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, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

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.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid