‘People’s initiative’ petition-campaign against pork barrel – photos

Muslim girl at Luneta Park sat with Sister Cecilia Espenilia [front, in red hat] and close to 20 fellow sisters of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena during the Stand up, sign up vs. all pork rally Aug. 25, 2014. - NJ Viehland Photos

Muslim girl at Luneta Park sat with Sister Cecilia Espenilia [front, in red hat] and close to 20 fellow sisters of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena during the Stand up, sign up vs. all pork rally Aug. 25, 2014. – NJ Viehland Photos

MANILA, PHILIPPINES

The nationwide campaign for 10 million signatures to pass a bill that will abolish the pork barrel system kicked off here today with a rally in Luneta Park co-organized with the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP).
Police estimated some 5,000 people were at Luneta during the 7 a.m. Mass, but organizer Renato Reyes, Jr., secretary general of New Patriotic Alliance (“Bayan”) tweeted that 20,000 people came.

Stand up, sign up vs. all pork! rally Aug. 25, 2014 at Quirino Grandstand, Luneta Park, Manila - NJ Viehland Photos

Stand up, sign up vs. all pork! rally Aug. 25, 2014 at Quirino Grandstand, Luneta Park, Manila – NJ Viehland Photos

Nurses - Just one of the variety of sectors represented at the Aug. 25, 2014 rally dubbed as Stand up, sign up vs. all pork in Luneta Park, Manila. - NJ Viehland Photos

Nurses – Just one of the variety of sectors represented at the Aug. 25, 2014 rally dubbed as Stand up, sign up vs. all pork in Luneta Park, Manila. – NJ Viehland Photos

La Salette Sr. Sonia Silverio (center in cream blouse and brown skirt) with ecumenical bishops, priests and lay Church leaders ring bells at the Stand up, sign up vs. all pork! rally Aug. 25, 2014 to call attention to the "evils" that arise from pork barrel fund allocations. - NJ Viehland Photos

La Salette Sr. Sonia Silverio (center in cream blouse and brown skirt) with ecumenical bishops, priests and lay Church leaders ring bells at the Stand up, sign up vs. all pork! rally Aug. 25, 2014 to call attention to the “evils” that arise from pork barrel fund allocations. – NJ Viehland Photos

Rallyist greets Retired Bishop Teodoro Bacani, Jr.  before the bishop's speech at Stand up, sign up vs. all pork rally at Luneta Park, Manila Aug. 25, 2014 - NJ Viehland Photos

Rallyist greets Retired Bishop Teodoro Bacani, Jr. before the bishop’s speech at Stand up, sign up vs. all pork rally at Luneta Park, Manila Aug. 25, 2014 – NJ Viehland Photos

Religious and members of their institutions were prominent rally participants at Luneta, along with groups of nurses and health workers, teachers, lawyers, private and government workers – and even beauty queens.

Even beauty queens showed up represented by Maria Isabel Lopez (left, Bb. Pilipinas- Universe 1982) and Azenith Briones [rightmost, Mutya ng Pilipinas 2nd runner up and Miss Photogenic) rejected pork barrel allotments during the Aug. 25, 2014 Stand up, sign up vs. all pork rally at Luneta Park, Manila. - NJ Viehland Photos

Even beauty queens showed up represented by Maria Isabel Lopez (left, Bb. Pilipinas- Universe 1982) and Azenith Briones [rightmost, Mutya ng Pilipinas 2nd runner up and Miss Photogenic) rejected pork barrel allotments during the Aug. 25, 2014 Stand up, sign up vs. all pork rally at Luneta Park, Manila. – NJ Viehland Photos

Even doggies Winston (brown) and Cleo came to Luneta Park's Quirino Grandstand grounds where petition signing and a concert-rally were held Aug. 25, 2014 as part of a movement to stop all pork barrel fund allocations. - NJ Viehland Photos

Even doggies Winston (brown) and Cleo came to Luneta Park’s Quirino Grandstand grounds where petition signing and a concert-rally were held Aug. 25, 2014 as part of a movement to stop all pork barrel fund allocations. – NJ Viehland Photos

Read full report here on why the religious groups and Catholic bishops support the movement to stop pork.

