Metro Infanta Foundation, Inc.

Official Website of Metro Infanta Foundation, Inc.
7350 Braun Way • Arvada, CO 80005 U.S.A. • editor@infanta.org
Editor, Mila Garcia Glodava
Contact us … Please send your email to: editor@infanta.org

Infanta, Real and Nakar tragedy

Post date: 12/31/04

Sincere Thanks

Editor's Note: We just received the message below which signed by Bishop Rolando Tria Tirona, Father Israel Gabriel and Deacon Mario Van Loon and published in the Philippine dailies before Christmas and therefore the spirit of the message.

To all donors, benefactors and partners,

In a few days, we shall be celebrating the Solemn Feast of the Lord's Nativity. it's Christmas once again.

for us int he prelature of Infanta, which was hardest hit by the recent flash flood tragedy, Christmas must go on. It must be solemnly celebrated.

As we carry the heavy load of pain and suffering at this time, we are consoled and strengthened by the generous hearts and hands ready to help us during our immediate and urgent needs. During those moments of urgency, YOU WERE THERE TO HELP US!

In behalf of the Prelature of Infanta/Aurora, I convey my sincerest gratitude for your kindness, assistance both material and for our funds, concern and prayers.

We are strengthened that you are still with us as we continue to help rehabilitate and rebuild people's lives and families. We think of how the Holy Family experienced suffering and uncertainty as well. Like Mother Mary and St. Joseph, we hold on to our faith that God is with us.

Emmanuel is the cry of our hearts; the song o our lips. God is with us in the Child Jesus!

thank you again, and may God bless you and your loved ones in the way He alone knows best!

Merry Christmas!

Sincerely in Jesus,

+Rolando J. Tria Tirona, OCD
Bishop, Prelature of Infanta
 
Rev. Fr. Israel Gabriel
Social Action Diector
 
Deacon Mario Van Loon, ACT
Relief Operations Director


(Note: On 26 December 2004, Sunday morning an earthquake of 9.0 magnitude with epecineter off the coast of Sumatra Island occured. This triggered tidal waves reaching the shores of Sri Lanka, India, Maldive Island, Southern Thailand, Malaysia causing more than 50,000 dead and other hundreds of thousand missing and injured aside from destruction to properties. Five Chileans are reported missing, while 8 Filipinos reported dead among those thousands of casualties in Thailand. The following lines are my reactions to said catasrophe.)

Suddenly came tidal waves
Swallowed people, houses, boats
Like toys tossed them up and down
On land laid death, destructions.
 
Sumatra island earthquake
Triggered tidal waves occur
In Sri Lanka, India, Thailand
Malaysia, Maldive island
 
Within few seconds later
Landscape virtually changed
From a cheeful, verdant land
To sad, dreary ground burial
Typhoons, earthquakes, tidal waves
Remind people rich or poor

Their presence on this planet


Post Date: 12/29/04

ChristmasReflection

Christmas Evening Reflection:

by Deacon Mario van Loon, act

In the relative silence of the Christmas evening I looked back at the past 25 days since Fr. Cha died. The news of his death reached me at 10 AM, when I was giving classes on the Social Teachings of the Church. It was Tuesday morning, November 30. With one single blow it made me clear that something extreme, unimaginable had happened, that would change the history of the Prelature and its people.

During the rest of that day news came in bits and pieces convincing us, who were outside the area, that a tragedy without precedence had happened in Infanta, Real, Nakar and Dingalan. How extensive the damage and how costly in lives the disaster was, would only become clear after several more days. Communication was extremely difficult because telephone lines had been cut off and cellphones networks severely damaged. Some text messages came through, but there was not enough information to give us a comprehensive view. The news about the death of Fr. Cha was denied, affirmed, denied again and then finally became certain when Fr. Boy informed us that he had recovered the body. Fr. Mario's where-about was uncertain, so rumors were spreading that he had also died. Even Fr. Boy was thought to have died, as texts from the USA indicated. In those early hours the most important thing to do seemed to be to get reality established in order to be able to act on it with determination. Starting November 30, the ACT community in Manila has been the center of communication. National and international inquiries came in and were answered as best as we could. Our phone would ring even at midnight and in the wee hours of the morning.

On the same day we started the organization of the Relief Center in Mount Carmel Parish Shrine in Broadway New Manila. Without any reservations Fr. Arnold gave us access to all facilities. We totally disrupted the normal flow of their parish offices, but he and his community never complained. Dedicated volunteers organized themselves to form the backbone of the Prelature's Social Action Center for relief operations called DUGSONG-BUHAY (an expression in Quezon Province which means CONTINUING / SUSTAINING LIFE). Sisters from the Apostles in Contemporary Times (ACT) and the Augustinian Missionaries of the Philippines (AMP), seminarians from ICTC, volunteers from the Socio-Pastoral Institute (SPI), NDP, Kaalagad, concerned people of General Nakar, friends of the Prelature residing in Manila tirelessly worked everyday in organizing the collection and distribution of goods in the quickest possible way. Truckloads were brought to the victims of the typhoons in Dingalan, Real, Infanta, and Nakar.

It is with great gratitude that I think of the past days in Dugsong-Buhay Center. We often were there from 6 AM till 10 PM. The ACT community and the AMP community provided the backbone throughout this period. A group of five / six women from the squatter are in the neighborhood cooked for us three times a day, never asking anything more in return than a remark about how delicious the simple food was and how important their work was to give us the strength to keep going. The hundreds of volunteers from everywhere, but especially from different religious congregations, worked in making the food-packages and sorting out the used clothes. Whole classes of students from schools came to help!

We all can be proud of our work: As of today we have passed the 100,000 mark of food packages prepared. Most of them have been already delivered ALL OVER THE PRELATURE, FROM REAL, INFANTA AND NAKAR, TO DINGALAN, TO SAN LUIS, BALER, DIPACULAO AND MARIA AURORA AND ALSO TO CASIGURAN. Our efforts have served the whole Prelature, as we were obliged to do. We have organized over 30 medical teams to go to the area accompanied by many boxes of medicines, some donated, others bought with the money that was given to us by the many, many donors.

We have sent many different batches of volunteers to the area starting on the second day of the disaster. The first group was composed from staff members of SPI and seminarians from the ICTC, religious sisters and students from IFRS. Their courageous efforts gave hope to the people in Real, when they were at the height of their traumatic experience. Mountains of mud, boulders and logs could not stop their effort, even when they had to go through waste-high debris.

In this whole process we felt the strong leadership of Bishop Tria Tirona. He was with us in Dugsong-Buhay Center, encouraging, advising, deciding. He was the first to go by helicopter to Nakar where he spent three days living under the worst of circumstances, because he wanted to be with his people. He would not give up till he could bring the body of Fr. Cha to Manila and eventually to Cotabato, where Cha was given a hero's welcome and funeral. Bishop's determination and spirit, expressed in action and contemplative texts messages gave us strength and courage.

Almost everyday Bishop Labayen would come to the relief center giving encouragement and spiritual strength to all. He also was able to fly to the Prelature to be with the people he loves so much. He quietly suffered with us, the pain too much to put into words.

I have to mention all those courageous people especially in Infanta, Real, Nakar and Dingalan, who showed their faith in God and love for God's people in the dark hours during and after the flash floods: The parish priests, the religious sisters and especially our dedicated lay people, striving in impossible conditions, showing their spiritual strength, believing in God's Incarnation.

On December 23 we downsized the Dugsong-Buhay Center. Donations in money and kind will still be accepted, but we will be more a channel to Infanta, Real, Nakar and Dingalan, where the main work will be done. We are entering a new phase, the rebuilding. Government and private sector count on the churches in order to help in the processing of the difficult steps that have to be made (like relocations) and ensure the support goes where it should go: to the most needy, the most vulnerable, the weakest. The SAC office has been designated as coordination center and data center for the concerted tasks of rebuilding and rehabilitating.

May God bless us and strengthen us for the task ahead.

We thank you, Lord, for everything we were able to do. Without your Spirit, No way!


Wala silang parol

ni Obispo Rolando Tria Tirona, OCD

Wala silang parol,
walang pagsasabitan,
naanod kanilang Bahay.
 
Wala silang Christmas tree
walang silid
naanod ang kanilang Bahay.
 
Wala silang mga makulay na ilaw
walang kuryente, naanod ang kanilang bahay
wala silang mga regalo
nalubog ng banlik,
naanod ang kanilang Bahay.
 
Wala silang pangpasko pagkain
basag ang mga plato, baso at tasa
naanod ang kanilang Bahay.
 
Wala silang salosalo
wala na si itay, o si inay, o si ate, o kuya, si baby naanod ang kanilang bahay!
O Diyos ko,
kahabagan mo po sila!
Jesus ikaw ang maging parol,
Christmas tree, ilaw, pagkain, mga gamit, regalo, at higit sa lahat
ang kanilang mga Mahal sa buhay!
O gabing tahimik na pinukaw ng iyak ng sangol.
O SANGOL, IKAW ANG AMING MANUNUBOS.
BAGONG BUHAY. AMEN
Meri Krismas po.

Editor's Note: Bishop Rolando J. Tria Tirona, OCD, has requested that as we read his very touching poem on the cry of our people, we may continue to reach out to our kababayans. Please support our Disaster Relief Fund Drive to send to the needy of our hometown. If your name does not appear on the list of supporters, please consider joining those who have not hesistated to offer their help. Even a small amount will show you everyone a sense of solidarity with those in dire need of our help. Your support is very important to us and those we help. Thank you.


From Ike Mapa, San Antonio, Texas

My name is Ike Mapa residing in SA Tx. I am from Infanta myself. I have been following the news and updates about the disaster that struck our town and the surrounding towns and barrios through your site and some thru TFC. Thanks to my high school friend and classmate Sandra Recio who forwarded me your website. First, my hats off to all of you in your collective efforts ensuring donations from various organizations and individuals get directly to the flood victims. Secondly, for getting the words out about the latest conditions in those towns affected by the flood. Keep up the good work! I now have a better grasp of the extent of what's happened - looking at the posted photos and individual accounts. I cried upon seeing the devastation and even more so when I think of those who survived - they will bear the pain of this devastating loss the rest of their life.

This is probably the toughest challenge our people will ever face. I have witnessed a few floods myself as I was growing up in Infanta but nothing of this magnitude. I hope and pray that in the coming days, weeks, months and years ahead that our beloved kababayans would see a renewed town, life and hope. I have confidence in their strength, courage and faith in God that someday we would again see these towns get rebuilt, refaced and renewed.

May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ through His Holy Spirit guide them and give them strength as they piece together their broken lives, hopes and dreams. May God's peace, love and unity reign among everyone as they work together in the rebuilding process. Opening the book of Proverbs in chap 21, vs 21 "He who pursues righteousness and love will find prosperity, life and honor."

Our church (Lord of the Harvest) in San Antonio is raising funds and donations for the flood victims. We can collect canned goods, medicines, old clothes and put them in balikbayan boxes. This may be a small effort to begin with but I hope and pray for a greater response from the congregation later on. I am going to present some photos (from your site) to the congregation this coming Sunday.

Please send me some details; address, point of contact etc, etc. Is there a way we can get in touch with Gene Pallugan in Houston TX - may be you have his phone # handy.


RP to send humanitarian team to quake tsunami-hit states

by Rudy Arizala

We have hardly dried our tears for the typhoon / flood victims in the provinces of Quezon, Maria Aurora and Central plain of Luzon and here comes another sad tragic news.

According to The Manila Bulletin of 27 December 2004, TIDAL WAVES KILLS OVER 4,OOO IN 5 ASIAN COUNTRIES.

The report stated that 2,134 were reported dead in Sri Lanka; 721 in Indonesia; 1,100 in Southern India; 168 in Southern Thailand: and 17 in Malaysia.

The cause of the tidal waves was a strong earthquake, the strongest in 40 years. The center of the earthquake was reported in Indonesia.

We sympathize and deeply condole with the victims of the tidal waves and express our solidarity with the countries affected by said natural calamity.

Perhaps a token donation or assistance from RP although still suffering from destructions caused by typhoons and floods would help ameliorate the sufferings of people affected by the earthquake and tidal waves in our neighboring countries..

Let us pray for the victims of such natural calamities whereever they may be.

Comments: A humanitarian gesture although we ourselves are still reeling from the devastations, deaths and destructions caused by recent typhoons and floods

Occurrence of typhoons, floods, earthquakes and tsunamis causing thousands of death and untold destructions remind us how ephemeral our presence is on this planet.



Father Armando Crisostomo, Jr., new parochial vicar in New Jersey parish

New Jersey Archbishop, John Myers Father Armando Crisostomo, Jr., recently announced the appointment of the Rev. Armando Crisostomo, Jr., as parochial vicar for St. Joseph of the Palisades Parish in West New York, New Jersey.

Father Crisostomo, 44, is one of four children of the late Dr. Armando Crisostomo and Justina Sanchez, a retired school teacher.

A graduate of Mt. Carmel High School, Father Crisostomo studied philosophy at St. Francis de Sales Major Seminary in Lipa City, and theology at the Divine Word Seminary in Tagaytay City. In 1988 he went to Rome to join the congregation of the Missionaries of Faith. He earned his licentiate in canon law from the St. John Lateran University in Rome and was ordained a priest June 19, 1993.

Father Crisostomo came to the United States in 2003 and was assigned to the Holy Rosary Parish in Jersey City, New Jersey. In September 2004, before receiving his new assignment and while in residence at St. Mary of the Assumption, he was appointed temporary chaplain of Trinitas Hospital in Elizabeth, NJ.


Post Date: 12/27/04

Christmas lantern without light

By Rudy A. Arizala
Santiago, Chile

Last night "Noche Buena 2004", after my wife and I participated in the midnight mass (Simbang Gabi) at a church near our place, we had the traditional "Noche Buena" meal. Compared to last year, this time we had a frugal "Noche Buena" meal. My wife prepared "pansit", some sandwiches and a Christmas cake. Our daughter came with a friend to join us. My wife noted that the old "Filipino parol" or lantern which we brought from the Philippines and used to hang on our window for many years every Christmas with glittering lights, this time has no light. But we have some multi-colored lights on our small Christmas tree at a corner of our living room and the usual "Belen" consisting of the images of the Holy Family, shepherds and the Three Wise Men from the East. After the midnight meal and distribution or exchange of simple gifts, we bade good night to each other and greeted each other "A Merry Christmas!" as expression of hope and faith in the Lord.

Our "Filipino parol" or lantern in the shape of a star is dim or has no light this Christmas as expression of sympathy and solidarity with our family, relatives, friends and kababayans in Infanta, Real and Gen. Nakar towns who are celebrating a bleak, dark and without "Noche Buena" meal Christmas because of the devastations caused by the recent floods in said three towns in Quezon province. We are aware that they are subsisting on donated food rations these days and their homes destroyed or swepty away by the floodwaters. The mud and slime are still knee deep on the streets of Infanta and surroundings.

The night might be dark in Infanta, but the faithful, guided by their faith and love, still managed to attend the midnight mass and gave thanksgiving to the Lord. They are thankful for still being blessed with precious life and survived the deluge.

More than two thousand years ago today, a Savior was born, the Light of the world, Who, inspite of darkness, continue to guide and protect us. Our "parol" might have no light but we have forever shining light &endash;Lord Jesus Christ.


Post Date: 12/25/04

Nearly $25,000 in total Disaster Relief Fund 

Rex Crisostomo, Pamela Arizala, Fr. Boots Anson, Analee Coralde Fr. Romeo Panes and Marites Coralde after the Memorial Mass " Misa ng Buhay" held at St. Aedan Church in New Jersey, for the typhoon victims of Infanta, Real and General Nakar. Filipinos in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania attended the Mass celebrated by Fr. Boots Anson, Fr. Jomari Parcon, Fr. Romeo Panes and Fr. Armando Crisostomo, Jr.

Congratulations and Thank You! Because of your efforts, big or small, our Disaster Relief Fund Campaign is on its way to reaching the $25,000 mark. At $24,692.50 (including some $3,000 in restricted or donor-advised fund), we need only $307.50 to reach our first goal. This means that because of your efforts we were able to match the $10,000 donation of St. Thomas More, and we are on our way to matching the $2,500 donation of Our Sunday Visitor.

As reported earlier, we sent to the Prelature of Infanta and its "Dugsong Buhay" Relief Fund our first contribution of $17,500. I hope to send our next wire transfer, before I leave for the Philippines January 11 (for a seminar on stewardship for the Catholic Bishops conference of the Philippines). So please continue to send your donations, so we can show our kababayans how much we care about them.

FYI, the above figures are only those that we deposited to our bank account. We cannot account for those reported by groups raising funds but sending their donations directly to Infanta, Real and Gen. Nakar. Only those that go through our bank account will get acknowledgment and tax-documentation (especially those that gave $250 or more, which is required by IRS) from Metro Infanta Foundation.

Quezonians abroad raise funds for their townmates

by JEREMAIAH M. OPINIANO
OFW Journalism Consortium Inc.

MANILA -- THE news of the calamity spread quickly. Four consecutive typhoons in two and a half weeks - Unding, Violeta, Winnie and Yoyong &endash; from the third week of November to the first week of December, killed 1,000 nationwide and 500 in Quezon province.

Through its website, the Metro Infanta Foundation (www.infanta.org) sent out the call for donations for the unfortunate victims of the storms and the landslide victims in Infanta, Real and Nakar towns in Quezon province.

Stories of transnational civic action by overseas Filipinos to assist needy countrymen at home are a staple during calamities. While US$3.5 million in donations have poured in from the United Nations, governments of developed countries, and international nonprofit organizations, Filipinos abroad are not far behind with their smaller but nonetheless significant contributions.

Almost immediately after the call for help was sounded by Catholic bishop Rolando Tria Tirona of the Prelature of Infanta, the St. Thomas More Parish in Colorado gave US$10,000 to the Metro Infanta Foundation for the relief effort. That was on December 9.

On the 12th, Mila Glodava, founder and president of Metro Infanta Foundation, told the OFW Journalism Consortium that MIF was able to send by wire transfer a total of US$17,500 (which includes the $10,000 from St. Thomas More) to Infanta bishop Rolando Tirona. "In addition, the Filipino-American associations in Houston, beaumont and Texas have collected more than US$15,000 which Dr. Arsenio Martin will be handing over to Tirona himself when he comes back home to the Philippines.

Gene Pallugna, who resides in Texas, has been receiving faxes and email pledges of donations. "Thank you," reads the website to those who sent the faxes and emails.

Letter to GMA
Glodava wrote to President Macapagal-Arroyo December 9, assuring her that US$17,500 in relief funds collected was on its way. In addition various Filipino-American organizations in Houston, Beaumont and Fort Arthur collected $15,000, which Dr. Arsenio Martin will personally deliver to Bishop Tirona.

And the commitment to raise funds for the victims, Glodava wrote the President, will be sustained: "We shall continue to raise funds as possible, as well as collecting in-kind donations of clothing, canned goods, blankets and other assistance for the people of the region. Along with this practical support, we send our spiritual support; rest assured that many, many people are holding you and your people in prayer as you face this hardship."

Messages of hope and persistence continue to pour into the website of the Metro Infanta Foundation, a US-registered nonprofit foundation that has been serving Infanta and its neighboring towns since 1996.

From Santiago, Chile, Rudy Arizala prodded Foundation members for more medicines, food and potable water. Aside from saying "do not delay (sending) these donations," Arizala said, "Aanhin pa ang damo kung patay na ang kabayo (Of what use is the grass if the horse is already dead)."

There is also cross-country, cross-continental solidarity. "We are from the Arabian Consulting Engineering Center (ACEC) Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia," wrote Venchi Gucon, who said they are raising money (Saudi Rials 600 thus far) which they will remit via bank draft to Metro Infanta Foundation.

Quezonians in Canada
Quezonians in Canada responded quickly. The Quezon Province Association of Canada (QPAC), led by long-time president and migrant advocate Rosalinda Javier, has pledged US$4,000 to buy more food, medicines and clothing.

Levy Arevalo, who posted the web message on behalf of the Quezonians in Canada, said she will go home on January 25 next year to coordinate the shipment and will distribute these to needy Quezonians hit by the disaster.

Aside from having secured pledges from the hometown associations in Canada from the towns of Tayabas, Calauag, Candelaria, Lorez, and Dolores in Quezon, Arevalo reported that the QPAC will hold a fundraiser on December 19 at the Filipino Community Center.

"From Canada, we are praying and hoping that all our relatives, friends and kababayans will be able to cope and pass through these hurdles with our Lord's help and also from everyone who open their hearts to help them every step of the way," Arevalo added.

There were also messages expressing worry over what has happened to their relatives. Mrs. Pratt of Aberdeen, Scotland, said a Filipino community there had a Christmas Party and was able to raise about 50 pounds for her neighbors in Bantillan village in Infanta, since "there are no relief goods reaching our area".

Sleepless over the fate of kababayans in Bantillan, Pratt wrote: "Thank God I managed to contact my daughter in Bantilan and she told me the story of our town. Magdamag daw sila sa bubong ng bahay (Thank God everybody is ok). Paano po ang iba na walang kamaganak na tutulong? Magugutom. (They were on the roof of their house all night. But how about those who have no relatives who can help them? They will go hungry.)"

Efforts to raise more funds are still ongoing online, and the Metro Infanta Foundation is the acknowledged conduit to receive and distribute money for the relief efforts.

According to Central Bank figures, in 2003, overseas Filipinos sent US$218 million in remittances as donations and gifts -- a five-year high. This is on top of the regular remittances amounting to US$7.6 billion sent by migrants to their families.

Development work
Even before the tragedy, the Metro Infanta Foundation has been involved in development work in Infanta and neighboring towns in Quezon. Apart from having a disaster relief fund, the MIF has been able to raise $18,194.65 for pro-active development projects in education, health and livelihood at home this year.

Since 1996, Glodava said MIF has distributed more than US$150,000 in grants for education, religious, civic and humanitarian outreach to benefit towns in Quezon. She added MIF also facilitated another US$150,000 in indirect grants from various funding agencies.

There were more. She wrote: "This January, we will be distributing at least US$10,000 for our programs (this is excluding the funds for relief operations). The US$10,000 is in addition to the US$12,500 that we distributed last July and August."

But in situations such as natural calamities where urgency is a necessity, the donations flood the homeland.

Some OFWs get their horror stories first hand. Cristina Plaza of California wrote: "The same night of the flood (November 30), my aunt Baby Calleja called up aunt Chit who is in Kansas. She said: "Tulungan mo kami, lulubog na kami, lulubog na kami (Please help us. We're sinking. We're sinking)."

Then, the phone call got disconnected. This was such a dramatic call and when the whole family found out we were deeply saddened and constantly crying." Plaza added.

The Quezonians online also honored the dead, among them Infanta parish priest Fr. Charlito Colendres, in the Metro Infanta Foundation website. And below that link is the list of donors, coming from the US states of California, Washington, Texas, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Colorado.

The online appeal has spread like wildfire, and the response has been just as quick. Arriana Serafico, a high school student, wrote: "Best regards to the people of Infanta, Quezon. Our donations are on their way, along with our prayers." OFW Journalism Consortium, Inc.


From Rudy Arizala

Thanks for the donations of the DFA Office of Protocol personnel for the Infanta victims of the recent flood as well as for the rice rations and used clothes donations. How true, indeed, is the statement that we are a people who could manage to smile despite tragic events because we are a "people of profound faith, unflagging hope, and amazing love."

My niece wrote me after bringing their Mommy to Manila from Infanta due to the fact that our house in Infanta has been damaged by the flood: and she (my sister) almost drown due to the onrushing flood waters: Luckily she managed to swim to safety: "Malungkot ang Pasko pero marami rin dapat ipagpasalamat kaya tuloy na tuloy pa rin ang Pasko!" ( "It would be a sad Christmas but there are still many things to thank the Lord for. So, Christmas will surely still come to us!"). Yes, the commemoration of Christmas must continue as expression of faith, love and hope. I was informed that Bishop Tirona of the Prelatura of Infanta, Quezon, go ahead celebrating the traditional "simbang gabi" and the church is full of people, barefoot and almost nothing on their back to protect them from the cold to participate in the "simbang gabi."

Thanks again ka Toto for your expression and manifestation of solidarity and sympathy to the flood victims of my hometown.

By the way, I look forward reading your magnum opus "Bababa, ba?"

Have a Blessed Christmas and New Year!!!

P.S. Thanks also to Congen Weng Mendoza Sanchez of San Francisco, CA for suggesting to the Phil Medical Society of Northern California, U.S.A. to include in their medical mission this coming January 2005, the towns of Infanta, Real and Gen. Nakar in Quezon province. Am still waiting words or comments from Gov. Willie L. Enverga on such proposed medical mission. RAA

From Amb. Jose Lino

We smile despite tragedy because we are a people of profound faith, unflagging hope, and amazing love.

Congratulations for your raffle on behalf of our needy brethren. "Beato te", as the Romans say.

From José Abeto Zaide

Somehow, the Filipino is still able to smile between man-made and natural disasters. And we continue to say thanks for what's there. A priest's homily this 7th dawn of missa de gallo reminded us. Protocol had its usual deluge of gifts. And every year I have been expected to raffle off my loot to the staff. This time I asked those who wanted to improve their chances to buy lottery shares. We raised P3,200 for the Infanta victims. Small change. But the staff felt better about donating their old clothes and rice ration after that.

From Boy Montelibano

It had been a hectic week. . . . Hectic-ness has become part and parcel of an ever-expanding Gawad Kalinga. . . . We spent most of last week moving around disaster-stricken areas and planning what to do to help hem. I found myself in Mindoro Oriental which had three towns badly hit by a tornado (more than 8,000 homes destroyed), in Quezon which also had three towns really badly damaged from floods that carried not only mud and water but logs and trees as well.

Then, I was in Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija, but did not proceed with the team who went to Dingalan, Aurora, just an hour away. I went back to Manila for an important meeting with Smart Communications which decided to take the lead in rehabilitating Gen. Nakar, Quezon, by donating 200 houses through Gawad Kalinga.

The devastation was horrible. I have oodles of pictures which depict the physical damage but chose not to unduly influence the celebratory nature of Christmas. Suffice it to say that the pictures told a thousand stories, almost all of them about tragedy and pain.

Many Filipinos, most of them very ordinary ones, have been responding with atypical heroism. The mission of total human liberation and nation-building asks for sacrifice and heroism from all Filipinos, and the first few ones who respond give us glimpses about how powerful Filipinos can be if only they work together towards a common goal. Gawad Kalinga offers itself to be a vehicle for convergence, and it must be an attractive vehicle because national government agencies, LGUs, and private organizations and corporations are finding their way to GK.

It is Christmas. This special season brings joy and celebration to the hearts of millions of Filipinos. There are many, though, thousands and thousands of our brothers and sisters, who will not be able to enjoy Christmas as the rest of us. They have to bury their dead, search for their missing kin, and scramble for food, medicine and shelter. While we are filled with cheer, they are filled with fear and great uncertainty.

We must reach out to them. We must let them know they are not alone. We must show them that we are their brothers and sisters, created by the same one God, born of the same motherland.


Post Date: 12/23/04

Children's love to a mother

By Rudy A. Arizala
Santiago, Chile

I received a post-flood report from my niece after her elder sister was able to go to Infanta, Quezon in a hired vehicle and brought their mother to Manila to spend Christmas holdiays with them and make their mother forget her traumatic experience during the flash flood which occured on the night of 29 November 2004. My sister was sleeping inside her bedroom on the ground floor of our house in Infaanta. She was awaken by the noise of falling objects, and when she got up, the flood water was rising rapidly up to her neck. It was pitch dark and she shouted for help. But nobody heard her. So, she prayed and then the cellphone she was holding in her left hand suddenly lighted up. She was able to find her way toward the bedroom door. But she could not open the door. Instinctively, she struck with her right hand the door and it opened. She was able to swim toward the stairway leading to the second floor of our house. Upstairs, soaking wet, she passed the night until morning came.

The moment the mountain road from Infanta to Manila became passable, her daughters in Manila hired a vehicle; went to Infanta; and brought their mother to Manila.

Hereunder is an account of my niece two days after her mother arrived in Manila:

"Naipasyal na po namin si Mommy sa mall at ikinain sa Shakey´s dahil sa gusto po daw niya ng pizza. Dinala rin po namin sa beauty parlor dahil biglang tumanda ang mukha ni Mommy. Madami din po siyang sugat at pilat sa binti. Madami din ang kagat ng lamok buti na lang at nakapunta na siya dito sa Maynila. . . ." ( "We already took mother to the Mall and went to Shakey´s because she said she would like to eat a piece of pizza. We also brought her to a beauty parlor because mother suddenly look old. She has also superficial wounds and scars on her legs as well as mosquito bites. Thank God, we were able to bring her to Manila. . . ")

A heartrending sad account of what happened to my sister but gratifying as well to know that she has loving daughters who have deep concern and abiding love for their mother. When I spoke over the phone to my sister upon her arrival in Manila, she recounted to me in detail as to what happened to her and to our house in Infanta. Quezon. It was, indeed, a harrowing experience. All what I could tell her was we should thank the Lord that she was saved and still alive and should not think of the material things lost in the flood waters.

Instead of saying to all of you a "MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR", which we all know do not apply to the victims of flash floods in Infanta, Real and General Nakar, allow me to quote the words of my niece at the end of her message to me about their Mommy: "Malungkot ang Pasko pero marami rin dapat ipagpasalamat kaya tuloy na tuloy pa rin ang Pasko!" ( "It would be a sad Christmas but there are still many things to thank the Lord for. So, Christmas will surely still come to us!")

Trying to Salvage Christmas from Floods

By John O'Callaghan

Gregorio Evardome knows exactly what he wants for Christmas dessert: a Philippine favorite of young coconut brimming with fruit cocktail, jelly and cream.

This year, that sweet treat is just a dream.

Like many of the 60,000 people in the farming town of Infanta, the retired postal worker and his family are surviving on emergency rations of rice, noodles and tinned sardines after four fierce storms slammed into the northeastern Philippines.

With three of his 12 children still at home and some of the others coming back for Christmas, Evardome isremarkably quick to grin and laugh for someone with so little to celebrate.

"I hope everything will still be merry," he said by the light of a homemade kerosene lamp on his half-buried front porch. "I just have to hide my tears behind a smile."

Beyond its spiritual significance in this largely Roman Catholic country, Christmas is a time for feasts and parties.

Infanta, named for the baby Jesus, should be ablaze with festive lights and revelry at this time of year. Instead, it is dark and deserted after dusk.

"We don't have Christmas here," said Nards Pontillo, vice chairman of the local water authority, as his rubber boots slopped through the brown muck that blankets the streets.

Small shops are selling some fresh produce as earth movers clear the roads into the town and more trucks get through.

But nearly three weeks after the rains and floods stopped, many bridges are still out, buildings are full of mud and the once emerald-green rice fields are sun-baked flatlands.

Infanta's water pumping stations were wiped out or damaged when the Agos River, swollen by rain and clogged with illegally cut logs, burst its banks on Nov. 29. A few neighborhoods have electricity but the rest must wait until the new year.

The devastation is similar in the nearby towns of Real and General Nakar, which also took heavy blows from the storms that left nearly 1,800 people dead or missing in several provinces.

Barefoot children line the road to Infanta, shouting "Merry Christmas" to passing vehicles as they hold out their hands in the hopes of some charity.

Still, there is a glimmer of cheer at St Mark's Cathedral, one of several impromptu distribution centers where residents line up for bags of food and clothing.

Near the altar, lights flash above a traditional nativity scene. Green and red stars hang from the pillars and jaunty music blares from a tinny speaker as a generator hums outside.

Father Francisco Macabenta, the parish priest, is up early after a long day and late night of sermons, visits to remote areas, a funeral wake and meetings about relief efforts.

The pews are packed for the pre-dawn Mass. Before going inside, some of the faithful respectfully wash their filthy feet with precious bottles of drinking water.

"I tell them to celebrate Christmas in a more

meaningful way -- by the way of the heart and not so much of externals in terms of grand and expensive things," Macabenta said. "I guess we're forced into it now and Christmas becomes more meaningful."

Aid organizations will help the three worst-hit towns make it as special a time as possible for thousands of children by putting on shows and handing out toys and clothing on Wednesday.

"What matters is there is still hope for them," saidRosario Bandelakla, a nurse running a Red Cross relief post at a school.

Life was never easy for many in Infanta but recovering from the storms will take months, if not years. It willalso cost money the local and national governments do not have.

Faith, hope and humor have helped Filipinos weather many crises. That stoicism is extra strong in Infanta this Christmas.

"It will be an ordinary day like any other day," saidJessica Garcia, who took her two young daughters to live at her father-in-law's store after hip-deep water swept into her house.

"As for the children, I just wish for their good health -- nothing more."

Editor's Note: Thanks to Gene Pallugna for sending us this article from ebalita.net


Post Date: 12/22/04

Musings on Christmas 2004

By Rudy A. Arizala
Santiago, Chile December 2004

The immense outpouring of love, solidarity and assistance to victims of the recent flash floods in Infanta, Real and General Nakar, Quezon province (29 November 2004), is heart-consoling despite the cold, hunger, thirst, pain and sufferings of the survivors. They are suffering because of man´s perfidy and greed &endash; the wanton rape of our forests and natural resources.

It will be a dark and sad Christmas for the people of Infanta and its neighboring towns of Real and Gen. Nakar who have barely trekked back silently to their respective homes or whatever remains of their belongings after mourning and burying their dead. They would pick up the pieces or whatever remain of their shelter and rebuild a place where they could continue go on living.

No glittering multicolored lanterns in the shape of a star would hang from their window sills. No Christmas tree laden with gifts, decorations and glittering lights would stand at a corner of their home as it used to be No table laden with Christmas foods and native delicacies for the traditional "Noche Buena." It would be a dark, bleak, quiet Christmas.

Nevertheless, the town church still with telltale marks of the flood &endash; dried mud and slime at the walls with damp and wet atmosphere, would be packed with people. The faithful will give thanks and sing praises to the Lord and recall that more than 2,000 years ago, a host of angels sung also one dark, cold night to shepherds silently watching their flocks: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men of good will." (Luke 2:14).

They will observe and commemorate the birth of the "Prince of Peace" who later in life suffered "His Passion and Death on the Cross" at Mt. Calvary to redeem mankind from sin and evil.

And the faithful will be reminded also of the Lord´s Covenant" with Noah and future generations after the "Great Deluge" : "When I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember the covenant between me and you and every kind of living creatures so that never will flood waters destroy all flesh." (Genesis 9:14-15).

The Lord keeps His Covenant. It is mankind who forgets and fails. But there is always hope. For the angels said: "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which shall be to all the people; for today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you, who is Christ the Lord."(Luke 2:10-11)-

Savior, peace, hope and men of goodwill is the eternal message of Christmas whether dark or with glittering lights.

On the night Jesus was born, it was said a bright star shone which guided the three Wise Men from the East and enabled them to pay homage and respect to the newborn King.

Due to the recent flash floods, the people of Infanta and surrounding areas have no bright star to guide them. It would be a dark Christmas for them. But guided by their faith, they will pay homage and respect to the "infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger" as the shepherds did more than two thousand years ago.

A Blissful Christmas to everybody!!!

Congratulations!

Kelly Clayton for will be receiving a Bachelor of Arts and Science degree in education, major in Science and minor in mathematics from Wayne State University!

Kelly is the husband of Annabelle Icasiano.

From Joe and Malou Marquez, St. Louis, MO

I am sending you today, Tuesday, 12/21/04 the financial assistance from St. Louis, Missouri. I would like to thank the Liturgical group, Phil Nurses Association, Phil Arts Foundation, Filipino Association and the Fil-Am Community of St. Louis, MO in supporting me with my appeal for financial assistance during the 'Simbang Gabi' that ended last Saturday, 12/18/04.

Mila, I salute and applaud you for your love and dedication to our hometown of Infant, Real and Nakar. I wish we have more like you.

From Michaela Royce, Maryland

I am collecting used clothes for Real. I live in Bowie MD. Do you know anyone or any groups in MD doing the same thing?


From Delcie Runco, Project Philippines Coordinator
Holy Cross Parish, Thornton, CO

Yes, I am still going to the Philippines. I have been following your web site and have printed all the pictures and shared them with the people at Holy Cross.

As I told Fr. Von the last time Vince and I went there, I am going to experience the lives of our Sister Parishioners. What better time than now? As I told him before, he is not to try to feed me like he knows we eat here. I want to eat what they eat on a daily basis. I have sent him money to cover any extra expenses that he may have as a result of my being there.

I have gotten all my shots and will be taking medicine with me recommended by the Global Travel Service.

We sent Fr. Davu and Fr. Von seven more boxes this week making a total of 87 boxes that we have shipped to our Sister Parish and Fr. Von's new parish. I am taking some money from the church to assess the needs of our Sister Parish and will help out where needed. We have so many programs going on for the homeless and the underprivileged during the month of December that it was not a good time to try to do a fund raiser but after my visit we will know more about their current needs and it will be easier to do a fund raiser.

I was really worried during and after the typhoons because I was not able to contact Fr. Von. He finally called me a few days ago and let me know that he is OK. However, 30 of his parishioners died and many homes were destroyed.


FYI: 37,000 homes inclusive of 12 priority areas affected by typhoons

From Mario C. Leodones, Michigan

Please confirm, is it 37,000 homes destroyed from the three towns of Infanta, Real and Gen. Nakar or 3,700 homes. Just want to make sure I am quoting it right when I am appealing for donations or being requested to make an appeal. Also last Sunday, this is what Deacon Mario Van Loon reported:

1000 died and Missing

3964 Total destroyed Homes

150 Boat destroyed

1000 Families Traumatized

2 years rice field can not be planted

Bishop Tirona residence (Bahay Kubo) unlivable

Add more Statistics like how many bridges were damaged; number of landslides between Siniloan & Infanta; # 's of school & college buildings destroyed.

Editor's Response: Deacon Mario Van Loon's report figures are from the Infanta, Real and Gen. Nakar areas. The 37,000 figure came form the email messages from members of the Couples for Christ. the numbers are inclusive of the 12 priority areas they mentioned in the message, but may have been taken from the National Disaster Coordination Council (NDCC). As soon as given a go signal we shall release a more detailed report of the damages to Infanta, Real and Gen. Nakar.


Post Date: 12/21/04

Infanta: "beautiful amidst devastation"

I was just checking on websites on Infanta and I happen to find yours. Just to let you know that I was in Infanta for 10 days till Thursday last week to assist in coordinating relief efforts under the umbrella network we formed in Manila called Sagip Buhay Infanta composed of various corporate foundations, media (Inquirer), and NGOs in coordination with government. Fr Francis Lucas and the local NGO, ICDAI, is our implementing partner. ICDAI assists in the distribution of relief assistance in Infanta including the relief goods donated by the public at Mt Carmel for the Prelature. I am going to write about my insights on relief coordination and emergency response as soon as I have the time.

Let me say though that I found Infanta beautiful amidst its devastation. It will be a long, long while before it gets rehabilitated. Infanta has touched me deeply and I know my life has changed after my brief stay there. I will return after Christmas to check things out and see how I can assist further in the consolidation of reports and updates.

Milet Mendoza
Executive Coordinator
Tabang Mindanaw / Assisi Development Foundation
Emergency Disaster Response Coordinator - Volunteer for Infanta


Disaster Relief Efforts

From Bart and Marlene Perez
Couples for Christ, Denver, CO

We hope you don't mind if we got hold of your email address. We promise we will not be sending you matters not relating to Infanta. We just want to let you know that CFC is really focused in helping the province of Quezon, especially Infanta. We thought you'd like to know. Don't hesitate to call us if you need help.

Below are email messages from various leadesof Couples for Christ which should be of interest to our kababayans because of recent updates on the Infanta, Real and Nakar disaster.

From Rose:

"Once again, thanks for all the emails I've been getting with the activities that you're all carrying out over the next few weeks to help. I am especially grateful welcome since I know you're all busy with the festive season and a multitude of other things that were arranged weeks or months ago. Hay naku! When the Lord throws us a loaf of bread, it has a habit of looking a bit like a stone at first sight eh? We shouldn't miss the significance of what is happening now for GK though - it's not simply another disaster like all the others for us; this is GK's first time in the center of the public spotlight in the Philippines. "

Acco to Dylan, the DSWD official figures are that more than 37,000 homes were completely destroyed! Of those, we reckon something around 10,000-15,000 can afford to rebuild again so our focus is on the 20-25,000 who can't...

Australia has already committed to build 2500 houses by December next year... ANCOP-GK in Texas already has pledges for 7 houses and is committed to build at least a village in Infanta, Quezon province and is working on more villages...

Below is the latest update from Issa Cuevas Santos...

God bless you all and merry Christmas

From Issa Cuevas-Santos

We had a meeting yesterday regarding our Kalinga Luzon Project with DSWD and the Regional teams ;) DSWD reported that the three provinces (Aurora, Quezon and

Nueva Ecija) have some concerns (e.g. Quezon areas are a municipal delta, Nueva Ecija areas aren't just prone to flooding and typhoons but are also within a fault line and one of the provinces (can't remember right now which one po!) have a 30% slope making it unfit for human settlement). Sec. Dinky has given them until friday to identify areas where we can start our rehabilitation.

Priority will be given to Mindoro and Nueva Ecija since these are ready for rehab, others are still in relief phase.

The 12 priority areas are : (1) Baler, Aurora (2) Dingalan, Aurora (3) Real, Quezon (4) Infanta, Quezon (5) Gen. Nakar, Quezon (6) Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija (7) Gen. Tinio, Nueva Ecija (8) Mansalay, Mindoro (10) Roxas, Mindoro and two areas from Camarines Sur (to be confirmed).

Robert Ardiente will take care of Nueva Ecija/Aurora, Oca Oblefias will take care of Quezon areas and Joey Arguelles for Camarines Sur.

New partners : Cito Lorenzo (personal money) - 100 homes, Union Bank - 100 homes; Red Ribbon (10 homes); HUDCC and key shelter agencies (P3.25M - their Christmas party budgets combined to be given to GK upon order of VP Noli de Castro)

In behalf of all the hardworking, committed and passionate (Naks!) GK workers, we'd like to send our warmest Christmas greetings and prayers for a prosperous New Year for our country, especially the poor.


From Sr. Christine of FilMinistry in California

Thank God, there are so many efforts here in the United States, particularly California - to assist our kababayans in the Philippines ? the Consulate was able to get FOREX to deliver donations in kind for the Philippines -- clothes, food, medicines, etc -- for more information regarding this, please contact:

Leannie Navalta (DL) 213 - 637- 3011 or 639 0987

Edward Yulo (DL) 213 - 637 - 3003

From Emiliana Tena Close, Sydney, Asutralia

I posted my donation to the MIF last Friday, 17 Dec. '04 in the form of a bank cheque in your address at 7350 Braun Way, Arvada, Co. 80005, USA. It is not much but its something that will help our kababayan sa Infanta/Real,GNakar. I am going to fax a photocopy of the cheque to Gene Pallugna (husband siya ni Delia Ofreneo if I'm not mistaken).

I'm Romy Tena's sister and we just finished organising/collecting goods donation last week and I believe, they should be in Manila by now. It was requested to deliver them at Bishop Tirona in Manila (Q.C.). I hopethis will really reach our poor towns. Nais ko lang magpasalamat sa helipcopter crew that ferries reilef goods to Infanta, his name specifically is MELVYN TENA and his wife (all coincedence we got the same surname). They were able to locate my sisters (from Bantilan) who evacuated at Mt. Carmel School. MARAMING SALAMAT PO !!! at MIF, Fr.Francis, Bishop Tirona, the Sagip Bayan staff, Melvyn and his wife (Romy will see you in Infanta by Feb) who did the big effort of locating my family.

Your website is godsend finding information to what's happening in our old town. Here in Sydney will try to spread your web among kababayans here e.g. the Fortunados, Orantias and those na hindi ko ma-ala-ala their surnames. Cheers and all the best to you, Mila (I remember your tindahan ng damit sa palengke noon araw, you used to bring lunch (in a basket) at your store sa mga Batangenyo!!!) Hi, Mario (Leodones), in case you read this, got your e-mail today, will send your requested info soon.

BIG hether our two sisters in Bantilan survive or what??? Luckily in my numerous phone calls thru Father Francis I was referred to Sagip Bayan then to Melvyn Tena.


From Lucy Aumentado-De Guzman
Long Beach, California

When I saw the pictures of Infanta, Real and Nakar through your website which we didn't know existed, I was so sad and beyond disbelief. I can't believe that this is happening to my hometown.

Last March I just visited Infanta, I met the Mayor who, according to my sister, is a distant relative of ours. We enjoyed our vacation with my two sisters, and by February of next year we are going back again. I think it's not the same anymore -- my sisters income and properties are gone, but Thank God they are all alive. My son who is in the airforce stationed in Okinawa took a voluntary leave to help out our families and give his financial and morale support. I'm trying to collect (used) clothing from my friends and relatives to send it to the Philippines.

My family is sending also our condolenses to the family of Anching and Suzette Aumentado, who perished in this disaster. They are my relatives from my father's side. I hope the government of the Philippines will take action as soon as possible to give justice to the people of Infanta, Real and Nakar who suffered enough from this loss other than mother nature.

If anyone could give us information on where exactly we could send boxes of clothes. email us at theflgcollection@aol.com

Editor's Note: We recommend that in-kind donations be sent to:

Disaster Relief Center
c/o Bishop Rolando Tirona
Mt. Carmel Shrine
Juliana Rodriguez St

New Manila, QC

Post Date: 12/20/04

What happened to funds the Foundation sent to the Prelature of Infanta?

A number of you have asked what happened to the funds that the Foundation has collected. I'm happy to respond. On December 9, just 10 days after Typhoon Winnie hit, I wired transferred $17,500 from our Wells Fargo account to the bank account of the Prelature of Infanta. As of Dec.15, they have not received the funds. Checking with the bank, I was told that the transfer will happen within five business days. I'm counting that to mean that by Dec. 16, our funds should be in Manila. They were right! Deacon Mario Van Loon, Relief Center coordinator,just informed me that the funds finally made it to the prelature account to be used immediately to give relief to our kababayans who are in dire need of help.

I have asked Bishop Tirona and Deacon Mario to inform us of how our funds are used for the victims in Infanta, Real and General Nakar. In fact, even before the funds arrived the bishop and Deacon had already advanced from available funds to them some financial aids. I will post the report to you as soon as I receive it.

Meanwhile, I want to thank all of you who have shown how much you care about our hometown. I'm sure everyone who will benefit from our collective outreach appreciates our efforts. Please continue your fundraising. There's much work to be done. While relief assistance from various entities -- church, government, international and national organizations -- address basic survival needs, we know that sooner or later the quality of life also must be addressed.

Right now, I'm hearing that there's a need for counseling for the victims suffering from this trauma. We have heard accounts of depression and even suicide tendencies. We can help lift up the spirit of our suffering kababayans. Even our smallest effort can have a ripple effect of goodwill. Let us continue what we have begun.

Images of Quezon

A moving PowerPoint presentation created by students of De la Salle college. Please go down towards the middle of the bulletin and click on Images of Quezon to download to your computer for viewing.

De la Salle students also announced: "OUR TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS DRIVE WILL BE CHANNELED TO THE TYPHOON AND LANDSLIDE VICTIMS OF QUEZON PROVINCE."

Thank you Lasallians for yor concern for our people.


Prayers for kababayans

The Order of Carmelites (O.Carm.) in the Philippines is one with you in mourning for the loss of hundreds of lives. We are very sad also for the demise of a very dear friend, Fr. Cha Collendres.

We denounce the wanton destruction of the forests by the logging companies around the Quezon area and of the whole Philippines.

We will continue to send our support to you in whatever form we can give.

You are all part in our prayers and in our efforts.

On Behalf of Carmel Philippines,

Sirenio Jaranilla, O.Carm.
Prior, Manila Community
Carmel Philippines
#28 Acacia St., New Manila, QC
 

From Viola Sollesa Garcia, California

During the annual Christmas Party of the MIRC on Dec 11, 2004 more than 20 families attended and exchange stories they received from their families back home, trying to make it to a one big picture.

Quin and Carol Merana as well as Nitoy Villeno attended. They were in Infanta vacationing when the disaster happened. If you could only could hear their stories first hand, there are no appropriate words to describe their encounters. Thanks God for their safe return.

We immediately started our plan as soon as the news reached us. Donations were brought to the party , Diego, my husband, Loy Ofreneo and I picked up more items the following day, donated by some employees from Panorama Kaiser Hospital. All together, volunteer members packed 40 balikbayan boxes(Villenos residence) that were delivered Dec 20th for shipping.

Zorina Poblete Reyes (MIRC Pres) and Roland Protesta arranged the shipping. So far we have collected close $ 2,300+.

More to follow.

Happy Holidays to all!

From Rudy Arizala, former ambassador to Chile, on receiving support from colleagues in DFA

Thanks for informing the MIF website readers or visitors about the suggestion that the Philippine Medical Society of Northern California go also on medical mission to the three towns (REINA) in Quezon Province.

For the record, may I inform you that Ms. Rowena (Weng) Sanchez is at present the Philippine Consul General in San Francisco, California, U.S.A. She was formerly DFA Chief Coordinator. And when I was DFA Chief Coordinator, she was the Director General, Office of Administration, DFA, Manila.

There are many readers of MIF who are concern about the clearing of the mud and debris in the town of Infanta. Just imagine. To get a ride to go to Real, people have to walk thru mud and slime up to Brgy. Common according to one reader of MIF Website.

Also, the local authorities concern should take immediate steps in unclogging the Sabangan or outlets to the sea of the Bantilan and Agus rivers.

The strewn logs - I think the local government should ask the national government that the people be authorized to use them in rebuilding or reconstructing their destroyed homes or houses. That´s one way of helping the victims of the floods.

First thing to be done, if not yet being done is to clear the town of mud and debris. Adequate food and potable water supply. Prevent outbreak of infectious diseases; maintenance of peace and order. Help the people rebuild their homes.

Give counseling to people suffering from traumatic experience.

If plans do not miscarry, the Phil. Medical Society of Northern California would like to do medical mission work in Infanta, Real, General Nakar area from 23-24 January 2005. If by that time you would also be in Infanta or happen to see them, kindly extend my regards and thanks to them.

As you will note it was Philippine Consul General Rowena (Weng) Sanchez of San Francisco, California who requested them to include in their medical mission the three towns affected by the typhoons in Quezon province. Congen Weng Sanchez formerly worked with me when I was DFA Chief Coordinator during Secretary Raul S. Manglapus time in 1989-91.

I am a bit worried if the Medical mission will arrive in Infanta and nobody would at least tell them where they could camp themselves and do their humanitarian work.

As I mentioned to you earlier, the Famy -Real-Infanta Road is now passable. I obtained said info from my sister Merle of NDV Angat, Bulacan.

By the way, Kuya Poling and Kaka Vacion Derilo are now in Infanta. Do you have communications with them considering that they are officers of the Metro Infanta Foundation? Maybe, you could get more updated info from them about the situation in the devastated area.
News on General Nakar

from Yahoo News:Science - AFP

General Nakar, a town of about 23,000 people, suffered about 500 casualties, including 262 dead, said its police chief Miguel Anajao.

"We need to feed these people for at least one more month," said Noel Fortunato, a member of the municipal council.

"It would probably take our town five years to recover," he added.

The civil defense office in Manila said the four storms and typhoons that hit Luzon in a month had displaced more than three million people.

The floods wiped out about 206,000 tonnes of rice and 350,000 tonnes of corn, or 1.38 percent and 5.9 percent respectively of the country's projected 2005 output for the cereals.

more ...


From Bert Aumentado, California

This is the reply I received from Direct Relief International. They are under the impression that as far as urgent medical needs are concerned, the disaster areas are getting enough help so they are not doing anything for now. However, I do know that they constantly receive medical equipment from donors and they distribute them to deserving organizations. If the hospital in Infanta lost some equipment, they might consider asking Direct Relief.

As to your web site's problem of pictures not showing up, a quick look showed that while you have separate names of picture senders which looks like separate links, the links actually point to the same html file (photos.html) where Ms. Icasiano's pictures are located. If you made separate documents for the other pictures, you'll need to open a link to that file. I assume you have created a document where you pasted Ms. Recio's pictures. If you called that document 'reciophotos.html', just edit the link to "photos sent by Sandra Recio' to 'reciophotos.html'.

If this doesn't work, you'll have to give me information on how your system is set up and how much of the site maintenance you do. I can see you are using Claris Home Page. I think they have a demo program that I can look at in the meantime. If you are desperate, you can call me at 805-967-4392. If you are not so desperate, my family will be celebrating Christmas at my oldest son's house in Louisville. He is a physicist at NIST in Boulder.

And lastly, I haven't seen my check clear the bank. If you haven't received it by now, please let me know. It already lost once (fell behind my computer, all the while bugging me if I had mailed it or not).

Post Date: 12/18/04


Open sabangan, says Romy Tena

Due to the confusion and dis-array everyone has undergone after the flood, it may have been neglected to check on the status of the 'sabangan' - the confluence between the Bantilan River and the open sea. Same needs to be done with that river's sabangan in Tongohin. I think the sabangan of Agos river is open because I got word from one of my friends last week that they went to Mauban via Pinaglapatan. Most probably they were able to get into the pondohan of Pinaglapatan along Agos River.

These confluences when barred by logs, silt and debris, i bet were the main culprits (aside from the back to back typhoons the region had) as to why the floodwaters took considerable time before it receded.

We must ensure these sabangan are opened up while the US and Philippine military are STILL THERE to help with their explosives and heavy equipment. All that is needed for confirmation is a 10 minute aerial survey of the areas. If this 10 minute cannot be spared, any old timer in Bantilan would know if the sabangan is open by observing the tide movement.

Last time Bantilan's sabangan was closed by flood, it took years for the municipal government to open it up. Am calling on Francisco Romantico to check on the status of Bantilan's sabangan and pass the info on to Deacon Mario or to Bishop Tirona for immediate action.


From Annabelle Icasiano Clayton, Macomb Michigan

I just got a text from Nonoy Sarona of Infanta. Around 10:30pm Philippine time, nag panik daw mga tao at iyakan, after hearing false alarm na me pumutok daw na dam kaya malaki na ang tubig sa agos river. People were running to Tongohin. It was chaos.

Luckily, it was just rumor, water level in Agos river was fine.

Kuya Mario Leodones was right when he said that something needs to be implemented for someone (official)to check and monitor the river to give people enough notice to evacuate. This will also eliminate false alarm or tsismis. Baka ma heart attack pang ibang tao sa nerbyos ay tsismis lang pala.

From Venchi Gucon, Saudi Arabia

Up-date lang...

Bago ang lahat e ang aming condolences sa pamilya Portales sa pagyao ng kanilang kapatid na-stress out sa pangyayari sa nagdaang bagyo. Kuya Otchi ang aming dasal at pagdamay sa inyo. From Miras-Gucon family.

Balitang Infanta..sa usap namin ngayon ng misis ko (Juliet Miras-Gucon), it seems ang bagal ng dating ng mga relief goods sa atin hanggang ngayon at para ngang sa newspaper lang ang lahat ng tulong na dumarating. Sabi ko kay Misis kung anu bang ginagawa ng mayor sa atin...e ayon kausap daw ng mga Amerikano.

Ang mga tao ay exhausted na talaga at nawawalan na ng pag-asa. Have you ever heard the comment of Ms Susan Roces on national TV para sa madaliang pagkilos, tiyak namang merong pundo para mapadali ang pag-aayos ng mga tulay. So, sa ganitong situation mo malalaman kung ang namumuno sa atin is a man of action at marunong umagapay at pinapaabot kung anung mga plano..iyong madaliang disposisyon baga?

Ang banlik e abot binti sa amin sa bayan (Arellano St.) and it takes 1-hour to reach Comon where doon ka lang makakasakay papuntang Real then Manila. Kailangang maayos kaagad ang tulay para makapasok ang malalaking equipment para sa pag-aalis ng banlik at syimpre malaki ring usap iyan kung saan ilalagay at sana may mga nakalapat na sulusyon na para diyan.

Ang isa pang balita pinagbabawal daw ni Mayor manguha ng nagkalat na troso. Sana may programa din sila para diyan at magamit ng mga nawalan ng bahay at hindi kung saan. Nagbibiro nga ang mga kasamahan ko dito sa opisina na kung iyong mga donations and pledges e mukhang sobra-sobra pa kung bibigyan daw ng tig-i-isang milyon ang bawat pamilya sa atin sa nakikita nilang suporta pero hindi kaya sa newspaper lang din iyon. Sabi ko kung makakatanggap kami ng ganoon e hindi na ako mag-sa-Saudi at pagyayamanin ko na laang iyon sa atin to be with my family.

Sana nga unahin na ang dapat unahin sa atin at magkaroon ng kooperasyon ang bawat isa at hindi ang nababalita ay iyong nakawan doon sa mga bahay na nilubog ng baha...Sana bumili ng maraming pala si Mayor at bigyan ng matatrabaho ang mga tao doon by swiveling those banlik sa isang lugar muna...na i-imagine na lang nila na snow iyong pinapala nila this Christmas, kung hindi sisimulan ng namumuno e sino pa...like doon sa simbahan sana wala ng banlik sa loob at naitulak na palabas at naidaos ang unang araw ng simbang gabi kahit papaano. Just for now and your up-date please.


It was so kind of you to suggest that the Philippine Medical Society of Northern California include in their medical mission as well as of their desire to know what the towns in Quezon province need to include such relief goods in their containers which will be brought to the Philippines..

I am sure Governor Willie L. Enverga still remembers you for as you well know, he was also a member of the Philippine foreign service and he himself when still a congressman was a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Gov. Willie L. Enverga´s address is:

Governor Wilfrido L. Enverga
Office of the Governor
Kapitolyo
Lucena City, Philippines
Email address: governor@quezon.net

On behalf of the people of the devastated towns of Infanta, (my hometown), Real and General Nakar in Quezon province, allow me to extend to you and to the officers and members of the Philikppine Medical Society of Northern California, heartfelt appreciation and congratulations for their humanitarian mission.

I understand that many of my kababayans need medical counselling for they still suffer from traumatic experience. Even my own sister, who managed to swim to reach the second floor of our house in Infanta, still dream at night or has nightmares of her traumatic experience.

P.S. I copy furnished Gov.Willi Enverga with this message so that he would know in advance that you will write him a letter re medical mission of the Phil. Medical Society of Northern California. RAA

From: Weng Mendoza Sanchez

To: Amb. Rodolfo Arizala

I requested the Phil. Medical Society of Northern California, which is going on a medical mission to Batangas, to also go to Quezon and they have agreed. May I ask for the address of Gov. Willie Enverga. I'm not sure if he remembers me, but I will contact him to see how the mission can get to the most in need. The group is shipping 2 40ft. containers, so it would be good to know what the towns need. They would like to go to Quezon from 23-24 January.


Text messages

From Deacon Mario

12/17/04: Relief on big scale shifting to rehabilitation i.e., making temporary shelters.

Three agencies -- Christian Aid, World Vision and Oxfam leading the rehab program, food and cash for work.

20 organizations bringing relief where we direct them.

Confirmed 3,964 total destroyed homes.

Re: Direct cell connection to Infanta: Most of the time the network is down. Moreover, they have to preserve the battery of their cell (for emergencies).

Some families have left for good. For two years, no rice can be planted. 150 bangkas destroyed. People are deeply traumatized.

 

Will send complete assessment later.

From Bishop Tirona

12/16/04: Describing the Bahay Kubo, he said: "Still messy. Mud everywhere. Bahay Kubo needs much rehab. We're picking up what we can. Nakakapanlambot.

12/17/04 Just left Infanta after an emotional simbang gabi and on his way to Baler, with his reliable F150 2x2. He says the roads are passable but messy.


Post Date: 12/17/04

What's the real situation in Infanta, Real and Gen. Nakar?

by Rudy Arizala, Santiago, Chile

I know like me and other expatriates, you would like also to know the actual or real situation in Infanta in the light of the following news which appeared in the MIF Website: "For the moment you do not have to send more food. We have been able to feed the hungry and have food enough for the coming week."

In the Philippine Star newspaper of 17 December 2004, the following news item appeared reported by Jaime Laude:

"INFANTA FOLK SUBSIST ON FOOD RATIONS."

The news report went on to say that the people have to endure long queues to get their daily rations of two or three kilos of rice and a can of sardines or a pack of noodles from the government distribution centers.

Other residents have packed up their things and silently left for Metro Manila or elsewhere where they have relatives.

For those left behind here, they have simply nowhere to go. Aside from lining up for the food rations, the sick also have to fall in line for their medical checkup at the dispensary which the Department of Health has put up at the Infanta Elementary School.

All the town´s road networks are still in knee-deep mud.

Would it not be better if somebody please from Infanta could give us updates on the actual situation in our hometown? We thank those kababayans who hiked through the mountain roads and reported their experience and what they saw. They even sent colored photos.

We would appreciate if we could also receive from people, especially those engaged in relief work or mission, to kindly give us updates on the situation in our hometown. We would like to know:

1. If food rations should continue beyond 16 December 2004.

2. How many people or families have been fed or given food rations.

3. Whether local authorities have started cleaning the streets of mud and debris.

4. Where the people get their water for cooking and drinking.

5. Whether the road from Real to Infanta is already passable.

6. Whether the road from Real to Siniloan is already passable.

7. Whether the lines of communications have already been restored or are the people still using their cellphones to communicate with outside world.

8. What kind of lighting do they have at night. Oil, kerosene, candles?

9. What measures have been taken to prevent the break out of communicable diseases.

10. What assistance, if any, is contemplated by the authorities to help the flood victims rebuild their homes or at least be able to have temporary shelter.


From Francis and Neth Romantico and two beautiful ladies; Divine and Cecil

The last itme I visited this site was Nov. 13 ,2004. Today is more than a month now...December 17, 2004 at around 2:10 a.m. There is always a feeling of joy and eagerness as I tried visiting this web.

More than a month now, I shared the news that we have a new breed of MCSI leaders elected last 31 October 2004. I didn't know that the Lord is preparing each and every one of us ( new batches of young CARMELIANS ) to face the new gigantic challenge of our times -- how to share and get involved in rebuilding Infanta and its neighboring towns.

Huwag sana tayong bibitaw. Let us always work together with the mighty hands of God.Thank you for this web, we can share and express ourselves. our views and opinions and suggestions as to how we make this world in which a better place to live.

Paala-ala lang siguro sa atin: Mahalin nating ang ating kalikasan. let us be concerned this time. let us not wait for another tragedy to happen before we lift our concerted efforts. Tulungang nating bumangon muli ang mga kababayan natin.

You can count me in as one of those active supporters of this call. Mahalin natin ang ating sariling bayan. Dito tayo nag-umpisa. Whatever status of life you may now have is rooted in our dearly loved Infanta.

Give my regards to everyone -- to Annabelle and Family, lalo na sa maganda kong Ninang Flor. We really miss you po. Pagbati ng isang payak subalit punung-puno ng pagmamahal na Pasko sa inyong makakabasa nito.

I still have a lot of things to share with you. I hope to hear from you also. Batch '74 of former MCHS, please stand up to be recognized.


From Lino Poblete, San Leandro, CA

God bless you Mila and to wonderful kababayan behind the MIFoundation. The Franciscan Lady of the Poor here in San Leandro wish to inform you of their ongoing support to our kababayan. They have just sent around $3000.00 through Mother Superior Mother Espie, and shipped fifteen balikbayan cargo boxes of relief.

We give thanks to our Pastor and the community of Our Lady of Good Counsel Church here in San Leandro, California for his support to storm victims in Quezon, Nueva Ecija as well as in Bicol Region.

By the way I wish I could know you more. I'm just wondering if your are related to Buenaventura Garcia and his wife Ate Mely of Tonggohin (Response: I don't know. But to me,anyone who is a Garcia is my relative, especially if they are from Infanta and Batangas). They are close relative of mine. I'm the youngest son of the first marriage of Cayetano Poblete, who hailed from Alitas and spend most of his life in Real as LTB Conductor with Kuya Tura his Driver.

Just a thought, but "The Labong ng Kawayan" is really growing.. robustly. Keep it up.... the world you knew is behind you.. count me on. Pax et Bonum !


From Joel Ruidera, California

This is in line with Joe Marquez inquiry regarding the progress of Metro Infanta Foundation and friends with respect to donations and relief aids sent by our kababayan through MIF to Bishop Tirona.

I also have received many inquiries from folks affected by the disaster in Infanta especially in Bgy. Ilog, Comon and Bantilan, who said they heard of relief aids coming from MIF but they have not seen anything yet other than those that came from ABS-CBN, Philippine and US troops who drop off goods.

I don't know how to answer their questions; I simply mentioned MIF is not as mechanized as ABS-CBN and other government agencies with all full logistic resources. MIF and friends, however, continue gathering support for them.

I'm trying to reach out also to Forex here in the Bay Area; maybe they can do the same as Forex Australia in helping out by giving discounts to boxes destined for flood and landslide victims. Do you know where we can send boxes of clothes and other aids so they can reach the people faster? Do we have volunteers on foot?

Thank you so much for continued effort to help those who really need it. Also, the e-mail address of the people who sent me letters through you specifically, Ms. Conching Fornilda Jaug, and Ms. Pratt are invalid. I tried several times to respond to them but my messages keep bouncing back.

If they want they can just e-mail me directly at joel.ruidera@flysfo.com.


From Joe Marquez, St. Louis, MO

I was just wondering if the mayors of Infanta, Real, and Nakar have access to a computer or are they aware of this website. Do they know what we are doing here for our town of Infanta / Real/ Nakar? May be someone in Infanta can ask them to give us some update and progress. It would be nice to hear from them from time to time. How do other people from Infanta/Real/Nakar able to give us an update. Just a thought.

Editor's Note: We are hoping Bishop Tirona can give more info on the situation and how relief efforts are going on in Infanta. He was supposed to have gone to Infanta yesterday. Meanwhile, we have been receiving eyewitness accounts from our kababayans who have braved the landslides and broken roads to go to Infanta.

In addition, Deacon Mario gave us a sigh of relief when he said, Deacon Mario has informed us earlier that ""For the moment you do not have to send more food. We have been able to feed the hungry and have food enough for the coming week." Of course this is only temporary. So we need to continue our relief solicitations.

Meanwhile, if there's anyone who can answer Joe's questions, please let us know.

Post Date: 12/16/04

Metro Infanta Foundation collection tops $19,000

Many thanks for your support, we probably will match St. Thomas More Parish's $10,000 donation and our Sunday Visitor's $2,500 contribution in just a few days. To date, MIF has collected in pledges and actual cash and checks received from our kababayans and friends more than $6,500. With $17,500 already sent to Bishop Tirona, our donors can rest assured that their gifts go directly to those in need, and that every dollar you have given will all go towards our outreach in the towns of Infanta, Real and General Nakar -- dollar for dollar, with no administration fees taken out of your donation.

When Gene Pallugna first offered his business services to expedite the processing of donations, I happened to mention, rather wistfully, that it would be nice if we could match the lowest international contribution reported, which was $50,000. With the $32,500 the prelature will receive from various donors to Metro Infanta Foundation and from the Filipino American associations in Texas, my wistful think may not be that far off after all. Many other organizations worldwide cooperating with us, and so I am convinced we may even top that goal. However, what bothers me still is that in the "Where are they now?" listing of our expatriates there are more than 500 names. I am just curious when they will join us in our efforts to help our distressed hometown.

True, others have relatives to support directly, and I applaud them for doing so. But there are many kababayans who don't have any "rich relatives" to support them. They need our help! Jesus said, if you give to someone you know, you already have received your reward (I'm paraphrasing of course). If you have not considered giving at to this point, please prayerfully consider it now. The amount is really not that important. Remember the "widow's mite"? Even to this day, we are still talking about it, more than 2,000 years later. The fact that you give speaks volume of your concern and just lip service.

We have now more than $1,000 to start the next batch we will be sending. Please keep your donations coming. Use whatever creative ways you can imagine to raise funds. Jinggy and Malou Leynes Espinosa have given a gift in honor of some her friends; Pablito and Imelda Orantia Orozco are simplifying their Christmas celebrations and gift giving to contribute to our Disaster Relief Funds. Others have asked their parishes to help, especially during their Simbang Gabi, and many more (Just look at our list of those who are organizing and doing something. Please know that your efforts are greatly appreciated, and that God cannot be outdone in generosity.


From Michaela Royce, Washington, DC

My mother, Nelda Reyes Ollet, is from Infanta/Real Quezon. I'm collecting used clothing for the people of Real Quezon. I will be shipping three Forex balikbayan boxes this Saturday (18 Dec) to my brother, Arthimes "Boy" Ollet. . . and there will be more to follow.

From Shelley Ortiz, Texas

I tried calling Rick Reyes's number and did not get a response. I checked Internet for Filipinas Cargo Expedite listing but did not find any local number for me to call.

I want to ask Filipinas Cargo if there is a local office in Houston or close to Houston that I can contact and make some arrangements for the boxes we will ship?

FYI... Diann Williams, co-worker at HP donated 2 large shipping boxes' full of clothes.

Bert and Edith Bernabe, good friends from NW Houston gave 3 large shipping boxes' full of clothes, etc.

Employees of Klein Funeral Home in Tomball, Texas are donating goods

Ortiz and Cua homes (Carol and Sam) are drop off and sort locations


Halina, Hesus, halina

ni Obispo Rolando Tria Tirona, OCD

Sa gitna ng katahimikan

Isip ko'y gumagala

Sa gitna ng katahimikan

Hinagpis ng tao'y nadarama

Sa gitna ng katahimikan

Bulong na may bagong umaga

Simo'y nagpapaalaala

Simbang Gabi sa prelatura

Halina Hesus, halina


From Romeo Tena, Australia

Flood donations outpoured to the extent that I could not box them all up. After packaging 28 huge FOREX PREMIUM boxes, to meet the Sagip Ka-Pamilya's Dec.15 deadline, I turned over to FOREX an estimated 10 boxes worth of donations for processing (packing).

Our gratitude, though inconsequential as viewed by the donors who in several instances refused to be photographed or even be named, must be expressed for these blessings to continue. Let me salute the children who boxed their own belongings and vehemently insisted to their parents that their items be given to the victims. Let me salute the donors who like our vigilant voters today have asked me to ensure the victims get at least 90% of the donations. I have responded that there is basically no difference between the people of Bishop Rolando Tirona and the people of ABS CBN. They are all volunteers and like us here in Australia or anywhere else, we all CARE and so we all must TRUST others.

I was told freight charges for the donations were halved between ABS CBN and FOREX Australia. When it comes to companies making charitable contributions, people nowadays nonchalantly regard them as plain, old marketing techniques or even as taxation scams. I say give credit where it is due. ABS CBN and FOREX Australia bridged the distance between us and the victims, full stop. FOREX AUSTRALIA, a family run business I observed, went out its way to give their help. Packing the donations, providing the packaging materials, picking up boxes very late at night IS NOT THEIR DUTY. That was just how they care.

Mr Billy Ick of ABS CBN and Mr Enrique Campos of FOREX AUSTRALIA http://www.forexworld.com.au please accept our heartfelt gratitude for all your assistance.


Australia Disaster Relief donors

SYDNEY FLOOD DONORS, Alphabetical Order

  1. Alex Yolanday, PATAS
  2. Benjie Nicodemus, PATAS
  3. Bernie Sison, PATAS
  4. Bong & Ellen Alata+, Woodcroft, NSW
  5. Boy & Tess Alvaran, Fairfield, NSW
  6. Cesar & Lourdes Orantia+, Glenwood, NSW
  7. Connie Tena Galao+, Harris Park, NSW
  8. Danilo & Estela Bartolome, Woodcroft
  9. Danny Saycon, PATAS
  10. Dario & Dory Tena+, Chester Hill, NSW
  11. Dave & Josie Lacana, Casula, NSW
  12. Dolet & Ike Enriquez, Rooty Hill
  13. Doming & Lucy Adefuin, Doonside, NSW
  14. Doming & Myrna Joson, Hinchinbrook, NSW
  15. Paul & Emmy Tena Close+, Castle Hill, NSW
  16. Francisco & Cynthia Enriquez+, Stanhope Gardens, NSW
  17. Frank & Carmen Javier+, Stanhope Gardens, NSW
  18. Frank Guanco, PATAS
  19. Garry & Jan Simpson, Sutherland, NSW
  20. Gerry & Rowena Babilonia, Rosehill, NSW
  21. Grace Tan, Granville, NSW
  22. Josie Tena Wyatt+, Seven Hills, NSW
  23. Jun & Gina Frani, Hinchinbrook, NSW
  24. Laurie Espino, Regents Park, NSW
  25. Linda Swords, Sutherland, NSW
  26. Lito Bengua, Baulkham Hills, NSW
  27. Manny & Imee Villaver, Granville, NSW
  28. Manuel & Mini Ortiz, Sutherland, NSW
  29. Marilyn Diaz, Parramatta, NSW
  30. Marlow Magnayon, PATAS
  31. Michael & Didi Dugan, Sutherland, NSW
  32. Mr & Mrs Carlos Alonso, Parramatta, NSW
  33. Mr & Mrs Renato Banaag, Ermington, NSW
  34. Nani & Liza Dera, Mount Druitt
  35. Narding & Merle Galang, Woodcroft, NSW
  36. Nestor & Susan de Guzman, Harris Park, NSW
  37. Oboy & Glenda Rodil, Woodcroft
  38. Omar & Lina Candelaria, Glendenning, NSW
  39. Omer & Maureen Orantia+, Minchinbury, NSW
  40. Oscar & Agnes Baluyot+, Stanhope Gardens, NSW
  41. Pat & Mina Villanueva, Sutherland, NSW
  42. Paul & Rose Keshan, Sutherland, NSW
  43. Rene & Sonia Marquillero, Parramatta, NSW
  44. Ricardo & Lita Cristobal, Granville, NSW
  45. Rico & Nancy Zamonte, Marayong, NSW
  46. Rodi & Tammy Orantia+, Glenwood, NSW
  47. Roger & Marilou Marcelo, Sutherland, NSW
  48. Roger Oponda, PATAS Chairman
  49. Romy & Erma Tena+, Carramar, NSW
  50. Ruben delos Santos, Yagoona, NSW
  51. Shyrill & Adel, Glendenning
  52. Steve Elizalde, Hinchinbrook, NSW
  53. Suzana Andrada Easterbrook, Carramar, NSW
  54. Tessie Moring, Sutherland, NSW
  55. Tom Gollob, Parramatta, NSW
  56. Vic & Cely Lagueva, Sutherland, NSW
  57. Vic & Rhoda Castro, Doonside
  58. Willy & Cora Calderon, Sutherland, NSW
  59. Yolando & Christina Molo, Regents Park, NSW

+Infantahin

Patas - Philippine Australia Tennis Association of Sydney

Post Date: 12/15/04


CyberDyaryo features Quezonians outreach efforts

Dear Quezonians overseas,

Congratulations for your continued heroism for the needy townmates back here. This is to inform you that my media nonprofit organization, the OFW Journalism Consortium, wrote a story about your work for the homeland.

See the website of CyberDyaryo, www.cyberdyaryo.com. The story is posted there. If you can't view them abroad, see the whole story below.

Mabuhay po kayo, and I hope to meet some of you who will come back home next year. I am honored to write the story of the wonderful work of migrants to the motherland. Cheers!

Sincerely,

JEREMAIAH M. OPINIANO

President, OFW Journalism Consortium, Inc.

Please click here or above headline for complete story.


From Glenn Delica
Bgy. Libjo Infanta Quezon

I attached some pictures (Editor's note: we were unable to post the photos, but please check tomorrow's edition) just to elaborate further how a trip to Infanta was, as described by Jon. I only attached 6 pictures, please e-mail me back if you want the other 18 and I will send it by 6 so us not to clog-up your email.

We know that our experience is nothing compared to what our kababayans have experienced.

We started 1PM (Dec. 3) just after Yoyong and after clearing some landslides at Maragondon (they said it is part of Tanauan already). We could not count the landslides until Kinanliman (before Real town). There are more landslides than clear road. We walked barefoot; boots, shoes, sandals are no good, only combat shoes will stay on your feet when you step on a hip deep mud. We crossed all sorts of terrain, mud, rocks, logs, branches, corals. We walked down the ravine and along the rocky beach to avoid landslide. There were people from Tignoan with their children and babies trying to hike back to Maragondon that are accessible to buses because they have nothing to eat in their place. We continued walking until evening, each one of us had flashlight. It was already about 10 pm when we crossed the 4 broken bridges to real town. We rode a tricycle to Infanta up to common area (about 11pm), walked again to Caderma's house, took a rest for about an hour and walked again to Libjo, we arrived 2am. It was about 18 to 20 km hiking and 12km tricycle ride.

December 4 and 5, we stayed and cleaned our house while our whole body are still aching. December 6, I went to town to find out how bring my mother (she cannot walk) to common where we can take a tricycle to Ungos (Real Port). Clearing of the road already started so the pictures that I took showed a little better condition than it was during the typhoon. The hardened mud was about knee deep or above the wheel of the pick-up truck at the municipal building and at the church. I do not have pictures of the ricefield but you cannot really plant rice on the hardened mud. Lucky are those who have artesian wells/pumps but most of houses relied on water system that was damaged by mudflow so most of the Infanta folks have to walk in the mud to bail water elsewhere.

December 7, I hired a hand tractor with cart to bring my mother from Libjo to Comon. The we rode a tricycle to Real Port but waited for another day until the coast guard ship came. The ship could not approach the pier because of shallow water. They used rubber boats to transfer the passengers from the pier to the ship in a rough sea. There maybe about 300 passengers but we were packed like sardines, many kids were sea sick and could not eat. It took about 6 hours to load, 4pm we started sailing to mauban. After about 1 hour of travel the ship stopped. The scuba divers have to remove the big branches of trees/logs that were stuck underneath the ship near the propeller. We arrive Mauban about 2am but waited til morning to unload the passengers via rubber boat. We were the last one to get off the ship because of my mother, we are in land by 11:30am and in Manila by 5pm. So it took 3 days from Libjo to Quezon City.

I left my father and families of my sisters still cleaning the house.

MY PERSONAL VIEW

1. Bad experience will be worst if we will not learn lesson from it.

2. First look at ourselves before others. I myself is guilty about this. Have we bought and collected Narra and hardwood furniture in our house? If yes, then we patronized those criminals of the forest. Let us introduce change to our culture, let us not appreciate hardwood in our home, they should better be in the forest. Next time, use and promote other alternatives like plastics and steel. If you look at some house models in the architectural magazines, they used steel, painted like wood and they look artistic and beautiful.

3. The tragedy should be attributed to the legal and illegal loggers alike. Legal loggers are big businessmen with political connections who do not really have a heart for the poor people although when they talk you would be convinced they are for the poor. Let us pray for them. Legal loggers will only be acceptable if there is good forest management and if the trees being cut are replenished.

3. Some areas of the mountain got loose because of heavy rain, not because of logging - but still it is not reason to continue the logging. In the future it will affect the water supply in Manila. More mudflows to come, every rain, God forbid!

4. If we destroy the environment, there is no equivalent human effort to reconstruct them. We earn million, we destroy billions.

5. As what we learned from our school, even if everybody is violating the rules, everyone is enriching themselves at the expense of others, cheating is the normal and standard practice, do not get tired of doing what is good and what is just for others. God will always be with us and we will end up to be happier and fulfilled persons despite all the odds.

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas. Pagpalain ng Diyos ang Infanta, Real at Nakar! Walang sinuman and nabubuhay para sa sarili lamang. Samahan natin, hindi lang ngayon, kundi hanggang sa muling pagbangon!


From Mario C. Leodones, Canton, Michigan

The Metro Infanta Association Of Michigan (MIAMI) has the following fund raising events with different organizations in Michigan. Three masses are schedule for the following dates:

Dec.19, 2004 (Sunday)12:30 p.m. Guardian Angels Church 12545 Kelly Rd. Detroit, MI

*Dec.19, 2004 (Sunday)2:00 p.m. St. Sylvester Church, 11200 East 12 Mile Rd. (Between Van Dyke & Hoover) Warren, MI

*Dec.28, 2004 (Tuesday) 7:15 p.m. St. Hugo Of The Hills Church 2215 Opdyke Rd. Bloomfield Hills, Mi

*Proceeds (donations) will go to the victims of the recent typhoon & flood to the Metro Infanta area (Infanta, Real & Gen. Nakar) and to Gapan, Nueva Ecija from the last two masses.

Philippine Technological Society Of Michigan (PTSM) w/c I am a member held its Christmas party last Dec. 4 and pledge monetary donations. PTSM president Mr. Art Bada will be leaving for Manila this week to hand deliver the money to MIAMI president Greg Sollestre.

I placed collection boxes at the Philippine American Community Center located at 17356 Northland Park Court, Southfield, Michigan for perishable goods such as medicines,clothing (for men,women & children) and canned goods. We already had collected some clothing to be sorted and shipped.

Some organizations are doing fund raising thru Red Cross and want to channel their donation to the Philippine Red Cross. I will email you with any further developments. Extend our heartfelt thanks to all who are answering the call for our hapless & unfortunate Kababayan. Merry Christmas to all.

Post Date: 12/14/04

From Deacon Mario Van Loon

1. December 11, 5 AM I got a phone call from my man in Infanta. "For the moment you do not have to send more food. We have been able to feed the hungry and have food enough for the coming week." Of course I felt very happy.

2. From several doctors from medical mission we send in and from the Dokters Zonder Gernzen, I got the information that also the health situation is now more or less under control. We have established a clinic and a distribution system for medicines in the three towns. Medical teams will still go to the area the coming week in order to check on patients and be sure that no epidemic will happen. We also coordinated to have water testing teams send in in order to make sure that the ground water is not affected by the lack of sanitation. New pumps are being installed on deeper levels than before.

3. The people are presently drawing energy from stories of "miraculous" survivals. I give some examples:

- In one of the villages (Barrios) of Nakar a mother was nursing her three days old baby when the floods came. Her house started to fill with water and mud, luckily the trees around protected the house from the strong current and the logs. So she could just hold on to the beams of the roof. In order to save the baby when the flood got higher and higher she put it in a jug, a kind of plastic container used to serve drinks, that was able to float in the water. In this way she and the baby survived!

- A six year old girl was playing with the rubber tire (band) of a huge truck wheel. When the water came she climbed in the tire and floated many kilometers away with the current. When the water subsided she walked for several hours along the beach and found her village again. Her parents could not believe what they saw when she just walked quietly to the place where their house had been. She experienced everything more like a game!

- A small baby of almost one year was swept away by the current and presumed dead. Till some neighbors heard her cry. She was caught between two logs, unable to move, her head the only part of her body still sticking out of the mud, but she was saved!

PS  Bishop Tirona will probably appear on a TV show of ABS-CBN tomorrow 8:30 PM local time.


Medicines needed

If you have access to pharmaceutical companies and are able to get the medicines listed below, it would be greatly appreciated.

1) antibiotics
2) Paracetamol
3) Mefenamic acid
4) Antihistamine Antiasthma
5) Carbocisteine
6) Phenylephrine HCI Bromphniramine Maleate
7) Anti-tetanus
8) Inhalation Aerosol/Nasal Spray
9) Carvedilol/Spironolactone Butzide (for hypertention)


From Rex Crisostomo, Analee Coralde and all the Infantahin in the NY/NJ/PA area

Greetings and peace in the most holy name of Jesus!

We would like to thank you for posting "MISA NG BUHAY", handog para sa mga biktima ng bagyong "Winnie" and all the Filipinos in the New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania area who attended the Mass celebrated by Fr. Boots Anson, Fr. Jomari Parcon, Fr. Romeo Panes, and Fr. Armando Crisostomo, Jr.. We also would like to extend our thanks to all our priests who came from different parishes in New Jersey to celebrate this mass for all who died specially for Fr. Cha Collendres and all the victims all over the Philippines.

Thank you once again and more power!


What to do with the "Banlik"

by Romeo Tena

Our flood survivors need urgent advice concerning the mud or 'banlik' dilemma. In low lying areas, the roads and fields have all been covered by banlik. Inevitably, the new mud will permanently become part of the landscape unless scraped off by the government which may be impractical, very costly and thus quite unlikely to happen.

The tendency of the survivors is to get rid of the mud inside the house. This action however should be thought of very carefully because in doing so, the dwelling floor becomes the lowest point in the area where water will collect if not barred properly or if the water is not diverted elsewhere using good drainage.

Experience in other areas like the lahar affected places needed to be sought for and disseminated to the people by the authorities. With this advice, the homeowner could make a more prudent decision on whether to ditch or accept the banlik inside the house. As the mud hardens each passing day, the urgency of this advice is too pressing


From Romeo Tena, Australia

Editor's Note: Below is a response to Romy's inquiries about shipping the in-kind donations he has collected. It may not be a bad idea for all those who are collecting in-kind donations to work contact the nearest ABS-CBN Foundation and its Sagip Kapamilya Drive to see about collaborating with their program.

Likewise, ABS-CBN thanks you and your organisation for its donations. I am still waiting to hear from Manila as to the delivery of the donations to Bishop Rolando Tirona. As mentioned, goods donations thru Forex are destined for ABS-CBN Foundation in Quezon City, but we will do our best to re-route this particular donation. I hope to get an answer by tomorrow.

Regarding the pictures, kindly forward what you have taken. This will serve as material for a thanks you message to Filipino Australians who participated in Sagip - Kapamilya which will air on The Filipino Channel.


From Joe Marquez, St. Louis, MO

Just to let you know that through the Phil. Liturgical group of Greater St. Louis, MO I am collecting financial assistance here in St. Louis area during our Simbang Gabi which started last Dec. 10 and will end Dec. 18. I will send you the total financial assisance on Monday, Dec. 20th.

I also sent email to some of my friends in New York and New Jersey areas and some confirmed that they will send the financial assistance directly to you.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all your effort heading this endeavor.

From M. Umali, Long Beach CA

I would like to ask for some information on how can I send my small donation to your organization to help our fellow kababayans. I'm not really from Infanta but I have some relatives who resides there. I hope you could find time to give me some information with regards to my inquiries.

From Fr. Reynaldo B. Treyes, Illinois

I want to know the e-mail address or tel. # of the Social Action Center Of Infanta (Prelature of Infanta).

From Sandra Recio, New Jersey

Yes, the organization is legit. I am a member of the organization and I know all the officers.

Metro Infanta Foundation Inc. sends acknowledgement letters to donors which they can use as evidence of deductible tax donation.

The Prelature of Infanta will receive and administer the donations in order to provide food and medicines to those who lost all means of support due to this calamity. WWW.INFANTA.ORG reports status of assistance provided to the flood victims.

Yes. My family resides in Infanta. I have friends and relatives affected by the destructive flash flood.

The flood water in the town proper was more or less 10 feet. When the water receded, at least two feet of mud, uprooted trees, logs and all sort of debries and personal effects washed away by flash floods from the denuded mountains were left on the streets, and mud inside the houses. Hundreds of lives were lost because dwellings made of light materials were destroyed by landslides and flood. Clean up would probably take months because the towns are isolated by land slides and damaged bridges. It is difficult to bring in equipments for clean-up and rebuilding by land transportation. Philippine navy was deployed to help in the rescue and rebuilding process by using their ship to transport people, relief goods and heavy equipments.

Thank you for your support. Your assistance is our best Christmas gift.


Post Date: 12/13/04

From Venchi Gucon, Saudi Arabia

Please find attached check (bank draft) already mailed to Metro Infanta Foundation yesterday (11-Dec-04) for your info.

May our Almighty Father bless us richly for your effort to reach out to those in dire need.

Similarly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues from ACEC-Al Khobar for their financial contributions and prayers.


From Rudy Arizala

Per my info, the road from Real to Infanta is already passable, but only up to NIA some two kms. away from the poblacion. From NIA up to town proper of Infanta, still muddy.

Cellphones connected with Globe Telecom already working from Infanta to outside world. From


Annabelle Icasiano Clayton, Michigan

First of all thank you for your continued support of our Prelature of Infanta. Congratulations and big thank you to everyone who has been helping out in one way or another particularly in Real, Infanta, Nakar tragedy.

I've been asking friends and coworkers of mine as well as my church St. Therese of Lisieux to help out our friends & families back home. I'm also asking the drug reps as well as other reps who I have contact with thru my work. I will send you any donations I get. Fund raising events will also be planned as I will try to gather everyone in Michigan.

Here's another good news: Since some people may wish to donate items which need to be shipped to the Philippines, I've contacted Filipinas Cargo Expedite, Inc. After talking to the owner Rick Reyes, he told me that he is willing to help out by charging only $45 a box. He will actually get paid only $40 a box because he will donate the $5 to our organization, Metro Infanta Foundation. Isn't that great! He can pick up boxes anywhere in the East coast and Midwest like Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, South Carolina, North Carolina. If you have boxes to be sent to Philippines, please call Rick Reyes at 586.344.6493 and let him know it's for relief disaster. Call me in case you cannot get hold of him, Annabelle 586.247.7169

Thank you Rick of Filipinas Cargo Expedite!


From Sr. Christine, RGS, and a response from Yoly Aumentado, California

I am sure by now most of you know the super typhoons that hit and the Philippines that created havoc and devastation that claimed so many lives and destroyed so many properties. From the latest report that I received ? 170,000 people are forcibly evacuated and more than 1,000 people have been reported dead and/or missing. The most affected areas are Real, Infanta and General Nakar (Dioceses of Infanta, Quezon and Nueva Ecija) respectively.

I am also attaching an account of the martyrdom of one of our Filipino priest - Fr. Charlito Colendres ? tunay na Pilipino at Mabuting Pastol ? who gave his life to save others ? a priest patterned after the heart of the Good Shepherd Who laid down His life for His sheep!

I am sending this as an appeal for donations so we can help rehabilitate the victims of this calamity. I will be sending all our donations c/o the Good Shepherd Sisters in the Philippines who I trust will make sure that the money will go to those who really need it most. A cousin of mine will leave for the Philippines on Jan. 6th so I can send the donations through him that he personally can hand over to the Sisters ? please be generous in responding ? let the bayani in each one of us shine ? our kababayans really need our help ? kailangan tayong mag-bayanihan!

Thank you very much ? may God be your reward! See you on the 15th at the Cathedral for our first day novena of Simbang Gabi!

Yoly's response

Thanks and God bless you for you and your friends' efforts to reach out to many friends helping our flood victims in the Philippines.

My husband was born in Quezon province, his late father born in Infanta. Some of Bert's relatives were listed among those found dead. I am truly sorry for all, and grateful to God for the sacrifice of his many people, among them, Fr. Charlito, a native of Mindanao who gave his life to save lives among his parishioners in Quezon province. He was about to celebrate anniversary of his priesthood, when he passed away trying to save lives. Love is a never ending story...

A few days ago, we sent our humble monetary contributions by mail to Ms. Mila Garcia Glodava who has been helping Infanta and its neighbors for a long time, although she lives in Colorado. Three years ago, I found her website

loaded with info. >>> http://www.Infanta.org/

Bert was supposed to have been in Infanta, with his plans to assist a Fr. Lucas, in his many projects to help those areas. Bert's plans to be there went 'on hold' due to Bert's three surgeries done in 2004 [out of 8], the 8th done on November 16,

Again, thank you very much for spearheading help for those flood victims and their survivors, also those who are making efforts to clean up, and rebuild in God's name I continue to pray...


Post Date: 12/12/04

A message of thanks from Bishop Tirona

I cannot thank you enough for the overwhelming outpouring of support extended by people from all walks of life to the victims of the Typhoons Unding, Violeta, Winnie and Yoyong.

