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Typhoon Relief Response in Philippines

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Sunday November 17th an assessment team returned from from Bantayan Island. They went for initial survey and food distribution.

They found destruction far beyond that of northern Cebu Province, which was really quite bad enough. From place to place the number of houses completely destroyed ranged from 75% to 90%. In some places house destruction was 100%

Bantayan Island has a population of about 150,000 people. 40,000 are in Madridejos where they went. On this first trip they brought with them food sufficient for only 2000 people. So in one of the places they stopped, the onslaught of people coming for food was so huge that they had to back out, knowing that when they could not feed them all, there could be a backlash. Instead they only gave food to a smaller but just as needy community. Other trips with greater amounts of food will surely follow.

In Tacloban, though the situation is so highly publicized, nevertheless the bureaucracy and other factors stymies the government networks, such that we continue to be one of the only sources of food there. Our team of volunteers continues their now systematized though limited relief work. Presently the team members number 15. Every day they are feeding only about 2500 people. As the need is obviously much more than that, so yesterday and today in Cebu we purchased 20 more stoves together with foodstuffs amounting to US$10,000 which will be shipped tonight, so that in Tacloban they can hopefully feed around 5000 people daily. We are also sending 400 liters of diesel so that our trucks there can be used to bring food to the most needy outlying areas, which until now have received nothing.

You may probably have heard news reports about the dangerous and violent people in Tacloban due to their desperation. Yes, they are desperate, but at least our experience is that they are not at all violent. Rather when we conduct feeding programs, 100% of the people are cooperative, as they fall into the four lines of children, teenagers, adults and senior citizens. And then just before each feeding program starts, we arrange for brief prayer to be led by the local barangay (town) leader. Immediately after that everyone literally cheers as the AMURT food distribution begins. Imagine them as they cheer joyfully in unison, as if they have no care in the world. Such a noble people. It humbles all of our teams to serve them.

In Tacloban we continue to be the one and only source of cooked food and cooked rice. We give nothing but cooked food and drinking water. This is our policy because no matter how great a quantity we give the people, we know it will definitely make its way to hungry people’s stomachs, rather than enter into the growing black market of misappropriated relief goods to be sold at high prices.

Meanwhile, we have received a guarantee from the German children’s relief organization KNH (Kinder Not Hilfe), who presently have four representatives moving with us to survey and decide precisely where our joint long-term children’s projects will be established. One of those projects will surely be Child Friendly Spaces, i.e. informal kindergartens which enable not only the children to resume education in a beautiful way, but also free their parents for some time daily so they may get their lives back together.

With KNH we seek highly neglected areas which have been worst affected by the typhoon, and where people are motivated to uplift themselves. After traveling in northern Cebu Province where we together did relief work, they then went to Bantayan Island with AMURT coordinators and saw the extreme destruction as already described above. Now they are flying to Guiuan on Samar Island, which was the very first coast line hit by the typhoon, even before Tacloban. Initial reports indicate that eastern Samar’s condition is at least as wretched as Tacloban. Indeed, because it has received much less attention so it may be worse.


AMURT in the Philippines
BDO Anonas Kamias Branch
US Dollar Savings Account
Routing No: BNORPHMM

AMURT in the Philippines
22 B. Evangelista St.
Xavierville 1 Subd.
Loyola Heights, Quezon City
Tel. +63 782.4224 | 861.5481



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