Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Letters about the Manila flood of 2009

We know that this is supposed to be a newsletter mostly about Corregidor, but the havoc wreaked by Typhoon Ondoy last weekend continues to be our focus. Ironically, with our slow-speed internet, many of you probably are better able to keep up with the latest news than are we. However, we wish to pass on a few of the emails we have received.

As we have previously written, we experienced very little of Ondoy’s wrath here on Corregidor. Other than high waves, which have continued for the past week, and the debris that they continue to pile onto the south beach, things on the island are pretty normal. Sun Cruises has been unable to bring tourists because of the high seas, which is not good news, of course.

We mentioned that our friend, Paul Whitman, found out from America that his house was seriously affected. Since then, we have learned that the water reached two feet high on his second floor, which destroyed most of his possessions, including very many Corregidor keepsakes. One photo shows an American flag, presumably his 48-star one. The good news is that he and all of his family were safe. The death toll continues to rise and the last we heard it was nearing 250, with the number of homes destroyed in the 250,000 range.

Our first letter is from Tony Feredo, Paul’s good friend. He sent many pictures of Paul’s house and property. Steve reminded Paul that most possessions can be replaced, but people are irreplaceable. However, we are still deeply saddened when we think of the tremendous loss suffered, and the heavy emotions that follow. What a help that Paul has Tony as a friend and neighbor.


Yes, Steve it was terrible indeed and I am also at a loss of words and was really sad when I was going around. At least material things can be replaced. Am just glad that none of the relatives were there when it happened.



A mutual friend of ours sent this note. Because we lack hi=speed internet here, at this time we are unable to view the video which he recommends, but trust his recommendation.


The Filipino News Program we get here in Australia on SBS (Special Broadcasting Service), courtesy of ABS-CBN News, is horrific. I was choking back tears today when a friend at work asked me if my in-laws were affected by the flood disaster. The in-laws were not affected, but after seeing the images on TV, describing to my friend the situation in and around Manila is difficult to relate without becoming emotional.

It is easy to see what Paul and Rosie have lost in the house and in the way [of] fittings. I guess it will be some time before we know what Paul has lost in the way of electronic data related to Corregidor.

The rainfall that caused the flood appears to have been more intense [than] that which caused the flooding in 1967.

The slide show at this site is worth a look as it illustrates the depth of the flow, but shows also the spirit of the clean up. There is a small photo on the left side of the page (photo of the week) – take a look, it’s brilliant

Kindest regards



This letter is from another friend of ours. It shows the faith and courage of so many of the Filipinos. Manila was devastated during the war (second only to Warsaw in percent of buildings destroyed) and came back. It will come back again, because of people like this.


hi steve and marcia,

just want to confirm the truth behind the pictures. i live in cinco hermanos subdivision of the industrial valley, in a 3-storey townhouse just 2 houses apart from the rear of the church in the photos. in fact, that church is my parish church.

my house was inundated too (only on the first floor, thank God) and everything on the ground floor is lost, and extremely dirty now with mud and ruined articles, including the precious mementos photos papers of my parents which i had been trying to preserve in a most meticulous manner. I consider those as my only, but the greatest loss in my life. everything else is replaceable, but not those items which started from 1945....nature sure has a way of reminding us that we are no match for her power, and that we should always consistently behave when it comes to handling her environment....

Stay well


One last letter, which speaks for itself.


Dear Steve and Marcia,

Thank you for sharing your photo gallery!

I have never seen such human tragedy in pictures as the 2009 flood in Manila! Though I have experienced a lot of deadly typhoons, floods, eruption before I went abroad. Yes, we feel for the people as well. We sent donations direct to the 2 families we knew who lost 100 % of their possessions ( things they have been saving for all their lives) They are happy their house is still standing with a lot of damage of course and they are still alive! . One of their sons (10 year old) nearly lost his life in the super strong current of water. He was rescued by a neighbor! All the family members went to the rooftop with their young children (including a 1 year old baby) They were so wet the whole 2 days .They went on top of the roof when the flood water was going up.. They started to pray .It was good the rain stopped before their roof gave way. But they have lost everything! We sent them 2 Balikbayan boxes of clothes ,slippers, shoes ,bed sheets, sweaters etc. Unfortunately, it will only reach them in 6 weeks. But Western Union operates faster. They don’t have to go hungry for at least 2 weeks!

Not everyone has friends/families abroad who can help immediately. They have to fend for themselves alone. One can never rely on government support. It does not really matter much to me (this government support). I’m just afraid very little foreign aid will trickle to the really needy!

In 2006, my province Albay in the region of Bicol, was covered with lahar, mud, volcanic ash, rocks, debris from Mayon followed by the super typhoons Reming & Millenium. All the infrastructure collapsed( bridges, roads houses, electric and telephone posts) etc..or went under water. Neighbors with 2 or 3 story houses let in other people in the neighborhood to save their lives. A whole community was buried. 1000 people died in that place and 3 million were affected. It took more than a year before 80% of the communities can have electricity and more than 2 years before the place was cleaned up. Even up to now, the City of Legazpi and surrounding municipalities of Albay never became like it was before! Much of the rehabilitation was done by the private sector in spite of the millions that poured into the government coffers. Several hundred thousands Filipinos abroad donated funds and goods to private agencies /families which can manage donations more effectively. We donated thru the Social Action Center which is managed by the Bishop of the Catholic church in Albay province.

Today, President Arroyo went to my town Camalig to inaugurate the almost 185 houses constructed & donated to those who lost their homes nearby my place. She came for the so-called official turn-over and for the pictures of course for election campaign. Why is this publicity necessary (using a lot of manpower and fuel to transport a President and her entourage? She should be in Manila to be on top of the rescue and rehabilitation of the capital city.

What I really admire are the simple folks , security guards, soldiers or just anyone who help others save lives (even though some lost their own as well). . Crisis bring out the best in people you know.. The Filipinos will overcome this big tragedy as usual. But there will be lots of suffering and sacrifice as well. Expect more criminality in the coming years because of poverty and the lack of opportunities to go on thru life. But I am also positive some things can still go right..

Your photo gallery is so beautiful! They need to be kept safe for future history!

Thank you and regards to both of you.

Linda & Rudi


Keep the Philippines in your prayers, since the next typhoon is about to hit. Parma is already a category 3 storm, and although the eye is tracking on a line to miss Luzon, its outlying rain bands could dump an awful lot of water on areas that are already saturated.

No comments:

Post a Comment