Signing of the petition and the program during the rally followed a 7 a.m. Mass concelebrated by various priests. In his homily, Missionaries of Jesus Father Wilfredo (Freddie Dulay) reflected on the pork barrel controversy and people’s response in faith. 

Following are excerpts from  Father Dulay’s homily which are clear enough to be transcribed:

…..  Dear brothers and sisters,

Our country is not constituted by jaded populations. We are not cynical or impervious to change. Ours is a people of hope crafting and wanting to believe in the possibility of a better tomorrow.

We are a people who look forward to new beginnings – always desirous for a fresh start – may it be after an earthquake, a typhoon or disastrous government, and the Arroyo government could not be described in kinder terms.

No matter the folly of the previous administration, our people would always give the new one a chance expecting it could be no worse than its predecessor, hoping at least that it would do better.

We’ve had enough of the short lady from Lubao. Her greed for power and money had no measure and she was blatant about them. She really had to go.

But now that she’s gone from center stage, what do we have?

Many of us believed that we would have another shot at benevolent leadership, at least.

But why are we so angry after Janet Lim-Napoles got careless and fell into the gap – and now getting angrier when the PDAF reincarnated into the DAP?

Ask the people, especially those we have traditionally called the “common tao” – if a bit condescendingly and as if we haven’t all become so common in our ways – three simple and rather straightforward reasons are repeated time and again.

First was betrayal. *”Naisahan nanaman tayo. Nauto nanaman tayo. Nakuha nanaman tayo sa mga pangako. Tayo daw ang kanyang boss at magkasama nating tatahakin ang daang matuwid. Hindi naman palang totoo ang daang tinatahak ng nagtutuwid. kunwari lang pala. Hindi lamang bale ito at baluktot, masalimuot pa. kunwari lang pala. Ang daming tinatago – billion billion pala. Kung di pa natapilok si Janet, ang katotothanan ay di pa natin matatarok hanggang ngayon.” – betrayal.

*(We’ve been conned once again. We’ve been suckered-in again. We’ve been taken again by promises. He said we are his boss. This was just make believe, after all. It’s not true that the road we travel is the straight path. This isn’t nay broken and crooked, it is treacherous as well. There’s so much that is hidden – billions and billions. If Janet did not stumble, we would not be grasping the truth today.” – betrayal.)

The second simple reason is that now we know better. **”Wala naman palang dahilan upang maghirap ang nakararami sa atin. Wala naman palang dahilan upang sila ay magutom at magdusa. Ang dami palang pera. Mayaman ang bansa. Marami naman palang sapat na pera upang magpatayo ng napakaraming paaralan at hospital at tugunan ang ating mga pangunahing pangangailangan. Meron tayong kakayanang umabante at umunland.”

**(There’s no reason after all for many of us to be wallowing in poverty. There is no reason after all for them to be starving and suffering. There is so much money after all. The country is rich. There is so much and sufficient funds after all to put up so many schools and hospitals and to provide for our basic needs. We have the capability to advance and progress.”

There’s plenty to go around and a lot going for us. Where has it all gone?

Now at least we know where the money goes. We don’t only have leeches for leaders, with a few exceptions (but they are truly hard to find), there are also bottom-feeders, and their pockets much to our grief ***”talagang bottomless.”  ***(really bottomless)

My dear brothers and sisters,

Should anybody here be surprised that we are gathered to collect signatures for the abolition of the pork barrel system and all its manifestations and reincarnations?

Abolish the pork, and the true leaders would emerge – not those who are engaged full time in self-service, but leaders who would want to serve the people and build up the nation.

Maybe it’s not too late. Beloved and beleaguered leaders, listen and take heed to what the Lord declared more than 2,000 years ago: “I came to serve, not to be served.” He followed it up by telling us, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and get lost in a sulfurous non-airconditioned place?”

