The Aftermath of the Storm

The fury of Unding, the eye of a storm, as captured by satellite. Photo courtesy of NASA.

After a devastating typhoon, villagers would immediately act to salvage whatever household items could be useful and still serviceable. Us in Bicol having undergone the same experience more than many times in the past several years as our fellow Filipinos in northern Luzon, can not help but feel the sorrow and pain of typhoon victims.

Nature’s wrath is a bitter pill to swallow, painful still when who suffers most are those that are already living in marginalized communities of the country.

The highest elected government official usually visits the devastated land once travel was ascertained safe and comfortable.

Flashback: We recall in November 26, 2004 a typhoon news story about Bonot-Sta. Rosa, Calabanga:

November 26, 2004.: A FEW HOURS after returning from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Chile, President Gloria Arroyo yesterday flew to areas devastated by two successive typhoons.

At least 87 people were killed when Typhoons “Unding” and “Violeta” struck four days apart from Thursday, triggering flooding and landslides in Bicol, Southern Tagalog and Central Luzon. Tens of thousands of people lost their homes.

The president boarded a helicopter for Camarines Sur and Oriental Mindoro, which Unding (international name “Muifa”) hit hardest last week, to survey the damage.

In the coastal town of Calabanga in Camarines Sur, she distributed assorted relief items to typhoon victims and the local government units. Calabanga, which is north of the capital Naga city (sic., should be Pili, news desk and reporter not checking accurately facts), was the hardest hit in the province and most accessible to the President, (good for photo-op and convenient, too.) according to Office of Civil Defense regional director Arnel Capili.

“I am here to bring in immediate (that after almost one week after the typhoon, is not immediate) response from the government when [a] calamity like this happens,” the president said upon her arrival in the village of Bonot-Sta. Rosa.

She went around the village and stopped by a house in ruins to extend comforting words to its occupants. Later, she sat with the family on a wooden stool for picture-taking.

Joel Libiar, owner of the house, said he was very thankful for the unexpected visitor.

“I just held back my tears. But I am very lucky that all of us survived the typhoon and the President’s visit in my wrecked house was something that had not crossed my mind even in my dreams. She is very kind,” Libiar said.

Ms Arroyo gave P5,000 each in assistance from the National Disaster Coordinating Council to families rendered homeless by the typhoon.

Calabanga Mayor Evelyn Yu said the President’s decision to stop by Libiar’s house was not planned. She said the President might have decided to do so at the spur of the moment when she saw the family members sitting on a bench in front of their house.

Claudia Almendral, 76, said she was happy that the President visited their village. She nearly cried when the President hugged her after giving her relief goods.

Aside from the food packs and P5,000 assistance, Ms Arroyo distributed fishing gear and vegetable and rice seeds.

She gave P2 million in assistance to the municipal government and P5 million to Camarines Sur. The province suffered some P800 million in losses in agriculture and infrastructure facilities, according to Villafuerte.

Seems like the scene above is always re-enacted, almost always, if you care to check out the current news.

PAGASA “retired” the name Unding from its list never to be used again.

Bonot-Sta. Rosa is one of the eleven coastal villages of the town participating in the fishiries resource management income diversification capacity building program of the Bureau of Fishiries and Aquatic Resources during that time.


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