Helping hands for Tacloban

Eight days ago we started fundraising for Helping Hands for Tacloban properly.  We thought our target of $6000 (£3570) was ambitious, but that we might be able to achieve it.

To use Jackie’s expression, we’ve been completely floored.  Thanks to the amazing generosity of some seriously lovely people, we have already gone OVER our target.  Thank you to every one of you who has donated.

Jackie has been talking to a few barangay captains (a barangay is a geographical area, the captains are elected officials to work with the community) in the areas we want to help.  We have some amazing projects that we have agreed to commit your donations to – Jackie will be blogging about them very soon – but the conversations have also confirmed what we knew already – there is so much more that is needed.

So, we’ve increased our target to and even more gulp…

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A New Beginning for the Victims of Yolanda: UNTV and Equinet Concur to Build Deep Well Water System in 100 areas in the Visayas Region

A Fan Blog for Kuya Daniel Razon

The prayers of many Yolanda victims for clean, potable water are answered when UNTV and Equinet Architectural and Engineering Support inked a Memorandum of Agreement to put up deep well water system in various areas of Central Philippines  affected by the super typhoon.

Mr. Tony Habana and Mr. Ralph Walker, Managing Directors of Equinet, signed the agreement in behalf of the company.

Equinet representatives voiced their great sympathy towards the victims of Typhoon Yolanda which killed around 7000 men, women and children.

Clean water is among the top necessities as most of the areas were washed away by the typhoon that hit the country during the last quarter of 2013, rendering the facilities unusable and the water system unfit for drinking.

In their search for ways to be part of the solution for the victims of the calamity, Equinet initiated talks with UNTV with regards to how they can be of use…

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It’s not about the Machine: Climate-Smart growth

In this year’s WEF on East Asia, a session on Climate-Smart Growth was held. Leaders of the world talked about the necessary changes that the world needs in order for countries to create sustainable solutions that address climate change problems.

Increasing Awareness


Yolanda’s effects on the Philippines not only increased the awareness of the Filipino people on the effects of natural disasters today but as well left a mark on the international community. An increasing global awareness on what climate change can do was triggered with recent disasters around the world.

On the surface, the effects of climate change can be limited to increasing temperatures and the increased occurrence of natural disasters. However, looking at a deeper perspective it also affects our economies. Climate change is affecting the way our food is grown. Rising temperatures has made it more difficult for farmers to grow crops. This in turn not only…

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24 Oras: Benefit concert ni Charice para sa mga nasalanta ng lindol sa Bohol, matagumpay

Salonga, Charice,, Natori lead US benefit concert for ‘Yolanda’ survivors

My Thoughts

© ‘YOLANDA’ SURVIVOR Melvin Castro sits in the rubble of his home in Tacloban City where 18 of his family members were killed. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—World-renowned singer Charice Pempengco and international fashion designer Josie Natori have joined an already star-studded line-up of Filipino celebrities for a benefit concert in Washington, D.C. for victims of supertyphoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan).

Award-winning Filipina singer Lea Salonga and Black Eyed Peas member (Allan Pineda in real life), are among the performers who will participate in the concert dubbed “After the Storm: A Benefit Concert for the Philippines” which will be held at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. on June 15, 2014. Continue reading on

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These are some of what we are doing (with your help)…

Helping hands for Tacloban

There is still a lot to do in Tacloban and the surrounding areas impacted by typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) last November. Although there has been some progress in helping people rebuild their lives (millions were displaced, lost property and livelihood, to say the least), it has been excruciatingly sloooow. Unbelievably also, there are a number of areas that have barely been  helped at all.

So, as Helen and I keep looking at specific projects we can undertake and focus on that would have real (and immediate) impact on the survivors’ lives, we keep uncovering many heartbreaking, even infuriating, stories. But we push on. What we are doing is identifying these potential projects and beneficiaries, try to reach them even before my trip in late June and then, when my son and I get there, meet with them (and consult with people around,  friends, family members and community leaders) and (although it…

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Smile, it’s not the end of the world

Of thoughts and dreams and visions

Doubt, anxiety, and fear. Those were the three things people felt after the storm. Three of quite a few.

Many of those few things that people felt all the the same time weren’t good things. While it is rather unsurprising, it is also telling of what could’ve have happened to the people of this town.

When any tragedy comes, people can react to it in at least two ways. Either they break down in tears and never get back up, or they stand up before they can begin to fall down.

Too many people choose the former because it is that which might be easier. They could simply stop and forget the world. Forget that they have gone through something incredibly terrible and lived through it. Forget everything and go down deeper into their own oblivion.

People do that a lot. It is nothing more than what can be expected…

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All the king’s horses and all the king’s men

Of thoughts and dreams and visions

Couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again.

The prevalent spirit of the people who were visited by the terrible storm that was Haiyan has been a spirit strength, pushing them forward when the whole world has seemed to want to pull them back, pulling them up when everything else has seemed to want to put them down, letting them come alive when nature has done just the opposite.

Yet, that much cannot be said of all. For there are just those whose trouble were too much for them to take. They left the world without being taken. When reason and rhyme left their world, so did reason and rhyme leave them.

Haven’t I said so before?

There were those with whom no one can make a conversation with anymore for they can no longer even see what’s right in front of them. All they would do was to stare out into…

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The Use of Expendable UAVs After Typhoon Haiyan


My colleague Dr. Imes Chiu recently co-authored this report (PDF) on his team’s use of expendable UAVs following Typhoon Haiyan (known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines). Imes is Chief of Applied Research at the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (COE-DMHA) based in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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Highlights of the report:

  • “The interdisciplinary […] team concluded that during the rapid response phase of disaster management, aerial imagery of damaged areas proved more useful than a detailed needs-assessment.”
  • “Imagery provided by civil drones enabled local government units to immediately and accurately assess the extent of the damage in their jurisdictions, even when operating with a significantly reduced staff.”
  • “What they [relief workers] actually need at this point is to get an accurate understanding and a very detailed picture at the village level, at the camp level, as to what exactly is going on.”
  • “During Haiyan recovery operations, civil drones…

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Just like before

Of thoughts and dreams and visions

If there’s one thing I want to do right now about my writing, it’s that I want to stop writing about Haiyan, I want to stop writing about the storm, I want to stop writing about the tragedy. The tragedy for me now is that I can’t. I can’t simply stop. I can’t help myself from seeing it because I still have to live with it.

The picture has never been pretty even before the typhoon arrived. It’s not any better now. And there doesn’t seem to be any signs of it improving anytime soon.

The people are nothing so surprising. As I’ve written, there are those who caved in to the weakness of the human person while others chose strength. To stand up after falling, to pick up the pieces and put them back together after breaking, to rise from the ashes.

I say there is nothing so surprising…

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