13 Nov2013

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I took this photo at the tail end of a twelve-hour road trip to Northern Cebu yesterday. It was one of the most emotionally exhausting days I have experienced in a long time. The kid with the sign says it all. I think everyone in our vehicle was on the verge of tears, for the nth time in half a day. We started out of Cebu City at 6am on a cloudy, rainy grey morning…

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We headed towards Bogo, but after the town of Sogod, we turned westward on a road that traversed the island to the town of Tabuelan, through small puroks and mountain barangays that had probably not been seen by many in the previous 4 days since the storm.

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We came across flattened chicken houses or poultries, with thousands of the birds roaming freely, as their cages were completely destroyed, but they were hanging around for some feed. The stench of death from thousands of dead birds was overwhelming, I can only imagine with horror what it’s like in Tacloban where the bodies are human instead of fowl…

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At the town of Tabuelan, we turned North and started to see increasingly severe destruction to homes, crops and electric poles… We accompanied a medium sized truck provided by GMA Foundation, our relief goods in the back covered with a tarpaulin.

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We drove by public school houses (apparently where most people went for shelter) that had their roofs ripped open with giant can openers. Large sections of roof had literally blown off.

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Homes of both the rich and poor were ravaged, though more cement homes seemed to survive in this area, some 30-40 kilometers from the eye of the storm…

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The landscape was devoid of leaves, nearly every single one ripped off branches. Coconut trees snapped in half, banana trees felled like cards in a strong breeze. It’s amazing to see square kilometer after square kilometer of ravaged foliage and crops and fruit trees.

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We stopped at the first barangay and unloaded ten sacks or roughly 150 care packages. The process was very organized, with GMA volunteers having gone ahead to ask barangay captains to list every family in their area. Each family was handed a package, some water, and some baked pizza dough, a donation from a pizza chain. It was relatively orderly, but crowds started to build. Of course a few tried to game the system and claim several packages, but for the most part it was a really well organized distribution.

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What was truly amazing in the midst of hunger and desperation, was that everyone was so incredibly polite, so grateful, so appreciative and so darned proper. Some of these folks hadn’t had a drink of fresh water in days (but at least they had some coconuts) nor stocks of rice, but they were calm and still had smiles despite the difficult circumstances.

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In true provincial style, the older folks inquired after who specifically was providing the aid or assistance and when told it was a Cebuano family (working on behlaf of hundreds of donors around the world), graciously said they would say a prayer of thanks for all that lent a hand… You can imagine how many times all of our eyes welled up per hour. We tried to move from barangay to barangay without lingering, but the distribution does take time.

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There were several elderly women, many widowed, and their homes destroyed but they seemed so calm or were they shocked, in the aftermath of the storm. I think we may have been the first folks to reach these barangays, as many other groups headed as far north in Cebu as they could. I am glad we saw this side of the island, and got to these smaller barangays with sufficient stocks for nearly every family in the area.

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Minutes after we finished distributing in the first barangay, these four men passed bearing a coffin for burial. It seems they had delayed the funeral as getting the aid packages were deemed essential or they might have been passed by. The silence that descended when we realized this was yet another sharp pang of emotion. The four men, then followed by the residents of that barangay, headed a few hundred meters towards the shore for a simple burial. I didn’t ask what caused the death.

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As we headed up the coast, word spread like wildfire, how I DO NOT KNOW. There was no cell signal in these parts, so I can only think bamboo telegraph, but all bamboo stands were down.

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The lines of people were starting to build and we were quickly going through the roughly 1,500-2,000 aid packages that we brought along.

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Somewhere along the way, we were informed that there were still quite a few NPA in the hills of this part of the island. This surprised me a bit, but I have to say, never once did our convoy feel any risk or threat at any point in time. Unlike the stories coming out of Tacloban, with hijackings of aid vehicles, armed robberies of commercial warehouses, this part of Cebu seemed almost peaceful in a way.

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The Teen distributed much of the goods, and I have to say, she was as poised and appropriate as my mother and grandmother would have been proud of. This whole experience has been a real eye-opener for her and for all of us…

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This scene of a nearly totaled restaurant with the resident dog on the steps looking up at the damage was just as heart wrenching as hearing peoples’ stories. The pets and animals are also victims of this storm…

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The Teen, a long time staff member and I fell for this cute dog, a nursing mother who BEGGED for food. She kept returning to the vehicle, stepped into the back seat and you just knew she was hungry. We fed her some of the baked dough and she scurried off to eat and watch over her pups.

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There were several more dogs along the way.

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Part of our team, taking a break along the way. The smiling lady in the middle of the photo was accompanying us on her way home to Bantayan, where her family lived on an outer island, and she reported back later that ALL the homes on the island were wiped out and everyone was near starving. We had sent a couple of sacks of relief goods with her, and she said they were the FIRST aid to reach that island.

We spent today buying and re-packing and it’s getting late, but we have to do this trip all over again to Medellin and perhaps Daanbantayan tomorrow, leaving Cebu at 6am. We could not have done these trips without all of your generous contributions, thank you very much. :)

 

COMMENTS:

  1. gigiedlcruz says:

    Thank you!

    Nov 13, 2013 | 8:10 pm

     
  2. zack says:

    Dear MM, Just sent donation to BDO thru Xoom. I Apologize for the delay. God Bless you and your family for what you do!

    Nov 13, 2013 | 8:55 pm

     
  3. celery says:

    god bless you and everyone who has donated.

    Nov 13, 2013 | 9:07 pm

     
  4. shiko-chan says:

    thank you so much MM. i hope you can find the time and energy to keep us posted, at least to let us know if supply ever falls short of demand. kudos as always, and take care of yourselves!

    Nov 13, 2013 | 10:28 pm

     
  5. Den says:

    thanks for organising this. have donated through the teen’s online site. I hope you dont mind if i shared some links of your posts through facebook to encourage others to donate as well

    Nov 13, 2013 | 10:59 pm

     
  6. Cora says:

    A heartfelt thank you MM and family, Zubuchon crew and friends, GMA Foundation for the humanitarian effort and compassion that are directly given to the Haiyan survivors that desperately need food and water. May you have safe travel and emotional strength for this arduous undertaking.

    Nov 13, 2013 | 11:12 pm

     
  7. corrine says:

    MM, it seems a herculean task because these people are going to need food and water again in a short time. It seems the problem also of government as my friend said is that even if they prepared thousands of bags of relief goods, they don’t seem enough. Thanks for the photos… got lump on my throat as I viewed them.

    Nov 13, 2013 | 11:33 pm

     
  8. mov924 says:

    Dear marketman,
    I’m a regular reader of your blog but never a commenter. I just want to thank you, your family and crew for doing this. May God bless you more!! ?

    Nov 14, 2013 | 12:20 am

     
  9. odie says:

    Thank you!!!

    Nov 14, 2013 | 12:24 am

     
  10. Theresa says:

    Thanks for the update, MM! Will continue to support this group in your effort to reach out to the victims of Haiyan. Spreading the word about your site and The Teen’s as well coz a lot of people here are hesitant to give thinking their donation will fall into the wrong hands. The photos of humans and of the animals are pretty heart-wrenching but greatly appreciated. Wish you all safe travels!!

    Nov 14, 2013 | 2:05 am

     
  11. mitzuy says:

    Hi, MM – My heart goes out to all our kababayans who are right now suffering – Thank you so much for your efforts in helping them in this time of need. I just sent my contribution thru Teen’s website. Thank you once again and God bless you, your family, and the rest of your crew.

    Nov 14, 2013 | 5:01 am

     
  12. crabbychef says:

    MM, I have been holding back tears for so long since this started and your post just did me in. :( Bless your kind heart, and that of your family, staff, and donors. Mabuhay po kayo. Salamat sa inyong pagmamalasakit.

    Nov 14, 2013 | 6:16 am

     
  13. JoanneM says:

    The last week of watching CNN and American TV coverage about this natural disaster; I’ve been holding back tears and emotions, unitl I read your post. To see that your crew was the first to reach these small towns, to see the gratitude of the people, the wide spread damage; it’s simply heart wrenching.
    I was quite scheptical of sending my hard earned money to the larger organizations, for fears of the usual red tape. From some of the news I’ve read (a few Politicians “labeling” relief goods for their own benefit) I knew that my money might not even get to those who realy need help. You have put my worries at ease and I am more than glad to send my donation through your daughter’s web site.
    You and your crew have an amazing! Thank you very much for your efforts!

    Nov 14, 2013 | 8:43 am

     
  14. ami says:

    Apparently the item in the news about NPAs holding up an aid truck were false. But yes, even in Rizal province which is practically a suburb of Metro Manila there are NPAs.

    MM, I deeply appreciate the good work that you, your family and crew are doing for the victims of the typhoon. Keep safe on your next outing.

    Nov 14, 2013 | 9:37 am

     
  15. Super.me says:

    My tears wouldn’t stop falling while reading this. It’s heart wrenching to say the least.
    Your story about the dogs made me cry real hard too.

    Thanks for doing this MM! A big salute to you, your family and your crew!

    Nov 14, 2013 | 11:01 am

     
  16. Ronee says:

    MM, The pictures brought tears to my eyes.Thank you for your generosity. God Bless you, your family and your staff.

    I am glad that In solidarity with those who are affected by recent calamities, our institution will forego our annual Community Christmas Party and the budget allocated for the activity will be forwarded to our Relief and Rehabilitation Fund.

    Nov 14, 2013 | 12:49 pm

     
  17. linda says:

    We ‘ve been having fundraising left right and centre here and I told many people that sending funds to you or yr beloved Teen’s site will all go 100% to the needy. A lot of the ladies said they’ll check yr site.
    MM, you and yr family and crew are indeed Heaven Sent. May God bless you, yr family and crew and shower you His abundant blessings and keep you all healthy and safe. You have given thousands of people hope and to me you and family and crew are their guardian angels.

    Nov 14, 2013 | 2:45 pm

     
  18. cgt says:

    We can help the animals by donating to PAWS Philippines. They already have a team in Tacloban helping both animals and people.

    Nov 14, 2013 | 3:57 pm

     
  19. AlexMe says:

    MM…Thank-you for the work you, your family and staff are doing at the center of where help is needed. I know that a lot of Filipino and non-Filipino communities all over the world are making their contributions in one way or another to help our kababayans over there. Our Divine Mercy Church is offering Saturday’s mass and we pray that all the help being sent there is indeed reaching where it is truly needed.

    Nov 14, 2013 | 4:25 pm

     
  20. MAA says:

    This experience is priceless. I would have joined you guys if I were there. Thank you so much! God bless you and your family and crew immensely!

    Nov 14, 2013 | 4:37 pm

     
  21. nitz arlegui says:

    I’m a regular reader of your blog. First time to see the Teen. Your so lucky to have such a beautiful daughter. Ibang-iba ang aura niya. Thank you so much for your efforts. God Bless you and your family and staff.

    Nov 14, 2013 | 5:03 pm

     
  22. Monty says:

    Hi MM. Is potable water as much a problem in the places you’ve been as much as it has been in Tacloban? Transporting water presents such a huge logistical nightmare due to its bulk and weight. I wonder if the water supply infrastructure was damaged, or is it just the lack of power that prevents the pumps from running. Great job by your whole family and staff!

    Nov 14, 2013 | 5:16 pm

     
  23. Marketman says:

    Monty I think in most places it is the lack of electricity and generators that affects the water supply being pushed through the pipes to people’s homes… potable water is a problem because of logistics… In Northern Cebu, as of yesterday, there were a few places doing filtered water in Bogo and other parts, but it still has to get to remote barangays, etc.

    Nov 15, 2013 | 5:49 am

     
  24. kikas_head says:

    You are beyond amazing.

    Nov 15, 2013 | 6:08 pm

     
  25. dianne says:

    bless your heart, MM :)

    Nov 15, 2013 | 9:21 pm

     
  26. Leo says:

    thanks mm

    Nov 15, 2013 | 11:31 pm

     
  27. welltot says:

    Hi MM! Your generosity and compassion will never fail to inspire others. You have mentioned Bantayan in this post. A good friend and her family have started an initiative called Adopt a Bahay. They will be bringing in people (aside from material resources of course) to help with long-term rehabilitation of the typhoon-ravaged community. Their plan is to bring in tradesmen to assist and instruct the townsfolk to help rebuild the community. I’m sharing their FB page just in case you/they can coordinate any possible form of assistance. Thank you for all that you and your family (both personal and professional) do.

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Adopt-A-Bahay/255928404561303

    Nov 16, 2013 | 12:34 am

     
  28. Tnm says:

    I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again. ~William Penn

    Your kindness will not be forgotten. Not by me nor your readers but most of all those you have helped. I cannot thank you enough. More blessings will come your way, no doubt about that. Take care in you future travels as you help those in dire need.

    Nov 16, 2013 | 7:30 am

     
  29. Tiffany says:

    Thank you

    Nov 16, 2013 | 8:10 am

     
  30. millet says:

    took me a long time to finish reading this post because the tears keep blurring my eyes. good job, MM and crew, and thank you. nice to see The Teen.

    Nov 16, 2013 | 9:23 am

     
  31. madgwenny says:

    My friend who was born in Sogod but now lives in Davao, was moved to tears with this post which I shared with her through FB. You and your family were instruments of God to give help to the victims in Northern Cebu, and you will be blessed for your good deeds a million-fold.

    Madayao, Binamira Family!

    Nov 16, 2013 | 9:26 am

     
  32. shane says:

    MM, can i share your post in my FB account???

    Nov 16, 2013 | 10:35 pm

     
  33. Edita Laurel says:

    Thank you so much, for you and your team for covering this part of Cebu. I have someone special living in Bogo and I have been listening to the TV coverage but no mention of this part of Cebu’s damage. Thanks for getting to them, and thanks for feeding the pets, as well. People and animals are all creatures. If you need volunteers, please let me know.

    Nov 17, 2013 | 7:46 am

     
  34. Marketman says:

    shane, of course.

    Nov 17, 2013 | 8:40 am

     
  35. jaycee says:

    Bless you MM, its great to see private individuals during their share in anyway possible.

    Nov 17, 2013 | 1:08 pm

     

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