Of course, I’m paraphrasing, but the paraphrase fits the occasion.

Let us pray that our leaders would wake up.

 ***********

Renato Reyes, Jr. , Secretary General of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance) told Catholic In Asia, “We’re very pleased with the level of support from the Catholic Church. There’s a big boost coming from at least 73 bishops and we expect support from their diocese and parishes. 

He said the pork barrel controversy has managed to unite the population. “It has managed to unite the religious, the progressives, the unions, students, teachers.” Reyes considers this “a good sign that, hopefully, we’d be able to continue with the momentum in the coming days.”

How important is it for this cause to have the Catholic Church so actively behind it? Reyes notes, “Corruption is a moral issue, so it’s very good that they’re involved. They can mobilize their constituents. In gathering signatures, it’s also very nice that they’ve opened up their parishes and dioceses and invited the people to sign up for the People’s Initiative. The have that actual support of manpower and machinery.

Reyes explains that the movement’s measure of success is “if we are able to mobilize people and if we are able to raise awareness.

He stressed that activities over the weekend through Monday is just the beginning. “This is just the start – the attempt to get numbers – the signatures. The bigger indicator of success would be raising the consiousness of the people and making them more vigilant about corruption and holding the president himself accountable for all this corruption,” Reyes added.

 

 

 

 

Thy will be done…even on The Voice!

Ursuline Sister Cristina Scuccia’s success in The Voice certainly breaks stereotypes, including,
nun = spinster (to borrow from Pope Francis’ message to some 800 women religious representing International Union of Superiors General (UISG in May 2013)

 

CNS Blog

ROME — Ursuline Sister Cristina Scuccia’s landslide victory on The Voice of Italy last night wasn’t as big a surprise as much as what she did with her winner’s platform.

prize

She thanked everyone on the talent show for their help and support, but left her highest praise for God.

“My final and most important thanks go to the one who is up there,” she said to applause.

thank him

She said her presence on The Voice wasn’t to walk away a winner or a music star, but to show people a different kind of victory:

“My dream is to recite the Our Father together, maybe we can all hold each other’s hands and pray. I want Jesus to come right here inside!”

It left most people perplexed and unsure, but Sister Cristina was in charge, telling the band to strike up a soft melody to set the mood.

Half-joking, the MC said…

View original post 409 more words

Filipino families torn apart by migration hold together through communication tech

Filipino Family Series Part 1 :Cell Phone Mom

Graphics from the presentation of Religious of the Cenacle Sister Malen Java on Faces of the Family: The Overseas Filipino Workers Challenge at the Asian Conference of the Family's May 13 Conference for Educators and Catechists. - NJ Viehland Photos

Graphics from the presentation of Religious of the Cenacle Sister Malen Java on Faces of the Family: The Overseas Filipino Workers Challenge at the Asian Conference of the Family’s May 13 Conference for Educators and Catechists. – NJ Viehland Photos

Manila (CiA) – Hong Kong domestic worker Emilie Gaje said a prayer of thanks after hearing her eldest daughter tell her on the phone that she was to graduate from college last month.

Gaje’s whole family has lived such a “poor and rugged life”. She could not think the graduation of the little girl she left behind 15 years ago to work overseas as anything but “a blessing from God.” Her daughter can now have a chance at a decent and productive life in her central Philippines home in Iloilo province, or anywhere her bachelor’s degree in tourism will take her.

Gaje, 38 year-old mother of four spoke with CiA from her employer’s home in Tai Po, New Territories, about her overseas work, her family and her faith. She paused periodically then apologized for sobbing.

Her family, she said, consists of her mother, father, grandmother, siblings and four children. Her husband has not been in touch with the family since she moved their children from their house in Badiangan barrio to her parents’ house in 2001 after learning they were not getting fed enough, that he was holding drinking sprees in their house and hurting the children.

Though far away, she kept in touch. The overseas mother explained:

All the years I was working here, I regularly called my children every week on my day-off. I was focused on them. My eldest was six when I left my two daughters and our son with their father in 1999. Our youngest was only three so I left her with my mother. From here I would call my husband’s cell phone and then my mother’s.

