It’s exactly a month since disaster struck and now the government and news outfits have been heralding the news that normalcy is slowly being restored in the city.
For downtown Tacloban with all the piles of debris strewn all over the streets and the shuttered businesses, maybe there is a very small semblance of normalcy for the clueless. Sure, there are stores that are now opening, but things are still very far from normal, especially when one goes outside of the commercial area.
This is Anibong, one of the places I frequent during my photo walks. It is barely recognizable. Correction, it is unrecognizable. All the houses and sari-sari stores lining the street are gone.
The remains of a decent house, 30 days later. No housing relocation sites yet, no master plans for development, nothing. Nobody is running the show.
Scenes like this are kept from the local news. Everything is going well, they say. Hey, it’s almost Christmas everywhere else but here.
Where have all the playmates gone?
This is still Tacloban City, but I don’t see the usual people I meet anymore. Where are they?
Joey, 2nd from left. He has a small watch repair booth in front of my father’s store. I’ve known him since I was in my early teens. He lost his wife during the storm. I know them both; I see them almost every weekend when I pass by. All I could do was give him a hug.
It is not normal for ships to be on the street pretending to be cars. This ship will be chopped up and be sold as scrap soon.
Babies and mothers are cramped in a small barangay hall. They’ve escaped the storm surge, but not the squalid living conditions of the aftermath.
Container vans as temporary living quarters until these are taken back to the docks tomorrow. There’ll be no more roof to keep them dry until they are relocated by the government. This place is now a no-build zone. The social welfare department will also be slowly halting the supply of relief goods, and these people are still out of a job. With all the money pouring in but not going to the intended beneficiaries, maybe next time the private sector should receive the financial aid instead and have an “adopt a family” program.
Of course, kids will always be kids no matter the circumstances.
There’s plenty of wood around to make these scooters. Children do need time to play.
The village barber is in business. All seems normal, except for the view.
At the very least, people can still afford to smile despite all they’ve gone through – high waters and all.
I wasn’t prepared for this, and neither was my government. After 3 very challenging weeks, I have already come to terms with the situation, that recovery will be a long process but we’ll eventually get there. The Philippine government, however, is still in denial. We survived, but eventually it will be politics that will kill us all.
I went out to take photos on the following morning, but after seeing so much pain and struggle, I couldn’t play the role of a casual observer. I, too, was part of this and I realized that I had a bigger role to play: to survive the aftermath, both physically and emotionally.
The water supply was shut down except for this pipe at the Tacloban Shopping Center. There was already a long line of people waiting in line. They brought every bottle and bucket they had to fill with water. I made a mental calculation of whatever water I had left in my water tank, which was zero, zip, zilch. The water pipe broke during the storm and all the water flowed like rain into the gutter.
In the days to follow, money had no value. It reminded me something I’ve come across: until the last tree has been cut and the last fish caught will people realize that money can’t be eaten. The situation was a little different but the result would have been the same because all the groceries were looted empty and so were the drug stores. Some people may have money, but nobody was selling.
We had no news. Telephone lines were down as well as all the cell towers. It was only on November 10 that I was able to send an email to my wife, who was in Manila that time, telling her that our children and I were safe. The whole time we were out of coverage was very excruciating, and I can imagine how it was for my wife not to hear any news about us.
“we’re safe, the rest of the family is safe. Food and water for a few more days, hopefully relief comes soon. No water electricity”
The emotions rushing through me as soon as I got the word out were just too overwhelming.
Meanwhile, this is the scene across from where I live, taken on the morning of November 9.
Fast forward to November 28. Pictures below were taken at the Tacloban Convention Center, now an evacuation center.
A kid’s broken tricycle gets a second chance as a cart for carrying heavy loads.
A guitar with no strings attached.
This is something I see every day, the only difference is that these children are living in an evacuation center.
Things will be better. If he can be confident about it, so should everybody.
I’ve been spending a lot of time relaying information through Facebook, and have also lamented the fact that our government has been dragging its feet in terms of distributing relief goods and getting people to safety. The breakdown of peace and order triggered a mass exodus, myself included. At the airport, people were treated badly by military personnel in charge of the military planes. I have been on one of those long queues, exposed to the elements, only to be told to disperse and line up by the gate, and then to be told again that we should get priority numbers which nobody was issuing. There were those whom I talked to who stood in line for 3 days, sleeping at the airport, without food nor water, and still weren’t able to get a ride out.
I’ve returned to Tacloban after a week of rest in Manila, only to find out that we have only been given 2 relief bags for the past 3 weeks. That is food for around 4 days total. If we were to rely on these for survival, there wouldn’t be any survivors left. The Philippine government sent politicians instead of experts. They sent bumbling bureaucrats where even volunteers could have done a better job at organizing rescue and distribution of relief goods. The policies concerning disaster aid was shameful at best.
Haiyan was something we could deal with, but the way our government treated and is treating us is more catastrophic than the typhoon itself.
My family and I are safe and we’ve temporarily relocated to a safe place for now. Thank you for all the thoughts and prayers. The situation in Tacloban is very critical. Food, water and shelter are still inadequate, but relief is ongoing. The peace and order has deteriorated with rampant looting and lawlessness prevailing in the area. A possible epidemic outbreak may follow with the lack of action being taken regarding the dead bodies littered all over the city. It will take a long time to restore things back to normal.
If you wish to send donations and help, please ask your local Rotary Clubs if they have intentions of coordinating with Rotary Clubs in Tacloban. I am a past president of the Rotary Club of Tacloban, and in the meantime will be the focal person in terms of communicating and coordinating with other Rotary clubs who wish to help. I can be reached through email, email@example.com.
Monday was the barangay election, and as usual, was marred by massive vote buying. When will people realize that one can serve the community without needing any government or elected position? And do they know that the money they spent to buy votes could have already sponsored at least one child to school? Of course, these are just my naive thoughts. I am sure the candidates have far better ideas and priorities in mind.
I saw this boy by the side of the highway, doing his best to separate the chaff from the grains. It is a repetitive process until what’s left from the winnowing are the good stuff. Now, if only we can also do this to our elected officials….
Meet Bimbo, a resident of Pleasantville Subdivision, Tacloban City. I saw him all by himself gathering clams for lunch.
I hope you didn’t have other thoughts in mind.
This was the only catch for a slow Sunday like today.
This is the scene from Monday til Sunday.
The truck driver, the helper, the middle man, the delivery person with his wooden cart and the bystanders.
The business of selling ice to the fishmongers in the market is pretty straight forward. The truck arrives with blocks of ice which pass through at least a set of hands before reaching the final buyer.
The retailers mostly purchase a whole block of ice and break them up into smaller chunks. They have their own regular clients. Profit is slightly higher than selling one single block of ice to a single customer, but it is more labor intensive and entails a lot of trips back to the truck.
The tool of the trade. A pair of ice tongs, and somewhere in the truck, an ice pick.
The personal life story of the truck helper, however, is something many of the nation’s blue collar workers share. At the age of 32 and having 4 young children, the difficult times are just about to start when his children reach school age. Making ends meet with his income while sending his children to school will prove to be a very difficult challenge in the years to come.
Photography for me is mostly an emotionally driven exercise.
While some people will drown their feelings in a few bottles of beer, photography as an alternative is a more productive outlet that is as satisfying as writing down deep seated thoughts in a journal.
After doing that, it is easier to move on and look at the situation on a bigger scope, and hopefully on the brighter side. Most often than not, it was really nothing but too much focus on ourselves.
And that is very normal and unsurprising because each one of us is the star in our individual lives, where everything else revolves around.
So the next time you think a storm is about to come, hit the road and follow the sun.
Thanks for dropping by and wishing you all a great week ahead!
Once a year an activity like Scott Kelby’s WorldWide PhotoWalk creates an opportunity to gather photographers and encourage them to go out and shoot. This year is no different from the past 2 years that I’ve led this same event. There were first timers and veterans as well, and the order of the day was to give them a very memorable experience.
One of the advantages of a group photo walk is security. Another is the boost in confidence it gives each individual in overcoming their shyness in approaching strangers and asking to take their photos. Of course, it cannot be avoided that there is a chance of everybody going after the same subject, similar to the group of boys running after the same ball, but the real intention of this activity is to have fun.
The task of looking after the group limits the number of photo opportunities, so having a safe open space in the route is essential. It allows for a chance to run across a scene that would fit into the frame.
Saturday ended well with a short group discussion. Everybody seemed happy, and hopefully another photo walk will be organized in the near future.
Ever since I started this blog, I mostly did solo photo walks except maybe once or twice when I had a companion join me. It’s not that I avoid company, but it is more about how differently I may view the scene. I can spend an hour or more sitting and chatting with locals which could tire a shooting buddy, or I might move on to another location at any time if I can’t find a connection, and which a shooting buddy might find photogenic. Having coffee together at the end of the shoot, however, will always be very welcome.
The important thing I keep in mind always is to make friends wherever I go, and show goodwill to everyone I meet.
This is the second stop on this Sunday’s solo walk – a small community by the bayou at Palo, Leyte.
This place, I’m sure, would have been great in the morning light.
And I can imagine how it would look on a full moon with lights coming from the open windows.
Come to the Philippines in September and you’d think that Christmas is just around the corner. For most Filipinos, the first day of September is the start of the BER season (SeptemBER, OctoBER, NovemBER, DecemBER); time for the radio stations start playing Christmas jingles and dusting off the Christmas lanterns to put out on display.
They come from Pampanga, and they’re the first to put up lights for the coming Yuletide season because that is what they do – manufacture and sell Christmas lantern and lights.
Until recently, lanterns have been limited to indoor types, some with light bulbs and others without. They were mostly made of bamboo. That was then. Nowadays, they are framed in metal, bear elaborate designs, and are fully lighted, to be displayed outdoors for all to see.
This will be another star to light up the night sky.
It’s never too early to be in a festive mood.
I was very tempted to post the bottom 4 photos sometime in the middle of this week, but I did not, and thankfully so. I came back to the shop this morning and saw everybody busy working on new lanterns.
The familiar rattle of plastic discs being shaken in a plastic container can be heard from the street corner. A number was called, followed by light banter, a few laughs, more small talk and then it was “Bingo!”.
It was a ladies’ club in the small rural town of Babatngon. Bingo was their pastime on a daily basis. One lady said it was better than staying home doing nothing, while another interjected that as long as they were there, there’d be no issues with innuendos. Small talk goes around very quickly in a small town.
Having a male senior citizen join their game made him the butt of their jokes, but he always knew how to respond, using adult language that would be classified as R-18.
There were children around who could hear the loaded verbal exchanges, but they’ll have a lot of growing up to do before they can understand a word being said.
Each player brought their own set of cards and each card in play was P1.00 in the pot. The winner of each game wins a percentage of the total pot.
Aside from bringing their own cards, they brought along their own markers. One of them brought colored glass.
Another had a purse of old coins.
This chap still has his jar of shiny black and white flat bottomed marbles.
And those others who didn’t have their own markers had to make do with the pebbles that were provided in-house.
And then another day will pass.