Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mother of All Floods

The first appeal letter to reach my desk from the Philippines was from CONCERN, which describes itself as a service-oriented disaster response institution and as the Secretariat of Oplan Sagip Bayan (OSB), a loose network advocating for preparedness against the impact of disaster…. The OSB convenors are: Fr. Albert Suatengco, Bishop Deogracias Iniguez and Atty. Jose Suarez.

Part of their letter follows:

The tropical storm Ondoy which entered the country on September 26, 2009 severely affected NCR, Central Luzon, CALABARZON and Region IV leaving 183 dead, 29 missing, 86,313 families affected and 23,126 families in evacuation centers. The scope and severity of the disaster were so massive that up to this writing, the rescue operations and interventions are on going in these areas.

In Metro Manila, Ondoy dumped 13.4 inches of rain in just six hours compared to 15.4 inches of average rainfall for the entire month of September, which caused the worst massive flooding in more than 300 barangays. The floodwater rose to 10-15 feet which practically made major thoroughfares non-passable and affected more than 86,313 families or 435,646 individuals.

In Central Luzon, the heavy rains were aggravated by the breaching of two dams to its maximum spilling capacity submerging 13 towns in Bulacan and affecting 24,301 families. In Pampanga, 19,687 families were affected in 11 towns. Pampanga River and Gugu-Dolores creek overflowed breaching bridges, while 30 meters river dike eroded in Apalit. The heavy rains had also caused landslide in San Juan Bano, Arayat burying 100 houses with reported 12 deaths.

Zambales, which still has to recover from the wrath of two successive typhoons Maring and Kiko, was further devastated by Ondoy. There are more than 4,100 families affected in 3 towns while 200 families had to be re-evacuated from an evacuation center in Botolan which was destroyed by the flood. The national road was submerged to 4-6 feet making it non-passable to all vehicles.

Meanwhile, in Northern Quezon, 180 families from 4 barangays in Infanta and 231 families from 5 barangays in Nakar were affected by the flood water. The bridge connecting the South and North Barangay Minahan of Nakar town were washed out.

In Pampanga alone, the damage to agriculture and infrastructure are estimated to cost 213.7 million pesos. The cost of damages in agriculture and infrastructure in Central Luzon and the other three regions are expected to increase.

Since then I have received appeals from about a dozen organizations and passed them on to various organizations and people in the US and elsewhere in the world.

GabNet has issued a call to all members, alumni and allies to respond with donations of goods, especially for children, and cash to help alleviate the misery of this typhoon, which was not even a strong storm. The disaster was caused mainly by the continuing lack of water-consciousness in an archipelago that floats on the sea: no drainage, canals paved over, trees cut down, an incredible population density in cities and towns, a government more concerned with power politics; and politics more concerned with power than the language of survival. As they say, hay buhay nga naman, parang life.

Another storm is brewing over the Pacific. If you want to help, please contact secgen@gabnet.org. -- #

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Celia Pomeroy, RIP August 22

Am not exactly sure what to say about Celia Mariano Pomeroy -- one of the few women’s names prominent in the Philippine struggle, first, against Japanese occupation and later, against US imperialism. She had been with the Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon (People’s Army Against the Japanese)during WWII and after, with the Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan (People’s Liberation Army) -- the Huks, as I've heard Americans call them. She was a member of the politburo of the PKP, the old Communist Party established by Crisanto Evangelista. Not too many remember her but as a child, I had seen a rather poignant photo of her and husband, William Pomeroy, in some newspaper. They were both in shackles and exchanging an awkward kiss. This must have been at the time of their capture. They would spend the next ten years in separate jails.

Peace, sister; some remember you did your share.