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Archive for the ‘The Philippines’ Category

雨不停

他们说,这里的夏天,海水是蓝的。

 

可这时候的海,感觉很愤怒,浪声好似怒吼。

 

雨不停,浪不静

雨不停,浪不静

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It’s been a wet trip so far and the past three days at Zambales was no different.

 

Zambales is a province about five hours away by bus from Manila and one of the towns, Botolan, was affected by typhoon Kiko (otherwise known as typhoon Morakot) on 6 Aug.

 

The reason why Botolan suffered badly this time round was that the dike which was built after the Mount Pinatubo eruption in 1991 had been damaged in 2 places, causing water to rush into the town, flooding 10 villages.

 

It didn’t help that the monsoon season is here, and although typhoon Labuyo sort of just passed by, it still brought heavy rainfall into the area. Some of the villagers are still in evacuation centres or had been staying in tents for a month now as their houses had been totally damaged.

 

Candice and I set off for Zambales at 8:30am on Sunday. The rain came down in heavy spurts along the way and it’s as if we’re playing “catch” with the rain god.

 

the dreamy scene from the bus window due to the rain

the dreamy scene from the bus window due to the rain

 

We reached Botolan at around 2pm and met up with Donna’s (Candice’s friend) Mom, Tita Rose (tita=auntie) at a bus stop.

 

A vivacious lady, Tita Rose brought us to a birthday party after learning that we had not had lunch. It was the birthday of a child of her fellow teaching colleague and we sort of gate-crashed the party. =P

 

We also met up with Juliet, a councillor of Barangay Carael (barangay=village). Her barangay was one of the 10 which was affected by typhoon Kiko. She showed us pictures of her house and the water level was about waist high. Almost all the houses in her barangay are gone because of the mud which was swept in together with the flood water.

 

Later, she brought us to Tent City 1 where she is currently putting up at.   

 

The tents in Tent City 1 are part of the Shelterbox Project, provided by the Rotary Club

The tents in Tent City 1 are part of the Shelterbox Project, provided by the Rotary Club

 

Though the villagers now have a temporary roof over their heads, the living conditions are still poor. 588 of them share 8 portable restrooms, the roads get muddy and puddles form after a rain, which comes often. When it’s not raining, the inside of the tents are hot and stuffy and mothers are terribly worried about their children falling sick.

 

Some villagers are rice farmers and this is supposed to be the time to harvest their crops, but for some, their crops had been completely damaged by the heavy rains, causing them to suffer heavy losses.

 

Delighted children posing for a shot

Delighted children posing for a shot

 

Seeking shelter from the sudden rain

Seeking shelter from the sudden rain

 

Her house and savings gone, 37-year-old Rosalyn F. Dayo worries that she won't have money to buy medicine for her sick children

Her house and savings gone, 37-year-old Rosalyn F. Dayo worries that she won't have money to buy medicine for her sick children

 

clothes hung on the fences never get dry

clothes hung on the fences never get dry

 

Then we moved on to another evacuation site, where the villagers of San Juan now stay.

 

It used to be empty spaces on either side of Tarlac Road

It used to be empty spaces on either side of Tarlac Road

 

For some, home is just a bed by the side of the road

For some, home is just a bed by the side of the road

 

girl manning the "sari sari" store, akin to our "mama" shop

girl manning the "sari sari" store, akin to our "mama" shop

 

After visiting San Juan, we decided to go take a look at Barangay Carael. Before we left San Juan, the rain got bigger and bigger and Juliet said that we might not be able to pass through because of the flood water. We tried our luck anyway.

 

As we got nearer the village, only large vehicles could still pass through the main road, so we got off the tricycle and walked barefooted. I was reminded of the time when we covered the flash floods near the Goodwood Florist.

 

water current was quite strong at some stretches of the main road

water current was quite strong at some stretches of the main road

 

we rolled up our jeans, took off our slippers and walked

we rolled up our jeans, took off our slippers and walked

 

some still don't want to evacuate from their homes

some still don't want to evacuate from their homes

 

The rains went on throughout the day and night, and by the time we are preparing to leave Botolan, the main road in town was closed and we had to make a detour via Santa Cruz, through three other provinces before we reached Manila. So the five hour journey stretched into nine hours.

 

I was reading the news this morning that more villagers in some towns in Zambales had been evacuated last night due to flash floods and possible landslides. They had not yet picked themselves up after typhoon Kiko but have to continue to suffer from the torrential rainfall. 

 

To many, their future seems to hang by a thin thread and no one is certain about what will happen next.

 

Rosalyn said, “We don’t know how long we have to stay in this tent, maybe we have to spend Christmas here. It’s all up to God.”

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wet wet manila

Flew into Manila yesterday and woke up to a wet wet city this morning.
The passing typhoon Labuyo brought rains to most areas in the Philippines, but according to weather forecasts, it should be heading towards Japan right now.  However, weather’s still not going to be too pleasant the next few days.
Met up with Candice today, a Filipino friend whom I got to know during a ASEF workshop three years ago. She still looks the same and is sweet enough to be my guide for the next couple of days.  =P
We set off around noon today and took an hour’s jeepney ride into Metro Manila, which, on good days, is merely 20 minutes away. Yes, traffic gets bad every Friday. (Or maybe bad traffic just keeps following me)
It was a busy scene at Quaipo Church, with devotees forming a long queue outside the church and street vendors selling goods and wares of all sorts milling around the vicinity.
Busy scene all around Quaipo Church on a Friday

Busy scene all around Quaipo Church on a Friday

 

Wikipedia explains that Quaipo Church is a Roman Catholic Church which houses the Black Nazarene, a much venerated statue of Jesus Christ which many people believe has miraculous attributes. Perhaps that’s why the church is one of the more popular ones in the country.

 

The streets outside the church are choked full of vendors plying their wares, from local snacks to pots and pans. Even the rain could not dampen the almost carnival like spirit in the air.

 

We were walking and marvelling at the assortments of goods being sold when a street vendor asked if we wanted to buy some snack made of glutinous rice (i really can’t remember the name of it now… =S). Before we know it, he’d already unwrapped one, and thrust it to me.

 

“Libre!” he said.  It’s free.

 

Candice commented that it’s quite unsual for street vendors to offer anything for free, and touched by his kind gesture, I took the snack from him and ate it. But of course, I bought another one from him just before I left. =)

 

Nice street vendor uncle who treated me to a free snack

Nice street vendor uncle who treated me to a free snack

I hope the gloomy clouds will disperse soon.

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Mabuhay!

Welcome to the Philippines!

 

Took Cebu Pacific Air to Manila yesterday, the airbus is quite new and the crew’s friendly, just that it’s a bit squashy inside the cabin. Luckily it’s only a three hour flight and the tix was cheap. =)

 

Hopped on a cab to town, driven by an amourous 58-year-old Jimmy. Our conversation started off normally, him asking me if I am willing to pay a flat rate of 250 pesos to get to the hotel, and me getting him to switch on the meter.

 

Jimmy said that he used to work in the Saudi Arabia for 7 years as a crane operator and then he can’t stand the homesickness and came back.

 

“No women!” he shrugged.

 

Then I asked him how many children he has.

 

“Don’t be shocked…. I have 10.” I gasped. Your wife’s incredible, I commented.

 

“Oh, I have two wives..”

 

Apparently, one of them (the 66 year old one) bore him 7 kids, while the other (the 38-year-old one) bore him 3 more.

 

But it turned out that both his “wives” were not his legal partners, since he never registered any marriage. Both his families are in a province far away from Manila, so this lonely and amorous man has one night stands in the city. 

 

“If I like her and she likes me, then it’s ok, rite?”

 

Because of bad traffic conditions, the usual 20min trip to Quezon City took around an hour or so, and along the way, I was entertained by his life story and sexual escapades, like how his first wife was the one who initiated him to love-making. =S

 

Back home, I often chat to cabbies, some keep complaining, some are anti-PAP, some like to talk about their life stories as well, but Jimmy is certainly in a league of his own.

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