I would have a heavy heart after calling my husband because the children would say they do not eat. My husband was eaten up by his vice – drinking with friends. When he got drunk he got violent with the children.

The children would tell me when we talked that they do not eat and that their father is hurting them all the time. Neighbors told me about this also, so I went home to get the children out of there and brought them all to my parents’ house.

Transnational families

Transnational families and parenting have evolved over the 40 years of the Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) phenomenon, reported Religious of the Cenacle Sister Malen Java.

The former Cenacle regional superior and current counselor, spiritual and retreat director to priests religious men and women, and lay Catholics of various nationalities lectured on the theme Faces of the Family: The Overseas Filipino Workers’ Challenge on the first day of the May 13-16 Asian Conference on the Family.

Close to 1,000 delegates attended the Conference for Educators and Catechists at the start of the May 13-16 Asian Conference on the Family in Paco Catholic College. - NJ Viehland Photos

Close to 1,000 delegates attended the Conference for Educators and Catechists at the start of the May 13-16 Asian Conference on the Family in Paco Catholic College. – NJ Viehland Photos

Mar Bautista of Kidapawan Diocese told a session on transnational parenting that he chats with his children working overseas on Facebook and via cell phone about their problems and successes, how to cook adobo and monggo, and  shared a "self-centering prayer." - NJ Viehland Photos

Mar Bautista of Kidapawan Diocese told a session on transnational parenting that he chats with his children working overseas on Facebook and via cell phone about their problems and successes, how to cook adobo and monggo, and
shared a “self-centering prayer.” – NJ Viehland Photos

Read the full article on Sr. Java’s presentation on transnational families here

[Working on: Filipino Family Series Part 2, Splendor of OFW Family]

Remembering Good Shepherd Sr. Mary Consuelo Chuidian, “hero and martyr”

Remembering today on her birthday, Religious of the Good Shepherd (RGS) Sr. Mary Consuelo Chuidian.

Born into an affluent family, May 4, 1937, Sr. Consuelo died in 1983 with three other RGS sisters on their way to a meeting in Cebu, Central Philippines, when their ship, the MV Cassandra, sank.

Wall of Remembrance Bantayog Ng Mga Bayani Foundation FB

She has since been honored by Bantayog ng mga Bayani [Monument of Heroes] , a foundation that honors people and their efforts to free the Philippines from the “dictatorship” of the late President Ferdinand Marcos.

Read why her name is etched on the Bantayog’s Wall of Remembrance when you click the link Bantayog ng Mga Bayani: Sr. Mary Consuelo Chuidian.

The Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd (also known as Religious of the Good Shepherd or Good Shepherd Sisters) is an international congregation of religious women in the Roman Catholic Church, numbering almost 4,000, present in 70 countries in five continents .

Learn more about RGS in the Philippines, click Religious of the Good Shepherd – Philippines

In pictures – ‘Nazareth Workshop’ sews together fabric and workers’ lives

There’s more to these albs and clerical shirts than meets the eye.

The Mandaluyong City branch of Talleres de Nazaret (Nazareth workshops) specializes in producing clerical shirts, Polo shirts and school uniforms, and helps to sell albs primarily produced in the Cebu City workshop. - NJ Viehland Photos

The Mandaluyong City branch of Talleres de Nazaret (Nazareth workshops) specializes in producing clerical shirts, Polo shirts and school uniforms, and helps to sell albs primarily produced in the Cebu City workshop. – NJ Viehland Photos

They are created through a careful and deep process of nuns, with a team of trainers, teaching workers, mostly women, how to sew with their hands and using various kinds of sewing machines…

Talleres de Nazaret (Nazareth workshops) run by Siervas de San Jose nuns in Mandaluyong City has 34 single and special machines including some with two needles for sewing garters. Workers, mostly women, are required to wear masks mainly to protect them from inhaling loose fiber and other elements harmful to their lungs. - NJ Viehland Photos

