For grief is the black hole that is left in our lives when we lose someone irreplaceable—a child, a parent, a lover. It is the negative image that, in its blackness, sometimes reveals love with a greater clarity than its positive counterpart.
This is Tacloban. On the day after Yolanda, there were bodies found in backyards leaning on refrigerators, inside houses jammed behind closets, in bathrooms and bedrooms and on the edges of the airport road wrapped in Rainbow Brite bed sheets. There is no room for imagination or exaggeration here. All the narrative rules are broken, every comforting truth suspended. ~ Story by Patricia Evangelista #esquireph in cooperation with @rappler.com.
UPDATE 1130pm SUN 1Dec2013
I have a story. A good one! Last week, a young man who lost his family from the super typhoon #HaiyanPH went up to me at the Tacloban airport. (I found out that 38 members of his family died by the storm.) While both waiting for a C130 flight out of Tacloban, he asked me if I could take his puppy. He explained that he found the puppy crying perched on one of the high branches of a coconut tree near what was once his home. By some miracle, the little pup survived the night. He climbed up, took it, and found ways to nurse the puppy for one week. I explained to him that I was flying, too, and will have no chance of taking it with me. I asked for his number and memorized it (another miracle!) above the din of the C130’s taking off and landing some feet from us.
He tried to sneak the puppy into the C130 but ended up giving the little canine to a soldier “who looked kind.” All he asked the soldier was to keep the puppy’s name which was “Palos.” (a type of hat he once had that was the same brown color as the puppy he says)
For the next four days I kept sending him text messages asking if he got to fly and if his puppy is okay. I got a reply on the fifth day. I found out that a gentleman named Andy (from Dasmariñas Village he says & most probably part of Oplan: Hatid, I surmised) and his two sons drove a big group of them all the way up to Baguio because someone had relatives there. He had none left so he joined this exodus to the high lands. I called friends from Rock Ed Baguio if they could meet up with Jake and possibly offer him a job- and they immediately responded. Gave Jake his own cell phone, (he was just clutching a sim card when we met and was just asking to insert into one of his groupmate’s phones in rotation which is why it took him a few days to reply) - the Rock Ed Baguio kids also gave him the left over clothes they had collected that we (from Manila) were supposed to drop off in Villamor- he took it to the group home he was staying in w/ other people who fled Leyte so they have extra clothes, too.
The home base of Rock Ed in Baguio. (Canto, Ketchup Food Community) is owned by friends so they hired him as extra help for the month of December. We asked him if he preferred to take a daily wage since we knew he didn’t have much since he fled Tacloban, he declined and said the bus fare he saved (because someone drove them here) was what he’ll use first.
Last night, on a whim- I decided to bring the Rock Ed Relief team for a debriefing post-Tacloban and chose to visit my friend from Leyte in Baguio in the process. We caught him when the restaurant closed tonight so we could catch up a bit and we talked about how different the weather is in Baguio compared to Leyte.
This is just one story, of just one man. I am certain there are other stories out there, I hope we get lucky enough to hear them all. Hope can be contagious. Let’s keep the good stories in the light. Livelihood is the goal. And then I realized - with or without the supertyphoon this is something we should all see done.
His name is Jake Tumaob of Palo, Leyte- now a working resident of Baguio. Any other day I’d have other stories to tell, but today this is all I have.
Team Rock Ed Relief
A lighter moment in the Philippines: on Sunday I participated in the 15th Tour of the Fireflies, an annual bicycle tour to raise awareness about climate change and healthy commuting in Metro Manila. Including my route to the meetup point, I rode 50 kilometers on my secondhand Dahon, slowly and steadily making my way through neighborhoods I’d never seen before. Here I am at 5:45am, sleepy but pleased, with other cyclists.
Free Access to Medical Journals, EBooks, and Databases for the Philippines
From my Ateneo de Manila University email, which encouraged us to share this widely:
The US National Library of Medicine and several publishers provide FREE access to selected medical journals, ebooks and databases. We are encouraged to take advantage of these resources to support and improve medical response to those affected by Yolanda and to supplement our library’s services. Please share this information widely with those who may benefit from this access.
Listed below are the resources we can access for at least a month.
NLM Emergency Access Initiative
All resources are free through December 9, 2013.
The Cochrane Library
All resources are free to those in the Philippines until March 2014. Free access is based on using a computer address (IP address) that originates in the Philippines.
These resources are always free.
Wolters Kluwer Health (WKH) Emergency Resources Portal
This portal is IP-validated for the Philippines, and available to hospitals, institutional libraries and other healthcare entities supporting the disaster relief efforts. It includes Ovid MEDLINE, LWW (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins) Total Access journal collection and several eBook collections for Emergency Medicine, Trauma etc. Immediate access, available for 60 days. This website also includes expert searches of Ovid MEDLINE for post-typhoon clinical needs. Search topics include tetanus; dysentery; diarrhea in adult and child; bacterial, viral, respiratory or parasitic diseases; PTSD; vaccinations, etc.
American Academy of Pediatrics
The Academy is providing access to these publications for people in the Philippines who have a Philippine-based IP address:
The Academy provides access to these additional titles through the Emergency Access Initiative: Pediatrics; Red Book Online.
This publisher is providing free access to its primary online clinical information and reference tool, ClinicalKey, to all IPs originating from the Philippines for 60 days.
The Rock Ed Bacolod team on the ground had a light moment to take this photo. Little girls from Igbon, Concepcion, Iloilo, Philippines smile after getting some relief packs that day. THIS IS A THANK YOU CARD for ALL who have sent generosity our way.
Sige lang, marami pa.
Rock Ed Philippines
Photo by Jay Jalandoni
14 Nov 2013
I contributed a short essay, “Through the Flood,” to Vela Magazine’s response to Typhoon Haiyan.
The storm is very much a part of our reality. Double that average, the Filipino can still take it. I wouldn’t call it a sado-masochistic psyche, but more of a resigned acceptance because you can’t do anything about it; it’s nature’s way. And you go back to the pre-Islamic and pre-Catholic Filipino Malay perspective—life is governed by nature. So, yes, the storm gives the Filipino a resiliency that’s uniquely Filipino because it’s become a metaphor for restarting, rebuilding, reconstruction, relocation, rebirth, recalling, renaming, resurfacing, reissuing, recurrence, reluctance, relapse, return, retain, remain, regain, resurrect, remiss, relief, rogue, rotten, rampant, relax, renegade, rob, run, rush, rip, ripe, rum, rug, rat, rut, retrogression, retro, rope, and rock ‘n’ roll. Amid a very corporeal history, there’s the storm, the Filipino’s god of all gods, which has somehow become the great paradoxical equalizer, giving the Filipino a complex logic/illogic cultural discourse, a philosophy founded on the patterns of nature; the meaning of existence is appropriated by nature’s ways. It’s so normal to drown in a flood, be buried by a landslide, to be sliced by debris from a billboard, and be twisted by 21 years of Marcos’ brutality. Hey, there’s a storm.
Twenty years ago, when under the rule of a sole dictator, we knew well whose wrists deserved to feel the sharp ends of our knives. Today, in a society so quick to judge and pass blame, the only flesh that remains to be examined is our own.
1. A cargo ship lies amidst the wreckage of Anibong town, Tacloban. Romeo Ranoco/Reuters
2. An aerial view of a coastal town, devastated by super Typhoon Haiyan, in Samar province in central Philippines.(Reuters)
3. A woman cuddled her baby aboard a military helicopter in the typhoon-devastated town of Guiuan, Philippines, Monday. (Bullit Marquez/Associated Press)
4. Residents queue up to receive treatment and relief supplies at Tacloban airport Monday Nov. 11, 2013, following Friday’s typhoon Haiyan that lashed this city and several provinces in central Philippines. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
5. Residents walk past the debris as others rebuild their houses Monday Nov. 11, 2013 following Friday’s devastating typhoon that lashed Hernani township, Eastern Samar province, central Philippines. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez
6. Soldiers prepare to load food supplies to a Philippine Air Force helicopter at Tacloban airport Monday Nov. 11, 2013, following Friday’s typhoon Haiyan that lashed this city and several provinces in central Philippines. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
7. Survivors walk under a fallen electrical post on Sunday in battered Tacloban. Romeo Ranoco/Reuters
8. People seek refuge in a Catholic church that has been converted into an evacuation center. Romeo Ranoco/Reuters
9. Volunteers repacking relief goods at the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Manila for victims of the Super Typhoon Haiyan that smashed into coastal communities on the central Philippine. (JAY DIRECTO/AFP/Getty Images)
10. Residents assess the destruction. Erik de Castro/Reuters
Donations/Aid Relief to help the people affected by Typhoon Haiyan
Embassy of the Philippines (Washington, D.C)
Closing windows and reassuring loved ones in other countries.
I wrote a personal essay on recent events in the Philippines for the Op-Ed pages of the New York Times.