foraging in the wreckage


Haiyan came, conquered and left the country torn and devastated. More than the usual…


Image of two children who survived the strongest typhoon in the Visayas region of the Philippines

The world’s biggest, fastest and strongest typhoon came this way/


Tagged as the biggest and strongest cyclone to have landed on the planet, this cathastrophe visited via the regular storm path: Philippines. Locally called Yolanda, the super typhoon wrecked havoc on the Visayas region, particularly in the island of Leyte, 573 kilometers, south of Manila. The nightmarish storm hit the ground on the dawn of November 8, well on to the next day and did rampage for the next 48 hours. Official tally ofΒ casualties as of today is 1,841, eighty percent of which are from the Leyte-Samar area. Β 6, 498 villages have been affected, across nine (9) regions of the country. Disaster officers, however, estimate 10,000 people injured and missing; possibly dead. Total number of persons displaced by the calamity – 600,000.


We are at the tail end of the rainy season here. Normally, we experience typhoons right after the All Soul’s Day. Thus, a storm on the 3rd or 4th of November is considered ordinary or even expected, in these parts. But this one came a bit late, on the edge of the 7th – with trees swaying to the tune of the howling winds – slamming right into the towns and cities of Central Philippines. Experts hailed Haiyan as stronger and faster than Hurricane Katrina and Super typhoon Sandy combined. Indeed, Yolanda’s wind strength, coverage and speed is beyond what we, Filipinos commonly encounter. Or, go through. Or, escape from… No country or people is prepared enough for a natural disaster of this magnitude and proportion.

The storm pounded Tacloban City, Leyte province’s capital. Buildings were destroyed, houses flooded then eroded, and, the whole city was inundated by the storm surges from the nearby bay. In its wake – trees, people, animals, vehicles and huge amount of debris. Whole communities were flattened, brought to the ground, laid to waste… In the adjacent towns and in the remote villages, dwellings made from light materials (though reinforced) did not stand a chance. This extra-strength typhoon simply swept everything and every one in its path. Power lines were cut off, phone lines were down and food and water supplies vanished, just like that. Parents looking for their children could not find their way, children looking for their parents got lost and in the dark and pummeling rain, families were separated. Some, forever.


Image of residents evacuating from the typhoon hit areas

Evacuees cover their noses as they trek the roads to safety as bloated, dead bodies are yet to be buried/

If we try to wrap our heads around the idea of surviving a violent storm in a big group of islands, like the Philippines, we would have a hard time. This archipelagic country is host to 19 typhoons a year, at least three (3) of them are called super. It depends on where the storm would pass, hit (landfall) and exit, the length of its stay and the strength of the dances nature would do. It is a little like a lottery, with misfortune as the prize (no pun intended). Whenever a typhoon is expected in an area, foundations of houses there are strengthened, roofs are repaired and residents near bodies of water are evacuated. As the moving wind rants, raves and stomps – we run, flee and scamper to dry, higher and safer grounds. Filipinos are used to it, familiar and somehow, adjusted. Or, so we claim… One or two volcanic eruptions annually, a landslide here, three earthquakes there and periodic flooding. But we suffer each time; whether our immediate zone is directly affected or not. Regardless if the disaster, hit our front door, right into our living room or, it happened some 600 kilometers away.


We feel small, helpless, insignificant – just like the rest of the world watching the media coverage from CNN via the cable. We would like to help the victims in our own way, concretely — some shelter, jackets, hot water or even just coffee or soup. At one time or another, we have been there: on the side needing aid, assistance, comfort. Or, at the very least, seeking a glimmer of hope. From the screens of our television sets, the happenings are too distant, yet too familiar and too surreal. Mothers crying softly, fathers staring dumbfounded and confused children wailing, there’s just too many of them. In their faces – fear, pain and sorrow – all too deep, too recent for words. The hourly news flash updates on impassable roads, looting of supermarkets, warehouses and malls and, relief trucks stalled on the way to the victims. Most devastated communities are in the coastal areas or far-flung villages; rescue and relief operations are logistically long and difficult.


