of thousands of people are in need.

The Church has also opened a base in Calbayog to help reach people on Samar Island. Fr. Cesar Aculan, who is working on relief operations, said it will provide a critical staging area for emergency relief operations.

Significant Caritas relief operation began on 13 December there in support of the work being done by parishes.“Typhoon victims here in need food, they are already hungry,” said Fr. Aculan.

Fr. Neil Tenafrancia of the Diocese of Borongan said there is no let up in the Church and other organisation’s relief efforts but the fuel crisis limits their operations. “That’s our problem here because we remain isolated. Many roads were destroyed by the typhoon,” he said.

Msgr Broderick Pabillo says the people of the Philippines has shown great solidarity.

“Filipinos are willing to help the victims, with donations and also with prayers. Here in Manila many volunteers are preparing the aid parcels that are being sent to the disaster areas,” he said. “They’re also welcoming the survivors who’ve managed to get to Cebu and then Manila.”

All Catholic Church Masses in the Philippines for the following nine days will be offered for the dead and the grieving families they left behind.

Leave a comment

Filed under Asia, Conflicts and Disasters, Emergencies, Emergencies in the Philippines, Philippines

Eye witness accounts in Tacloban as Philippine relief efforts continue

Mulvarosa Pepilla Perote (57) and her grandson Brynzsly (12). They survived the typhoon but Mulvarosa’s nephew, his wife, mother-in-law and 9 month old child have not been seen since. They lived close to the sea in an area that was destroyed by waves. (Photo: Eoghan Rice - Trócaire / Caritas)

Mulvarosa Pepilla Perote (57) and her grandson Brynzsly (12). They survived the typhoon but Mulvarosa’s nephew, his wife, mother-in-law and 9 month old child have not been seen since. They lived close to the sea in an area that was destroyed by waves. (Photo: Eoghan Rice – Trócaire / Caritas)

An International Caritas Humanitarian Team is in the worst hit areas of Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). The team have linked up with local parishes and Caritas staff in Tacloban and Ormoc.

Team member Eoghan Rice said that the damage is incredible. “There are parts of Tacloban where 90 percent of the buildings have been destroyed. The conditions people face are extraordinary.”

People are taking shelter in schools, shops and any other public buildings left standing in Tacloban. The Caritas team, led by Caritas Philippines Director Fr. Edwin Gariguez, visited a local seminary that has been turned into an evacuation centre where local Caritas and Church volunteers are helping over 500 survivors.

Mulvarosa Pibilra Perote is one of them, The 57 year old grandmother has five grown up children and three grandchildren, 11, 10 and 4 years old. They were at home when the storm hit.

“We were all very frightened,” she said. “We thought we were going to die. The children were crying. We were holding onto whatever we could. Many people died in our neighbourhood, including seven in just one family.”

Aid began to arrive in Tacloban overland from Maasin on Sunday. Credit: Caritas Philippines

Aid began to arrive in Tacloban overland from Maasin on Sunday. Credit: Caritas Philippines

The official death toll for Tacloban City rose to 2,000 on Thursday, but that covers only bodies that have been collected or visually confirmed by authorised officials.

“We saw recovery teams pulling bodies out of the rubble. There are dead people in body bags still on the side of the road,” said Eoghan Rice.

Many people remain missing, including Mulvarosa’s nephew, his wife, their 9 month old baby and his mother-in-law. “Nobody knew to expect the waves. My nephew’s family lived by the coast. I told him to move, but he didn’t listen. We’re still looking for them,” she said.

Caritas Philippines has been able to truck food and water to the area through its local network and provide blanket distributions of the aid. More aid is on the way with 18,000 food packs to arrive in Ormoc by the weekend and 18,720 for Tacloban.

Mulvarosa’s family has received rice, noodles and tinned goods. “My house is virtually destroyed. It has no roof,” she said. “I’m very grateful to receive food and shelter.”

A Dutch military plane with 30 tonnes of aid, including 5000 tarpaullins and 3300 medical kits for CORDAID. Credit: Cordaid.

A Dutch military plane with 30 tonnes of aid, including 5000 tarpaullins and 3300 medical kits for CORDAID. Credit: Cordaid.

Caritas Philippines has given €150,000 to 11 diocese to provide food and water. Over 20,000 bags of relief goods have been sent by Caritas Manila to 13 affected dioceses by truck and boat.

International relief is on its way too. Caritas Netherlands (Cordaid) has 24 tonnes of tarpaulins and 3300 medical kits en route by air to Philippines. Caritas member Catholic Relief Services has purchased 32,000 tarpaulins, of which 5000 have arrived in Cebu. With the arrival in country of tarps and water and sanitation kits, initial distributions will take place within the week.

Leave a comment

Filed under Asia, Conflicts and Disasters, Emergencies, Emergencies in the Philippines, Philippines

Philippines survivors: Help! Water! Food!

Food, water, medical supplies and temporary shelter are in urgent need. Credit: Andreas Zinggl/Caritas Austria

Food, water, medical supplies and temporary shelter are in urgent need. Credit: Andreas Zinggl/Caritas Austria

People in the Philippines are in desperate need according to Caritas Austria staff in Cebu, one of the areas Typhoon Haiyan struck. The scale of the disaster has left everyone stunned.

Caritas aid has been getting through. Caritas Philippines has been able to reach survivors since Sunday working through its diocesan staff. Caritas Philippines is focusing its activities in Palo, Jaro, Capiz and Cebu.

Ten trucks with food will go to Ormoc in Leyte, nearly 50 relief packs with clothes and medicines were delivered to a local hospital in Cebu and a truck with relief supplies was sent to Bogo City in the destroyed north.

Heavy rain on Tuesday is making life worse for survivors and more difficult for relief operations. Families are sleeping in the elements and need the basics just to get by. Over 670,000 have been forced from their homes. Based on population figures where the typhoon made direct hits, an estimated 500,000 homes could be destroyed.

Emergency shelter remains a top priority. 32,000 tarpaulins have been bought by Caritas member CRS and the first tarps and water and sanitation supplies have arrived in the country.

In Tacloban City, streets are flooded and there are growing health concerns that the bodies, rubbish and sewage will lead to the spread of disease. Hygiene and sanitation are critical to maintain in order to prevent waterborne diseases that often occur in crowded, polluted conditions.

The number of people affected has risen to 11.3 million, but the government says that the death toll might not be as high as expected. President Benigno Aquino expects the death toll to be around 2000-2500 people.

Assessing the damage, reaching those affected, transporting supplies, and helping rebuild a country and its people so that they are better prepared when the next crisis comes are all part of the challenge Caritas organisations are facing going forward in the Philippines.

Please support our work in the Philippines

Leave a comment

Filed under Asia, Conflicts and Disasters, Emergencies, Emergencies in the Philippines, Philippines

A message of love and hope for the Philippines

Sacred Heart of Jesus, great Healer, be with our brothers & sisters!

Sacred Heart of Jesus, great Healer, be with our brothers & sisters!

By +Most Rev. Isao Yama Kikuchi, Regional President of Caritas Asia

To our dear brothers and sisters in the Philippines,

The 23 Caritas member organisations in Asia, along with other Caritas members from other regions that are present in Asia, are one in conveying to you our deepest sympathy and concern for the loss of your loved ones who perished from the wrath of the Super Typhoon Haiyan.

We are deeply saddened by the widespread devastation and loss of lives caused by the typhoon. We hope that in the midst of the great sorrow and pain, you will find comfort in the fact that millions of people, including our Caritas family, are in solidarity with you.

On behalf of the Caritas confederation in Asia, Caritas Asia brings you our message of love and hope, as well as, our prayers and our commitment to lend a helping hand in rebuilding the shattered lives of the typhoon victims.

In our capacity as a Caritas confederation in Asia, we hope and pray that the indomitable spirit that resides within you as a Filipino people, together with your deep faith in God, will continue to be as strong as ever to help you rise above this great tragedy. May you find courage in God and always be reminded that our strength emanates from Him.

Religious sisters helping pack aid for Leyte. Credit: Caritas Manila

Religious sisters helping pack aid for Leyte. Credit: Caritas Manila

We join you in your prayers for the speedy recovery of our brothers and sisters who were battered by the typhoon. May the passage in the scripture that says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me,” [Psalm 23:4] resonate in our prayers, so that we may find courage and hope in these times of sorrow.

As Caritas, we also join the other members of our confederation across the globe in sharing with you our resources, and in exerting our best efforts to bring humanitarian aid to the communities that have suffered the brunt of the typhoon.

Our Caritas family will work side by side with NASSA-Caritas Philippines in delivering timely and appropriate aid to the victims. In close coordination with the affected communities, we will do what best we can to help in alleviating the suffering of the afflicted families; rebuild their lives; and bring back the bright future that awaits them.

Caritas will be with you in these difficult times.

+Most Rev. Isao Yama Kikuchi, Regional President of Caritas Asia

Leave a comment

Filed under Asia, Conflicts and Disasters, Emergencies, Emergencies in the Philippines, Philippines

Aid making its way to victims of Typhoon Haiyan in Philippines

The Caritas Manila office has been transformed into loading centre as 250 volunteers work in shifts to pack aid destined for people in the most affected regions of the country.  By Eoghan Rice/Caritas

The Caritas Manila office has been transformed into loading centre as 250 volunteers work in shifts to pack aid destined for people in the most affected regions of the country. By Eoghan Rice/Caritas

By Eoghan Rice

Aid is arriving into the worst affected regions of the Philippines, bringing much needed supplies to people who lost everything in last weekend’s typhoon.

The Caritas Manila office has been transformed into loading centre as 250 volunteers work in shifts to pack aid destined for people in the most affected regions of the country.

Volunteers have been packing goods into family packs since Sunday and tomorrow (Wednesday) will see the first batch flown to the Leyte province, which bore the brunt of the disaster.

Each family pack contains 5 kilos of rice, 9 canned goods, 6 packets of noodles and 5 packets of protein rich manna rice. The packs are designed to last a family of five people three days and tomorrow 2,000 such packs will be sent to Leyte.  By Eoghan Rice/Caritas

Each family pack contains 5 kilos of rice, 9 canned goods, 6 packets of noodles and 5 packets of protein rich manna rice. The packs are designed to last a family of five people three days and tomorrow 2,000 such packs will be sent to Leyte. By Eoghan Rice/Caritas

Each family pack contains 5 kilos of rice, 9 canned goods, 6 packets of noodles and 5 packets of protein rich manna rice. The packs are designed to last a family of five people three days and tomorrow 2,000 such packs will be sent to Leyte

May Tiangco of Caritas Manila said: “The volunteers are mostly from local youth groups. They work here in shifts. They started packing on Sunday and tomorrow (Wednesday) we will send the first 2,000 food packs to nine affected areas. We plan on sending 20,000 packs over the next few weeks.”

The southern province of Cebu, one of the worst affected regions Credit: Caritas Philippines

The southern province of Cebu, one of the worst affected regions Credit: Caritas Philippines

In the southern province of Cebu, one of the worst affected regions, Irish nun Sr. Anne Healy is helping to deliver food to 3,000 people, many of them children.