Talleres de Nazaret (Nazareth workshops) run by Siervas de San Jose nuns in Mandaluyong City has 34 single and special machines including some with two needles for sewing garters. Workers, mostly women, are required to wear masks mainly to protect them from inhaling loose fiber and other elements harmful to their lungs. – NJ Viehland Photos

how to draw and cut patterns, how to cut fabric …

Master cutter in action at the Mandaluyong City branch of Talleres de Nazaret run by Siervas of San Jose nuns that was working to stay on schedule for school uniform production for school year 2014-2015 that starts in June. - NJ Viehland photos

Master cutter in action at the Mandaluyong City branch of Talleres de Nazaret run by Siervas of San Jose nuns that was working to stay on schedule for school uniform production for school year 2014-2015 that starts in June. – NJ Viehland photos

 

In the Mandaluyong City branch of Talleres de Nazaret (Nazareth workshops) run by Siervas de San Jose nuns, workers are taught to sew a complete garment so that if someone is not around, the job moves ahead, and also to enable them to produce a complete product. Workers who have sewed in garment factors told Catholic In Asia they were trained only to sew parts of a garment, like sleeves or collars to protect the company's business. For these parts of the garment, factories pay them per piece.  Sister Lucy Camiring on April 30 discussed with a leading seamstress the status of their job of sewing school uniforms. - NJ Viehland Photos

In the Mandaluyong City branch of Talleres de Nazaret (Nazareth workshops) run by Siervas de San Jose nuns, workers are taught to sew a complete garment so that if someone is not around, the job moves ahead, and also to enable them to produce a complete product. Workers who have sewed in garment factors told Catholic In Asia they were trained only to sew parts of a garment, like sleeves or collars to protect the company’s business. For these parts of the garment, factories pay them per piece. Sister Lucy Camiring on April 30 discussed with a leading seamstress the status of their job of sewing school uniforms. – NJ Viehland Photos

 

Project development and planning are among skills that nuns hone to enable workers in Talleres de Nazaret (Nazareth workshops) to stand on their own and collaborate to sustain the workshop. Their production meetings turn out plans and schedules that are written on a whiteboard in the shop. - NJ Viehland Photos

Project development and planning are among skills that nuns hone to enable workers in Talleres de Nazaret (Nazareth workshops) to stand on their own and collaborate to sustain the workshop. Their production meetings turn out plans and schedules that are written on a whiteboard in the shop. – NJ Viehland Photos

Sister Lucy Camiring and fellow Siervas de San Jose nuns and aspirants who take turns in working with the workers in the five Talleres de Nazaret (Nazareth workshops) in the country. - NJ Viehland Photos

Sister Lucy Camiring and fellow Siervas de San Jose nuns and aspirants who take turns in working with the workers in the five Talleres de Nazaret (Nazareth workshops) in the country. – NJ Viehland Photos

Some products require washing normally done by hand in the Mandaluyong City branch of Talleres de Nazaret (Nazareth workshops) to be more economical and provide people work. - NJ Viehland Photos

Some products require washing normally done by hand in the Mandaluyong City branch of Talleres de Nazaret (Nazareth workshops) to be more economical and provide people work. – NJ Viehland Photos

Margie Rose Butlig (right) takes charge of production in the Mandaluyong branch of Talleres de Nazaret (Nazareth workshop) run by Siervas de San Jose to where Sister Lucy Camiring (left) has served after returning from 9 years in mission in Papua New Guinea. - NJ Viehland Photos

Margie Rose Butlig (right) takes charge of production in the Mandaluyong branch of Talleres de Nazaret (Nazareth workshop) run by Siervas de San Jose to where Sister Lucy Camiring (left) has served after returning from 9 years in mission in Papua New Guinea. – NJ Viehland Photos

On the eve of the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker May 1 Margie Rose reflected on the role of Siervas de San Jose Sisters in her own and her family’s life. “They have been to me like Saint Joseph was to Jesus – only they are nuns,” the worker in charge of production said. To understand why click on ‘Nazareth Workshop’ sews together fabric and workers lives”

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