Saturday, August 16, 2014

Leyte: Rising

Leyte: Rising

I left Bacolod City, last June 4, 2014 for a Mission in Tacloban. A Mission that involves Disaster Risk Reduction for Food Security and Livelihood for an International NGO. It is a new frontier for me. Though I am familiar with the principles, this is my arena where all that I have learned will definitely be put into test. 

A New Adventure:

As a blogger, I have to find ways to help the Province. I contacted friends to blog their adventures here in Tacloban City and the rest of the Eastern Visayas. For me, I am covering five areas: Tacloban City, Palo, Tanauan, Tolosa, and Dulag.

Personally, it is nice to be back here in Leyte, though now it looked different - it has been a while since the last time I was here - 2001 or 2002?. Well, I am planning to prepare my backpack and go for the whole region. I still dont have a sleeping bag and stuff, but what the heck, its an adventure, I should be able find a way to cook and eat. hahaha.

Challenge Accepted:

I was given an advise to enjoy the whole stay. HECK: this is like having a vacation, then helping out, then travelling a lot, I have to consume my leaves - YES, even sick leaves... Then...

I got lost a bit, I wasnt able to communicate well what is it I would want to communicate. Lost in Translation perhaps, I am not sure if its with the body language or the tone, then so much so of trying hard to fit in, my thought organization is scrambled.

Good thing I was coached about it by my Head-of-Project. A relief for being calibrated. Thank You Lord for the people I am working with right now. I like the idea of being left alone until you stumble, so you would learn it from there, than someone is scolding you. Well, I got scolded - many times. Shame on me and I am thankful for that, because from there, I am learning.

Back to Leyte:

Alright, so here is one impression as of now for Leyte, they are recovering, a BIG - YES!!! However, it is slow. It has been NINE Months since Yolanda happen. Some People are still living in Bunk Houses and worst some are still living in Tents. 

Most of Interventions are done by the International NGO's, I am not sure what the President is talking about from his last SONA, that the Philippine National Government was there to first to Respond. Maybe the first to Respond that they made a big Mistake in not following R.A. 10121 - Which Laws are they really following religiously? All I can say personally is: Late Eh.

Other Interventions are coming from Private Individuals who cares for their Province. 

Looters here and there, ransacked neighbors establishments, even establishments that doesn't have food items.

They called Yolanda as the "Great Equalizer", looters are from all walks of life. Rich and Poor - Lawyers, Doctors, Politicians, Ordinary People, etc... This is a stark reality of our presence in this world, that we should live in harmony with one another or else we will act like pests.

Credits to the owner of the Photo: This is Inside Robinsons Tacloban, even a widescreen TV.
This is because of one reason. HUNGER...

HUNGER and Products of Desperation.:

Hunger in all aspects. Hungry because there is no nutritious food eat. Hunger for the death of loved ones. Hunger for cash. Hunger for power.

In the situation of Leyte, to have food is POWER. Many have done so many bizarre ways just to get food.

Hunger makes everyone equal in Yolanda Devastated Areas, especially here in Leyte. This is one Force that Yolanda had brought. 

A Realization for all of us.

Recovery:

Roads are cleared, business are starting to go back, bit by bit  Leyte is coming back to its feet. However, it appears that the Government interventions is a bit awkward.

Roads are preferred to be constructed FIRST, because Pope Francis is coming in 2015. People are still living in bunk houses and tents. They could have used the money to secure a land where relocation of these displaced people can start their lives.

Somewhere in Palo, project of DPWH
I am not sure what kind of impression the National Government would like to give.

Disaster Risk Reduction:

International NGO's have Livelihood Interventions, not wanting to take over, they actually respect the System and Structure of Leyte and the Philippine Government. Corrective Disaster Risk Reduction measures is somewhat happening in the Province.

Asking an ordinary person about Disaster Risk Reduction, they all thought it is just Emergency Response. Even the Barangay doesnt have a functioning BDRRMC(Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council). Few LGU's have DRR Plans, but there is no "actual" participation from the people.

People still doesn't waits on what can be provided by someone else or the government.

So many Gaps, and little has been done.

Red Tape and Politics is whats hampering the recovery of Leyte. This is something the whole country needs to learn and change for. People needs to be empowered.

Environment:

Little regard has been given to the Environment here in Leyte. No Active Environmental Group in here to check the situation of their Environment. Mountains are denuded to give way to Coconuts, now that Coconut industry is in its lowest. They are now feeling the brunt. Fish Stocks has always been low, as mentioned by many fisherman. This is due to Illegal Fishing Activities, when asked about, what are they doing about it, they would point the Government. BFARMC(Barangay Fisheries and  Aquatic Resources Management Council) have the same situation as BDRRMC.

Hope:

There is still hope, the LGU's understands and acknowledges that there is so many Gaps, especially in System and Structure. They are now working on that. The concern is, it is so SLOW.

Correction should begin from the Grass Roots, people should know their individual strengths and collective strengths. They have to do Participatory Disaster Risk Assessment and Analysis. From there they would be able to identify what GAPS they have, make action plans for it. Specific GAPS that requires Government Intervention should be drafted and endorsed to the Barangay up to the LGU level.

This is what a Resilient Community would do. In some parts of the Country this is already happening, it is not just Highlighted. Here in Leyte, I am hopeful that they are going there.

*****

Here are some photo's around Leyte.






Brgy. San Roque, Tanauan, Leyte


Downtown Tacloban City, Zamora Street

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