Filipino farmer’s son, computer chipset designer

Filipino Farmer's son Dado Banatao computer chips inventor

Diosdado “Dado” Banatao, Jr., son of a farmer in northern Philippines Cagayan Valley grew up in a barrio where there were no telephones and electricity. He learned math using bamboo sticks. He is now an engineer.  He studied in the United States and reportedly designed the first chipset used in every computer today. He also co-founded three companies: S3, Chips & Technologies and Mostron. 

Click on the image to hear him tell  you his story.

“My story could be your story,” he tells fellow Filipinos.

Cagayan Valley is under the pastoral care of the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao.

Pope Francis thanks Filipina actress

 

 

Rita Avila YouTube

Rita Avila, actress  http://youtu.be/63Uus-v4BsY

MANILA, Dec. 11, 2014 – Pope Francis, through a high-ranking Vatican official, thanked Rita Avila, a local actress and book author, for recently sending him personal copies of her two books, CBCPNews reported.

What are the books about, why is this actress writing books, and what did Pope Francis tell Rita?

Read full report

Thanksgiving : one year after deadly typhoon

Baby Israel by Emylou Antigua

“My little Israel . . . blessing from God . . .” wrote Haiyan survivor Emylou Antigua on her Facebook account / contributed by Emylou Antigua)

Emylou Antigua has a happy reminder of the devastating typhoon that battered the central Philippines a little over a year ago: her son, named for the Israeli medical team that helped deliver him.

American Jewish Pins toys JDC photo

Danny Pins, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee chief financial officer for Africa and Asia region distributing toys and food to children in northern Cebu, Philippines. (Courtesy of JDC)

For Chief Financial Officer Danny Pins of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee his group’s response to Haiyan is “personally rewarding.”

Catholic mom, Jewish financial officer – what they are grateful for in their experience related to typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda…

Read full story

Bishops’ Conference president hails national basketball team, values in sports

Gilas Pilipinas vs Senegal - screengrab YouTube

Gilas Pilipinas vs Senegal – screengrab YouTube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cD36kglSyE

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) praised the Philippines basketball team that competed in the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Seville, Spain for their teamwork, for fighting fairly and spreading goodwill and hope.

Archbishop Villegas’ statement was posted on Veritas 846 website Sept. 11, two days after the GILAS Pilipinas contingent arrived in Manila from winning one out of five games in its group. The team that won in overtime against Senegal 81-79 after losing to Argentina, Croatia, Greece  and Puerto Rico is preparing to leave for the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, minus its towering American-born center, Andray Blatche, a naturalized Filipino.

Gilas in Tagalog language translates to gallantry or mettle among other things in English.

Read the full statement of CBCP’s president On the Lessons from GILAS PILIPINAS

For the first time in forty years, a Filipino basketball team, GILAS, a name that has captured the imagination as well as carried the hopes of our countrymen, represented the country in the FIBA competitions. We may not have reaped a harvest of victories, but GILAS certainly won the admiration of many, Filipinos and foreigners alike.

The CBCP commends the members of the team and joins an ecstatic nation in hailing their admirable endeavour! Our victories have been sweet, our defeats, honorable!

FAIRNESS. Sports can and should be a promising vehicle of evangelization, for fairness is its fundamental rule. Fairness that goes by the sublime name of justice is the fundamental aspiration of our nation. It is the hope of the CBCP that as the nation understood the necessity that games be fairly played, it also learned the precious lesson that whether in the life of the individual or of the community or of the State, things ought to be fair just at all times.

UNITY. The players came from different nations — different in race, language, belief and ideology — but these differences did not stand in the way of the camaraderie and the sportsmanship that gave sports-lovers the world over a welcome respite from the cruel realities that hound us daily. We can overcome the differences that set us apart when we set our hearts to it. When we choose to be friendly towards each other, even if we must compete, we can all have fun. Happier and fuller lives come with the acceptance of others and with a healthy respect for differences. GILAS and the other teams that joined FIBA learned this. So did we!

GILAS has sowed seeds of goodwill, understanding and friendship. Let all nurture their flourishing with hearts of goodwill, thoughts of peace and feet firmly treading the ways of friendship. Mabuhay ang GILAS!

September 11, 2014

+ SOCRATES VILLEGAS

Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan
CBCP President

Nuns reach out to sex workers in fight against prostitution in the Philippines

The mobile phone is an invaluable tool Mary Queen of Heaven Missionaries Junior Sister Joy Culaiban uses so women and girl sex workers who want help in leaving prostitution can contact her. - NJ Viehland Photos

The mobile phone is an invaluable tool Mary Queen of Heaven Missionaries Junior Sister Joy Culaniban uses so women and girl sex workers who want help in leaving prostitution can contact her. – NJ Viehland Photos

Mary Queen of Heaven Missionaries have been encountering sex workers in the field (bars and brothels) for years. The sisters reach out to women and offer them love and listening and, if they want, shelter and a way out of the business, which is driven by poverty. They are also working to prevent entry into prostitution by educating women in rural areas, and they recently have been talking about their work at other dioceses so that the efforts can expand.

Read full report

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Philippines cardinals team up to promote Eucharistic Congress

Four Philippines cardinals with nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto (in black) helped Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu, 51st IEC Chairman, and his team present the congress to media at the June 10 press conference in Arzobispado de Manila, Intramuros. - NJ Viehland Photos

Four Philippines cardinals with nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto (in black) helped Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu, 51st IEC Chairman, and his team present the congress to media at the June 10 press conference in Arzobispado de Manila, Intramuros. – NJ Viehland Photos

MANILA – The four Philippine cardinals who faced media last month drew the connection between everyday life and the 51st International Eucharistic Congress to be held in Cebu, central Philippines, in 2016.

The first International Eucharistic Congress held in the Philippines was in 1937.Cardinals Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato and Luis Tagle of Manila, with retired Cardinals Gaudencio Rosales and Ricardo Vidal, at a June 10 press conference in the Manila archdiocese’s chancery building helped launch the theme, logo, prayers and the song for the meeting, which will be held Jan. 24-30, 2016.

With nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, they shared reflections on the meeting’s theme, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” The cardinals and Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu (chairman of the gathering), priests and lay partners answered media’s questions, watched popular Philippine singer Dulce and her son sing the congress song and viewed videos, including a promotional video in which Tagle, Quevedo, media personalities, an actress and Congresswoman Grace Poe appear.

The International Eucharistic Congress is a church event where people from different parts of the world gather to celebrate the Eucharist, reflect its richness and pray before it.

Bringing the faith to the people: The 1975 "Thrilla", was in fact the legendary Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier boxing match. Easter Recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle on April 21,2013 ended with Mass for Good Shepherd Sunday. N.J. Viehland Photos [Product logos are not an endorsement by this blog.]

Bringing the faith to the people: The 1975 “Thrilla”, was in fact the legendary Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier boxing match. Easter Recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle on April 21,2013 ended with Mass for Good Shepherd Sunday. – N.J. Viehland Photos

More than 130 priests and bishops concelebrated at the closing Mass of the “First Gathering of the Clergy of the Metropolitan See of Manila”, October 3, 2013 at the chapel of Rockwell Power Plant Mall in Makati City. N.J. Viehland Photo

More than 130 priests and bishops concelebrated at the closing Mass of the “First Gathering of the Clergy of the Metropolitan See of Manila”, October 3, 2013 at the chapel of Rockwell Power Plant Mall in Makati City. –  N.J. Viehland Photos

Children, teachers, staff, volunteers, nuns, novices, joined in thanksgiving at Mass onFatima Center for Human Development's 30th foundation anniversary / N J Viehland Photo

Children, teachers, staff, volunteers, nuns, novices, joined in thanksgiving at Mass onFatima Center for Human Development’s 30th foundation anniversary – N J Viehland Photos

Read the full report and insights of the Church leaders on the upcoming congress, the first to be held under Pope Francis.

Caritas Manila, Ryan Cayabyab & foundations team up in “tribute to people’s faith”

In pictures

Caritas Manila Chairman Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila and Executive Director Father Anton Pascual (left) with renowned composer-musician and papal awardee Ryan Cayabyab and Esther Santos, President of PLDT-Smart Foundation present "RISE! Rebuild from the Ruins" benefit concert they organized to support Caritas Manila's rehabilitation of churches and chapels destroyed by Haiyan in Samar and Leyte provinces. By NJ Viehland.

Caritas Manila Chairman Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila and Executive Director Father Anton Pascual (left) with renowned composer-musician and papal awardee Ryan Cayabyab and Esther Santos, President of PLDT-Smart Foundation present “RISE! Rebuild from the Ruins” benefit concert they organized to support Caritas Manila’s rehabilitation of churches and chapels destroyed by Haiyan in Samar and Leyte provinces. By NJ Viehland.

Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila was saying Mass in typhoon ravaged Palo cathedral at the close of the archdiocese’s diamond jubilee celebration last November when he witnessed with admiration the “unshakable faith” of people amidst suffering.

This, Cardinal Tagle told a press conference on Friday, was what the fund raising concert of sacred music of renowned composer and musician Ryan Cayabyab called “Rise! Rebuilding from the Ruins” on June 11 hopes to recognize. 

Cardinal Tagle recalled his Mass last year inside the church whose roof had been blown away by typhoon Haiyan. People just covered the top of the church with tarpauline material so when rain poured during Cardinal Tagle’s Mass, people and things inside got wet.

“At the end of my homily the wind blew. It rained and people panicked. They seemed allergic to the wind,” Cardinal Tagle told journalists, artists, co-organizers and partners for the concert. “One thing I appreciated was people stayed through the rain and finished the Mass,” added the cardinal who chairs the Board of Caritas Manila. 

“This is the church – the building – but this is also the living church which stays firm even when the roof blows away,” Cardinal Tagle remembers thinking to himself.

He said the “effort to rebuild the buildings made of stone and steel and iron sheets is actually not only a tribute to God or to the faith, but also a tribute to the living community and their living faith.”

Organizers, talents and supporters of the upcoming concert to be held in Manila Cathedral are also paying tribute to the physical church that serves as refuge, sanctuaries, evacuation centers and dormitories in times of crises like Haiyan, locally named Yolanda, Cardinal Tagle said.

Read full report 

 

Musician-composer Ryan Cayabyab is 60 years old and he has his "Philippines senior's card" to show journalists and guests at the May 30 press con at Arzobispado de Manila, in Intramuros to prove it. To show gratitude for his talent and to "give back to the church", Cayabyab is working with Caritas Manila, which is also celebrating it's 60th anniversary this year, to stage the June 11 benefit concert "RISE! Rebuilding from the Ruins" at the Manila Cathedral that aims to raise 20 million pesos to help rebuild 20 churches and chapels in Leyte and Samar devastated by Yolanda (Haiyan). - NJ Viehland Photos

Musician-composer Ryan Cayabyab is 60 years old and he has his “Philippines senior’s card” to show journalists and guests at the May 30 press con at Arzobispado de Manila, in Intramuros to prove it. To show gratitude for his talent and to “give back to the church”, Cayabyab is working with Caritas Manila, which is also celebrating it’s 60th anniversary this year, to stage the June 11 benefit concert “RISE! Rebuilding from the Ruins” at the Manila Cathedral that aims to raise 20 million pesos to help rebuild 20 churches and chapels in Leyte and Samar devastated by Yolanda (Haiyan). – NJ Viehland Photos

 

Ryan Cayabyab singers perform at press con at Arzobispado for RISE! Rebuilding from the Ruins, a benefit concert of sacred music on june 12 at Manila Cathedral to raise funds for reconstruction of churches and chapels in Leyte and Samar destroyed by typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). - by NJ Viehland

Ryan Cayabyab singers perform at press con at Arzobispado for RISE! Rebuilding from the Ruins, a benefit concert of sacred music on june 12 at Manila Cathedral to raise funds for reconstruction of churches and chapels in Leyte and Samar destroyed by typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). – by NJ Viehland

 

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World Fair Trade Day 2014 – May 10

Casile and Guinting, Cabuyao, Laguna
May 7, 2014
N.J. Viehland

Fair Trade People, 2014 World Fair Trade Day’s theme shines the spotlight on Fair Trade producers, people buying their products and other supporters who are “real drivers of the growth of Fair Trade,” organizers said. 

