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

    US Watching as North Korea Opens Biggest Political Meeting in Decades

    As Workers' Party Congress opens, Washington anticipating possibility of another missile launch or nuclear test as top officials gather

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    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.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora