Tuesday, 3 December 2013
Well it's been a very hectic three weeks.
Started with a very bumpy flight to Tacloban then a rush home before Yolanda struck. Spent the night taping up windows, blitz style, then forming a barricade in the middle of the room for the family, friend, and relatives to hide behind. Followed by two hours of pulling relatives and their kids away from the windows, the message got through eventually as the complete windows with frames started spinning round the room. Next news arrived that my NPA guerilla buddy and his dwarf wife were missing, so like a twat out I went to find them. The locals thought I was mad, but they are a lovely couple, and we had a big strong house for them to hide in. Spent an hour dodging falling trees, and flying corrugated iron roofs. Found out later he was half a mile in the jungle gathering said roofs so that he could build the house of his dreams after the typhoon finished. Next I remembered that I had told a friend Jonathan from down in the town to come to ours asap with his family but he had not shown up. So off I toddled to Hernani proper, to be met by a flood of refugees heading the opposite direction. I got into town a bit and heard the scream "TUBIG, TUBIG" which means water in a negative way. Shure enough in came another wave about chest high, but I'm a good swimmer so nae bother. I then found Jonathan heading to the Iglesia ni Christo church who's gates had been locked when the main wave hit. I then thought I should head off into town to try and help any other survivors. Not many injured though, they were either dead or not. The water was about waist high now and full of debris. I got a stick and started prodding for bodies. Rain was pouring down, the water rising again and I was by now at the other side of town thinking I might get cut off so home I headed, ha ha ha 2 hours to do a 15 minute journey, too much debris in the water. I arrived home to find Edith feeding over 200 people in the house, and 300 over in the school. We were the only fuckers that had food left undamaged. Stood guard that night then on day 2 took a reluctant brother in law to look for dead or injured, (the Mayor, and police had disappeared so it was just us). We found most of the dead washed up in all the debris up at the high tide mark, days later those who had been washed out to sea made their presence known, the heat and salt water speeds up the decomposing so they were easy to find, just follow your nose. The high tide bodies were a mix of fresh bodies plus those washed out of their graves. Sadly 13 of the dead were Edith's family, and numerous friends. I took some photos which I will post, but stopped after seeing the face on a chap from Carmen who came to help when he realized the dead girl I was pulling out and shooting was his sister.The next week was spent feeding people, looking for dead, sending those living that I came across to my house on the hill,and reassuring people that relief would arrive soon. The people were very strong in spirit but knew that their own govt did not care for them, and found it hard to believe that foreigners would help. On day 8 I woke up to the sound of the first chopper, (now when you have no electricity and your food and water is running out this sort of noise is very exciting). Now don't let the news tell you different, the first people to appear several days before the rest were the US navy from USS George Washington. They were at first landing anywhere flat and handing out to whoever was standing there. On about day 10 the Mayor appeared and took charge of distributing relief goods. This involved Men with automatic rifles, light and heavy machine guns, grenade launchers, etc protecting the relief boxes until the Mayor had shifted "the good stuff" into his newly commandeered storage buildings. These buildings were then guarded. The Mayor then started handing out bags of water damaged rice and water stained tinned foods only to those who he knew had voted for him. 800 burgers cooked fresh on the US ship went rotten as the mayor spent days working out how to make a profit out of them. My next task was to photograph this and let the yanks know. Not as easy as said as the mayors men knew I was a friend of the opposition mayor. I went in pretending to be giving them free Aikido lessons, as they knew I often did this, then took photos of the stockpiles as they laughed at each other fucking up what I had taught them. Next day I caught a US Marine seaplane as it landed, and got hold of the CO as he stood taking in the view of destruction. Perfect marine officer, chewing tobacco and all. He was great, I had just mentioned what was going on when the mayor and his bodyguards turned up to introduce himself. The Marine CO then shouted "Bob get these people (mayor's group) back, I need to talk to this gentleman in private". He fully understood, and told me it was the same in most third world countries, he had just been in Haiti and had to get everything passed the gang bosses who ran the place. I'll continue the story soon, then post lots of photos.
The marine I spoke to then went to the mayor and ordered him to hand out all the US property that he had piled up. He then told me that he would avoid the mayor from now on. Over the next few days I saw all kinds of relief people come, give out a few bags, pose for photos or film then disappear, and not re-appear again. The best example is the Iglesia ni Christo church people. They have the strongest, biggest, safest building in the area. Their gates were unlocked for a couple of hours to show a great big poster they had made appealing for financial help. They then filmed themselves giving out a few bags of rice in front of said poster, locked the gates again and disappeared. That was about 10 days ago, and they have not been back since. I met another wanker this time from the US church of “holy holy jesus and his cock” or whatever. He told me when I had a go at him that god had done this so that he could meet me, and save me from my path of sin. He could have phoned instead of killing thousands of people. I later made friends with the head of the international Red Cross. After a few secret meetings with her, avoiding the mayor’s spies she set up her Hernani headquarters in my house, along with a Japanese relief group, and some people connected with a Jimmy Carter charity who were genuine. Believe me folks most of the other relief groups are only doing a tiny bit in order to get promotional photos. The US marines are damn good people too. Before I left to come to Manila the CO told me they were there for at least a year. I was also warned that the mayor knew I was telling all the relief groups to avoid him, and he may be out for revenge, so it’s best I left when I did. It also lets me get on the net. I will soon write to my closest individually, but I’ve just got off a 30 bus journey.
Oooh, and the Philippines govt. They send 3 sea rescue people who I spent a day with looking for bodies, and two Dept of Health lorries for one day only. No army to help clean up and rebuild. No plans as yet to replace the roads that washed away, (hence my 30 hour journey), no money yet to help the families rebuilt. Must put in a good word for the charity “Plan” they have been there since about day ten, and are giving out useful stuff like buckets, fanny pads, soap, etc. I saw some of you mention the “official” figures…. ha ha ha… the only survey I saw done was people asking us how many refugees were staying at our house. No check list of names or voters list…. From the families we had staying, the women and children stayed with us while the men went looking for debris to build a home out of.