Three days after the storm’s landfall, it was found out that the nearby islands of Samar were also badly damaged. Historically, Samar is one of the country’s poorest provinces. It turned out, casualties in the Eastern and Western Samar was close to 400 and more than 2,000 villages in the area, have been badly affected by the storm. On the other hand, Bohol province, where a strong quake occurred less that a month earlier, was also hit by a series of gigantic storm surges during Haiyan’s rampage. Likewise for Cebu, where death toll from the super typhoon reached 63.


War has its signature image, that pair of haunting eyes asking the whereabouts of its loved ones. We keep on seeing it in the last five (5) days – on the TV screens, on social media’s most recently uploaded pics and videos and, on our PC monitors. There is no war, no. Yet, the manifestations are too telling – dead bodies, survivors foraging through the wreckage, in the midst of cadavers, and hungry, desperate people fighting over food, water and blankets.


 Image of a child staring ahead helplessly after Haiyan's rampage

The post typhoon scenario imitates that of a civil war. Children need immediate help/


We change the channel, shift to another platform (to get more of the same) before dialing the number for the possibility of donating. It’s not enough, we know inside that that little help we are extending will hardly be enough. But we hope and pray to high heavens that it will succor the tragedy’s victims somehow. Somehow… We, too, are desperate. We, too need assurance that things will get better. After all, it’s not Β everyday that people loot supermarkets and dead peoples’ homes. It’s not everyday that people throw decency to the wind and elbow the next fellow for a can of sardines. No. But deep inside, we ask ourselves, “Had we been in that same situation, would we have done the same?” Surprisingly, we are not surprised by the answer: Yes.



*Interested and concerned parties may donate through the hotlines and websites of the UN Food Programme, the Red Cross and CNN. Private efforts and private groups soliciting support and donations for the typhoon victims are encouraged and welcome. If you are sending over items, easy-open canned goods are preferred, also bottled water, rice, blankets and jackets.

Most victims are in the evacuation areas or in the streets thus, they have nothing to cook with just yet. For now, edible and usable items that could be packed and handled easily are preferred and would also make it easy for the volunteers. Most relief efforts are using big trucks, most roads are still hard to negotiate or dangerous and the airports in the typhoon-hit areas as well as the electricity and phone connections are all down.

We all want to help, but let us also be patient. Donation of helicopters, aircrafts and seacrafts from really wealthy bloggers and their families are most welcome. Just kidding. πŸ˜‰ Actually, am half serious. It seems the rescue and relief operations will speed up if the government had more of them as most victims are in islands, islets and isolated areas. Finding and burying the dead is also on top of the agenda. It’s almost Β like a war, over here. The atmosphere is such that most of us are down because of this disaster.

Let us all hold hands, this is a catastrophe that visited not just us, Filipinos, but all of mankind. You are with us, we know … Thank you. πŸ™‚

Kind words and warm thoughts will be accepted, too. The blogger here is fine, thanks to dear bloggers who came over to ask and extended concerns. Hugs to all. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚Β 


41 comments on “foraging in the wreckage

  1. I am so glad you are safe – I read through all your blog posts trying to find out where you live! I emailed too and was worried not to hear back, but then I thought your communication lines might be down and even if not, there are more important things to be doing than replying to en e-acqaintance – so, thanks be, you are safe. And what a moving post. We’ll be donating to the funds and hope the money gets working very very quickly. Mary x

    • hello, Mary… am so touched by your concern and sympathy – for the blogger here and the victims of the tragedy. it’s so moving when people come over and ask how we are faring…

      thank you, guys, for your donations (hope you did it through institutions). right now, what Phils badly needs are seacrafts and aircrafts (true) to bring the relief faster to those affected. most roads are not passable, the airport isn’t operational thus, slowing down relief efforts and pushing hungry victims to despair. so,it might take a while for your help to reach the targets. but govt and private groups are systematizing and expediting things so hopefully, aid will reach them sooner. rescue and relief operations are a little like para-military ops already, volunteers are in uniform and properly equipped – to lessen lawlessness and discourage looting and bad practices.

      am so moved. πŸ™‚ hope you and family are well, too. kind regards… ^^ ~San

  2. renxkyoko says:

    We have already donated, each one in the family. At the moment, we are looking for groups here in the city that are organizing to receive donations of clothing, etc. I know people are saying cash…. but donations of cash won’t be used to buy clothes, right? they need clothes too.

    • hello, Ren… i like your recent post, short and sweet. ah, yes, victims need clothes, sure. it’s still dark and raining, over here (they need something for their backs). it’s just that first week and i think, for the next week, food, water and medicine are on top priority of relief efforts. also blankets… i guess, for the 3rd and fourth week, clothes donations will be more manageable, both on the side of the volunteers who pack them (before loading to trucks) and the people who manage the distribution at the village level and on the evacuation areas… for now, food, drinks and clothes that are in standard form are easier to manage and also, less prone to agawan or melee. am sure, relief distribution will be more systematized in the days to come. πŸ™‚ hugs…

  3. nadia says:

    U.A.E. and the Filipino community here have raised a really good amount of donation. This Friday, there’s a charity lunch arranged by the Philippines Consulate that we’re all planning to attend. Like you said, it maybe a small help from our side, considering the magnitude of damage and loss, but we’re all trying our best. Hopefully, the combined efforts will make a difference to those who have suffered.

    By the way, what’s with this news about the government planning on imposing tax on the donations? Is this true?

    • hello, Nadia… hugs πŸ™‚ oh, of course, we do appreciate the efforts by friends, relatives and concerned people based abroad like you… thank you. and that’s not small. any help will aid the victims. actually, in the post above, i was referring to us, Filipinos, who are here, who are near, but could do little for the tragedy victims. the airport isn’t operational yet, there are no buses in the areas, no power, either. thus, not many can go to typhoon-hit areas to help directly… actually, i guess, that part of the post is more figurative, saying that their losses and miseries are ours, too. πŸ™‚

      no, none such. i don’t think the govt will do something as ridiculous as that. the donations go directly to victims. if anything, gov’t’s participation is more like securing (militarily) the trucks sent over by private groups to the typhoon-hit areas. πŸ™‚ warm regards to you and family….

  4. June says:

    I thought we have grown immune and prepared for the devastation brought by typhoons but Haiyan (Yolanda) caught us really off guard. As you said Ate San, “No country or people is prepared enough for a natural disaster of this magnitude and proportion.”, and I concur.

    Thanks Ate San for putting out the words to describe and inform about this heartbreaking moment. I myself am out of words for this.
    We who are safe and well should be grateful for what we have now and make use of our collectivism in helping our unfortunate fellowmen get through this in any possible way that we can.

    • hello, June… true. i just said in the previous post that we are the resilient kind, ahaha and we will overcome the devastation brought by the quake. and here comes a bigger, wider catastrophe… and i used to think typhoon Ondoy was the worst. spoke too soon,Yolanda’s holding the record… ^^

      you’re welcome. it took me a while to gather the words, too, kapatid. and after writing the post, i felt down and tired, ahaha. it’s not usual and it’s heartbreaking – for those affected and for those who are just watching the spectacle. it’s a tragedy beyond words…

      amen, kapatid. amen. πŸ™‚ warm regards to you & your loved ones. keep well…

  5. June says:

    Reblogged this on JUNE's Day.

  6. ceriserose says:

    Hi San,

    Thanks to God you’re oK. When I learnt about this one more tragedy, all my thoughts went to you.

    I kept silent because I was afraid…

    What is going on there is just terrible… Don’t even have right words to express my feelings. But your country and its people are strong, I am sure you will go through this and come out more strong. I met your community here and they are just amazing! They spread love and compassion, you can’t believe their families are going through a tragedy.

    May God bless you !


    • hello, Cerise… you do not know how your sympathy and kind words uplift – me and my fellow Filipinos. thank you, sister. πŸ™‚

      yes, we are a people of sunny disposition, believe it or not. over here, the sun shines at least 200 days, ahaha. even on rainy seasons, typhoons and all. but Haiyan is extraordinarily strong and huge. i hope my countrymen will be able to overcome this one…

      you, too. keep well and stay hopeful. many thanks, hugs. πŸ™‚

  7. sorrygnat says:

    Dear One, i have been so worried about you; and of course your countrymen and country women; excellent article; will post it on my small blog; people from every Faith are praying, and it is horrible; i carry you in my heart’s inner folds. love, e

    • hello, ms. Esther… thank you for thinking of us, for commiserating with us and for your hopes and prayers. what happened and still happening is harrowing, beyond words. i hope the victims get relief soon and still find the energy and hope to start again. thank you for the warmth… πŸ™‚

  8. San, like the others who commented today, I thought of you immediately when I saw the news of this typhoon. I’m so glad you’re all right . . . but so incredibly sad for all the people who lost their lives or loved ones. Here in the U.S. people are donating and the American Filipino community in particular is rallying. Our thoughts and prayers are with your country.

    • thank you, Doc Kat… thank you for thinking of us, across the distance. thank you, am alright. πŸ™‚ true, that is one catastrophe that left so much destruction – lives, homes and communities. it would take years for those affected to pick up the pieces, i guess. so harrowing… πŸ™‚

      glad to hear about the solidarity and relief efforts being done by Fil-Ams on that end. much appreciated, please tell them… appreciate the thoughts and the prayers, they will hopefully see the victims through, long after the media coverage has stopped and the real task of rebuilding begins. warm regards, too and hugs πŸ™‚

  9. sakuraandme says:

    When I heard of this it was incredibly sad, but when I then saw the images on t.v? Oh my gosh just devastating! My heart goes out to all people affected. Hugs from Oz, Paula xx

  10. Such a hard thing. So sad.

  11. cage3 says:

    So relieved to hear from you. Strength to you and all people of the islands.

  12. cage3 says:

    Reblogged this on Counting Fence Posts.

  13. J9 says:

    Very glad to know you are safe, San. I don’t know what to say other than I hope that Filipinos affected by the storm find peace and safety quickly. ❀

    • thank you, Janine. my family and I are alright, appreciate your concern. true, it’s bad for those affected by the typhoon, hope they will find ways to pick up the pieces and rebuild, after so much devastation… thank you for your sympathy. πŸ™‚

  14. Like a war zone, yes… and what to do when the war is waged by mother earth? Horrible to be looking on. I’m glad you are safe… and feel for your people. xo

  15. batopik says:

    Hindi na masyadong pinapalabas sa TV yung improvement sa Tacloban and other parts of Visayas, pero habang binabasa ko ngayon nakakabasag pa rin ng puso kasi alam nating one month pa lang at malalim pa rin ang sugat na natamo nila. Nakakaiyak, but slowly Philippins will rise again. Hehe. Keeping our hopes high. πŸ˜‰

    • hello, batopik… a, sa international news, di na .. maraming ibang mas current na balita – sobrang pagyelo sa mga bansang may winter, developments sa Syria, sa Egypt at sa iba pang conflict-torn areas sa mundo. likely, CNN, BBC and Fox will just make a feature, a special about Haiyan, one of these days… ahaha, more than two months na, dear. na-erode na nga raw ng bagong ulan ang ibang bunk houses and shelters na itinayo for the typhoon survivors? shaks lang… mahirap talaga masakuna. ganyan rin kami noong Ma-Ondoy, until now, di pa naayos and napalitan ang mga nasira. some of the victims’ misfortune, ili-lessen ng gov’t efforts at ng public at large. but the bulk of the pains and losses, the continuing woes, will sadly be private, hoho…

      gusto ko ang keeping our hopes high. πŸ™‚ may iniisip akong follow up article re: rehabilitation of the disaster-stricken areas. hope i get the time to sit down and buckle up, ahaha. hellowie sa ‘yo… πŸ˜‰

      • batopik says:

        oo nga, hindi pa nga nakakarecover sunod sunod at patong patong na ang mga nangyayari sa mundo!

        haha sige aabangan ko yan!!! πŸ˜€

      • hoho nga, mahirap maging tao, hihi. heniwey, sa hardships daw ipinapanganak ang pag-asa, yan naman… πŸ˜‰

        ahaha, sana nga, magawa. have a happy weekend, batopik. πŸ™‚

  16. […] pagkaalala ko, ang post na propaganda, ang foraging in the wreckage. Conscious ang lola nyo, nagpo-propaganda siya sa foreign readers in that article. Ano props […]

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