Tag Archives: Cebu

Hope Amidst Devastation

It has been more than two weeks since my last post. I did not feel like writing about soap when there were other more pressing issues at hand.  As I had mentioned, Cebu City (where I live) narrowly escaped the wrath of Typhoon Haiyan, but thousands of families in the northern part of Cebu province were not as lucky. They lost their homes, but thankfully, the number of casualties was low because they were able to evacuate to safer grounds. However, it was a totally different story in the city of Tacloban and the other municipalities of Leyte.  More than 5,000 people died and the destruction was simply staggering.

I am sure most of you have seen enough of the devastation on the news and have had your hearts wrung out. Even though I took a lot of photos of the destruction in Northern Cebu, I thought I’d rather share with you a different side to this tragedy – the innocent and carefree smiles of the children, the resilient spirit of the people, the beauty of the land, and the hope of rising again.

Last weekend, I and a group of friends went to Bantayan Island, one of the areas in the direct path of Typhoon Haiyan. To get there, it is a 3-hour drive to Hagnaya in the north, and from there, another 1.5-hour barge ride to the island of Bantayan, famous for its white sand beaches, and also known as the egg basket of Central Visayas.  Bantayan belongs to a group of small islands, and because of their remoteness, it is logistically challenging to reach some of them. Goods have to be loaded from Bantayan on outrigger motor/pump boats to get to the other smaller islands.

Haiyan- Loading relief goods

Carrying sacks of relief goods on low tide to be loaded onto a pump boat.

Haiyan -loading

We would not have been able to carry out our little relief work by ourselves. First, we needed a truck to haul the goods all the way from Cebu City to Bantayan Island, and from there, load them onto pump boats. Through friends of friends, we were put in touch with Nelson, the proprietor of Anika Island Resort, whose property was the only one miraculously not damaged by the typhoon. With two generators, Anika was the only resort with electricity, so it naturally became the headquarters of relief groups, both foreign and local. Nelson has been personally very much involved with relief works in his area and neighboring islands, and he has also become a point person/coordinator and facilitator for groups wanting to help. We are indeed very grateful for his generosity and kindness.

A short distance from Bantayan Island is the small fishing island of Hilantagaan, home to nearly 900 families, and badly damaged by the typhoon.  Together with Nelson and his church group, this was where we distributed relief goods.

Haiyan- Boy with Bike

The island in the background is Hilantagaan Island.

Haiyan -unloading goods

Arriving in Hilantagaan Island and unloading goods

Haiyan -Hilantagaan Children

Posing with the children of Hilantagaan are Mary Anne from Canada who works with Samaritan’s Purse International Relief Org., and volunteers, Ahmad and Reza.

Haiyan - 3 girls

Beautiful smiles amidst the ruins.

Haiyan -Shelter Box

Mother and daughter with the tent they received from ShelterBox.

Haiyan - baby

The young grandmother proudly showing off her grandchild, safe from the elements in their ShelterBox tent. Families with infants were given priority with the tents.

Lining up for coupons, one per family, before distribution of goods.

Lining up for coupons, one per family, before distribution of goods.

Haiyan - hilantagaan

The pristine shore of Hilantagaan. A 180˚ turn would reveal an island in ruins.

In the bigger island of Bantayan, life goes on…

Haiyan - 3 boys

Children laughing and catching small fish using a scrap curtain fabric as net.

Haiyan- Girl with clams

A girl digging the sand for clams.

Biking around the beach.

Biking around the beach.

Business as usual in the public market.

Business as usual in the public market.

View of the pier and the barge from the sandy shores of Bantayan.

View of the pier and the barge from the sandy shores of Bantayan.

The Philippines has received a tremendous outpouring of generosity and support from many countries, organizations, and individuals from all over the world. Thank you all, from the bottom of our hearts. 











Nature’s Fury

Most of you have probably seen on the news about super typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) that hit central Philippines last Friday, Nov. 8. The worst hit was the city of Tacloban, where thousands of people are feared dead. I live in Cebu City, in the central part of the province of Cebu, which was struck just less than a month ago by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake (we still continue to feel aftershocks although it has become less).  Cebu City didn’t suffer much damage, but the northern part of Cebu bore the brunt of the signal no. 4 typhoon (category 5 hurricane).

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The typhoon came and went swiftly. As you can imagine, we were anxious and scared, with the rain and wind so strong, and the power gone. After the typhoon passed, we all breathed a sigh of relief that it was not as bad as we had anticipated. But when power and signal started working again, that was when we learned of the devastation in other places.

A few years ago, my parents-in-law built a beach house in San Remigio, about 100 kilometers away in the northern part of Cebu.  They built it for family vacations, where all the children and grandchildren can relax, have fun, and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. They really love the peace and tranquility there, and even considered making it their retirement house in the future. Well, this is the house after Typhoon Yolanda unleashed her fury:

The roof is gone, the windows broken, and the inside of the house look like it went through a washing machine.

The roof is gone, the windows broken, and the inside of the house looks like a tornado went through it.

The calm view from the wreck in the house.

The calm view from the wreck inside the house.

A book belonging to our neighbor, lands in her garden.

A book belonging to our neighbor, lands in her garden.

Here are more photos taken during our drive this morning to the north. Luckily, the trees and debris have been cleared from the road.  Relief goods are starting to pour in already.

Typhoon 4 Typhoon 5 typhoon 7 typhoon 8

typhoon 10

Even the resilient bamboo that sways with the wind is bent and broken.

Even the resilient bamboo that sways with the wind is bent and broken.

The pictures above are nothing compared to what is happening in the worst-hit areas. It is heart-wrenching to see people desperate and suffering, and at the same time it is heart-warming to see a lot of people helping in whatever way they can.  Amidst all this, I am most grateful that my city was spared and am reminded of how precious life is – that it should be lived with joy, love, passion, and kindness.

 

Earthquake! Asking for prayers.

I woke up this morning to Facebook posts of a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Cebu City, my hometown. My husband and I are in Taipei for our 5th wedding anniversary, so imagine our worry on hearing the news. We made calls to family and friends, and thank God, everyone’s safe. There are some moderate  damages to our properties, but nothing major. Some parts of the city suffered serious damage though, like collapsed church bell towers, skywalks and building structures. The epicenter was in Bohol, a very nearby island, just across Cebu Province. I saw pictures of the destruction there and it looks bad. Some centuries old churches have caved-in roofs and some have been reduced to rubble.

NATIONAL TREASURE. Basilica Minore del Sto Niño in Cebu City loses its belfry to the 7.2-magnitude earthquake. Photo from Jose Faruggia

One of the oldest churches in the Philippines, the Basilica Minore del Sto Niño in Cebu City loses its belfry. Photo courtesy of Jose Faruggia.

SEVERE DAMAGE. The centuries-old Loboc Church in Loboc, Bohol shows its collapsed roof after a magnitude 7.2 quake in the region, 15 October 2013. Photo courtesy of Robert Michael Poole (@tokyodrastic)

Loboc Church in Loboc, Bohol, another heritage centuries-old church. Photo courtesy of Robert Michael Poole.

 This may be the strongest earthquake we have experienced in the past 100 years. News is just starting to trickle in on the number of casualties. There’s more than a dozen already and still counting. Everyone is saying they’re so scared and the aftershocks are making it worse.

Please say a little prayer for everyone affected by this earthquake.

On a lighter note, my husband and I almost missed our return flight today. We honestly thought our flight was still tomorrow.  We had already planned on our itinerary for today: go to the National Museum then shop for presents this afternoon. We took a late breakfast, went back to our room and busied ourselves with social media to keep track with what’s happening back home. Fortunately, my husband checked the flight update emailed to him (obviously I didn’t check mine) and realized our flight is this afternoon! We scrambled to shower, pack our things, and check out of the hotel. Glad to report we made it! In fact we are too early, giving me plenty of time to write this post.

Tomorrow I will post on my exciting soapy finds in Taipei. Stay tuned! 🙂