News / Asia

Philippine Typhoon Survivors Struggle to Salvage Christmas

Children, victims of super typhoon Haiyan, decorate their improvised Christmas tree with empty cans and bottles at the ravaged town of Tanuan, Leyte province, central Philippines, Dec. 19, 2013.
Children, victims of super typhoon Haiyan, decorate their improvised Christmas tree with empty cans and bottles at the ravaged town of Tanuan, Leyte province, central Philippines, Dec. 19, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— Philippine mother Rhodora Tonningsen has no tinsel or ornaments for her Christmas tree this year, so she's decorated it with packets of instant noodles and empty sardine cans from relief supplies handed out to survivors of Typhoon Haiyan.
 
Across the center of the mostly Catholic Philippines, people are scraping together whatever they can to celebrate Christmas, nearly seven weeks after the storm. Some are struggling to cope with their grief.
 
Tonningsen, 43, a single mother of four, pried a battered, three-foot artificial Christmas tree from the bank of mud and debris thrown up by the storm by her tiny, partly damaged home in the town of Palo, and put it up on the front porch.
 
“I just washed it so we'll have some semblance of Christmas, even if we're in dire straits,” said Tonningsen, standing outside her home, now patched with corrugated iron also salvaged from the debris.
 
“We may be in ground zero, but it's OK - as long as we are alive and our family is intact,” she continued.
 
The Nov. 8 storm was one of the strongest ever to hit land. It wiped out virtually everything in its path, killing more than 6,100 people. Another 1,800 are listed as missing.
 
More than four million people are homeless, celebrating Christmas in tents, evacuation centers, or in the ruins of their houses.
 
Peter Lacandazo, 56, is for the first time spending Christmas without most of his family. Twenty-two relatives, including his wife, five daughters, sons-in-law, and grandchildren, drowned when the storm surge crashed ashore.
 
“I said to myself earlier in church that I should have died along with them,” Lacandazo said as he stood outside a tent in what used to be the garage of his family compound.
 
Lacandazo, his son and a grandson, the only family he has left, will hear midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and leave some food on a grave where his family is buried.
 
“They are together, they are many. So they won't be sad, unlike us,” Lacandazo said.
 
About 90 percent of the Philippines' 97 million people are Christian, most Roman Catholics.
 
Palo town is in Leyte, an island province which suffered the highest death toll. Businesses are still largely shuttered, power has yet to be fully restored, and security is fragile in some areas where carpetbaggers and thieves roam, residents say.
 
Many survivors find strength in church.
 
“Faith, we're keeping the faith,” said Ronald Lago, 47, after a dawn Mass with his family. “We are together and that's all that matters,” he said as a Philippine Christmas carol played out over the church's speakers.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid