Monday, October 31, 2011


Here is one from my archives circa 1988.

We experience lots of tropical depressions and typhoons in the Philippines and this is an issue which continues to be discussed at the local level and the national level, finding ways to be prepared, "were they prepared ?", "were there casualties ?" and the like.

In 1988, when accessibility for typhoon relief was more difficult, I was lucky to be part of the San Miguel Corporation (SMC) Medical Missions in the Visayas for Typhoon Yoning (Typhoon Skip), although, I though it was Typhoon Yoling.

November 5-8, 1988
230 kph

over water
217 kph

November 6, 1988 - Typhoon Skip reached its peak strength with 230 km/h (145 mph) winds, just east of the Philippines. Skip made landfall soon after killing about 100 people.

These were the places we travelled to for the SMC Visayas Medical Mission circa 1988.
Unfortunately, I wasn't much into photography yet but I was already into documentation.

Although, these places are usually tourist destinations, I couldn't fully appreciate their beauty because there was much destruction about and the main purpose of the trip was SERVICE!

I would like to share these photos because they can give you images of history, landmarks and realities.

This MAP shows you the places we served that time.

What was most exciting for me is that this was my first helicopter ride!
This was my first Medical Mission away from Cebu City.
And this was also my first trip to Bantayan Island.

my first chopper ride
from Wikipedia:
Bantayan is an island in the Philippines located at the western portion of the northern tip of Cebu Island. It is politically a part of the Province of Cebu.
The island can be reached via bus from Cebu City (via the North Bus Terminal near SM City Shopping Mall) then via ferry from Hagnaya Wharf in Hagnaya Cebu, or fromSagay in Negros Occidental. No commercial flights or overnight ferries are currently operating from Cebu City. It is possible to charter small private aircraft from Mactan-Cebu International Airport, to Bantayan Airport on Bantayan Island.
Second Stop: Guiuan, Eastern Samar via Tacloban, Leyte

Tacloban, Leyte
from Wikipedia:
The City of Tacloban (Waray: Ciudad han Tacloban, Tagalog or Filipino: Lungsod ng Tacloban) is a port city approximately 360 miles southeast of Manila. It is the first in Eastern Visayas to be classified as a Highly Urbanized City. It is the capital of the Philippine province of Leyte and is the largest city in terms of population[4]in Eastern Visayas. It is also considered as the regional center of the Region VIII. Tacloban was briefly the seat of the Philippine Commonwealth Government, from October 20, 1944 to February 27, 1945.
Here are some of the places we visited in Tacloban, Leyte.
This is Leyte Landing Memorial Park.
from Wikipedia:
Leyte was the first to be liberated by the combined Filipino and American troops. General Douglas MacArthur’s assault troops landed in the Tacloban and Palo beaches (White Beach and Red Beach, respectively) and in the neighboring town of Dulag (Blue Beach) on October 20, 1944. These landings signaled the eventual victory of the Filipino and American forces and the fulfillment of MacArthur’s famous promise: "I Shall Return."
"I shall return"
And the San Juanico Bridge, bridging Leyte and Samar.
from Wikipedia.
The San Juanico Bridge, part of the Pan-Philippine Highway, stretches from Samar to Leyte across the San Juanico Strait in the Philippines. Its longest length is a steel girder viaduct built on reinforced concrete piers, and its main span is of an arch-shaped truss design. With a total length of 2.16 kilometers (1.34 mi),[1] it is the longest bridge in the Philippines spanning a body of seawater. It is considered one of the most beautifully-designed bridges in Philippines[2]. The bridge has 43 spans and medium size boats can pass beneath its large main arch the top of which rises 41 meters above the sea.[1] Construction commenced in 1969 over San Juanico Strait from Cabalawan, Tacloban City to the municipality of Santa Rita, Samar, with completion in 1973.[3]

Then, we are off to Guiuan, Eastern Samar by chopper.
Guiuan is significant because it is said Ferdinand Magellan landed in the island of Homonhon, which is part of Guiuan, Samar.,_Eastern_Samar
Guiuan is a 2nd class municipality in the province of Eastern Samar, Philippines. As of year 2004, it has a population of 43,647 people in 7,618 households.
Guiuan is a significant part of the Philippine history. In the 16th century, when Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Philippines, it is believed that he first landed on the island of Homonhon. It is probably because of this fact that the majority of the population of the town are devout Catholics and the town's church, the Church of the Immaculate Conception, is one of the oldest in the country.
During the Second World War, Guiuan served as one of the Alliance's bases. What's left of the American occupation nowadays are just concrete slabs which once served as the foundations of a vast supply depot, and an air strip which now serves as the town's own airport.

We landed at Guiuan Airport.

from Wikipedia:
Guiuan Airport was originally a United States Navy air base in World War II.
After forces led by General Douglas Macarthur landed on Leyte on October 20, 1944, the first step towards the liberation of the Philippines from Japanese occupation, work began on improving or constructing several airfields around the area.
The US Navy initially attempted to construct a strip on the Samar shore of San Pablo Bay. It was soon found to be unusable after heavy rain, so the project was abandoned. After a brief search, Navy engineers settled on Guiuan, a town on the southeast promontory of Samar. 
After the war, the airfield was turned over to the Philippine government.

We conducted a Medical Mission sponsored by San Miguel Corporation and Coca-Cola Bottlers Corporation.

with my Dad, SMC Visayas Medical Head and with Cheche Lazaro of Probe Team  
The aftermath of the Typhoon was covered by the Probe Team headed by Cheche Lazaro. I had the chance to meet her there.
from Wikipedia:
Probe Profiles (formerly known as Probe,The Probe Team and The Probe Team Documentaries) was a Philippine public affairs program being aired on ABS-CBNand on its sister cable channel, the ANC. It is hosted by Cheche Lazaro and is produced by Probe Productions Inc., under a joint co-production agreement with ABS-CBN.
The show, considered as the pioneer television news-magazine in the Philippines, started airing in 1987 on ABS-CBN, with Lazaro, Maria Ressa (formerly ABS-CBN News head and former CNN Jakarta bureau chief), and Luchi Cruz-Valdez (currently TV5 News and Information Head and former ABS-CBN Current Affairs head as well as former GMA Network executive) at the helm. After nine months, it moved to GMA Network as a blocktimer. It was in GMA where The Probe Team had its longest run in its history. The show recently ended on June 30, 2010.
These were the effects of the Typhoon... roof of the elementary school fell to the ground... electric posts also fell to the ground... trees were uprooted... the convent walls were torn and most affected were the folks living by the seaside. 
Needless to say, we did not have any electricity and with paucity of potable water.
Schoolhouse roof fell to the ground

uprooted trees

electric post on the ground

destroyed convent
This is the Immaculate Conception Church in Guiuan, Samar.

Immaculate Conception Church is regarded as the finest baroque church in Eastern Visayas. The construction began in 1630. From 1844 onwards, it had been renovated and enhanced a lot of times.

The church's facade has three engaged columns, arches and carvings on the pediments. It has a beautiful hand carved altar with a retablo of saints and religious characters. Its main nave is two meters higher than the transept. The church is listed as a National Cultural Treasure.

Here is another feature I read about this Church.
Church of the Immaculate Concepcion (Guiuan, province of Samar)
     Built in the 18th century under the direction of the Jesuits, additions were made by the Recollects when they took over the church in the 19th century. This structure is an excellent example "fortress baroque." The church forms one side of the fort. Its exuberantly carved doors are also the doors of the fort. The richness of the interior is in total contrast to the squat, bulky and plain outline of the church exterior. Richly carved and highly polychromed retablos are the focal points of the apse and transept. The most notable aspect of the church is the shell and coral mosaic swags that outline the clerestory and the baptisery.
But, what caught our attention was this richly carved wooden door, which was also the door of the fort.

There was no electricity. At night, we had to make do with this kind of lamp just to have light.

We are now on our way home.

Third Stop: Roxas City, Capiz
Capiz was too far away with the Negros mountains in between, so we rode the airplane to Capiz.

from Wikipedia.
Roxas City is a medium-sized city in the province of CapizPhilippines. It is the provincial capital and a component city. As of 2010, the city mayor is former city vice mayor Angel Alan Celino who was elected during the 2010 election.
The city is a center of copra and aquaculture production. The surrounding area grows sugarcanericecoconutfruithemp, and tobacco. The language spoken in Roxas City are Capiznon and Hiligaynon.
According to the 2007 census, the city has a population of 147,738 people with a density of 1,449/km2 (3,752.8/sq mi)
The abundance of marine life makes Roxas City the "Seafood Capital of the Philippines." This environment-friendly city is home to one of the richest fishing grounds in the country.
on our way to Capiz

But, the problem in Capiz is flooding, considering the many rivers in the place. So here, we had to go to the affected communities by speedboat and also by pumpboat. 
Capiz is known for aquaculture and they are known for their crabs which are regularly sent to Manila and other major cities.