They and their promoters, funders and volunteers are credited with leading the movement promoting social justice today. Here are some of these people in the Bote Central network:

Fair Trade businesswomen Vie Reyes (left), treasurer of Bote Central that produces Alamid Civet Coffee, explains challenges coffee farmers here in Cabuyao, Laguna face to Jena Krause of the London-based Pamana, a coffee roaster that commits to Fair Trade principles. NJ Viehland Photos

Fair Trade businesswomen Vie Reyes (left), treasurer of Bote Central that produces Alamid Civet Coffee, explains challenges coffee farmers here in Cabuyao, Laguna face to Jena Krause of the London-based Pamana, a coffee roaster that commits to Fair Trade principles. NJ Viehland Photos

Read more about Vie Reyes’ Fair Trade product Coffee Alamid  , The World’s Rarest Coffee Brew

For Jena Krause’s business, click Pamana coffee roaster 

At AgriKapihan coffee shop and headquarters of Casile-Guinting Upland Marketing Cooperative (CGUMC), coop president JoJo Andal (left) and Greg Casalme (with hat) greeted coffee roasters they would be meeting with. Andal shared about spirituality of work promoted by Saint Jose Maria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei.

 

fair trade farmers escriva NJ Viehland

CGUMC includes some of the 82 farmer beneficiaries of government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform program in Casile, Cabuyao City. A profile the cooperative prepared specifies that while agriculture is the main source of livelihood for Casileños,”profit proves to be incredibly insubstantial due to farmers often getting bad deals out of selling their produce. Most of the people look to the barangay council for solutions to their (mostly) personal problems, but only occasionally explore how they can increase productivity in the community.”

Andal said the cooperative was designed to bridge citizens’ woes and the projects that should address these. A program to achieve this aims to:

a) advance each members’ knowledge and techniques of agribusiness,

fair trade organic veggies NJ Viehland

b) serve as a conduit for modern and effective technologies for agronomy and animal husbandry, as well as how to process them, and

c) learn techniques for proper investment, thrift and profitability resulting from their respective livelihood ventures, through their collective effort and individual capabilities.

fair trade mother business NJ Viehland

For starters, he believes that farmers should re-learn how they till their lands and in partnership with the City Government of Cabuyao and the City Agriculture Office, the cooperative created a “Farmer’s Field School Program” where farmers are taught to abandon outdated farming practices in favor of revamped, more modern methods and technology while City Mayor Isidro L. Hemedes, Jr. granted the co-op members a mini-tiller tractor, a greenhouse, and coffee and vegetable seedlings in aid of their projects.

fair trade basil reyes NJ Viehland

Today, the coop has 125 members tending  roughly 25 hectares of coffee farmland, primarily growing and selling Liberica, Excelsa and Robusta coffee beans and blends (Barako ng Cabuyao & Upland Coffee Blend).

fair trade robusta arabica NJ Viehland 2

Previously, harvest period was depressing for farmers due to middlemen getting the bulk of their income instead of them, whereas now the cooperative sells their products directly to retailers and consumers at a much higher value.

For example, papaya harvests were typically pegged at a cheap Php5-10 per kilo, where today it can be bought from the cooperative for up to Php25 per kilo. Similarly with coffee, where 10 kilos used to be sold at Php280-320, is now valued at Php400 at the co-op. As members say, farmers first.

Mothers who used to only stay at home waiting for harvest time or for their children working in big companies are now employed in the co-op, earning as much as Php1,000 every week or more.

Fair Trade mother coffee beans NJ Viehland

Vie Reyes showed the great difference in the income farmers get from selling raw material compared to selling the end product. She estimates that a kilo of Arabica coffee green beans selling for about 275 pesos (US $6.30) fetches up to 1,000 pesos in roasted form, and up to a total of 3,500 pesos if sold per cup as brewed coffee.

“It’s an industry with the biggest jump in price from the raw material to the end product,” Vie Reyes noted. For this reason, part of the company’s plan is to help farmers develop their business “from soil to cup.”

fair trade 18Days coffee NJ Viehland

Citizen participation and empowerment is the core of the CGUMC, as it encourages members to develop whatever resource they have to improve their income. This is achieved through formal trainings and seminars where members are taught modern agriculture techniques that far surpass the results of old-fashioned, conventional farming.

Vie and Basil Reyes of Bote Central have helped greatly with these training needs, Andal told Catholic In Asia.

He adds that participation is not limited to its formal members though, as the CGUMC also involves the youth in various programs designed to impart knowledge of Casile’s agricultural progress.

Students from Casile National High School are given ‘short courses’ as a primer to how the Casile agribusiness works, starting from the basics: planting and growing crops.

fair trade agriKapihan NJ Viehland

fair trade youth basketball NJ ViehlandThis summer, the coop sponsored uniforms for a youth basketball team with the cutwork of a cup and basketball above it to promote working in farms. Andal said some of the youth also come to help in the farm or to roast coffee beans.
Periodic meetings see participation from all members, where each and every one can and are encouraged to contribute relevant input, put forward issues that need addressing, and even plot roadmaps to determine where they could take their booming businesses next.

INNOVATION

Training on all modern technologies.Learning various ways of processing their products are also a priority for them, in order to maximize their value.

Bote Central treasurer Vie Reyes and worker show computer settings for the coffee roaster designed and created by her husband, Basil Reyes, company president who focuses on research and development of technology and systems with the needs of the farmers as foremost concern. NJ Viehland Photos

Bote Central treasurer Vie Reyes and worker show computer settings for the coffee roaster designed and created by her husband, Basil Reyes, company president who focuses on research and development of technology and systems with the needs of the farmers as foremost concern. NJ Viehland Photos

TRANSFERABILITY AND SUSTAINABILITY
CGUMC has been active for 3 years since its founding on October 20, 2011, and it shows no sign of slowing down or fading into documentation shelves of the ‘ningas-kugon’ type.

Co-op president Mr. Andal has led the program since its inception, and despite some opposition regarding certain issues on co-op policies, everyone seems intent on keeping him there for a little while longer.
The program’s desire to keep farmers updated on the latest effective agricultural practices and technology ensures that their knowledge does not stagnate nor devolve to complacent mediocrity.

Fair Trade farmers house NJ Viehland

Cabuyeños are a health-conscious folk, and Casile is more than ready to provide the entire city with organically-grown products. Their signature Casileños Coffee Blend is a cut above their other organic goods (which are nonetheless impressive) and is already export quality, being shipped/trucked to both nearby and far-flung markets.

fair trade coffee bean wet NJ Viehland

The rate of revenue from said products proves that there is a market for what the CGUMC, and by extension, the City of Cabuyao has to offer. The type of entrepreneurship model that the CGUMC employs pays off considerably, and figures indicate a steady growth for demand not only for their coffee, but also for products like ginger tea and squash maja as well, among others. Demand equals continuous productivity, after all.

With so much market potential being realized in their farm-to-shelf strategy, the CGUMC has no trouble winning approval from the City Government, especially when the local government units’ initial investment has already paid off and more, with this unique-in-its-own-terms cooperative on its way to self-sufficiency and a veritable revenue-generator for the city in the foreseeable future.

[text excerpts from CGUMC Profile]

 

Faith-based movie hits it big in US box office

[Update April 26, 2014, 8:23 a.m.]

Heaven is for Real, a controversial movie based on the book by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent raked in US$21.5 million over the Easter weekend placing it 3rd in the box-office for that period.

Billed as a “true story”, Heaven Is for Real is a story of Colton, a four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness and enters heaven. He survives his appendectomy and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn’t know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear.

Colton said he met his miscarried sister, whom no one had told him about, and his great grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born, then shared impossible-to-know details about each. He describes the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how “reaaally big” God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit “shoots down power” from heaven to help us.

To watch the trailer video click here

“Told by the father, but often in Colton’s own words, the disarmingly simple message is heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and be ready, there is a coming last battle,” Amazon.com’s description of the book says.

Hollandsentinel.com’s monitor records Heaven is for Real as the fourth “overtly faith-based hit of the year.”

The story has also fueled discussion and controversy over near-death experiences with some critics calling these “figments of the human imagination,” and even “products of demonic deception.” Questions it triggered touched a wide range of issues, including whether non-Christians can go to heaven.

Filipino family wrestles with Haiyan

 

Haiyan survivor Mark Anthony Lacanaria who joined People Surge alliance of typhoon survivors told Catholic In Asia in Manila in April how he survived the "super typhoon" that flattened communities in Leyte, central Philippines last Nov. 8, 2013. NJ Viehland Photos

Haiyan survivor Mark Anthony Lacanaria who joined People Surge alliance of typhoon survivors told Catholic In Asia in Manila in April how he survived the “super typhoon” that flattened communities in Leyte, central Philippines last Nov. 8, 2013. NJ Viehland Photos

“Kuya” is the Filipino term of respect for older brother. Big brother was what Mark Anthony Lacanaria felt he had to do well last Nov. 8 when news reports and local leaders announced a “super typhoon” was underway.

On his trip to Manila with People Surge alliance of Haiyan victims preparing to meet Cardinal Luis Tagle in April, Lacanaria told Catholic In Asia the ordeal his family and community of Diit, Tacloban City, went through before, during and after typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), which left his community in shambles. His story follows: (translated from Tagalog)

My family

We are five siblings – orphans – and I’m the eldest so I felt responsible for everyone’s safety. Two days before the typhoon our barangay (village) was preparing for the super typhoon. I asked my younger siblings on the eve of the typhoon to help me tie down the roof so that at least there will be some “yero” (galvanized iron) left should the wind get vicious. As it turned out the typhoon would not just come after our roof, but ate up our whole house!

We’ve experienced many typhoons before in my 30 years in this world, but nothing with this strength of the wind and this severe flooding.

My wife is a DH (domestic helper) in Malaysia. Our daughter was in Guiuan (Samar) where my in-laws live.

Preparing for Yolanda (Haiyan)

On the eve of the projected arrival of the typhoon, many residents left their houses for higher ground. Many others didn’t want to leave their property.

Past 5 a.m. Nov. 8, I told my siblings to cook noodles so we can feed the children (nieces/nephews) breakfast before the typhoon came. After we ate, I sent away my younger siblings and three of my nephews and nieces to a house not far from ours but on higher ground. Four of us brothers stayed behind with my pregnant sister who was worried about leaving her belongings.

Saving my family

Wind came first. It was powerful and sounded like a machine was ripping off the galvanized iron from our roof. Around 7:30-8:00 a.m. was when the water came into our house. It was as if a fireman pointed his hose at our front door and turned on his power hose. Water gushed in, only it was black. In a few minutes we were swimming out through my bedroom window, one behind each other.

When we looked back in just a matter of minutes and about 3 feet way the water had swallowed our house. It really didn’t matter that many of us were good in swimming. We just stayed steady and allowed ourselves to flow with the tide because if you tried to swim, you might hit what was under water – iron roofing of houses, broken glass, huge posts with nails, so we couldn’t swim.

Our youngest sibling got cut by yero because when he kicked to swim he hit something.We were dragged by the water to a huge mango tree so we hung on to its branches and watched our whole barangay disappear under the water. My brothers and pregnant sister began crying.

We managed to float past the tall wall of a warehouse near our house so it blocked the water from coming so fast at us. We got lucky with that wall. Four pairs of us floated around, including a couple whose wife was also very pregnant, and an elderly man who was yelling at the top of his lungs, but we couldn’t hear him at first because the wind was very loud. In the beginning I wondered whether we had been dragged to sea because I swallowed water several times and it was really salty. It wasn’t rain water.

When we got to the tree, I told my sister to clasp the tree. She wanted me to go back for her children, but I told her, later on. The water had not completely subsided.When it did it left so many bodies scattered around our community. People began crying.

Bigger family

We gathered together wherever we were those of us who survived. I saw a man and his sons Christian and Alwin. Alwin  grew so pale after having blood ooze out of a cut on his arm from flying roofing material. One of the sons is only 2 years old.

The children were in a house that was on higher ground but they still had to climb up into the ceiling They squeezed in there, eight families. When I saw them after the flood, I was just so grateful that the ceiling didn’t collapse. They were all wet and very scared. I just left them there first.

Our village

I climbed a nearby hill farther from the seaside. I looked down and saw from our barangay to the downtown areas. It was like everything was swept away.

Our barangay is Diit. It is a slaughterhouse for cattle. We live near a slaughterhouse. The meat from there is sold in the market. I used to work there. My parents worked there too. So all the dead were scattered around the grounds – carabao, cattle, pigs, dogs and people. People looked at the corpses to find relatives. They began wailing in chorus.

In our entire region, it really wasn’t made clear to us what was the projected viciousness and power of this typhoon would actually be. They said “storm surge,” but we didn’t know what that was. Even Mayor’s (Alfred Romualdez) family didn’t seem to know. Although they kept saying the words on tv, it wasn’t clear to us how strong would be the impact and that there would be this rising water.

I sent my brothers out to gather anything we could eat. That was the first thought that came to mind. This will be a big long period of hunger.

Cut off from the world

Meanwhile, my wife was very worried because she couldn’t reach any of us from Malaysia. It was Nov. 24 when we were finally able to talk. She didn’t know what happened, how we all were. Our daughter was in Guiuan (Samar) and my wife had heard from the news the typhoon first hit landfall in Guiuan and they showed scenes of the wreck it left there. But my in-laws had less damage than we suffered in Diit.

I  wondered why no help was coming. I told my siblings I thought they were saying on tv that the government was very ready with help for us before the typhoon struck. They were reporting there were ready relief goods. Where were all these goods?

For days nobody came to us. Then finally after about 4 days media came. But their chopper didn’t come down. It just hovered above us, maybe scanning the area. Maybe they were headed somewhere else. It was the fifth day after the typhoon, soldiers came in trucks, but they were just clearing part of the way. They didn’t bring food or anything. That’s why I suppose looting began.

Looting

We are far from the mall area but we were so starved for five days taking in only water that we gathered from containers floating around. We boiled it because we weren’t confident they were safe. We only found coffee and some crackers and whatever snacks.

We even found discolored rice already spoiling, but we cooked it just the same because the children were getting hungry. It came out sticky because it soaked in water already. I couldn’t bring myself to eat it, and I was amazed that the children ate it. I prayed so hard that they wouldn’t get diarrhea, and they didn’t. We older ones couldn’t eat it.

After a few days, I could no longer hold back my tears. I thought where was that help that the government said they were ready with?  So when news came to us about looting, my brothers said, “Kuya let’s go downtown and get food.” But I told them it was too long a way and the roads and bridge may not passable even by foot. We couln’t bike because there were so many dead bodies scattered around. If we would just get material things it is useless. I told my siblings what we need is food.

Relief in a washed away ship

Word arrived there was a boat that was dragged by the winds to shore not too far from our community. More important, we heard it carried 8 thousand sacks of rice. I climbed and squeezed into the boat to grab as much rice as I could for my family and neighbors. I got one sack of rice and split it in two. Half sack I gave to the owner of a house in our barangay that allowed us all to stay in their house for about 2 weeks while we were building a makeshift house from scraps. The other half sack I split into eight families. My sister, my aunts, uncles.

In the malls, victims may have taken food. If there were appliances taken, those aren’t legit victims, but maybe professional thieves or syndicates from neighboring towns or provinces. Imagine, they reportedly had vehicles. We in Tacloban had no vehicles. They all went underwater.

Our third brother brought his son to Caloocan (Metro Manila). The boy is so traumatized by this experience. He’s afraid even of rain and just if the wind blows the window.

Here in Diit, we went ahead and gathered scraps from wrecked houses and tried to build a makeshift house for my siblings before I left for Guiuan. My sister is just weeks away from delivering her baby. I didn’t know where to take her and how the hospitals were. We had no clue if the hilot (community midwives) had also been washed away.

