Worried Pinoys use social media to find loved ones

Voltaire Tupaz

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If you have not yet heard from your loved ones, try to reconnect with them by using Google's person finder

'SOCIAL RELIEF'. DSWD provides social media access so that typhoon victims can reach out to relatives outside of Leyte. Photo by Rupert Ambil

MANILA, Philippines – Sleepless, restless, helpless. 

This is how relatives and loved ones of those in Leyte and Samar who are working in places far from the provinces are feeling now – more than a day after the islands were “cut off” from the communications grid.

Power went out and communication lines went down after Typhoon Yolanda (international codename: Haiyan) pounded the Philippine central regions on Friday, November 8.

Mary Jane Coldura, a helper in Manila, spent Friday night worrying about the condition of her 20-year-old daughter, Ana, in Tacloban City. All she knew was that her daughter’s house was already damaged when their conversation was cut off at 7:25 am on Friday, November 8. 

The son of her employers helped her connect with MovePH’s Project Agos team to ask for help. She was in tears as she told MovePH she lost contact with her daughter.

On Sunday, November 9, Mary Jane heard the good news through radio: her daughter is safe.

Natanggal yung kaba… Kasi yun (Ana) lagi niya akong inaalala,” said Mary Jane. (The worry subsided… Because Ana always thinks of me.)

Mary Jane last saw Ana in person two years ago when her daughter visited her in Manila. Mary Jane has been a helper far from her home for 12 years now to augment the family income.


Filipinos abroad are as worried and clueless.

Cher Regis Obay, who is based in Minnesota, USA, could only pray that her parents and brother in the town of Dagami in Leyte are safe.

“I cant think straight right now. I can’t even sleep, when I go to work, I still think of my family. It’s hard!” Obay told Rappler on Facebook.

“The silence is killing me right now. That’s the worst part, you don’t know their situation there,” she added.

Devastating reports from Leyte’s capital Tacloban City and nearby town Palo provide a bleak picture of the destruction left by the typhoon already seen to be widespread. 

Other netizens took to Twitter to express how worried they were about the situation in other affected areas. 

Finding loved ones

On Saturday, November 9, the United Nations (UN) and the Philippine government sent teams to Tacloban City to help restore communication lines in the region. 

Free calling stations in selected areas will be opened to the public as soon as cell phone signals are back, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) spokesperson Maj Reynaldo Balido Jr told Rappler.

But Telcos Globe and Smart said they need two to 3 days before they could reconnect the heavily devastated areas.  

Also on Saturday, November 9, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) installed free satellite Internet service in front of the Tacloban City Hall, allowing victims to communicate with their worried relatives outside the province.

Person finder

With communication lines down, people are desperate to know the situation on the ground. If you have not yet heard from your loved ones, try to reconnect with them by using Google’s person finder.

You can also share information with your townmates, friends, and relatives in the comments section below the article. – with reports from Buena Bernal/Rappler.com

Help the victims of Typhoon Yolanda (international codename: Haiyan). Visit Rappler’s list of ongoing relief operations in your area. Tell us about your relief and recovery initiatives, email move.ph@rappler.com or tweet us @moveph. 

Visit rappler.com/typhoon-yolanda for the latest updates on Typhoon Yolanda.

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