I remember, there were many fishpond owners who suffered and  accordingly, many who were happy too.
Those who were sad lost their crabs... and those who were happy, became happy because the crabs went to their empty fishponds. 
Of course, this is anecdotal, but I still think, this is close to reality. 

by pump boat

the rivers were overflowing. we could reach the coastal areas only by boat!
walking in the waters...

What an interesting Medical Mission we indeed had ! = = by chopper in Bantayan and Guiuan, Samar and now, by Speed boat!!!
by Speed boat, bringing our supplies

Here we are preparing our supplies for the Medical Mission.
We stayed at Villa Patria in Roxas City.
from the Villa Patria website:
VILLA PATRIA "A perfect place to relax"

Villa Patria is one of the most popular in Roxas City, Capiz. It is a place were your family or love one's can stay in and relax after touring the beautiful spot of Roxas City. It is near in Baybay beach and in Roxas City Airport.
Villa Patria Hotel and Restaurant was build on 1969 during the time of Spanish, with the help of architect Borbon. The name Patria came from the name of her mother which Ms. Patria Norete.  Villa Patria Hotel and Restaurant had 14 rooms and, each rooms had an own name.The following are Justicia Divina, Lealtad, Josefina, Clemencia, Esparanza, Angelina, Regina, Patria, Elvira, Patria Amada, Patria Consuelo, Socorro, Terisita, Libertad, Patria ,  Villa Patria Hotel and Restaurant was 40 years from now.
my room was J.Divina
I remember my room called J. Divina and I would never forget the theme of my room, which was ducks and mallards. I loved it. I wonder if there are still decors in the room because in the website, the room appears simpler.
This is in garden part of Villa Patria were we are all so relaxed.

.I also remember, we were very well provided for in this Medical Mission, that is aside from the depressed and affected coastal areas we went to.
We stayed in a good hotel. 
We always ate the most delicious crabs and seafoods living up to Capiz as the "Seafood Capital of the Philippines".
We had the best transportation they could offer... a spacious van... and don't forget the speed boat!

We visited a historical site in Capiz. This is the Sta. Monica Parish Church.

Sta. Monica Parish Church stands as a reminder of the First Christian Faith in the island. In 1566, Fr. Martin de Rada, O.S.A was the first to proclaim the Gospel in the island of panay at the riverbank of Bamban (now known as the town of Panay). Now, Panay is known as the Heritage Capital of Capiz because of the rich history and the deep culture it owns.

This is the biggest bell in Asia.
Sta. Monica Parish Church is a 3 century-old church which homes the biggest bell in Asia. The bell was cast in 1878 from 70 sacks of coins, 7 ft. wide by 7 ft high, weigh of 10,400 kilograms (10.4 tons).

Sta. Monica Parish Church is internationally renowned Parish Church, declared a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Institute, and a National Cultural Treasure in 2004 by the National Commission on Culture and the Arts.
biggest bell in Asia

Here is another article I read about the biggest bell.
Fr. Beloso commissioned Don Juan Reina for the casting of the largest bell in the Philippines and in Asia and the third biggest bell in the world in 1878 (aside from other bells under his name).  The Dakong Lingganay (meaning, “big bell”), as it is popularly known, was made from 70 sacks of coins donated by the townsfolk and measures seven feet in diameter, five feet in height with a weight of 10,400 kilograms. It carries a meaningful inscription which reads: “Soy la voz de Dios que llevaré y ensalzaré desde el principio hasta fin de este pueblo de Panay para que los fieles de Jesús vengan a esta casa de Dios a recibir las gracias celestiales” (“I am God’s voice which I shall echo and praise from one end to the other of the town of Panay, so that the faithful followers of Christ may come to this house of God to receive the heavenly graces.”) 
The experience I had in the different Medical Missions in 1988 was an eye-opener for me.
We felt the worst situation especially in Guiuan, which was hard hit and extensive because it was in the Typhoon belt itself!
We experience black-outs, little water, destruction was most visible and everyone was affected.
We also saw a different kind of worse flood situation in the coastal areas of Capiz, but outside of the affected areas, we were very comfortable and well cared for.

We rode helicopters and speed boats just to go to the inaccessible areas.
And I noted, the places to visit even at times like these were still the Churches.

I thank San Miguel Corporation for the opportunities given to me, but most of all, my Dad (then, Head of SMC Vis-Min Medical) because he chose me and allowed me to go to these places ... for SERVICE and for EXPERIENCE!


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