The husband and I were in the direct path when Typhoon Haiyan (known locally in the Philippines as Yolanda) hit, which was why we’d only made it back home late Monday night. However, there are a lot of other people in dire need of food, water and medicine, and are desperately trying to find other loved ones who are still missing. To date, there are about 1700 people confirmed dead by the floods, and the number is expected to rise as high as 10,000.
If you would like to donate, please go to this link for a list of most of the current NGOs already on the ground and working on relief goods. There are local chapters of these organizations in many countries, so please do call them up and ask how you can donate.
Please note: do NOT donate rice, instant noodles or other foodstuffs that require cooking for now, as many cities have no electricity or running water. Countries like Russia have flown in generators, but I do not know how far electricity would extend, or when it will start working.
DO donate medicine, water, biscuits, tinned goods, anti-bacterial soap, sanitary napkins, etc. ESPECIALLY donate money when you can instead of goods – buying in bulk would make it cheaper.
Dick Gordon, chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, has announced that a ship will be in Cebu ready to evacuate anyone who wants to leave. Follow his updates for more details. And as of now, thanks to the US military who’ve flown in, Tacloban airport is open and active for at least the next 24 hours today, November 13, 2013. Please spread the word!
If you are looking for loved ones in the Philippines, or have information on missing persons, Google has launched a Typhoon Haiyan / Yolanda Google Finder.
Otherwise, go here for updated lists of survivors in Tacloban. If you know of other databases from other cities, please let me know!
For animal disaster relief drives, you can donate here. (Please don’t donate to the Philippine chapter of PETA. CARA Welfare is a good local animal care organization, and I guarantee they won’t euthanize the animals.)
Also: do NOT donate to any Philippine local government units, and ask your local NGOs not to. Many Philippine officials have had a track record of keeping relief goods for their own use, or delaying delivery to add their own names on the boxes to make it appear like these were their private donations, in order to look good for the next elections. Many NGOs, including Red Cross, have been given orders not to hand over relief goods to officials for fear they would be used for politicking, as was what happened between the Philippine Red Cross and Mayor Evasco during relief operations in Bohol after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck last month.
The main problem with the Philippines is that there is a lack of hindsight and care when it comes to preparing for disasters. The irony was that in this case, the cities on the path of the typhoon were prepared, but there was no way the Philippines would have been able to weather through a Category 5 typhoon, which I’ve never seen here before (and I’ve lived here all my life), without suffering casualties. Many people were sent to evacuation centers before the typhoon hit, for instance. Unfortunately, the evacuation centers were also ravaged by the storm because winds were at 315 kph and worse than hurricane Katrina.
And what does the President do? He blames the cities for being unprepared. The same guy who admits to not embarking on studies that would “identify areas in islands throughout the archipelago that were most vulnerable to storm surges”, and then walked out of a disaster fund meeting (“A friend of the businessman also supposedly asked Aquino [the president] what the government is doing since there are already reports of killing there. The person supposedly said he was held at gunpoint by some looters. “But you did not die, right?” Aquino answered back.”)
Or when his cronies from the Department of Health prevents mass burials of the dead because “a cadaver does not carry any health risk. The dead are not infectious. When you die, the bacteria also dies with you.”
We have a little over P7 million in our disaster relief fund, which is barely $200,000 for the whole country. The last hard-hitting typhoon alone cost over P20B in damages. Every new typhoon brings no improvement, no new method to help combat the next disaster. The people just sit there and wait for foreign aid to come each and every time. And it is infuriating to me.
Why? Too many corrupt officials had siphoned money out of that fund, as they have done with many others, to maintain their extravagant lifestyles. Even now, an investigation is still ongoing for one Janet Lim-Napoles, a businesswoman who conspired with senators and congressmen to scam funds from the government budget into their own pockets.
(And yes, meager readers, this is the PERFECT time to criticize AND help out. I am sick and fucking tired of the same goddamn story every time a typhoon comes our way five or six times a year: ‘no funds in the budget because government officials wanted a Porsche’, or ‘I’m the president but it’s not my fault I’ll just pass the blame onto the cities for not being prepared because passing blame is the ONLY thing I’ve passed in my fucking term so far.’
Constantly not speaking out about this in the past is the reason we’re all in this shithole. When you know something’s not right, the worst thing you can do is to shut up.
If you’d rather not say anything because the current status quo is more important to you than accepting the need for things to change, then YOU’RE part of the problem.)
Why am I taking the time to do this? Because as much as I appreciate all the help the countries have been giving so far, it isn’t good for us to have to keep relying on foreign aid, because that gives local officials this sense of entitlement that they are free to loot from the government budget because foreigners are going to help anyway. And I want to get it out there just how corrupt AND inept these people are, so that after all the helping and healing is done, other countries are aware of these sons of bitches and the problems the common people have to face everyday. And maybe, just MAYBE, help us do something about that, too.
Because it is frustrating to have to admit that the best way to help the victims of typhoons like these in the Philippines is by NOT giving goods to the local government units. Because it is infuriating to watch Americans and NGOs hand out the goods to the victims and know the reason is that the local officials cannot be trusted with them.
The quicker the world sees our incompetence, the greater the chances that we actually do something. Because if there is one thing most Filipinos can’t stand, it’s damage to Pinoy pride.
I’ve tried to collect every bit of updated information I have regarding these relief drives and other points for donation, but feel free to comment if you have any more!