AS DONATIONS continue to pour in from both local and foreign individuals and institutions for post-Yolanda recovery and rehabilitation efforts, the Philippine government has also loosened its purse strings and released funds to aid the typhoon-struck communities.
RIGHT AFTER calamities have ravaged homes and communities, the government mounts relief and rescue work with speed and vigor – and still has energy left to provide photo-op events for the media. But when it comes to the more difficult tasks of rehabilitation and recovery, or even preparing communities for when the next disaster comes – the downtime between calamities – the government takes on the character of a drunken turtle, rolling out projects and releasing funds in slow and scattered fashion.
AMONG THE scores of projects launched in the wake of super typhoon Yolanda, one assisted the victims in a direct, meaningful way: the reconstitution of the civil registry records of a targeted 100,000 persons.
The project involved the civil registration and reconstitution of identity documents for the survivors of Yolanda. The free legal documentation services sought to give the survivors the necessary papers to access public services, for both the young and the old.
EXACTLY THREE months after Yolanda struck central Philippines, the government launched a worldwide campaign to thank everyone who had rushed to the country’s aid in the supertyphoon’s aftermath. Aside from print and TV ads, the government also paid for billboards in nine famous cities across the globe – New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Toronto, Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore, and Sydney — expressing the Filipinos’ gratitude for the hand extended to them by people all over the world. Indeed, while Filipinos themselves rushed to help their countrymen in need, the global response to the tragedy was overwhelming.
A FEW weeks after Super Typhoon Yolanda rampaged through Eastern Visayas in early November 2013, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) found itself caught in a swirl of controversies regarding the repacking and delivery of relief goods.
DISASTERS USUALLY bring people together, but a few weeks after Yolanda, a video that seemed to highlight a political divide amid tragedy went viral.
In particular, it showed Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel ‘Mar’ Roxas III berating a sad-sack Tacloban City Mayor Alfred S. Romualdez, telling him in so many words that certain twists in political history would make helping his city a bit complicated.
WHEN IT became evident that Typhoon Ruby was going to slam through central Philippines in December last year, many began wondering what would happen to the thousands who were still homeless more than a year after Super Typhoon Yolanda rampaged through communities in the Visayas and robbed many families of their loved ones as well as their homes.
Indeed, although monies continue to pour in even now for the communities devastated by Yolanda, thousands who survived its fury are still living in temporary shelters; damaged government offices and school buildings remain unrepaired; and many of those who lost their means of livelihood are still struggling to find steady work.
FOR SOMEONE just hearing the stories, they sound like episode after episode of the “Walking Dead” TV series. But what Jermaine Bayas and other aid workers witnessed in Tacloban in the Yolanda aftermath was stark reality.
“People were walking aimlessly, their faces blank,” Bayas says of what he saw right after the super typhoon finally calmed down and for days after that. “They would pass you by. Then after a few hours or so, you would see them again, still walking. They did not seem to know what they were doing nor where they wanted to go. Were they looking for someone? Where they supposed to go somewhere?”
TACLOBAN CITY – THEY MAY or may not have suffered considerable loss when Typhoon Yolanda plowed through Tacloban City and other areas in central Philippines, but friends Trisha Torres and Vanessa Salazar look too busy to think about any tragedies. The pair happens to be freshman entrepreneurs and most of the women’s time these days is devoted to tending to their thriving burger joint.
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