The Prelature of Infanta, where the heavily affected towns of Real, Infanta and General Nakar in Quezon province and the towns of Baler, Maria Aurora, Quirino, San Luis and Dingalan in Aurora belong, has set up the Operation Dugsong Buhay (Let's Secure the Continuation of Life) now based at Mt. Carmel Shrine, Dona Juliana Rodriguez St., New Manila, Quezon City.

The center receives various donations of relief goods, medicines and cash that are delivered to the different affected towns in Quezon and Aurora for distribution to the people. The operation is being coordinated by the Social Action Center of Infanta, headed by Deacon Mario Van Loon, ACT, and Sister Zenia Pinaga, AMP, of the Bishop's Office.

Religious congregations, various civic organizations and associations, and friends have given their full support and present on a round-the-clock basis and are continuing to do so.

The relief goods, medicines, medical missions and cash donations that are being delivered to the affected areas of Quezon and Aurora are, on the other hand, being coordinated on site by the respective parish priests.

Quezon Province:
Real - Rev. Fr. Eusebio Molde
Gen. Nakar - Rev. Fr. Mariano Establecida
Infanta - Rev. Fr. Francisco Makabenta

Aurora Province:
Baler - Rev. Fr. Rene Villaflor
San Luis - Rev. Fr. Nilvon Co Villanueva
Ma. Aurora - Rev. Fr. Israel Gabriel
Quirino- Rev. Fr. Andy Lumasac
Dingalan - Rev. Fr. Antonio Evangelio

We appeal to all those organizations, well-meaning people, government agencies like the DSWD, DOH, the military and friends who want to course their assistance to the victims and their families through the operation of the Prelature of Infanta to work directly through the Social Action Center of the Prelature of Infanta now operating through Operation Dugsong Buhay at Mt. Carmel Shrine.

We express our sincere gratitude to those who have responded to the needs of the innocent victims who suffered the wrath of nature's vengeance to the abuses and destruction of Mother Earth by some selfish and irresponsible people.

My heart bleeds for the victims and their families whose suffering will long be felt. let us join hands as we move to work towards their rehabilitation. More than ever, we would like to call upon the help and generous sharing that many well-meaning people will continue to extend to the Prelature of Infanta.

"Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Cor. 9:7

Signed:
Most Rev. Rolando Tria Tirona, OCD, DD
Bishop Prelate, Prelature of Infanta


From Malou Espinosa, North Carolina

I've been in contact with Ate Marie in Cavite since nabalitaan ko ang nangyari through my friend who has FC. She said Mines and Tatay (Celoy) are fine but they have no knowledge of what happened to my Kuya Manoling and his family. I wish there is a way na mai-transport ang Tatay to Cavite dahil he's 82 and he's tired of eating sardines. Kung sino man ang may alan ng condition nila, please let me know. Ang Inay (Juana) luckily is in Cavite. By the way, AOL (Channel:NEWS) has updates and pictures from Infanta and Real.

We'll request the Fil-Am Association in this area to consider giving their donation to Metro Infanta Foundation.

Editor's Note: Malou and her hhusband, Jinggy, have sent donations to Metro Infanta Foundation in honor of her friends in North Carolina, instead of sending them a Christmas gift. What a great idea!

From Zeny Potes

I'm enclosing a check for the flood victims of Infanta. thank god by brother (Rudy) is O.K. as well as his family and other relatives.

From Rudy Arizala, Chile

My sister had to swim to our neighbor´s house (Mr. and Mrs. Anselmo Villaflor) and they lowered to her a bed sheet to hold on to it so that she would not be carried away by the current?

Also one of the Carmelite sisters upon knowing that my cousin Thelma Coralde had no more rice to cook for the next meal gave one bag of rice received by the Carmelite sister from the relief agency? That´s a clear manifestation of "Christian spirit" and "loving thy neighbor."

Sunday's Gospel Reflection

by Father Joel Borreo, OCD

Father Joel puts the tragic events of the last week into perspective, recalling Fr. Charlito Collendres' heroism.


More on Fr. Cha

From Nancy Escoto

Attached is the file about Fr. Cha's Life Journey, this was the handouts distributed at Mt. Carmel Church during the Dec 4 and 5 Masses. I just re-typed it and thought of sending the file to you to give tribute to the priest who sacrificed him life in helping others. I know that only a few would dare to risk their lives…and he did. To Fr. Cha, I salute you, You are truly a MAN OF GOD!

I am sending you the file because I feel that I need to forward this to all so that for those who do not know the story may have the chance to read it. Not just for this generation but for to the generations yet to come. For me, his story is worth keeping. Someday, all things will come to pass, Infanta will be re-built again, and what had happened during the night of November 29 will all be forgotten.

I am appealing to you to put Fr. Cha's story in an archive, not for us... but for the children and the next generation to come...

Please click here or above for a tribute to Fr. Cha


From Danny Ibarrola (sent to us by Annabelle Icasiano Clayton

12/10/04: Nagkaroon ng another follow-on medical mission and relief operation ang DBD sa Bgy Tignoan, Real, Quezon matapos ang panawagan ng Brigade Commander ng area. Unbearable na rin nga kasi ang condition ng mga residents... homeless, lost loved ones, hungry, wounded, walang clothes and seemingly hopeless ang kanilang conditions. Na-trapped kasi sila ng maraming landslides at mahirap ang kanilang mobility. People have to walk several kilometers only to seek relief goods.

The medical team went to Bgy Tignoan on Thursday and we stayed there until Friday, 10 December 2004. Last Thursday pa lamang nagkaroon ng access ang Tignoan bridge kaya nakapasok kami sa mga talagang typhoon victims where we were able to see them at their very location. Sights of them and hearing their stories were unbelievable. We also went to see the site ng gumuho na Repador building (Door of Faith church) in Tignoan where at least 100 people were burried alive.

We have met Pastor Willie Rivera ng Door of faith. At least ten members ng Door of Faith ang namatay -- natabunan sa gumuho na church building. Si Elena Sor, isang kapatiran -- only survivor in the family, lost her two children, husband and parents. Si Michael Laurenceana, 11 years old, lost his pastor-father, mother and 3 year old brother. Many kapatirans are now homeless.

After 11 days in the rubble, apat ang nahukay na mga buhay at mga kapatiran silang lahat.... ang mga pangalan: Ian Carl Bungag, 15; Maria Tamares, 49 and her apo, Stella Marie Sor, 3 years old, Modesto Manugid, 10.

At least 900 people were provided with relief goods and 490 patients were treated in Tignuan. Yong mga kapitan ng karating barangays were provided for with food, clothings and medicines para i-distribute sa kanilang mga constituents.

Heavy ang damage ng storm. According to DPWH -- at least 11 kilometers ang aggregate distance ng landslides. Continuous ang clearing operation -- logs, muds, and boulders. May boulders na kailangang itulak ng dalawang bulldozer at isang backhoe. Ang Infanta ay lubog sa putik --walang pagdalhan sa mga ito.

After long search we have managed to contact a pastor sa Infanta... we are staging another come back and follow-on operation doon within the next three days -- possibly on Monday or Tuesday at the latest. We are bringing with us more doctors and medical professionals. We will also bring food, clothings and will offer counseling services as well.

In high spirit ang members ng ating medical team and relief workers. Para kaming mga sundalo sa site... kani-kaniyang galaw, self-help basis at may dala kami na aming mga kailangan for medical mission and relief operation, including generators.

Please continue to pray and feel free to send your donations para sa follow-on relief operation.

12/8/04: Armed with prayer and God's presence, the DBD Christian Ministries led by no less than Pastor Ed Lapiz himself went on a three day medical missions and relief operations (4-6 December) to the typhoon victims of the town of Real, province of Quezon.

The mission was decided in the morning of 2 December... followed by solicitations for donations of cash, medicines and goods. In no time, supports came in.... and preparation to go on mission went very quickly.

Pagpasok pa lamang ng boundary ng Fami, Laguna and Real Quezon ay makikita na ang paisa-isang landslide na dala ng baha. We learned that the DPWH and the military have relentlessly doing clearing operations ng mga roads para matanggal ang landslides. Upon entering the barangay maragundon of real quezon, marami na ang military ang naka-bantay to make sure they would only allow vehicles with real reasons to pass accross their cordon.

We parked our vehicles sa Command Center in barangay maragundon and we went to see the Brigade Commander, DSWD representatives and the barangay captain to coordinate our effort para sa medical mission. In one hour, we were able to set up our medical team and relief distribution by 1pm on Saturday, 4 December. 143 patients were treated in that afternoon and each patient were provided with relief goods to include: medicines, rice, groceries, clothings, etc.

Sunday, 5 December, we were accompanied by the Barangay Captain of Maragundon para mag-stage kami ng medical mission sa karating Barangay Tanauan. Along the way -- we could not believe our eyes ang damaged na ginawa ng bagyong Winnie... we could see tons and tons of muds slid to the roads and boulders as big as 6x6 trucks were by the roadside na. Maraming bahay ang natabunan ng lupa, bato, tinumbahan ng mga puno. There were houses na talagang totally inanod ng baha. Nakakahindik ang mga pangitain... we could see people helplessly digging away muds and debris near their houses.

At 8am, naka-set up na kami sa Tanauan Elementary School... dinagsa na ang station ng mga taong humihingi ng tulong medical at pagkain.. There have been 360 patients treated and more than 1,000 were provided with relief goods.

Ilan sa mga nakakahindik na kuwento:

1. Isang church sa barangay Tignuan of Real Quezon ang in-offer ng pastor Door of Faith na maging refuge house ng mga residents.... sa kalagitnaan na lakas ng ulan, at around 6pm of 30 November, isang malakas na ugong at biglang rumagasa ang malakas na flash flood along with boulders and fallen trees ang dumaan sa church -- more than half of the people (estimated 200) ang natabunan at namatay... ang ilan ay hindi pa nahuhukay hanggang sa ngayon. Kasama sa namatay si Pastor Nestor Laurenceano asawa at anak na 3 taon.

2. Isang pasyente ang dumating, si Rudy Pantaleon, pipilay-pilay, sugatan ang mga binti. Naki-usap na unahin siya sa pag-gamot. Six hours na raw siyang naglalakad para lang makakuha ng gamot at pagkain ng kaniyang mag-iina. After he was given medical care, nagkuwento siya. Isa raw siya sa mga nakakita ng gumuho na church and when he heard people screaming for help, he could not wait and immediately responded -- five persons daw ang naitakas niya sa siguradong kamatayan...

Kuwento niya, marami pa raw ang sumisigaw ng saklolo subalit sa bilis at laki ng rumaragasang tubig... kasabay ang pagkakasugat ng kaniyang mga binti at paa, hindi niya makayanang makabalik.

3. Si Marnel, edad 14, dumating na sugatan, umiiyak, hindi makapagsalita. Matapos mahimasmasan at mabigyan ng lunas, dahan-dahan siyang nag-kuwento. Mag-isa raw siyang nakaligtas, kitang-kita niyang inaanod ng baha ang kaniyang mga magulang at kapatid... hindi niya alam kung anong gagawin para iligtas ang kaniyang

4. Mga sugatan, gutom, may sakit, walang mga damit, walang bahay... emotionally broken. Disappointed sa mga taong gobyerno for their lack of, late response sa kanilang mga pangangailangan. Contaminated na rin ang tubig dahil sa patuloy na baha na kinabubulukan ng mga namatay -- mabaho.

5. Cut ang communications lines sa tatlong bayan. Walang signal ang mga cell phones, particularly Smart... Globe and Touch mobile lang ang may signal sa area... but due to no electricity -- nawalan na rin ng charge ng battery at totally no communication talaga.

Pastor Ed is organizing a concerted effort to do follow-on medical missions and relief operations. He is also planning at penetrating those that are real victims inside the towns of Real, Infanta and Gen. Nakar.

With this at hand, solicitations of donations and relief operation should continue. Please pray that helps and assistance from those whom the Lord touches continue to come.

We are doing this ministry under Kuya CARES. Pastor Ed sees it fitting na gawing major ministry ang KUYA CARES at maging tuloy-tuloy ang operation ng relief distribution until these people are able to rise on their feet. When this time comes, there are other people who need help kaya walang tapos ang pagkakaroon ng pangangailangan.

As of this writing naman, the colonel that we are coordinating with sa Real, Quezon is pleading for pastors and social workers to do counseling sa mga affected ng typhoon, particularly ang mga residents ng barangay Tignuan of Real, Quezon. Their conditions are now reaching to an unbearable state and people are now having strong signs of suicidal tendencies. The DBD is taking the challenge at mag-oorganize ngayong umaga ng pool of pastors to respond to this challenge. Most likely ay susulong ang mga counselors bukas ng umaga patungo ng Quezon.

Note: Kuya Ed M, pakisabi kay ate belen, asawa ni kuya rodel sa shumeisy, hindi kami maka-penetrate sa infanta. walang access road going there by land. putol ang communication kaya walang coordination na nangyari doon.

Ito muna... God bless you always. Please give me updates sa mga nangyayari sa kapatiran sa inyong lugar.


Post Date: 12/11/04

Thanks for updates

From Rudy Arizala, Santiago, Chile

Thanks for the MIF Website updates and for posting immediately the info I gave you re DFA Report on Assistance received from foreign governments, institutions, etc. amounting to more than US3 million. Also for posting the information I received from Quezon governor Willie Enverga that there is no truth to the rumor that rice rations or relief goods are being sold to flood victims in Infanta, Quezon.

Congrats to Ms. Sandra Recio for that photos of Infanta, Quezon after the floods but still under water, slime, mud and pile of logs brought in by the flash floods.

The hungry, cold and thirsty people, (men, women and children), with that apprehensive look in their eyes staring blankly but patiently lining up to receive relief goods at the town plaza of Infanta is a pitiful sight. Almost all of them are scantily dressed and there is nothing to protect their feet from nails and other sharp objects. They are on barefoot. (Yaka).

Who knows, the MIF Website might be recognized for excellence in journalism by faithfully reporting everyday about the outpouring of donations and heartbreaking stories of those who survived the "deluge" in REINA area.

A certain journalist by the name of Mr. Jeremiah Opinion could not help but notice and acknowledge the report coverage MIF is doing on the appeal for aid and assistance for the flood victims.

If I may make an observation, due to foul weather prevailing in Infanta and the other two towns (Real and Gen. Nakar) they are still isolated due to destroyed roads and bridges. Consequently, while there has been an outpouring of relief goods and assistance like an onrushing flood, nevertheless, the distribution of said relief goods is being received by the people in trickles like drops of water coming from a faucet of nearly empty water tank.

If I shall express the situation in Tagalog: "Ang mga tulong ay parang ulang landak kung dumating. Subalit ang pagtanggap naman ng mga dapat tulungan ay parang tagiti."

Those in charge of the distribution of relief goods are doing their utmost. But unfortunately, helicopters could only load and bring limited amount of relief goods. While it takes 3 to 4 hours by boat loaded with relief goods to reach Infanta or Real from Mauban.

A contingent of U.S. Marines based in Okinawa, Japan are now in the Philippines trying to help in bringing relief goods by the use of bigger and more reliable helicopters.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health should act quickly to improve the sanitary situation in the devastated area. At least provide the relief workers and inhabitants with face masks due to the overwhelming stench of rotting flesh of animals and humans caused by the flood. Let us hope and pray that a cholera epidemic would not break out.


From Francisco Romantico

This just to express our heartfelt thanks to all of you there in the other side of the globe... so far and yet so near.

I believe that we should be united not only in times of joy but much more during difficult and painful moments. All of You have rightfully and timely responded to the cries of our kababayans.

Romy (Tena), I read about your initial CALL to put together our efforts for the Philippines, particularly for the victims in the Infanta, Real and Nakar areas in Quezon province, of the island in Luzon or more specifically located at 14.45 North latitude and 121.39 East longitude.

We are indeed very happy to note that there is one like you there who are so concerned about the plight of your kabarangays in Bantilan. We are thankful for your move (and of course the rest of those whose names were not mentioned in the article). We believe it would have its ripple effects for the rest of our townmates and fellow Filipinos there who really want to help.

As the headlines of the article shown by our dear editor, there was an incredible outpouring of support for us...for those who were badly affected by the flashfloods last 29-30 November 2004

I am quite sure that these dates would never be erased in the minds of all Infantahins (because originally, these places of Real and Gen. Nakar belong to Infanta).

We hope that the same dates of the years to come would not just be a remembrance of our dear loved ones but a celebration of life. Just imagine, every November 1st and 2nd, we commemorate our saints and departed loved ones, respectively, then again, by the end of the month, we, again, will commemorate the passing of our loved ones.

Sabi nga ng isang sikat na local radio program dito. "DAPAT PA BANG I-MEMORIZE YAN!" Ibig lang sabihin ay alam na nating lahat ito...

Ang isang bagay na mabuti ang siyang nararapat nating laging ginagawa, para hindi NATIN pagsisisihan ang darating sa kinabukasan.

We all must change. Let us stop on bickering or pointing our fingers to those whom we commonly identified as culprits..." the illegal loggers" dahil tayo rin ay bahagi ng sistemang nagpapabaya at walang pakialam.

And before, I will finally close my sharing, I happened to download these very beautiful and inspiring articles... fitting and very timely (Editor's Note: Due to the size of the articles, we shall rely only on Francis' summary of said articles).

The first article simply talked about what we value in life...as rightfully cited, there will always be TIME to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set our priorities in life. The rest is just sand and of course, let us not forget to share a cup of our favorite drinks (coffee, tea or whatever with our friends)

In the second article, the author invites US to see beyond the illusion and to see the real purpose of giving, which is about making miracles.

To cut it short, let us try to capture the message of the author: "One thing is certain about the world today: there is not enough love being shared by enough people and we all need to take responsibility and recognize that we are responsible for this."

The third and last article by an unknown author points to us what we are seeing at the moment, we are encouraged to see beyond what we physically perceive by our naked eyes by focusing on our spiritual life as Christians.

I hope that in one one or another, matutunton natin ang daan tungo sa pagbubuo at pagkaka-isa para sa isang pamayanang pinaghaharian ng tunay na Diyos.

MALIGAYANG KAPANAHUNAN NG PAGHAHANDA SA PAGDATING NG POONG SI HESUS!

Francisco V. Romantico and Neth ( my wife) and two daughters ( Divine & Cecille)

P. S. Please do extend our family regards to Annabelle and her family and to my minamahal na Ninang(si Nanay Flor). To Romy and all of your tribes, mabuhay kayong lahat dyan.


Disaster Relief Efforts

From Sim Rivera

The collegiates of Zeta Psi (Unciano Medical, Antipolo) will be going to Real, Quezon this Wednesday, December 8 to bring much needed relief and medical assistance to our countrymen in that typhoon-ravaged municipality. They will be leading the contingent of students from Unciano. They have managed to solicit two truckloads of goods but as always these will probably be never enough. They will be leaving at dawn and will be missing the Feast of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage in Antipolo on that day.

Any help you can send will be appreciated. If you can't join them on that day you can organize your own missions. If not Real, there are probably some barangays in your own areas that need help. I will be going up to the mountains on December 10 for the Dumagats of Tanay to bring some medicines and some relief goods.


From Shelley Marie Ortiz

Update: On In-Kind donations collection in Texas

Working with: (waiting on their approval/agreement to be drop off locations)

I will set up 12 boxes in each location (once confirmed, each box will be labeled:

  1. Clothes-women
  2. Clothes-men
  3. Clothes-children
  4. Shoes-women
  5. Shoes-men
  6. Shoes-children
  7. Toys
  8. Towels
  9. Toiletries/medical supplies
  10. Blankets
  11. Canned/Dried food

I have asked FRS to send me 36 boxes initially. I will go ahead and collect anything folks can bring tomorrow (Saturday) at the Lantern party at Notre Dame and I will take home with me and sort and box up and get FRS to pick up from me even if my house is out of their service area.

Can I get the tax-deductible form emailed to me today so I can run some copies and be ready in case someone wants it?

Post Date: 12/10/04

Journalist recognizes Metro Infanta Foundation's philanthropy activities

Greetings. I am president of the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) Journalism Consortium, a nonprofit media-NGO coalition writing about overseas Filipinos like you. I am also executive director of a new nonprofit called the Institute for Migration and Development Issues (IMDI). The only Quezonian I met previously who is an activist was Rosalinda Javier of QPAC. I hope she still remembers me.

I am enthralled at the outpouring of support for the victims back home. This is phenomenal, that not even the UN agencies can match amid their US$3.5 million donations. I am a passionate believer of the activism of Filipinos abroad for the homeland, which many call diaspora philanthropy.

I have been following your website, and the contents are updated almost everyday. Kindly expect an article from us as I will get the information from the postings in the web. I believe that your heroism through your philanthropic efforts deserve a good copy. The Consortium makes newspackets of stories about migration issues, including stories of hope such as what you are doing. We will launch our website tomorrow, www.ofwjournalism.net as I hope to finish the story soon so that it can be viewed over there.

I am a firm believer that Filipinos like you overseas who give back to the country have long deserved recognition. Yet people like you are underrecognized.

The country survives on your remittances, and more so through your philanthropy. Allow me, in my humble way, to contribute to your sense of heroism through an article that I will write.

I suggest that you try to search for my name at Google and see the many articles I have written about efforts by Filipinos abroad to help the country. I have long heard of Metro Infanta Foundation and it is doing great work for the country. I will be honored to freely spread the good news that you abroad are doing something phenomenal, and are retracing your humble beginnings through your transnational civic action.

Let us continue to raise more hope for the motherland, and for the victims of the typhoon tragedy. You should also be glad that today, four were found alive after ten days that they were buried in a landslide. That should drive us more to pour in hearts back home, and bring back that hope.

Mabuhay po kayo. Even if I have a forum tomorrow, I will write this article - with your permission to use the quotes from your website. It is time to spread the good news.

Cheers!

Jeremaiah M. Opiniano
President, OFW Journalism Consortium
Executive Director, Institute for Migration and Development Issues
jopiniano@yahoo.com, ofw_philanthropy@yahoo.com


Updates

From Anna Marie Leglise

Eto ang kwento ng brother-in-law ko na si Boyet Cuento. Umuwi sya at Jojo Atendido ng Infanta nong 30 Nov. Matapos malaman ang kalagayan sa atin.

Para matawagan lang sya sa mobile phone and to have a good signal kelangan pa na pumatol sya sa ibabaw ng torso.

Sabi ni Boyet eh mistulang disyerto ngayon ang infanta. mula sa bahay nila (inang minta) sa ilog eh makikita na yong bahay ng pinsan ko (tabi ng bahay ni Mrs Marilyn Azogue) na nakatayo sa Isla. Tapos mula raw sa Bantilan eh makikita na yong bahay nila Helen Cuento sa ilog. There are over hundreds of logs in Barangay Ilog. Tapos yong mga logs daw eh hindi kayang yakapin ng dalawang tao. Imagine those logs all over the place… and the others are even on top on the houses. Yong bahay ng parents ni Boyet eh bumagsak kase napuno ng putik ang bubong. Sa Ilog daw eh washed out at ang nakatayo lang eh yong mga bahay na malalaki at concrete, yong mga gawang kahoy at maliliit eh wala ng lahat. Flat na flat raw.

Mabaho na rin daw ang kapaligiran dahil sa mga namatay na kalabaw, baka, aso at kung anu-ano pa. Mababaho rin ang loob ng bahay dahil sa mga pagkain na nasira na.

Hindi naman gaano ang mga kahoy sa bayan kaya lang eh it takes time to walk. Kagaya ng naglakad si Boyet from Pilaway pabalik sa Ilog tapos eh dumiretso sya sa bahay namin sa Gomez St. -- aba eh inabot raw sya ng mahigit na 2 oras. Kung maglakad naman sya mula sa kanilang bahay sa ilog papunta sa bahay namin sa Gomez St. eh 30 minutes naman ang tagal. Mahirap talaga raw maglakad sa bayan kse punong-puno ng putik. Kelangan eh naka-bota pero yong bota eh halos pasukin rin ng putik.

Mahal rin ang magpalinis ng bahay. Dahil sa mga taas ng putik sa loob ng bahay at hirap ng tubig para panglinis eh kulang ang 10 thousand pesos na pang-upa sa maglilinis. Wala pa ring kawawaan kahit na malaki na ang nagastos sa pagpapalinis kse sobrang hirap maglinis ng banlik sa loob ng bahay. Problema pa rin yong pag-ulan-ulan kse mataas pa rin ang putik sa kalsada. Kaso dapat maliinis ang loob ng mga bahay kse pagtumigas ang banlik eh parang semento yon.

Sabi nga ni Boyet eh it will take years to restore Infanta like electricity, water, etc. It is more than Ormoc ang nangyari daw at kalalagayan ng bayan natin.

Nakakalungkot talaga. Kelangan nila ng tulong magmula sa pagkain, tubig na inumin, damit na bihisan, gamut at iba pa. Ang pangangailangan nila eh mahigpit at mas makakabuti kung diretso na makakarating sa kanila. Nakakatanggap ng mga tulong ang opisina namin sa mandaluyong mula sa mga kaibigan or mga taong nagmamagandang loob. Noong Sabado eh merong 16 mountaineers na nagvolunteered na dalhin yong ibang pagkain at gamot sa infanta. Nakarating sila sa pilaway noong sabado at naipamahagi na yong mga tulong. Kulang na kulang pa rin ang mga tulong na dumarating sa Infanta lalo na mula sa gobyerno natin. Halos kase mas naunang bumagsak sa Real ang mga relief goods.


From Rudy Arizala, Chile

According to DFA, the Philippines has received a total of US$3,167,570.00 from foreign Governments, International Organizations and Non-Government Organizations.

Please click here to see a complete list of donations sent to the Philippines.

This is aside from donations given by Philippine local organizaions, institutions and individuals or groups such as "Sagip-Buhay Infanta Fund Account." Also not included are donations from groups, individuals and foundations from abroad such as the Metro Infanta Foundation, Inc.which has sent or sending more than US$10,000.00 to Bishop Tirona of Infanta, Quezon to buy medicines for typhoon victims.

Editor's Note: We sent a total of $17,500 to Bishop Tirona. In addition Dr. Arsenio martin, a recipient of the 2004 presidential Award, will deliver to the bishop more than $15,000 in donations from the Houston, Beaumont and Port Arthur areas of Texas.

A Filipino newspaper columnist asked in his column: "By the way, I am not being nasty but is there an office making an accounting of all the local and foreign donations in cash and goods? Just asking for record purposes." ( Jesus C. Sison, Malaya newspaper column of 10 December 2004).


Governor says, "no truth to selling of rice"

Below is a letter that Gov. Enverga sent former Amb. Rudy Arizala regarding the alleged selling of rice in the disaster areas of Infanta, Real and General Nakar.

Dear Pareng Rudy,

This morning at 12pm, I'll be going back to REINA with Sec. Angelo Reyes to distribute relief goods.

At this point in time, there are so many outpouring of support, nationwide and even worldwide, for the calamity victims. The only problem right now is the slow phase of its delivery as we have to rely on navy vessels. At our Quezon Convention Center (QCC), we have stock up tons relief goods ready for distribution plus our warehouse in Mauban.

There is no truth to the unfair accusation that rice are being sold in Infanta. As usual, intrigues and bickerings at this time of calamity are being given prominence of idle minded people who should instead help the victims.

Incidentally the Provincial Government employees will be foregoing its Christmas Party and instead will donate the budget for such purpose to REINA.

Pareng Willie


Fil-Am Texans disaster relief collection reaches more than $15,000

Dr. Arsenio Martin, a recipient of the 2004 Presidential Award, sent Shelley Marie Ortiz more good news about their efforts to reach out to our disaster stricken people. He is indeed very well deserving of the award the president is bestowing upon the good doctor.

In his email message he said,

Thank you so much for your generosity. If I collect all the pledges of the flood victims of the last two typhoons that hit the Philippines, the victims and their families will benefit $15,000 plus from our area (We reported $10,000 yesterday). This is not bad for just a few days of effort. I understand that other organizations will continue to solicit help for our unfortunate "kababayan." Please donate nonperishable items so we can send it to the victims by balikbayan boxes.

The hierarchies of ANCOP Gawad Kalinga are already talking of building another Texas Village in Infanta, Quezon. This is in addition to the Texas Village in Bulacan. Dr. Erlinda Punsalan will give you the detail at a later date.

Our medical teams will be sending medicines and other medical needs and we might there to do Medical and Surgical mission next year.

Who said that Fil-Am in Texas forgot to practice the Bayanihan Spirit? All of us are lifting each other in contrast to the "crab mentality" that surfaced on our list serve few months ago.

Thank you again Fil-Am Texan for showing that we still love our old country. I will let the President know about our camaraderie in Texas.


Disaster Relief Efforts

From Romeo Tena, Sydney, Australia

Arrived here in Sydney from an outback assignment (was there when I emailed you first). Identifying myself as a caller on behalf of Metro Infanta Foundation, I called Philippine Airlines for any transport assistance of goods they could provide. Am pretty sure there would be heaps of goods to be donated from the tennis and other Filipino associations I belong to. Mr Tan of PAL (Sydney) advised me that it is better perhaps to coordinate with the efforts of ABSCBN saying that a container of goods is being organized for that undertaking. He faxed me the details of SAGIP KAPAMILYA project of ABSCBN. I agreed and called ABSCBN Australia.

Talked with Mildred Gabriel (Customer Service) whose husband happened to be a co-member of the tennis association I belong to. The idea of efforts consolidation is on and it would (Mildred thinks anyway) have the blessings of Mr Billy Ick, ABS CBN Managing Director.

Donated goods will be gathered during the Christmas party / Tennis Session this coming Sunday. Will send you pictures of it, considerable size so that people's faces are recognizable. CALLING all other sports associations!

Now, if Metro Infanta Foundation members could link up with all the SAGIP KAPAMILYA project of ABSCBN, that will solve our transport costs. It would mean a minimum of 1 container full of goods for our needy Prelatura from each country wherever PAL flies to.

Let me know what you think. There may be complications but nothing could bar goodwill.

Romeo Tena's 2nd email

I dropped off hospitals in my solicitation appeal because i thought they need all those items too. I turned instead to their suppliers. Internet yellow pages, hospital supplies. Have called two and got no turn down. One was un-answered as yet at the moment, the other asked for a quick fax request. I forwarded the email endorsement you sent me and based on the respondents reaction at the other end of the line, they are all very much willing to help or listen at the very least when 'Philippine Flood Victims' are mentioned as the recipient. Will know tomorrow what Southern Cross Hospital Supplies can give.

My style of solicitation: My name is... Am calling on behalf of Metro Infanta Foundation soliciting medical goods for the Philippine Flood Victims. We are gathering all medical supplies that could be used urgently hence even those with 6 months shelf life left can be sent in. We have a container alloted for the shipment but is still less than half-full, blah...

Remember to accept even tweezers, bandages, items that dont expire but for some reason the companies could not sell.

Vitamin factories, biscuit factories, dried food factories, etc.. are all targets my friends. There are plentiful of them.

Kaya ko nga pala nai-share agad ito ay dahil may nagsabi sa akin na hanggang 15 December lang daw ang Sagip Kapamilya ng ABSCBN. Sana tuloy lang ang container.


From Hector Bunag

Thank you very much for coordinating efforts to help our sisters and brothers in Metro Infanta. I'm mailing several checks today.


From Annabelle Icasiano Clayton

Yung nililibutan na mga bahay ng Puon sa banugao o bantilan ay hindi man lang nagalaw ang bahay? I'm not surprised! Mary does and has always been our protector. We (Infanta) are one of her favorite kids di baga? That's why we are going through so much purification.

Sabi nga ni Lydwin (my brother) ay parang isinabog na domino yong mga pews upuan sa simbahan at talagang sira ang luob at puno ng putik pero ung altar ng tabernacle na laging alaga ni Sr. Josephine nuon, ay nanduon , hindi nagalaw, ang ganda at ang puti pa rin ng mantle! What a beautiful site in the midst of that terrible mess and tragedy.

From Judy Henderson and Family: Keith, Kami, Chris and Jeff

Hello, I just want to let you know today I am mailing out a check to help out the town of Infanta.

This is in support of my sister-in law Ellen Mercado-Irons whose family still lives in or around the town Infanta, Quezon.

I know this is not much but hope it can help out some with all the tragedy that has happen there.


Post Date: 12/9/04

Letter to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

December 9, 2004

The President
Malacanang Palace
Manila, Philippines

Dear Madame President:

Greetings of peace from the United States!

My name is Mila Garcia Glodava. A native of Batangas and Infanta, I currently reside in Denver, Colorado, yet I remain in close contact with the Philippines since many of my family members still live there; and also because I am the founder and president of Metro Infanta Foundation--a charitable organization that provides assistance to the region.

As you can imagine, fellow expatriates in the United States and other parts of the world are extremely concerned about the typhoon's devastation of our hometown and neighboring towns. We thank you for your leadership in assuring that immediate relief is sent to the disaster areas and that prompt action was taken to stop legal and illegal logging activities. I trust your decisive action will save many lives and properties in the future.

Metro Infanta Foundation, which has been serving the neighboring towns of Infanta since 1996, has taken a visible role in the effort to come to the aid of our hometown. We are working in conjunction with Carmelite Bishop Rolando Tria Tirona, whose diocese has been ravaged by Typhoon Winnie. The bishop, who was in constant contact with us even when he was holed up in General Nakar, has sent us an urgent plea for funds for medicine.

I am very gratified to report that our people are responding generously to our call for donations and have initiated many efforts to raise funds: second collections at Mass, dinner dances, solicitation letter campaigns, and collecting in-kind donations to aid our suffering people in Infanta, Real and General Nakar. From out of nowhere, compassionate people are coming forward to assist us in our time of need. In response to Bishop Tirona's urgent plea, we are sending by wire transfer $17,500 that we have collected so far.

We shall continue to raise funds as possible, as well as collecting in-kind donations of clothing, canned goods, blankets and other assistance for the people of the region. Along with this practical support, we send our spiritual support; rest assured that many, many people are holding you and your people in prayer as you face this hardship.

I thank Dr. Arsenio Martin, who is receiving the 2004 Presidential Award, for offering to bring our efforts to your attention. I understand that Dr. Martin is bringing with him an additional $15,000 which represents the inital collection from Houston, Beaumont and Port Arthur areas of Texas. Please convey my sincerest congratulations to him for his Presidential Award.

Again, thank you and God bless you, your family and the Philippine government in your daunting task to bring the Philippines forward after this devastation.

Sincerely yours,
Mila Glodava


Houston doctor to deliver more than $10,000 worth of donations from various Houston organizations

Shelley Ortiz got in touch with Dr. Arsenio Martin from Port Arthur, TX. He is going to Manila on Friday to receive a Presidential award from Pres. Gloria Arroyo herself.

I spoke to him and he said he is bringing few thousand dollars to give to Bishop Tirona, which he's going to mention to the President. He also wants to tell her about everything we're doing in U.S. to help the victims.

What he wants is some kind of a letter (see column on the right) addressed to Pres. Arroyo detailing what we are doing, and what we've already accomplished so far. He will hand over the letter to the President personally. This will inform the President that Filipino-Americans (not only Infantahins) in the U.S. are working together in time of needs like this.

Can you write that letter using the Metro Infanta Foundation letter head? You can e-mail it to Dr. Arsenio Martin at arsmartin@aol.com once your done. You can also ask him more info if you want. I told him you're the national coordinator on our Disaster Relief campaign.


FACTS, FIGURES AND STORIES: From Deacon Mario Van Loon

The count of dead people has now reach over the 1,000! We estimate that at least 75,000 people have lost everything. The only thing left is the clothes they have on their body.

We were able to send in a very big boat with relief goods yesterday. They are being distributed from our Social Action Center (SAC) in Infanta through our (MSK) Basic Christian Communities. As never before the effectiveness of the BEC has proven itself. To help the wounded, to transport the injured, to bring information / letters/ communication from one evacuee center to the other. to distribute fairly the relief goods and especially to keep up the spirit... all is done by the BECs. I am very proud of them.

The new problem that came up yesterday was the enormous bad smell in Infanta. hundred of cadavers are every where, rotting. People have left the town because they could not stand it. Dogs are getting crazy biting every one. It's a very bad situation.I coordinated with the National Disaster Coordinating Council in order that they bring in lime. They should take care of this problem!

Worse is the situation of the traumatized children. A few drops of rain paralizes them and makes them so fearful that they cannot even speak. Some we were able to evacuate to Manila, but that is not the real solution.

Yesterday we started to send in trauma-teams who will deal with this. Our religious and seminarians, who are in the area and the ones we were able to bring in there by land or by sea, are not only taking care of the relief goods and the injured but are doing counseling as well in the evacuation centers and in some place thru house visits. This is very much appreciated by the people.

We are being confronted with an estimate 1,000 orphans. No father, no mother anymore! That needs a long term plan. One congregation already offered help, its their charism. But it will need much more.

Of the house of the Bishop only the walls are standing at least partially. The mud and the water burst through the floor and took down all that was standing on it. All archives etc. are lost, everything is lost. And then to know that Fr. Cha has just finished systemitizing the whole system.

Stories:

One of my students in Social Teachings class, last year, Charry, a young woman, was searching for her mission in life. She heard about the work we do with the tribal people, Agtas. Through me she was able to be accepted by Fr. Pete Montallano, OFM in the school high up in the mountains. She left everything behind and accepted the lifestyle of the tribals, living only from the land, no electricity, no cellphones etc.

In order to get to know the local communities of the Agtas, where the children in the school come from, she went to immerse herself in the different settlements. She was in Tamala settlement when the floods and mud struck. The house and the family she was staying was washed to the sea.

All were presumed dead, no bodies were found. Two different people from the settlement, from the few that had survived, confirmed that she must be dead.... no doubt. Fr. Pete started to contact the parents etc. We, in our college were of course very shocked and sad. A lot of tears were shet. She was very much loved. Once Fr. Pete was able to get out of the Infanta area, walking for two days sometimes through a meter of mud, I invited him to talk to our students, her friends. Yesterday morning, just before 7 I got a text (SMS) from Fr. Pete, who had gone with our second shipment of relief goods back to Infanta, that Charry is alive!!! The emotional outburst was normous... after the doubt had been settled. All her friends one by one, wanted to see for themselves the text (SMS) on my cellphone...!

We are emotionally hit so many times a day. For me personally a constant stream of prayers, especially to Mary is the way I keep balanced. Our relief good center is at the back of the Mount Carmel Church of the OCD. A quick five minutes visit to Our Lady and here Beloved Son Jesus can give you hours of strength!

Story 2: A small boy of about 7 years was washed away with the flash floods into the sea. Many hours later he was washed ashore ten kilometers further along the beach, in the center of Real. People picked him up and found out that he was still alive! His hands were holding on desperately to a big cross with the Jesus figure on it. The cross kept him flooting. He is safe. But it took hours before he would let go of the cross... with at least one hand!!

Fr. Cha is a hero, that we know of. But there are hundreds of heroes out there. I hope I can tell there stories in the coming days. I have to go to our relief center now. Hope to send you more tomorrow. Also pictures!

(Thank God for cellphones and SMS, otherwise we would not have been able to do all this work.) Just got notice that our distribution centers in Infanta, Real and Nakar are not functioning at full capacity. The good also from other non-church agencies are rooted through us, because of our good BEC system. Thank you Holy Spirit!


From Lemuel Reyes Bravo, San Diego, CA

I am Lemuel Reyes Bravo and a resident of San Diego, CA, U. S. A.. Some of my brother Freemasons and I are soliciting donations for the typhoon victims of Infanta and Real , Quezon. Since your website is the only website that can connect me to Infanta, I would like to ask a favor on how I can get in touch with our Brother Mason Honorable Congressman Rafael Nantes.

Lemuel R. Bravo, 32nd degree
Normal Heights Masonic Lodge # 632
3366 Adams Ave., San Diego, CA, U. S. A.
e- mail me at lrbravo8@yahoo.com


From Rudy Arizala, Santiago, Chile

Hereunder is a news report from PDI of 08 December 2004 stating that Infanta, Quezon and other affected areas by the typhoon urgently need medicines and potable water.

Please do not delay whatever donations you are willing to give and the most urgent ones are foods, medicines and potable water. Remember an old saying in Tagalog: "Aanhin pa ang damo kung patay na ang kabayo." (Of what use is the grass if the horse is already dead).

By the way, the daughter of my brother Dading, Dra. Carla Arizala Protesta who works at a hospital in Manila joined a medical team of doctors from Manila to render health volunteer service in Infanta. This is aside from the Red Cross medical team now in Infanta, Quezon.


From Venchi Gucon, Saudi Arabia

Kami po rito from Arabian Consulting Engineering Center (ACEC) Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia ay nangangalap ng donation and thru Metro Infanta Foundation na lang namin padadaanin whatever we have collected from our officemates, para po direct ang tulong sa mga Infantahin, Real at Nakar. To date we have collected SAR600.00...and sana maka-kolekta pa kami para by next week maipadala na namin by bank draft.


From Levy Orantia Arevalo, Canada

On behalf of Infanta Real Association of Canada and Quezon Provincial and Cultural Association of Canada I would like to let you know that we have solicited and still are :

financial aids, medicines, new and used clothes canned goods and other perishable items for our kababayans.I'm appealing to our kababayans, friends and relatives from Canada who are visiting your website to contact the following:

Levy Orantia Arevalo Home # 416-281-4436 Cell # 416-347-5429

Gloria Poblete Villabroza # 905-427-0696

Rosalinda America Jeminez at (905) 763-3670

Rosalinda Javier (QPAC, and FCT president) at 905-275-5848 or

Filipino Center Toronto Tel #416-928-9355

QPAC has pledge $4,000.00 to buy more foods,medicines and important basic needs for our kababayans.

I will be going to the Philippines on January 22, 2005 to co-ordinate this. Hoping by then medicines, clothes and canned goods we have Shipped will be there so I can help distribute them to our needy kababayans affected by this disaster. My friends from varous parts of Quezon and officers and members of Quezon Provincial Associaton of Canada have organized fundraising campaign for our towns. Some of the organized towns from Quezon eg. Tayabas, Calauag, Candelaria, Lopez, Dolores, have pledge to help too.

We will be holding our first fundraising event on Sunday, December 19, 2004 between 12-5PM at the Filipino Centre tickets are $15.00 per person; Parliament Street, Toronto corner of Parliament and Wellesley Streets.

Once everything is sorted out I will share some donations to MIF.

From Canada we are praying and hoping that all our relatives, friends and kababayans will be able to cope and pass thru these hurdles witih our Lord's help and also from everyone who open their hearts to help them in every step of the way.


From Arriana Serafico, HS student St. Scholastica

I wrote you last week about a class project we were planning that concerned a relief mission to Infanta, Quezon. Thank you so much for sending the numbers and addresses of the people we could contact.

It is sad to say that it did not push through as a class project, though we had already gotten in touch with Father Lucas and all. But we are happy to say that the whole school community -- from elementary to the college -- are now involved in a much larger fund drive for Infanta, Quezon. Earlier this morning, December 8, we had our mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. As our offertory, the members of the community gave their donations of food, clothes, medicine and a lot more, to be donated to Infanta, Quezon through the Archdiocese. It was really a joint effort of the Scholastican community to help the victims of the flood.

Tomorrow, our class, the Religion Extension Class of Year IV, will be going to Mount Carmel along with some of our teachers, to help in packing the donations. We are all very excited and overwhelmed that the whole school got together and picked up on this mission to help our suffering brothers and sisters. Even though it did not push through as our class project, we are still happy because we are able to help, which is really our goal in planning the project in the first place.

Best regards to the people of Infanta, Quezon. Our donations are on their way, along with our prayers.


Company matching gifts

Please take advantage of your company matching gifts if there's any. One of our donors has suggested this and in fact sending not only his or her donation but application for a matching gift.


From Julito Uy

I just wondering if MIF knows of a mechanism on how to send goodies to the Philippines without spending too much money. A box of balikbayan box to the Philippines that takes 6 weeks - 12 weeks to arrive costs me 120 dollars which I might as well send as cash. Sending the same box within US mainland costs only 20-25 dollars via UPS.

Does the organization have links with any Philippine based NGOs or governmental organizations to help transport of donations for the Prelature's distribution?


From Mrs Pratt of Aberdeen, Scotland

Last sunday we held a filipino community Christmas Party and we raised about 50 pounds. I sent this amount yesterday to my neighbors in Bantilan. Kasi po walang nakakarating na relief sa lugar namin.

Thank God I managed to contact my daugther in Bantilan and she told me the story of our town magdamag daw sila sa bubong ng bahay (Thank God everybody is ok). Paano po ang iba na walang kamaganak na tutulong magugutom. Take note please: send e- mail thru people authorized to distribute food. Pagkain po ang mahalaga sa atin sa infanta. I couldn't sleep sa nangyari sa bayan at kababayan natin .Our goverment is not helping really. Nabasa ko po na binigyan si Mayor ng 1 million pesos maybe to rebuild our municipal hall (hopefully).


From Vacion Azcarraga Derilo

I have talked to or kababayans and encouraged them to ive donatin to th Foundation for the disaster victims. Pol and I are leaving for the Philippines on Monday and we are bringing a box of medicines -- donated by the Quezonian-- which we picked up in the International Aid. The quezonian are also sending lots of boxes of canned goods, clothing, blankets and more. Maybe we can help in the distribution or whatever help we can do. some of our townmates are sending trough us monetary assistance to their immediate families.

I feel sorry for my sister, Delia. Their house was taken by the flood and almost most of their neighboors.

We will try to update you on developments in our town. Please continue to pray for the affected towns and all the victims of the disaster. God bless us all and keep reminding our townmates for their donations.


From APO AANJ

In light of the recent storms that have hit and ravaged the Northeastern Luzon region of the Philippines, APO Alumni Association of New Jersey has organized a relief effort to provide aid by way of soliciting donations of canned goods, clothes, raincoats, blankets, rice and monetary contributions which will continue until December 30; for scheduled shipment to the Philippines in January. This effort will be headed by Bro Gerry Estevez MD, Gamma Kappa, whose contact information are as follows: e-mail: projectchair@apoaanj.com

By virtue of our principles and ideals upon which our beloved organization is built, the trumphets have sounded and we are once again called upon to give to those in need, particularly our countrymen, help in any way we can at this time of dire need.

Ingat Mga Kapatid,
Sis Marie Ungco-Zamboanga, Alpha Phi, Vice President, APO AANJ

Bro Keem Espejon, Beta Gamma
President, APO AANJ


Post Date: 12/8/04

St. Thomas More gives $10,000 for medicine

In response to Bishop Rolando Tria Tirona's request for immediate assistance to purchase medicine, St. Thomas More Parish is sending $10,000 through Metro Infanta Foundation. In addition, Our Sunday Visitor has sent the matching gift of $2,500 which the OSV president has agreed to designate for the Disaster Relief Fund.

On behalf of St. Thomas More, Our Sunday Visitor and our kababayans who already have sent their donations, we will send the first $15,000 to the bishop.


An entirely different Christmas for my family and my hometown

by Cyril P. Mercado, Purong taga Infanta

This year, Christmas for my family and me will be a little different. My kids may not have new clothes or shoes; my family may not have food on the table come Christmas Eve. In fact, we may not even have a house where we can celebrate the joys of the season. But we will be fine, I'm sure we will be fine. Same as the other 21,499 families in my hometown and neighboring areas.

I came from Infanta, Quezon, one of the towns hardest hit by the typhoon and flash floods last week. My parents, relatives and most particularly my children were all there when it happened, while I am here away from our homeland, away from my family. We lost our house, the house where I grew up as a child. It was brought down to the ground by the rushing floodwaters and logs that came down from the nearby mountains. We lost our family business, my parent's source of income. My family had to survive five days without fresh clothes, scarce food supplies and potable water, with no electricity, no communication lines. Relief and rescue operations were so difficult because the roads are not passable and the weather condition only makes the matters worst. Until now I can hardly believe what had happened. It is hard enough for me to accept just by listening, reading and watching the news, how much more difficult and hard it was to be actually there and experience this tragedy? But now, as I look back, I see a message there somewhere.

It's not just a coincidence that this thing occurred while the rest of the world is busy preparing for the coming holidays. I don't consider myself as a religious person, but I do believe in God and I do believe that these things happened for a reason. He really knows best where, when and how to send a message.

And the message? Let this Christmas be a celebration of LIFE AND FAMILY, the two things we sometimes take for granted. The same two things that started it all. Life and family, let's all remember that Jesus came to this world without anything but His family. They also wandered in the cold. They also had no home. They also had nothing. But He brought new Life, a new hope for all.This is the true spirit of Christmas.

This year, let us bring Christmas back to its old meaning.

This year, let us focus on what's really important.

Let us look at the deeper and spiritual side of things.

The way they were, before Christmas became a commercialized holiday.

Let us be thankful for being alive and for our family.

Let us be thankful for our neighbors and the people around us, you never know if you will see them again alive.

Let us be thankful for the air we breathe, the water we drink.

Let us be thankful for the food in our table, there are families right now who are saving the last plate of rice for the next meal tomorrow.

Let us be thankful for the clothes we wear, for the blankets we use, somewhere there is a family sleeping without any warm covering on their bodies.

Let us be thankful for our job, there are hundreds out there now without one.

Let us be thankful for the bonuses we will be getting this year, there is somebody out there without even a peso in his pocket.

Let us be thankful, without glorifying, for everything we have, for we never know when they will be taken away.

This is not an appeal for any donations, just a minute of prayer to reflect for your own lives, to thank God for your blessings, and to pray for others who may not be as lucky as you are right now. But if you feel you really are blessed enough this year, may you be kind enough to contact any NGO's or agencies that accepts donations for my hometown. Your excesses might help save a life or two and who knows may even bring a joyous Christmas to your less fortunate countrymen.

I wish this Christmas will be a new season of hope, of giving and sharing, of loving and living. I wish you all have a really Merry Christmas…


Reaction to Jonathan Fortunado's eyewitness account of the Infanta-Real-General disasterdespite all the landslides, broken bridges, and impassable roads. Jonathan is the son of Panny Fortunado and Nellie Potes.

Santiago, Chile
Ika 7 ng Disyembre 2004

Ginoong Jonathan P. Fortunado
c/o MIF Website, Arvada, Colorado
U.S.A.

Kabayang Jonathan:

Salamat sa iyong paguulat hinggil sa ginawa mong pagpunta sa Infanta na binagtas mo ang kabundukan ng Sierra Madre.

Kahit na anong hirap ang iyong naranasan ay di pa rin ikaw nawalan ng pag-asaang makararating sa paruruonan.

Sa iyong paguulat ay nabanggit mo na si Mrs. Leynes (Kapatid ko) ay doon tumapok o humigpo sa bayan nina Pareng Moming Villaflor at Mareng Triny na halos katapat-bahay lamang namin sa 20 de Julio street, Infanta, Quezon.

Malaki ang pagasa na ang ating bayan ng Infanta at mga minamahal na kababayan ay makababangong muli.

Samantala, sa kasalukuyan, ay nangangailangan sila ng tulong upang makatawid-buhay. At habang may buhay, ay may pagasa.

Ang ginawa mong paglalakbay sa maputik na kabundukan at kapatagan upang maka-abot sa sairiling bayan ay nagpapatunay na kapag may pagmamalasakit at katibayanng loob, ay tiyak na magtatagumpay.

Ang iyong kabayan,
Rudy Arizala


If you missed the eyewitness account, please click below.

Jonathan P. Fortunado's Eyewitness account sent Dec. 6, 2004, 1:57 a.m., to Mil Villaflor (and sent to us by Ellen Mercado Irons)

Editor's Note: We are publishing this account as received, but with slight editing to keep the flow and fit in the page more smoothly) so you can feel the distress of Jonathan's experience as well his sense of humor and some insight on the destruction of Infanta, Real and General Nakar.

Below is a message Melecia Garcia received today from Fr. John Sullivan, OCD:

I contacted someone at the U.N. in New York, in my capacity as N.G.O. representative, and told the person of the problems in Quezon Province. She took my phone number and promised to make some inquiries about what aid is possible.

Thank you

Shelley Ortiz has been coordinating efforts in Texas, not only to generate support for our Diasaster Relief Fund, but also to get direct connection to Infanta. We would like to acknowledge her efforts along with the efforts of Gene Pallugna who is helping us collect fund fast so we can send it to typhoon victims in Infanta, Real and General Nakar.


From Romeo Tena, MCHS '72
Romeo is from Bantilan, Infanta, Quezon, and now a resident of Caramar, NS W Australia

If you got the time, could you email me any sort of endorsement letter i could show to hospital managements here in Sydney so that iIcould ask for medicines (even those that are about to expire) for Infanta. I would relay to you with pictures whatever they have given so that those could be acknowledged for by infanta.org.

I am sure i could gather a lot of items here in Sydney but those would be heavy and costly to pay for transport. I am planning to show the email letter you could give me to the management of Qantas airline here for any sort of consideration in baggage allowance.

Am planning to fly to Manila within a week and stay there till after Christmas.

Kudos to all your efforts and God bless!

P.O. Box 2019
Carramar
NSW Australia
Phone: +612 9724 7010
Fax: +612 9724 6112


From Mario Leodones
Metro Infanta Association of Michigan

I will be sending you a check (personal) and also some donation from Metro Infanta of Michigan (MIAMI). Aning Sollestre is soliciting some donations (money, used clothings and medicines ) to be distributed in Infanta and neighboring towns. I will ask the president of Pilipino American Community Council here in Michigan if we can ask for donations during the Rizal Day celebration here.

For the future, I suggest that the mayor and Infanta municipal council will assign either a policeman or an employee of DENR to munitor the water level of Agos river during the rainy season or during flash flood condition. They should erect measuring device (water height gage) to munitor how fast water rises in a given time (especially during typhoon and heavy downpour) so people can get warning ahead of time and they can evacuate to higher ground.

I heard people have to pay for the rice being distributed in the municipal building. Any truth to this rumor. Can you verify this?

Editor's Note: Attention anyone from Infanta, General Nakar and Real: Please give us any information on above concern.

It will be very hard but if we work together we can meet this challenge. (Parang walis, kung isang tingting lang, walang magagawa pero pagpinagbuklog puweding ipaglinis.)

Praying for the whole people of Infanta, Real and Gen. Nakar. God Bless.


Catholic Relief Services now collecting relief funds for the typhoon victims.

In a press release we received today, the Catholic Relief Services has sent a press release to all U.S. dioceses to solicit funds for the Philippine disaster. This is great news as the relief aids are now thinning. Please encourage your parishes to make an active effort to follow through on this effort.


Post Date: 12/7/04

From Gene Pallugna, Texas

Shelley Ortiz also needs a cellphone number working in Infanta. Her boss at work has a short wave radio that can be link to cellphone towers to establish contact with someone in Infanta. She said if the cellphone is working, then whichever tower it's feeding to can be linked to the radio here for direct communication.

She said we can use it to find outwhat happened to our kababayans. It's one way to have fresh news all the time. Maybe one of the priests in Infanta have a working cellphone.

From Pablito and Imelda (Orantia) Orozco, California

My husband and I are giving up our Christmas "wants" this year so we can help our beloved Infantahins have their immediate needs for survival.

You will receive in the mail in the next 2 or 3 days a check. I will mail the check this morning.

My brothers and sisters are all here in California and I already called them up and encouraged them to send their financial aid through the Foundation.

From Joe Marquez, St. Louis, MO

Joe Marquez of Pilaway, Infanta, Quezon aand his wife Malou of Infanta ( 20 De Julio St.), are working with their parish to have a second collection durin ghte nine days of Simbang Gabi. All proceeds will be sent to the Disaster Fund through the Metro Infanta Foundation.

Joe Marquez
Work# (636) 916-8792
Home# (636) 447-3520
Mobile# (314) 853-4576


From Florina De Guzman

Thank you so much for posting our request in finding our relatives. we had just gotten a call this morning letting us know about the whereabouts of our families, our Tita Annie Aumentado, Tita Baby Galpo & family survived this heart wrenching disaster and from what they had described is that the mud in their house is up to their thighs, practically everything destroyed. But we still have no words on our Ate Maring Belen Ruanto & her family. We're just hoping and praying that they too are in a safe place. Our hearts go out to everyone.


From Marissa Espiritu Monte

Ang Real at Infanta ang tlaga na damage ng husto.Gumuho ang bldg. na evacuation center ng mga tao kc nga nagulongan ng mga troso at bato galing sa bundok.Pag papanoorin mo ang mga nangyari kikilabutan ka sa nakalulunos na mga biktima.Parng delubyo na.Dito sa Manila ay d masyado na apektohan.

Sina ate Arlene Prohibido Penamante ay ok naman at nakapag text pa noong may battery pa ang cell phone at nabahaan lang naman daw ang kanilang generator at natapat na high tide.

Sina Ninang Tesing Naman ay alang sumasagot sa telephone nila. mabuti naman at ok naman pala sila.

Dito na lang at mag iipon pa ako ng mga pwede na mapdala sa mga biktima.


Post Date: 12/6/04

Puso sa Puso: A Message from Bishop Rolando Tria Tirona, OCD
Bishop, Prelature of Infanta

Dear Mila and Metro Infanta Foundation and Generous donors,

This is Bishop Rolando Tria Tirona, OCD, Bishop of the Prelature of Infanta. Finally I was able to reach Manila with the remains of our beloved Fr. Cha Collendres. We airlifted the remains via chopper. His remains are now in Mt. Carmel Shrine Parish, a place Fr. Cha loved to stay with the Carmelite Fathers.

Last night at 8:00 p.m. we had Mass for him. Many attended. Though extremely tired from the experience of being in the disaster area and the seemingly unending flight, I was a able to gather my thoughts and told the congregation how Fr. Cha expressed his solidarity with me in strengthening our Prelature of Infanta in terms of vocations, socioeconomic programs and catechetics. We lived together at the bishop's residence, which is now a total wreck. His room and mine have knee deep mud. Our cathedral had ankle deep mud and water. It was chaos everywhere in the town. Houses were wiped out like match sticks blown by a powerful fan.

We have organized a relief center at Mt. Carmel Shrine in Quezon City. It is very uplifting to see so many volunteers and donors helping us. The Metro Infanta Foundation is a big help, with plans to send us money to get medicines. I am personally overwhelmed and grateful by the help of the Foundation and your concern. We need to be with our kababayans. We are trying our very best to see to it that our relief goods reach our people in Infanta, Nakar, Real and Dingalan. We are also preparing for the rehabilitation of the parishes that got the brunt of this tragedy. Please continue to help us through the Foundation.

I have tasked our Social Action Commission under Fr. Israel Gabriel and Deacon Mario Van Loon to consolidate and supervise all the donations, money and in kind. We have a good working team with Sr. Zenia and Atty. Lily Gruba.

After bringing the remains of Fr. Cha to his hometown in Midayap, Cotobato, I intend to fly back to Infanta. We are still arranging our flight to the Cotobato for tomorrow. We keep our spirits high knowing that the Filipino is strong in faith in God and in caring for our fellow kababayans. THANK YOU FOR ALL THE ASSISTANCE AND PRAYERS. WE ARE INDEED VARY GRATEFUL. GOD BLESS YOU ALL!

BISHOP TIRONA


From Rex Crisostomo in New York

Greetings and peace in the most holy name of Jesus! We would like to celebrate a mass for our people in Infanta-Real-Nakar-Pollillo who have been devastated by the Typhoon Winnie.

DATE: December 12,2004 (Sunday)

TIME: In the Afternoon (2:30 pm the earliest time possible)

PLACE: PARISH TO BE ANNOUNCED. (ST. Anne or St. Roco in Jersey City)

CONTACT NO.: (917) 273-4366 (cell no.) c/o Analee Coralde

(973) 626-4376 (cell no.) c/o Rex Crisostomo

(973) 687-3594 (cell no.) c/o Fr. Armando Crisostomo

We would like to welcome all the Infantahin and friends in the NY/NJ/PA to come and let us know if you have any suggestions/availability to consider. Pls. Contact the above contact persons.

We will also discuss on how are we going to help our kababayans here in the NY/NJ/PA areas after the Mass. If available, you may also bring some new/used clothing, canned goods/non perishable items or anything that we may send via balikbayan boxes to the Philippines.

Thank you. God bless you and more power to the Metro-Infanta Foundation. Take care always and have a very nice day!


From Girlie E. Mercado, New York, MCHS-INFANTA, Batch '72

I am from Infanta, Quezon and I graduated from MCHS-Infanta. At present, I am working in New York City. I have learned about the tragedy that happened in Infanta, Real and Nakar through TFC and my sister,Ellen Mercado Irons who had communicated with you earlier.

I have shared the bad news to my friends and they would like to send donations. Please tell me if you know of a contact person here in NY who would be willing to facilitate the delivery of goods that we will be able to solicit. For the money that we might be able to collect,we will send it through the Metro Infanta Foundation.

I hope that in my own little way I would be able to help in lifting up the spirits of my kababayans. I will continue to pray for them,most especially for my family members who are in Infanta and Real.

I hope for your most immediate response.

Editor's Note: anyone in the New York area who can help, please let me know at editor@infanta.org


From Rudy Arizala: Hereunder are some news updates re Infanta, Real, Gen. Nakar Relief Operations taken from Malaya Newspaper of 06 December 2004..

1. Drinking water, food, medicines and clothes were brought to Quezon by Navy ships, airlifted by helicopters and ten carried by hundreds of soldiers who walked hours to reach disaster areas

The military is handing out two kg. of rice, two tins of sardines and two packets of instant noodles for each family per day.

2. Disaster officials said relief efforts will continue in the next 10 days before rehabilitation work begins. About 98% of he areas hit by the disaster had been reached.

3. Manila had received P29 million worth of relief supplies from international and local agencies for distribution to more than 500,000 people affected by the storms.

4. Rescue and relief operations being hampered by destroyed roads and bridges. Also by cobras in Gen. Nakar.

5. A Philippine Navy ship loaded with relief goods and equipment donated by Japan and Navy Seabees is due to arrive today in Quezon. The equipment would be used to clear the road from Infanta to Real.

6. The U.S. ambassador Ricciardone visited the disaster areas in Quezon. The US sent two helicopters to Quezon with body bags and rolls of plastic shelter materials for some 800 families.

7. Social Welfare Secretary Soliman announced that:

a). Relief operations will run until 15 December.

b). From 16 to 31 December gov´t and volunteers will focus on rehabilitation through "food for work" program.

c). Health centers and schools will be constructed and potable water systems and sanitation facilities will be put up´.

d). The productivity and livelihood aspect of the program will start in January 2005.

As I stated before emergency relief operation such as delivery of food, water and medicine will be done in few days time, thus, according to Social Welfare Department it will last until 15 December 2004.

From 16 to 31 December 2004, will be devoted to rehabilitation work; while productivity and the livelihood aspect of the program will start in January 2005.


Post Date: 12/5/04

Urgent Need!

Bishop Rolando Tria Tirona, OCD,has requested from Metro Infanta Foundation funds to purchase some much needed medicine. It is very important to take all the necessary precautions to prevent any outbreak of an epidemic. We would like to send at least $10,000 for this purpose (see message on the right). Please send your donations NOW! Please refer to the above instructions to help us speed up the fund collection process.

From Rudy Arizala, Santiago, Chile

Per Philippine newspaper reports of 05 December 2004, it was reported that PGMA accompanied by Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman and other officials visited last Saturday morning 04 December 2004, the devastated towns of Infanta, Real and Gen. Nakar. They flew to the place by helicopter as the roads to Real and Infanta are still impassable due to destroyed bridges and landslides.

Seeing the devastation caused by the flash floods and number of dead or missing reaching more than a thousand from the three towns, she ordered "the suspension of logging permits all over the country." And she also recommended to make the illegal cutting of timber as a "heinous crime."

Meanwhile due to improving weather, helicopters were able to bring to Infanta and surrounding towns some relief goods such as food, water, medicines and airlifted some of the sick or injured to Manila.

According to Social Secretary Soliman, 495 people were dead and some 508 missing in Real, Infanta and Gen. Nakar. In Real, residents burned some of the corpses to prevent outbreak of diseases. In the town of Infanta, logs and debris littered the streets. Also, logs covered the piers leading to Real and Infanta.

The NDCC said it has facilitated the release of 3,450 sacks of rice worth P2.76 million from the National Food Authority to aid typhoon victims.

Meanwhile, Vice Chair of Staff of the AFP said the Air Force, Navy and Army have agreed to donate P1 million each for the ravaged areas bringing to P4.3 million the AFP donation to typhoon / flood victims.

The European Commission has earmarked about P74.4 million for the typhoon victims. This is aside from the pledges of donations from countries such as Spain, Australia, Germany, Japan, U.S.A.

But such pledges of donations from other countries and agencies of the Philippine Government should not make us stop donating funds or assistance to Infanta, Gen. Nakar and Real either directly or through the MIF. For the simple reason that the donations of other countries and other agencies of the Philippine Government such as the AFP are not only for Infanta, Real and General Nakar but for other towns as well hit by typhoons Unding and Winnie in Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Maria Aurora and others.

As I said before, "God helps those who help themselves."

With the kind assistance of our kababayans at home and abroad, Infanta as well as the people of Real and General Nakar would be able to carry on the difficult tasks of relief and reconstruction.

Of course, it was reported also that PGMA gave P 1 million each to the mayors of General Nakar, Infanta, and Real to help in the relief and rehabilitation work. But we should also contribute our humble share in helping our less fortunate kababayans.


Francisco Romantico to graduates of MCHS-Infanta

Dear Fellow Alumni,

Due to the emerging needs to provide immediate support for our KABABAYANS in the stricken areas of REAL, INFANTA, and GEN. NAKAR, we the officers of the MT. CARMEL SCHOOL OF INFANTA ALUMNI ASSOCIATION , INC. has embarked on this program to network with our relatives, friends and acquaintances, and those with the magnanimous hearts who are ready and able to respond for the CRY OF OUR DYING KABABAYANS.

In the soonest possible time, we wanted to raise some amount of money to buy all the necessary commodities that will alleviate their dying and very miserable conditions.

Attached for your reference to all your possible patrons, donors & benefactors is our solicitation letter that will enhance and facilitate the jobs that are entrusted to us. May I just suggest that we have to completely gather their names and addresses as well as the easiest possible means of communicating to them; so that we will be able to acknowledge them after all these rushes.

Also, we have included some specific news bits and information for you to easily cite these events in making them aware of the said tragic events.

Thank you and we hope you will heed our CRY FOR HELP FOR OUR KABABAYANS.

P.S.

04& 05 December, 8 p.m. (Manila time) at Mt. Carmel Shrine, there will a mass for Fr. Cha and all victims

06 December , 6 am ... his body is bound for Cotabato.

Let us all pray for their souls that the merciful and loving God welcome them in His eternal home.

For Fr. Cha who lived with us in Pasig City during his seminary break: we love you very much. It is with our deepest regrets that you passed away at the prime time of your life. You still can help a lot of your parishioners. Yet God's mind is absolutely different from us humans. We really need to know and understand His Will for each and everyone of us.

Nakikidalamhati po kaming buong pamilya ng Rodil-Romantico sa lahat mga mahal sa kanilang buhay at lumiban lamang sa isang mas matahik at walang kamatayang buhay.


Post Date: 12/4/04

Below is a letter dated Dec. 4, 2004 from Rudy Arizala to Secretary of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Alberto Romulo

Dear Mr. Secretary

With reference to my letter of 30 November 2004 requesting the President for assistance to my hometown of Infanta, Quezon, and its neighboring towns of Real and General Nakar in Quezon province badly hit by typhoon and flash floods, I read from Philippine newspapers that H.E. President Gloria Macapagal, accompanied by Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman and by other local officials, visited on Saturday morning, 04 December 2004, said three devastated towns in Quezon Province. Also, it was reported that relief goods such as food, water and medicine started to reach the devastated areas to help alleviate the sufferings of the people.

May I express through you, Mr. Secretary, to the President of the Philippines my deepest appreciation for her untiring efforts to reach my hometown of Infanta as well as the towns of Real and General Nakar.

Such visit is a clear manifestation of her deep concern for the people, especially the victims of natural calamities. Perhaps unknown to her, among the beneficiaries of such visit were my brother, sister and their families who are residents of Infanta, Quezon.

I have faith in the resiliency of my townmates. But such visit of the President gave them more inspiration and hope in the midst of sufferings and their mourning for the dead or missing loved ones.

I hope and pray that the measures undertaken by the Government for complete ban on "illegal logging" would be implemented with greater vigor and effectiveness.

Great news!

Bishop Rolando Tria Tirona, OCD, finally made it Manila, along with the remains of Father Charlito Collendres, for services at the Mt. Carmel Shrine at Broadway, Metro Manila. Burial will be in Cotabato.

From Bert Aumentado, Santa Barbara, CA
Father Lucas just replied to my email inquiring about Patnanungan. He said the outer islands are alright. The islands probably did not suffer mudslides and flooding that devastated the Infanta area.

It is sad about the computers at NQCC. Perhaps we could also start an effort to replace the computers that the schools lost. I'll be glad to help.

From Fr. Joel Borreo, OCD
Am sure you are aware of the tragedy that hit our beloved Prelature of Infanta, from Maria Aurora, San Luis, Baler, Dingalan, to Infanta, Real and Gen Nakar. So many people died, including Fr. Cha.

Am in bacolod. but mt carmel shrine is one of the drop points for donation and aids. It is still difficult to bring reliefs to Infanta, Real and Nakar, because four bridges, including the one in Tignoan, and the Infanta-Nakar bridge, are destroyed. I don't know how aids are carried to the north. We need prayers and material help.

From Florina De Guzman, Las Vegas, Nevada

If any anyone can give us any info on our relatives in Infanta, it would be appreciated. This is devastating to our families in the States. We've tried any means of communications to locate them but no luck.

We're trying to find out about our relatives who live on 20 de Julio St.

Annie Aumentado
Baby Galpo - she works for the town
Jeanne Ann Galpo
Jason Galpo
JR Galpo
Joy Galpo
Maring Belen Ruanto & Family

Please contact us at theflgcollection@aol.com

From Cristina Plaza, California
I'm deeply saddened of what happened in Infanta. The same night of the flood, my Tita Baby Calleja tumawag kay Tita Chit dito sa Kansas. Sabi daw niya "Tulungan mo kami, lulubog na kami, lulubog na kami." Then, the phone call got disconnected. This was such a dramatic call and when the whole family found out we were deeply saddened and constantly crying.

My cousin TonTon Ruiz (Tita Chit's son) was able to call her and told her that they were all on top of the roof of Silangan Hotel waiting for the flood to subside. That same night my cousins RG and J-Lo were house sitting Tita Nene and Tito Emboy's house in Comon. When the flood occured, they both were able to evacuate on top of the roof. Tito Russel swam the flood and mud currents to Comon to get RG and J-Lo. They all came back to Silangan Hotel. All of them eventually were able to go to the 2nd floor of the hotel but they had no food or water for at 4 days now.

The people that are currently there are- my Lola Levy Ruiz, Tita Baby, Tito Russel Calleja and three children RG, KK, and KM, Tito Boy, Tita Emmalyn and their two children Jun Carlo, Carla Mae, my cousin J-LO, Ton Ton, his wife Noreen and child Noah, and Tita Mameng. I was told that there are other people who evacuated there but I'm not sure who they are. If anyone has any information on my family please let me know.

My Mom Eyeh is asking for anyone's help who can give us information about them. She is troubled and worried because we all don't know their status. We're truly hoping that they have been rescued and could at least eat. Please email me directly at mcrplaza@yahoo.com for any information you can give. Salamat....

For more messages, please click here or above.


From Rudy Arizala, Chile
There are many giving donations such as the US, (US $100,000 to the Phil Red Cross), Australia, Spain (P.4.6 million worth of medical & relief supplies to PNR), Japan (P15 million worth of supplies equipmemt in the form of tents, generators, water tanks, , etc., but it is also better that we Infantahins have also our own donations specifically for Infanta, Real and Gen. Nakar areas. As the saying goes; "God help those who help themselves"

Jenny Buerano Pratt
United Kingdom (Cell Phone +0044 07786681260) or (Land Line (+0044 1224 877856)

Looking for news of my family in Infanta :- Alma Ruidera Revellame and her family, Jay Ruidera and his family, Shirley Ruidera Combalicer and her family (Sister-in-law of Ricky Combalicer at Land Bank in Infanta). Any news of their whereabouts would be greatly appreciated.

From Arriane Serafico
HS student, St. Scholastica

I am Arriane Serafico, from the Religion Extension Class 4 of St. Scholastica's College, Manila, High School Department. My classmates and I are currently in the process of putting together a relief mission to Quezon. But we still have to have it approved by the school, because we are presenting it as a class project. We have been coordinating through e-mail and private messaging, and we're currently looking for a place where we can hold the relief mission. I am writing you to ask for a map of Quezon, or Metro Infanta, so that we can look into a feasible and accessible place to hold it. We are also already looking for transportation and everything else. But rest assured, we are already collecting donations from our peers.

We are truly hoping that we could push through with this. Our prayers are with the people of Quezon. Thank you and I am hoping for your affirmative response.

Jenny Buerano Pratt
United Kingdom (Cell Phone +0044 07786681260) or (Land Line (+0044 1224 877856)

Looking for news of my family in Infanta :- Alma Ruidera Revellame and her family, Jay Ruidera and his family, Shirley Ruidera Combalicer and her family (Sister-in-law of Ricky Combalicer at Land Bank in Infanta). Any news of their whereabouts would be greatly appreciated.

 Joel Ruidera is sending the email below to his friends.

I am writing to you in regards to the latest calamity, typhoon Winnie that hit my hometown and it's neighboring places. As of now, unofficial government count put the casualties to around thousand dead and missing.

The figures change depending on which TV networks or newspapers you are looking at. I saw through limited media coverage the horrifying ordeals many of our kababayans had to go through: the landslide carrying tons of logs breaking bridges, houses or anything on its way, houses submerged on water, if not washed away completely, children who lost their parents and relatives, parents who lost their children. It's truly heartbreaking. I feel so sad and withdrawn. It hurts so badly, I can't eat or sleep. So many people unite and are very helpful. Government agencies and private relief groups are also trying to help.

The impacted areas: Real, Infanta and Gen Nakar Quezon are still isolated and unreachable by land transportation. There is no electricity, no permanent source of drinking water, and no telephones (Globe cell phones are the only ones that work but residents have no more batteries nor electricity to charge). On the shores afloat logs and debris which make it difficult for sea vessels to dock.

The only means immediate relief at this time is through helicopters, which often just drop off supplies due of lack of suitable landing - thick mud and water all over the place.

It's a very strange feeling, but in times like this, you don't hear people cry, you feel it. You cannot see their tears but you feel their sadness.

If you just stop and take a deep sigh, you can feel the squeezing pain in their heart as if they are actually yours. Maybe, they are yours; they are ours. We are all still connected even in pain, in hope and most of all in love.

I am not good in asking for help, and I'm really sorry to bother you, but if you find it in your heart to help out those who are in need, please consider donating to the following organizations. They are reputable and known for their good deeds.

Metro Infanta Foundation - www.infanta.org

Here's how it works:

1) Fax an image of your check to 303-423-8698, or you may scan your check and email it to: editor@infanta.org.

2) All checks we have received and recorded will be faxed to Gene Gene Pallugna for credit to our bank account.

3) Gene will then e-mail to the Foundation the amount of deposit andthe list of checks deposited.

4) As in the past, all funds received will be wire transferred to the Prelature of Infanta for distribution.

If uncertain about this process, please send your checks to 7350 Braun Way, Arvada, CO 80005 U.S.A. Please let us know by email at editor@infanta.org that you are making a contribution and that you are sending your checks in the mail. Thank you!

GMA-7 Flood Victims

GMA Network's Kapuso Foundation is accepting donations for victims of

floods and landslides brought on by tropical depression "Winnie."The Foundation can be reached at the following e-mail addresses:

gmaf@gmanetwork.com

bisigbayan@gmanetwork.com

And at the following telephone numbers:

+63 2 9284299 +63 2 9287021 locals 310, 438

Or deposit your donations through all Metrobank branches to the foundation's peso or dollar accounts:

3-098-51034-7 for peso donations

2-098-00244-2 for dollar donations

I'd really appreciate it if you can pass this message along to any Filipino friends you have. It will be a great Christmas gift for the landslide and flood victims.

Lilibeth Sanglitan
Can we have a list of persons who have been rescued in Infanta, Quezon, especially in Brgy.Binulasan. We have a relatives there. We are hoping for your immediate response about this matter.

Athan Lacuesta
Sa Brgy. Pilaway daw po ay pwedeng pagtiyagaan ang tubig galing sa poso. Pakuluan lamang para sigurado. Di ho masyadong mataas ang inabot ng baha sa ibang parte doon. Sana makatulong medyo malayo nga lamang sa bayan.


Post Date: 12/3/04

From Fr. Francis Lucas: Tesing Mortiz and children are o.k. but Matt-Matt, who is disabled needs to be transported by helicopterto Manila.

From Deacon Mario: "Our biggest fear (regarding another typhoon) did not materialize. the last bagyo did not hit direct. We will now bring our relief goods to Infanta today.

From Gene Pallugna: Two of Mark Bitara's relatives from Tignoan, Real, Quezon were among the fatalities caused by the flooding and landslides. They were Kikoy and Tonya Banzuela.

Mark Bitara (he was among the first to respond to Gene's collection service, offering support with a donation) is one of the Infantahins who reside in the Metro Houston area. He said I can share with you the bad news. Let us pray for the eternal repose of his relatives and all the others. May they all rest in peace.

From Alee Coralde:

Katatawag sa aking ngayong umaga ni Ner Cuento (nasa California siya) at nagbalita. Yong anak ni Tyo Ibit e nakarating na sa Infanta at may dalang cell phone na maraming reserve na batteries kaya nakakuha ng mga balita. So far ang maraming nasalanta ay sa barangay daw at ang bayan maliban sa totoong maraming bahay e naabot ang 1st floor (kung 2-floor ito) ay kahit paano ay nakakaahon na ngayon. Ang putik daw ay super taas at talagang napakahirap maglinis ng mga bahay; yon e sa mga bahay na di nasira either ng baha or ng rumaragasang troso. Sina Tya Siony daw ay sa bubong ng kanilang bodega pumunta. Sa bahay daw namin ay maraming tumapok at sa awa ng Diyos di naman naabot ang second floor. Yong bagong pinatatayo ni Inay na apartment sa General Luna (lupa ni Itay na katabi ng bahay Nina Ipin) ay sinira ng mga tao ang pinto para makatuloy (2 floors ito at mataas ang pagkatayo).

Anyway, mahalaga e nakatulong ito. Ang mga bahay daw sa Comon e talagang lubog (mababa din kasi dito). Ipinakita na ata sa TFC ang hitsura ng ating bayan kasi may dalawang reporters na nakarating na (naglakad ata sila since Monday pa papunta sa atin). Nainterview na sina Grace at Fr. Boy at napakita ang ating cathedral in mess daw talaga.

Sabi ko nga kay Ner parang maiiyak ako kapag nakita ko ang atin bayan. My boyfriend still remembers how beautiful it was (he was there Holy week two years ago). Hanggang ngayon di pa rin ako makapaniwala. Kawawa nga sina Inay at Tita Mely kasi nasaksihan nila ang 9/11 tragedy dito tapos umuwi sila doon para magbakasyon at nasaksihan naman nila ang flash flood. Am sure okay ang mga Ate Mina dahil yong nga taga Catambungan ay nakatapok pa e malayo ito. Ang mga namatay lang ata sa may bayan e either tulog ng time na magflash flood or di umalis thinking tulad ng dati lang ang pagbaha. Alam mo

ang ating bayan naman ay walang pagkukulang sa pagpapatigil ng logging activities, in fact tayo ang pinakaaktibo dito noon pa pero napakakumplikado kasi ang logging as a business. Am sure maraming kakutsaba dito maging nasa military at gobyerno. Noong umakyat yong aming staff (may project kami sa upland), naiyak nga sila sa nakita nilang pagpuputol sa may pusod ng Sierra Madre na. They could not take photos kasi may mga baril ang mga loggers.

Isinumbong namin ito sa DENR but I am sure alam naman nila na noon pa ito. Hay naku, nakakalungkot talaga ang corruption sa atin. Hopefully ang bagong bagyo na mas matindi daw ay lumiwas na sa atin. Polillo naman ata ang delikado kasi parang dito ang direksyon nito.

Sana ang mga nangyari ay higit na makapagpatatag ng pananampalataya ng mga tao sa atin. Magandang makita rin kung ano talaga ang mahalaga sa ating buhay. Tingnan mo nga naman, sa isang iglap lang, maaari talagang mawala ang lahat lalo na ang mga materyal na bagay.

Sige at tuloy ang ating mga panalangin.

Gusto ko na ngang umuwi baka may maitulong.


Ellen Mercado Irons (Geneva, Ohio) is sending email to friends at work and her parish) to help us in our effort. Below is a copy of her letter:

Dear Family, Friends and Mag-anak Members,

I usually do not disclose my recipients whenever I send mass mailings

because I wish to protect your privacy. I hope that this time you do not mind me revealing your email addresses to everyone else. There is a purpose for this. Would it be possible for you to forward this email to your friends and let them become aware of the situation stated below? They would recognize your email addresses and would know that this had been forwarded by you. If they are willing to help they can send $1.00 to this address: 7350 Braun Way, Arvada, CO 80005 U.S.A.

If a donation is on its way, please let Ms. Glodava know at editor@infanta.org. I am hoping that many will respond to this appeal. A dollar can add up to a significant amount of money if many people care to donate. The following is what this is all about:

I wish to appeal to all of you on behalf of the people of Infanta, Quezon, Philippines. Infanta is my hometown in the Philippines. I have family living there. The last few days have brought us shocking news about my hometown and its neighboring towns. They have been hit by typhoons, one after the other and at the moment there is yet another one, feared to be the strongest of all, that is hitting these towns. They have been hit by floodwaters (flashfloods); many are dead and/or missing. They have lost their homes and belongings. There is no food nor potable water. The relief and rescue operations from the Philippine government have not reached my hometown yet because they had to go there on foot. It is too far to travel on foot and the food that is being transported has been distributed to those who needed them along the way. Many are hungry and thirsty. As one of our priests had stated in one of his emails, our hometown is going to experience the darkest and bleakest Christmas this year. Electrical power, phone lines (both landlines and cellular) and everything else may not even be restored for months to come.

This is so great a tragedy that I thought of asking for your help. Maybe if you could let your friends know about the plight of my townsfolk, maybe some of you would be kind enough to offer some financial assistance. Any gift would be greatly appreciated by my people. Even a dollar would be a great help if everyone would send a check. Please refer to the two URL's listed below for the latest news about my hometown. The Metro Infanta website is created for the purpose of helping the town of Infanta and a few other neighboring towns. Ms. Mila Glodava is the editor. If you wish, you can email her at editor@infanta.org on how you could make a donation in the name of Infanta, Quezon.


Text message from Sr. Ange Donado, Dec. 2, 2 a.m. : One barrio in Panukulan hit by tidal wave and No. 4 signal for Polillo.

There are reports at this posting at 10 .pm., that more than 600 people are presumed dead. Let us hope and pray that the other typhoon threatening to hit the Infanta areas will take a detour to the seas and let the victims of these horrific few days to make it back to homes or at least to safety.

From: Iris Ruanto Pidal

Date: 12/02/04 07:38:05

Dear friends, sa ngayon ay kasalukuyang nananalasa si bagyong Yoyong..signal no. 2 dito sa manila..sa aurora, northern quezon, polillo island at kalapitang bayan ay signal no. 4..military men bringing relief goods were able to penetrate real quezon hindi pa ang infanta dahil ang balita sa daan pa lang going there nauubos na dala nila wala..walang balita sa first batch na nagpunta doon kung nakarating na sila sa bayan ng Infanta.

Ipinakita kanina sa abs-cbn ang kalunos-lunos na sitwasyon ng ating simbahan at munisipyo na covered ng putik. Walang natira. Sabi nga ng mommy ko magtatanim na siya ng palay sa living room namin (dahil covered pa yun ng putik) para mayroon silang makain dahil more than 30 people ang nasa bahay at wala ngang pagkain at potable water. Imagine kung gaano katagal bago makaani ng palay, but knowing mga pinoy talagang hindi nawawala ang sense of humor amidst everything good or bad happenings..

As of now nangangalap kami ng mga donasyon at talagang marami pa rin nating mga kababayan na tumutulong at handang tumulong..we hope and pray na marami tayong makuhang donasyon dahil buwan o even taon (dahil sa bagal ng suporta ng ating gobyerno) ang bibilangin natin for the rehabilitation of the 3 towns. Nakaka-frustrate ang mga tao sa gobyerno..puro papogi at paganda lang..as usual politikong kulang sa gawa..panay ang try to travel to the affected towns para que? opinyon lang pong pansarili..pero talaga naman...as usual huli na naman ang mga aksiyon.. Will update you again. I tried to contact my sister and cousin there since 4pm wala pang response..sana okay lang sila..let's pray for them..

By the way Elaine, okay naman ang lagay nina myla e. dumating yung asawa niya last friday.


Nestor and Nora Mercado
Denver, CO

We know that the flood victims are near or around your hometown. We are praying for those who died and for those who survived that they may find relief and comfort in the next few weeks. We cannot offer much but let us know if you are sending anything to help them and we will contribute, no matter how little.

Sim Rivera
Englewood, CO

I'm sorry to see this happened in Infanta, Gen Nakar and especially Real. Visit http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6617478/.


Updates by Father Francic Lucas

12/1/, 9;21 a.m.

Just a few minutes ago, I had the chance to talk to Col Padilla and Col Duque. Padilla is the chief of the airforce in charge of the flights. I was trying to get a plane for infanta. Col Duque is in charge of NDCC for the Quezon, Aurora, Nueva Ecija areas. He informed me that he was there yesterday and that the floods have somehow settled down. They rescued from Karmelo many people and brought them into higher grounds but cant airlift up to Manila. He is trying to land again today however, clouds cover the mountains of Infanta due to the coming next typhoon "Yoyong" which is much stronger and more vicious due to its winds. They have used as their camp and center the high grounds at General Nakar near the broken bridge. He assures me that they are trying all their best. I told him about our center here at Mt. Carmel Shrine. He is willing to brief me as the activities continue.

The vice president and my friend the DSWD secretary are now hovering over Infanta. So the govenment knows we are there pushing for efficiency. Thanks God. At this moment we need all the help we can to pile them up until such time that land transpo or voluntary private helicopters. As I write you Col Padilla was interviewed over ABS CBN and revealed what he told me over nationwide television. Due to the massiveness of the destruction, additional or private initiatives has to be explored. Thanks for your efforts.

11/30/04

An update as of this evening: Bishop Tirona went by chopper this afternoon about 2:00 to Infanta from Lucena to retrieve the body Fr. Cha Colendres swept in his car by the floods and hit by "troso". The whole Infanta coastline from pinaglapatan to dinahican are littered with logs. The logs swept by the flashfloods that hit the real infanta area at about 9:00 pm last night destroyed two vital bridges namely Tingnoan in Real and the Infanta Nakar bridge. Both are impassable.

Bishop Tirona has to land in Nakar and not Infanta since Infanta is still inundated, was cloudy and the pilot couldn't distinguish the road due to thick silt covering the whole area that are no more inundated. Most of the areas are still under water.

There is another typhoon to hit the country by Friday. Many people are still on top of their houses needing immediate food and water. If it pours again tonite and tomorrow, many will perish due to hunger, cold and lack of water. At the moment, more than two hundred were reported dead, 100 in Infanta, 50 missing in Gen Nakar, 120 dead in Real due to landslides. All entry to Infanta are impassable. Real can be reached by a tourtuous route passing through 20 landslides.

People in Manila have no way of geting news from their loved ones due to lack of communciations. All the one story schools have been washed out. The radio station cannot and will not be able to function again due to the floods and silt that peneteratd the generator, the equipments, the transmitters. Rare unbacked documents perished in almost all the offices. Computers typeriters and other equipments of NQCC all brand new have been washed out. Natures' reckoning has stricken again due to hardened hearts of the people closing their eyes to the dangers of environmental destruction and unscrupulous use of natural resources. Indeed if not the only reason, logging and other illegal activities caused this debacle of nature.

Father Mario Establecida is alive and stranded in Infanta

Bishop Tirona has informed us that Father mario is alive and is stranded in the convento in Infanta, along with Father Boy Makabenta and Father Lou Evangelista.

It seems that his death was consused with the death of Father Charlito Colendres, the prelature's chancellor who died while helping other people to safety. Please pray for one of the heroes of the Infanta, Nakar and Real tragedy. May he rest in peace.

11/30/1:52 p.m.

Infantahins are berserk with the communication blackout from Infanta., Real and Gen Nakar has communication links both physical and electronic. However, Infanta is out of reach at the moment. More than 300 hundred were found dead and hundred more missing coming from the three municipalities. 140 dead in Real, 100 in Infanta and the rest in Gen Nakar. The missing persons have not been counted yet. News from sporadic cell calls or text coming from Infanta tells us of the situation only of where they are.

They cannot answer questions about others since they cant leave the roof or higher floors of their houses. Communilcations even from the Government people is difficult since theya re using the old fashioned low frequency radios and transmitters. The radio station is under water, no broadcast even if it is the highest point in town. No lights, no food no water -- short messages texters tell us. My own nephew is with May Leynes on top of the house of the Villaflors. I got a text message from a priest now stranded at Karmelo. Nuns are asking for assistance since there are many refugees in Carmel. NO food, no light, no water. Karmelo is one of the highest areas in Tonggohin.

Bishop Tirona is still in Gen Nakar, cannot penetrate to Infanta due to bad weather, cloudy and they can't see what is below due to silt and littered logs and wood. The two main bridges namely, Tignoan and Gen Nakar Infanta are impassable by land. People are getting hungry. The military and the national disaster group only have 4 helpcopters and a few rubber boats. It is dangerous to use rubber boats since the flood waters carry much logs and wood debris with slimmy silt. The situation is so threatening. Unding, Winnie has struct the areas. What is worse is the pending new typhoon which is much stronger in wind and rainfall to strike the Sierra madre eastern seaboard by thursday and friday. The Metro Reina is the hardest hit and most critical as an overall situation amongst areas now flooded like Baler, Dingalan, Aurora, Gapan, Bonagabong, Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija, Marikina, Montalban, Payatas.

The vice president, Sec. Soliman and the president intend to visit Infanta this am with four helicopters. Visiting for me is less urgent than using the body space for food and water if the planes are limited. What can they do if they can see when experts can decide better then them. This is just an opinion. Anyway we will keep you posted.

Many schools and houses were washed out. Infanta will celebrate a very bleak and tragic christmas. I am sure, electricity and other services will not be recovered for months and months. I talked with the Carmelite PRiests at Broadway. We shall make Carmel as our coordinating center and drop points for donations of food clothing medicines. I am happy that many friends have promised help without me asking for them. By this morning, I am confident we shall get the help. Our main problem is transport. AS soon as we get money, I am looking at possibilities of hiring helicopters to help in the rescue and relief operations. Lets pray harder.

Other ways of contacting me is thru landline, this email and my cellphone. 632-7258438 or 5637321) cell: 63 918 9275813. Keep me posted. I am waiting for instruciton from bp. Tirona. I hope he can retrieve the body of Fr. Cha soon at least before the next typhoon hits, if he doesn't return by chopper today,then rest assured he will be trapped in metro reina by tomorrow.

Rains have started to fall again. I just can't imagine how the people feel dark, cold, wet, hungry and thirsty. its TERRIBLY UNIMAGINABLE.