Tears of joy

All the time I worried inside me about Guiuan where my in laws and daughter were. I heard it was wrecked also. I was very nervous. I didn’t know anything about them. When I arrived there I was so relieved to see they were all okay. They too were worried about me. Everything was wrecked there, but it was mostly very powerful winds. Water didn’t go up. They said they worried that I was drowned also. My daughter, 7 years old, was crying and crying. They were teasing her that I might have drowned.

People Surge

While I was in Guiuan to help my in laws clean up my friend came to Diit to say Makabayan group was holding relief operations. I looked for him after returning to Diit and I volunteered for relief operations. We went around remote places not reached by the donors and aid.

I couldn’t stand the scenes. My thoughts went back to the scenes in Diit on the first day of Yolanda. I could not imagine how it must have been for these people in the hinterlands with few places to run to. A child would come up to me to ask for rice and other food, and in my mind would come pictures of my nephews, or older relatives. “Kuya give us water, do you have water?” they said. My tears kept filling my eyes.

When I heard there would be a big rally in Tacloban last Jan. 25, I decided to join because I experienced everything the organizers were describing not only in my personal experience, but also those of people we were bringing some relief goods to. I learned about the rally from my companions in the relief operations. I heard there would be a big mass action to demand help for typhoon victims. It is just right that what is for survivors should be given to us. We learned that at the height of relief operations, NGOs and international community were donating funds and goods for us survivors, and yet the relief goods being handed out by LGUs were not enough for all.

Suddenly DSWD declared that they would stop handing out relief goods after December. When that announcement was made, I confirmed my decision to join the Jan. 25 rally. I felt the situation was already overwhelming and I couldn’t be a good provider to my family on my own. The government was stopping relief operations even before the situation has been reversed.

Benedictine Sister Erlinda Eslopor (black veil) led a group of 6 members of People Surge alliance of Yolanda (Haiyan) survivors and two supporters (including La Salette Sister Sonia Silverio in white veil) who met with Cardinal Luis Tagle April 8 at the Manila archbishop's residence to present the "true situation" of survivors' continued struggle with no help from government for many places. They also appealed for particular actions from Cardinal Tagle. NJ Viehland Photo

Benedictine Sister Erlinda Eslopor (black veil) led a group of 6 members of People Surge alliance of Yolanda (Haiyan) survivors and two supporters (including La Salette Sister Sonia Silverio in white veil) who met with Cardinal Luis Tagle April 8 at the Manila archbishop’s residence to present the “true situation” of survivors’ continued struggle with no help from government for many places. They also appealed for particular actions from Cardinal Tagle. NJ Viehland Photo

I felt all Eastern Visayas victims had been set up, not only people in Tacloban. They didn’t dialogue with us. It was like we were just floating that time. We didn’t know where to ask or get help. There was nowhere to go. We could see some foreigners arriving, but they had no way to distribute their goods. There’s no system. I heard about People Surge and the movement led by Sister Edita (Eslopor, OSB) to add my voice to the rest who were calling for the same things and asking same questions I had.

Manila sojourn, Cardinal Tagle

Cardinal Luis Tagle posed with members of People Surge alliance of Haiyan survivors and their supporters after he listened to 8 representatives report on their situation and demands from the government at a meeting he hosted in the Manila Archbishop's residence in Intramuros on April 8. NJ Viehland Photo

Cardinal Luis Tagle posed with members of People Surge alliance of Haiyan survivors and their supporters after he listened to 8 representatives report on their situation and demands from the government at a meeting he hosted in the Manila Archbishop’s residence in Intramuros on April 8. NJ Viehland Photo

I joined the group that came to make our situation known in Manila officials and people. At least each of us represents a town and sitio in Eastern Visayas. We went to Malacanang, but we weren’t entertained.  Only DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) secretary saw us. Now we will go to each official of government. We want to show them we are here trying to get what is given for us. This is not a field trip. I hope Cardinal Tagle will face us and listen to our pleas because we are legitimate victims that were devastated by the typhoon. We aren’t beggars.

End of Part 1/ People Surge