Villages Washed Away: The Typhoon That Devastated the Philippines

by: Ange Concepcion

I was home for the holidays in Chicago, welcoming the opportunity of hanging out with my mom and sister. Aside from remembering how to speak Tagalog — the main language of the Philippines — because I’ve been rusty ever since moving out to the east coast and my mom would make fun of me. I was also a couch potato, watching as much Filipino television as possible.

One evening, my mom was watching a CNN-like show about the devastation in the Philippines from Typhoon Sendong — with images of what used to be modest villages that were destitute and literally washed away in the rain and mudslides. One of the hardest hit regions is Cagayan de Oro (CDO). To put the damage in perspective, below are some rough estimates from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council:

  1. 113,336 families (719,485 persons) affected
  2. Of these, 11,441 families (54,795 persons) still housed in evacuation centers as of January 4th
  3. 42,325 houses damaged, plus damage to infrastructure, agriculture and school buildings estimated to reach P1,143,671,975 (this equates to over 22 million US dollars)
  4. Aid provided by the EU (countries including Spain, Germany, and others) amount to P180 million, or $409,000.

One of the segments featured an interview with the Mayor Vicente Emano of CDO, pleading with the public to set aside politics and continue with relief efforts as he and other officials are taking heat for the deaths of over 1,000 from the storm. Emano stated that illegal logging might be partially to blame for the magnitude of the storm’s devastation, as logs were found to have taken out many homes and caused injury or death of those trying to ecape.

Perhaps somewhat non-coincidental was the Facebook comment feed featured to the right of the screen, asking the question: “Who should be to blame for Typhoon Sendong?” Comments came from different sides of the spectrum, those blaming the officials for not preparing as much as they could have and others stating that no one can truly be blamed for natural disasters, no matter how much preparation is exercised.

In addition to providing temporary housing in evacuation tent centers, CDO officials have also requested assistance from social workers to identify and reach out to those experiencing depression and suicidal tendencies after losing their homes and many loved ones, some losing 2 or 3 generations. The Philippine government is looking to rebuild homes by March, providing permanent housing for 50-70% of displaced people.

Whatever you believe in, positive thoughts and prayers to the families and victims of this typhoon are much appreciated.

Where to Donate:

Philippine Red Cross: [1]

ABS-CBN [2] Foundation

Ange Concepcion is a Chicago native and is currently a college student affairs specialist. Ange studied Physics at Loyola University Chicago and went on to receive her master’s from Northwestern University. Her thesis summary regarding LGB Christian college student identity expression and reconciliation was featured in the 2011 National Association of Student Personnel Administrators GLBT Knowledge Community Research Briefs.

[1] Interesting tidbit from their website: 7-11 in the Philippines donated P1 million to the Philippine Red Cross.

[2] It’s a television network.

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