News / Asia

    Aquino Vows to Stay in Typhoon-hit Central Philippines

    Aquino Vows to Stay in Typhoon-hit Central Philippinesi
    X
    November 18, 2013 10:19 AM
    Philippine President Benigno Aquino has vowed to "stay" in the typhoon-battered center of the country until he is "satisfied" with efforts to help survivors of a devastating November 8 storm.
    Simone Orendain
    Philippine President Benigno Aquino has vowed to "stay" in the typhoon-battered center of the country until he is "satisfied" with efforts to help survivors of a devastating November 8 storm.

    Aquino made the pledge Sunday as he visited the hard-hit central islands of Samar and Leyte, where thousands of people flocked to ruined churches for weekly prayers.  Some gave thanks for surviving Super Typhoon Haiyan, while others prayed for the souls of the thousands of people who were killed.

    Sunday services typically are a time of reflection in the Philippines, whose population is 80 percent Roman Catholic.  Filipinos have maintained that faith despite repeatedly enduring disasters of biblical proportions.

    In its latest casualty report issued Sunday, the Philippine government said the typhoon killed at least 3,974 people and left about 1,200 others missing.  Many of them were swept away and drowned in a huge storm surge triggered by one of the strongest cyclones on record.

    Photos by Steve Herman

    • Trees destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan are seen from a military helicopter delivering aid to isolated villages north of Tacloban, Philippines.
    • Competitors row their wooden boat during a boat racing as part of celebrations of the Water Festival in Thnol Dach, Takoe province, southwestern Cambodia.
    • The Dutch version of Santa Claus, Sinterklaas, or Saint Nicholas, and his blackface sidekicks "Zwarte Piet" or "Black Pete" arrive by steamboat in Hoorn, north-western Netherlands, Nov. 16, 2013. The tradition is being debated, opponents say Black Petes are an offensive caricature of black people while supporters say Pete is a figure of fun whose appearance is harmless, his face soot-stained from going down chimneys to deliver present for the children.
    • Mt. Etna, Europe's most active volcano, spews lava during an eruption as seen from Acireale, near the Sicilian town of Catania, Italy, Nov. 16, 2013.
    • A Sri Lankan man cycles his bicycle laden with firewood to be sold in the northern town of Kilinochchi.
    • Indian Sikh devotees queue up to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple, on the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the first Sikh Guru in Amritsa.
    • Joost Luiten of the Netherlands plays a shot during the final round of the DP World Tour Golf Championship in the Gulf emirate of Dubai.
    • A demonstrator kisses a riot police officer during a protest in Susa against the high-speed train (TAV in Italian) line between Lyon and Turin, Nov. 16, 2013.
    • Adelina Sotnikova of Russia performs during the gala exhibition ending the ISU Figure Skating Eric Bompard Trophy at Bercy arena in Paris, France.
    • Indian performers ride cars and motor bikes inside a makeshift wooden cylindrical 'Wall of Death' during the annual Farmers' Fair at Shama Chak Jhiri, some 22 kilometers from Jammu.
    • Japan's Arisa Sato (L) receives the ball to save a point against Brazil on the final day of the FIVB Women's Volleyball Grand Champions Cup 2013 in Tokyo, Japan.

    Beliefs challenged

    Washington-based Cardinal Theodore McCarrick visited the town of Palo on Leyte island and led a mass for the faithful at a heavily damaged cathedral.   Speaking to VOA later in the day in the city of Ormoc, the 83-year-old acknowledged that words of scripture may not be enough for some traumatized people.

    "At the beginning everyone is hurting.  And they lost so many friends and family," he said.  "And they do not know why God is doing this to us.   Well, in a real sense, we say it is not that God is doing this to us, [but] he is allowing these things to happen probably for a greater cause."

    The Civil Defense Office also estimated that almost four million people have been left homeless.

    British-based child development agency Plan International  posted a dramatic video of the storm surge on YouTube.  Filmed by staff member Nickson Gensis, it shows tsunami-like waves engulfing homes in the coastal town of Hernani on Samar island.

    Gensis said he shot the video from the second floor of a building that withstood the impact.

    Presidential response

    It was not immediate clear where President Aquino would set up camp in the typhoon zone.  He has faced growing domestic criticism in recent days for a perceived sluggish response to the storm.

    On Sunday, Mr. Aquino made visits to the ruined city of Tacloban on Leyte and the town of Guiuan in Eastern Samar province, which was the first to be hit by the typhoon.

    Speaking to local officials in Guiuan, he expressed appreciation for volunteers assisting with the relief work.

    "The government can rise up," he said.  "There are so many countries helping, that the Philippines will be able to recover.  But if every [small town] were to volunteer to help immediately, the process would be easier and faster."

    Aquino has made similar trips out of Manila to respond to recent crises.

    Last month, Aquino slept overnight in an army tent on the central island of Bohol, where an earthquake killed more than 200 people and left thousands homeless.  He also spent several days in the southern city of Zamboanga in September to oversee a military offensive against Muslim rebels who seized parts of the area.

    Aid intensifies

    The scope of international aid deliveries in the typhoon-battered Philippines widened Monday as U.S. military helicopters dropped food, water and relief supplies to remote island and mountain communities.
     
    The aircraft carrier USS George Washington is serving as the hub of aid efforts, ferrying out supplies for distribution by aircraft and bringing in hundreds of victims for aid and medical treatment.

    • U.S. Marines help load relief supplies onto an MH-60R Seahawk to be airlifted to remote areas of the Philippines in support of Operation Damayan. (U.S. Navy)
    • Philippine citizens board an HC-130 Hercules to be airlifted to safety. (U.S. Navy)
    • Philippine citizens board an HC-130 Hercules as U.S. sailors transport relief supplies in support of Operation Damayan. (U.S. Navy)
    • U.S. military personnel and and Philippine civilians unload relief supplies. (U.S. Navy)
    • U.S. military personnel and Philippine citizens unload relief supplies. (U.S. Navy)
    • A U.S. Hospital Corpsman assists Philippine nurses in treating a patient's head wound at the Immaculate Conception School refugee camp.  (U.S. Navy)
    • An HC-130 Hercules and other military aircraft sit on the tarmac at Guiuan airport waiting to airlift Philippine citizens in support of Operation Damayan. (U.S. Navy)
    • A U.S. Naval Air Crewman assists Philippine citizens in distributing relief supplies in support of Operation Damayan. (U.S. Navy)
    • Philippine citizens gather around a MH-60S Seahawk as it delivers relief supplies. (U.S. Navy)

    On the ground, there are signs that devastated communities are beginning to recover, with some markets reopening and a few gasoline stations starting to pump fuel once again. People are repairing damaged homes or making temporary shelters out of the remains of their old ones.
     
    The U.S. government has announced a further $10 million in aid, bringing its commitment so far to $37 million.

    The Philippine government said it delivered about 115,000 food packages to survivors on Saturday, a significant jump from the 45,000 it passed out on Friday.

    Overseas Catholic charities also were on the ground in some of the worst-hit communities.  Martha Skretteberg of Caritas Norway told VOA her group was coordinating closely with local Catholic churches. 

    "The people run to the church at the first opportunity in order to get protection, in order to get food, some help," she said.

    Hundreds of Philippine domestic workers in Hong Kong used their single day off from work to collect donations of goods and money to send to the disaster area.  Many also prayed for the well-being of loved ones in the affected region.  Hong Kong is home to about 150,000 Filipinos, most of them employed as domestic workers.

    China's foreign ministry said Beijing is ready to send emergency medical teams to the Philippines when "conditions permit."  The Chinese government made the offer after its contribution of almost $2 million in typhoon aid prompted critics to draw unflattering comparisons with much larger donations from Western powers.

    Chinese-Philippine relations have been tense the past year as each side criticized the other for asserting sovereignty over disputed islands in the South China Sea.

    Steve Herman and Michael Lipin contributed to this report from Ormoc, Philippines and Washington.

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    What Take-out Food Reveals About American History

    From fast-food restaurants to pizza delivery, here's what the history of take-out food tells us about changes in American society

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Keen from: Philippines
    November 20, 2013 10:54 AM
    PNoy, as we call him in the Philippines has been an originator of change in my country and so far he's good at what he does...We've seen him gradually changing the infamous political system in the Philippines, yet due to time constraint, these changes were minimal yet promising...Recently, this man, had made the biggest mistake in his political career and thus besmirch his clean-slate disposition...His recent supervision of our current predicament might be the his downfall...

    by: Hugh M Anwright from: Seattle Makati
    November 19, 2013 12:13 AM
    Aquino needed to assert control over his army and rescue forces, his airports and his presidency 7 days ago. What a mouth, blaming the devastated local authorities. He is now only in the way. His men removed the drugs and money 4 days ago.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora