News / Asia

    Neighbors Burying Neighbors in Palo, Philippines

    Neighbors Bury Neighbors in Palo, Phillipinesi
    X
    November 22, 2013 5:57 PM
    Bodies continue to be discovered in the central Philippines two weeks after an unprecedented, devastating typhoon. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman visited a damaged church in Palo, just south of the city of Tacloban, where bodies are being placed in a mass grave.
    Neighbors Bury Neighbors in Palo, Phillipines
    Bodies continue to be discovered in the central Philippines two weeks after an unprecedented, devastating typhoon. At a damaged church in Palo, just south of the city of Tacloban, bodies are being placed in a mass grave.

    The body of 12-year-old Jayvee Venuya is lowered into a hastily dug grave in front of the San Joaquin Parish church. Hours earlier, the girl’s neighbors - returning to their destroyed home - could not ignore the overwhelming stench leading to the decaying remains of the sixth-grade student.

    The community’s lay minister, Alex Balano Bardilla, said every day an awful odor reveals the fate of additional congregants. “You can detect that there are dead bodies because of the smell. It smells worse. The smell of the deceased animals is different from the deceased people.

    "There already are 250 bodies here, and more are being buried every day. Despite the hardships for the living, every effort is being made to give some respect and dignity to the dead,” said Bardilla.

    • Tacloban airport's terminals were destroyed by the typhoon. Some limited commercial traffic is now utilizing the airport, Nov. 21, 2013. (Steve Herman/VOA)
    • No part of Tacloban was spared by the typhoon, Nov. 21, 2013. (Steve Herman/VOA)
    • Tacloban's convention center, nicknamed "The Astrodome" was where many evacuees sheltered during the typhoon, Nov. 21, 2013. (Steve Herman/VOA)
    • Survivors lining up to fill water containers near Tacloban City Hall, Nov. 21, 2013. (Steve Herman/VOA)
    • Lines for gasoline at stations that have managed to reopen, Nov. 21, 2013. (Steve Herman/VOA)
    • The storm surge toppled vehicles, most of which are yet to be moved, Tacloban, Nov. 21, 2013. (Steve Herman/VOA)
    • A woman inspecting bananas for sale on a Tacloban street, Nov. 21, 2013. (Steve Herman/VOA)
    • Piles of debris litter every street in Tacloban, Nov. 21, 2013. (Steve Herman/VOA)
    • Tacloban's commercial infrastructure was wiped out by the typhoon, Nov. 21, 2013. (Steve Herman/VOA)
    • Most residents saw not only their homes destroyed but also their vehicles, Tacloban, Nov. 21, 2013. (Steve Herman/VOA)
    • Children on bicycles watch a military cargo plane ferrying aid take off from Tacloban airport, Nov. 21, 2013. (Steve Herman/VOA)

    All 2,000 families of the San Joaquin neighborhood have been severely affected by the typhoon. Only about one-fourth of the families remain. The rest have fled or are dead.

    In this spot in the makeshift church cemetery, 17 members of one family have been laid to rest together.

    Visiting the survivors here every day is Jennifer Hardy of Catholic Relief Services. She always tries to cheer up the children, who have become homeless, hungry and heartbroken.

    “We are at the site of a mass grave. So I think the reality of the situation has sunk in to some extent, but what is still to be determined is how long this recovery effort will take. And that is what I think people, as they go through day by day, they will be wondering why are not things better yet,” said Hardy.

    Most of the San Joaquin adults were well on the way to a better life, relatively prosperous by Philippine standards - employed as teachers or government workers. Their government has not responded, however, as they might have expected. There are no search-and-rescue teams here, no forensic specialists, not even a mortician.

    The authorities have supplied just one critical item  - body bags.

    Steve Herman

    A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

    You May Like

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora