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Friday, October 16, 2009

Where to send help

Hello everyone, sorry for the lack of updates. I hope you're all doing well. Northern Luzon is slowly recovering the Pepeng's wrath, thanks to the generosity and bayanihan of the people.

I wanted to gather a list of places you can go to help, or donate, but there's just too much information. Thankfully, friends from Sayote Republic have done just that, so I'm linking to it.

For help to Typhoon Pepeng victims in Northern and Central Luzon.

Monday, October 12, 2009

News: 5,800 Botolan folk told to permanently leave homes

5,800 Botolan folk told to permanently leave homes
By Ding Cervantes
The Philippine Star
Originally posted: October 10, 2009

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga , Philippines – Zambales Gov. Amor Deloso said residents of four barangays in Botolan town have to permanently abandon their homes as the Bucao River continues to flow through their villages toward the South China Sea.

Rampaging waters from the Bucao River, which first wreaked havoc in Botolan during storm “Kiko” last Aug. 6, have prevented some 5,800 evacuees from returning to their homes in Barangays Carael, Paudpod, Batonlapoc, and lower San Juan.

A dike breached during Kiko collapsed again during tropical storm “Ondoy.”

An official of the Provincial Disaster Coordina-ting Council earlier admitted that the natural channel of the Bucao River used to flow through the four affected barangays.

Earlier, Chief Superintendent Leon Nilo de la Cruz, Central Luzon police director, said the government would permanently relocate the displaced residents and allow the Bucao River to run its path now.

De la Cruz said Public Works and Highways Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane reached this decision in a recent meeting of the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council.

“The decision was to let the river seek its natural course,” he said, echoing statements that the Bucao River has merely reclaimed its original channel.

Flooding since Ondoy has affected 10 out of 31 barangays in Botolan, but the four barangays that Deloso named were the most severely affected.

The provincial government, Deloso said, is now drafting a master plan for a 4,000-unit socialized housing project that will be put up on a 52-hectare land he himself donated near the still-to-be-completed Iba-Tarlac Road in upper San Juan.

Deloso could not readily give an estimate of the cost of each housing unit but said the road construction alone would amount to some P61 million.

“We are trying to lessen the cost of the project so that the beneficiaries will not have a hard time paying for their units,” he said.

Related post: 2 flood-hit Botolan villages now in river's path - DPWH

Friday, October 9, 2009

News: Flooded cemetery disgorges tombs, bones

Flooded cemetery disgorges tombs, bones
By Robert Gonzaga (source)

BOTOLAN, Zambales – It was surreal and frightening sight that greeted residents here this week: Floating coffins and corpses, body parts and human bones washed ashore.

In the village cemetery of Paco, which is now littered with the ripped clothing of corpses and where the odor of rotting flesh lingers in the air, several rows of tombs lay open or submerged in floodwater.

All around the area, villagers rushed to save whatever was left of their departed relatives: clothes worn by the dead, their caskets and their bones.

Sunken tombs had gaping holes where villagers pulled the remains to save them from being swept away by rampaging floodwaters.

Since Typhoon “Kiko” dumped heavy rains and breached a major dike that flooded the town in August, residents had started worrying about the flooded cemetery.

“I went to look for my father who was buried there and did not find him. His body was one of those that got swept by the water along with many other corpses,” said Feliciano Pagar, 52.

He said he had to destroy the tombs of his brother and his child who were buried there “so I won’t lose them.”

“I opened their tombs and took their bones out of there. I had to do it, most residents were doing it, too,” he said.

Pagar said he asked local officials if the town government could pay for the transfer and burial of the remains of his relatives to another area in the cemetery.

“I don’t have the money to pay for another burial. Their remains are now in small tombs provided for those who asked for them,” he said.

Flooding in Botolan was aggravated by heavy rains spawned by tropical storm “Ondoy” and typhoon “Pepeng.”

Some of the floods were also believed brought by excess water released from dams that were connected to river systems leading to Zambales and other provinces in Central Luzon.

Essential links for help to Northern Luzon

Friends, I'm happy to report that the Filipino online community is getting up and making things happen to help our kababayans in Northern Luzon. Here are some links that will help, courtesy of MLQ3:

Essential link No. 1: Pls. make sure to report No. Luzon rescue calls here

Essential link No. 2: GMA7 also has an emergency/rescue report form for No. Luzon here

Essential link No. 3: Database of real-time emergencies No. Luzon

Essential link No. 4: GMA7's map of Northern Luzon devastation/emergencies

Essential link No. 5: ABS-CBN flood map.

Essential Links No. 6: Bayanihan Online consolidating Tweets/FB re: No. Luzon.

Hotline numbers for Northern Luzon Typhoon Victims via Ralph Guzman

Northern Luzon needs your help! From The Marocharim Experiment


Note: Will try to constantly update this list. Thanks!

News: Destruction everywhere in Botolan

Destruction everywhere in Botolan
By Robert Gonzaga (source)

BOTOLAN, Zambales – After the howling of winds stopped and heavy rains that triggered massive floods here became a drizzle, residents are struggling to regain a sense of normalcy amid the devastation that has swept the town.

In the coastal village of Bangan, a community facing the South China Sea, Conrado Durong, 64, said Typhoon “Pepeng” left an unexpected and unwelcome trace of its passing before it raced toward extreme Northern Luzon.

“Our problem here is not just the flooding, but also the waves coming from the sea. We have to watch out for them every time there is a storm, like this last one,” he said.

Durong said the waves rose to almost as high as some of the coconut trees and crashed into houses along the coast, decimating a section of the village populated by fishermen and their families.

Bigger waves
No one, however, was hurt. Residents did not consider it out of the ordinary because most of them had gone through similar experiences, although Durong said his fellow villagers ran to the town plaza in panic as the waves grew bigger and bigger this time.

“Where the water is now, there were houses before. Each storm that comes here takes away a little of our village. This time, the sea took a lot. My house did not get hit because it was farther away from the shore. But they should build a seawall here just to be safe,” he said.

Mayor Rogelio Yap said the waves might have risen due to high tide and this is the typhoon’s exit path.

“Also, since the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo [in 1991], the shoreline in that area has come closer to the houses there,” he said.

Of eight coastal villages in Botolan, only Bangan was hit hard by crashing waves.

Rice farms gone
A cluster of rice fields which leads to Capayawan, another village of Botolan hit hard by the flooding, is now gone. A wide expanse of agricultural land in Capayawan is now navigable only by boat.

“There used to be farms here. Now there is a new river that leads to the South China Sea. We lost our livelihood. A relative living nearby lost her house. We have to place sandbags in front of our houses to prevent the floodwater from reaching us,” said farmer Manolo Dagsaan, 47, a resident of Capayawan.

He said those who owned boats have been offering rides.

Many residents now fear that a significant area of Botolan would be wiped out by the widespread flooding.

Julius Dimayuga, 37, whose family has lived for a long time in Barangay San Juan near the Bucao Dike, said the dike breached because “it was made of cheap materials.”

Under water
“Now, almost a third of San Juan is under water. A lot of houses there are abandoned. I have taken my family to an evacuation center. It seems like all their focus is on that bridge in Carael but not yet on other parts of Botolan,” he said.

Let's pray for our kababayans in Botolan and other affected areas in Zambales and other provinces.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

News: Thousands still displaced by floods in Zambales

Thousands still displaced by floods in Zambales
By Robert Gonzaga

OLONGAPO CITY, Philippines — As more than 3,000 evacuees in Zambales started returning home on Monday after typhoon “Pepeng” crossed northern Luzon, thousands more in Botolan town remained in evacuation centers due to severe flooding there since August, local officials said.

Graciela Macabare, provincial disaster coordinating council chief in Zambales, said the 3,403 residents of Sta. Cruz town, who were asked to leave their houses on Friday to avoid the floods that would be generated by Pepeng, had gone back home.

She said the preemptive evacuation was ordered by Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. before Pepeng reached Sta. Cruz, the northernmost town of Zambales, because most residents there were living near the coastline.

“They are the ones usually hit when typhoons hit Northern Luzon,” Macabare said.

But in Botolan, which has been experiencing floods since a major dike was damaged by typhoon “Kiko” in August, floodwaters reached up to five feet on Saturday night when Pepeng dumped heavy rains in the area.

At least 2,120 families or 7,393 people have been staying in evacuation centers in the town since August.

Macabare said knee-deep water swamped the villages of Tampo, San Miguel, Batonlapoc and Paudpod on Saturday. In the villages of Paco and Carael, floodwater was neck-deep.

“We’re not sure when the supply for the [Botolan] evacuees will last. We still have some stocks. They will last for awhile, but if the rains continue and the number of evacuees rises, then we won’t have enough,” said Mayor Rogelio Yap.

Lorenzo Cailing Jr., 43, president of an organization of evacuees in one of the largest evacuation centers in Botolan, said they had started receiving a regular supply of relief goods from the town’s social welfare office.

Earlier, a group of evacuees complained that they had not been getting food and supplies for several days.

Yap said shortages would be inevitable.

“Our resources in terms of staffing and supplies are sometimes not enough to service all of them at once. But we are working hard to provide for all of their needs,” he said.

To ensure order in providing assistance and relief to evacuees, Yap asked donors to coordinate with the town’s social welfare office.

“What happens sometimes is that some evacuation centers are visited more than others by donors. Without coordination with us, then we cannot be sure that relief goods are going to those most in need of them. We ask the private sector to please help us and coordinate their relief missions with us,” he said.

Gov. Amor Deloso said the Olongapo-Bugallon Road remained impassable to all types of vehicles, cutting off access to northern Zambales.

He said the national road passing through Botolan was muddy and some sections were flooded.

“It’s hard right now to get around there. It is impossible to get from both ends of the province … You’d have to wait a few days at least before you can do that again,” he said.

He said no typhoon-related casualty was reported in the province but many houses and roads were damaged by floodwater and strong current.

Senior Supt. Rolando Felix, Zambales police director, said the five fishermen from Sta. Cruz, who were reported missing on Sept. 23, had been found.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

News: Botolan flood misery refuses to end

Please don't forget the provinces. They still haven't recovered from the previous storms.

Botolan flood misery refuses to end

BOTOLAN, Zambales -- It is a test of resilience that residents of this town may not be able to bear any longer, forcing them to cry out loud for help.

In August, Typhoon “Labuyo” struck the town of more than 58,000 people, soaking clothes, appliances, mementos, food and lives in muddy, murky flood waters.

Labuyo struck just as the town thought it was on its way to recovery from previous flooding. Barely a month after, the rains poured again followed shortly by floods.

The disaster bore a different name, “Ondoy,” but it brought the same, if not higher, levels of destruction and suffering to the town.

Since August 6, thousands of evacuees in 16 evacuation centers here have become dependent on other people’s help since their houses were destroyed by floodwaters.


Now food is running out and most of the people are getting sick, according to Lorenzo Cailing Jr., spokesperson and president of a group of evacuees in Botolan.

He said in the last five days over 500 families in two evacuation centers have not received relief goods.

“Many people here think that we have been forgotten. We have not received anything ... We have been here for almost two months already,” he said.

He said the last batch of relief goods that came was from the social welfare department office of Botolan.

Each family got half a kilogram of rice, two sardine cans and two packs of noodles.

“We don’t know when the next relief goods would come. We’re sure that what they gave us won’t last long,” said Cailing.

The children are vulnerable to disease, although the elderly, too, suffer from coughs, fever, diarrhea and skin diseases.

“Our water source is also a problem,” he said.

A deep well that supplies water is 5 feet from a septic tank. Toilets don’t have doors “so we just cover them with umbrellas,” he said.


The evacuees live in tents or shelter boxes donated by the Rotary Club International.

Rogelio Lima, 47, an evacuee from Barangay Carael, expressed gratitude for the shelter boxes but said the people could only stay there until 9 a.m.

“After that, it gets so hot your nose could bleed. We have to stay outside,” he said.

In Pampanga, the provincial government and private groups pooled funds and distributed relief goods to Ondoy victims in the province.

Governor Eddie Panlilio visited victims in Arayat town where 12 persons died in a landslide.

The provincial social welfare development office distributed more than P1 million worth of relief goods, including 60 cavans of rice, 140 boxes of canned goods, blankets, mosquito nets and kitchen ware, to flood victims in Masantol, Sta. Ana, Sta. Rita and Candaba towns and City of San Fernando.

Seeds, fingerlings and piglets will also be distributed to flooded villages while P12 million was allotted for the repair of dikes, roads and bridges and other government facilities.

Help coming

In Clark Freeport, the Clark Development Corp. (CDC), Clark locators, and the Philippine Air Force 600th Air Base Wing have raised more than P1 million to help typhoon victims.

Benigno Ricafort, CDC president, said the CDC and the Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) each donated P250,000 while Cyber City Teleservices gave P100,000. Smart Shirts Phils. pledged P100,000 worth of clothes.

The National Information and Communications Technology Confederation appealed to all its member councils and partners to likewise help.

SM City Clark and SM City Pampanga have put up donation boxes inside their malls.