“It’s a desperate situation”, said Sr. Healy. “Local people are donating clothes to people who lost everything, so that allows us to focus on getting food. [Because of shortages] the price of food has gone up so many people can’t afford to buy it. We have been able to buy rice and other products at local markets and distribute it to people.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Asia, Conflicts and Disasters, Emergencies, Emergencies in the Philippines, Philippines

What Caritas aid will look like in the Philippines

Food is an urgent need in the Philippines. Credit: Caritas

Food is an urgent need in the Philippines. Credit: Caritas

Caritas member organisations have pledged €1.5 million in aid to the Philippines so far to help save lives and rebuild communities after a massive storm hit 8 November. The confederation is working through Caritas Philippines-NASSA, with the support of Catholic Relief Services, an American Caritas member. Local dioceses in the Philippines are already mobilising food to those most in need.

Emergency Shelter Kits
Typhoon Haiyan packed 235km/h winds that cut a swath of destruction through the Philippines, destroying tens of thousands of homes in its path. In Cadiz City, for example, about 5,000 houses have been destroyed. Based on population figures where the typhoon made direct hits, an estimated 200,000 homes could be destroyed.

Caritas will target heavily affected areas and distribute tarpaulins to families living in open areas. With the Philippines’ Bohol area having recently suffered a major earthquake in October, stocks of tarpaulins in Manila and Cebu City are low or depleted in the country.

We will assist families in constructing structures that will better protect them from the elements. Our teams will provide an emergency shelter kit that contains one durable tarp measuring 258 square feet, and nails for fastening it to an A-frame design. The frame can be made from salvaged materials or coconut lumber; the tarps are durable, long lasting and suitable for all climates. We have used this design extensively in other emergencies (most recently in the Bohol earthquake in the Philippines) and it has proven to be easy to assemble and well received by families.

Typhoon Haiyan packed 235km/h winds that cut a swath of destruction through the Philippines, destroying tens of thousands of homes in its path. Caritas member CRS has already purchased 18,000 tarps to be used as temporary shelter. Credit: Caritas

Typhoon Haiyan packed 235km/h winds that cut a swath of destruction through the Philippines, destroying tens of thousands of homes in its path. Caritas member CRS has already purchased 18,000 tarps to be used as temporary shelter. Credit: Caritas

Emergency Household Living Supplies Kit
We face critical needs for jerry cans, clean water, hygiene supplies, sleeping materials and kitchen sets in the coming weeks. These supplies can be procured locally. Families lost much of what they had inside their homes—with essential supplies buried under rubble—and need the basics just to get by. Markets are also closed. We will help families access essential living supplies. Priorities include blankets, soap, buckets, blankets, towels, toothpaste and sanitary napkins.

Water, Hygiene and Sanitation Kits
Families have limited access to clean drinking water due to the loss of electricity, damage to pipes and contamination of water sources. Hygiene and sanitation assistance is critical to preventing waterborne diseases that often occur in crises and contexts like these. Also, families’ toilets and bathing areas will have been damaged or destroyed, likely leading to people practicing open defecation. People will be unable wash clothes or bathe due to lack of necessary soap and or water. Caritas will distribute hygiene kits to families in the affected areas. The kits will include a jerry can (bucket), pail with cover, and water purifying treatments. Distributions will include information sessions so families are aware of the practices and benefits of hand washing and proper handling and storage of water to reduce the risk of disease.

Cost List

  • €6 ($8) provides a water kit for a family. This includes 1 jerry can, 1 pail and aqua tabs for water purification.
  • €11 ($15) provides an emergency shelter kit. This includes tarps and nails that are combined with local materials to create emergency shelter.
  • €16 ($22) provides household living supplies. This includes sleeping mats, three blanket, utensils, plastics, glasses, and a cooking pot.
  • €21 ($28) provides hygiene kits. This includes a two-month family supply of soap, laundry powder, toothbrush, toothpaste, feminine sanitary napkins, and towels.

Note: The amounts cover items only. They do not include costs associated with distribution, training and monitoring.

Support our work in the Philippines

Source: CRS

Leave a comment

Filed under Asia, Conflicts and Disasters, Emergencies, Emergencies in the Philippines, Philippines