Post-Haiyan: Baby Israel born in mobile clinic

Baby boy Israel is born in Bogo, Cebu, named after the country that helped his mom give birth

FIRST BABY. Baby boy Israel is born in the Israeli Defense Forces field hospital in Bogo City, Cebu, named after the country that helped her mother give birth. Photo from the Twitter account of IDF Spokesman for International Media Peter Lerner

MANILA, Philippines – Despite the devastation in storm-ravaged Northern Cebu, Emylou Antigua has a reason to celebrate and hope. It came in the form of a baby boy she named after the country that helped her through the ordeal: Israel.

Baby Israel Antigua was the first child born in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) field hospital set up in Bogo City, northern Cebu. The baby was born at 2 pm of Friday, November 15, just two hours after the IDF got its hospital functioning.

“It’s a dramatic moment. It’s the first baby born here,” Israeli Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Adam Michael Levene told Rappler in a phone interview.

Levene said the name was the choice of the grateful parents Emylou and Audrin Antigua. He said both mother and child are doing well.

Bogo is among the cities hardest hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in Cebu province. Bogo City Mayor Celestino Martinez Jr has said that the typhoon “destroyed everything we have here, from infrastructure to agriculture.”

Levene said some of the patients the IDF was treating were victims of the magnitude 7.2 earthquake in October. Yet he said the group was working quickly to help out.

“We arrived on the plane literally yesterday. We left the airport and half the equipment was already up here [in Bogo] last night. The other equipment came in this morning and we were functioning at 12 pm,” he said.

There are over 150 personnel of the IDF in Bogo, including doctors, surgeons, nurses and rescue teams. They are treating thousands of wounded survivors, mostly women and children.

The Israeli Embassy in the Philippines said the residents greeted the group with a resounding “Maraming salamat” or thank you for the aid.

The IDF’s mission is called “Operation Islands for Hope” aimed at using medical supplies and giving goods to victims of Haiyan.

“The whole program here is built by us asking what is here. We don’t come in to say we do things. We ask them what they need. We don’t, we help, we assist,” said Levene.


Getting hospitals back up

Levene said that the situation in Bogo is “not perfect but it’s not the worst.”

“In the north [of Cebu], get the hard situation there. The shoreline of Cebu was hit very hard. We’re going to the different municipalities to get to the people. What we can see is that from the earthquake, a lot of people died and there are a lot of infectious diseases. The idea is to contain all these and help.”

Levene added that the Bogo hospital is still functioning but the hospitals in other areas in northern Cebu are unable to give out any services at all.

“We’re giving all the medical services until all the hospitals up north are functional. The idea is to help them. We have experts with the training to get them back up,” he said. 

“We have more medical equipment coming in next week. We’ll look at the community, disaster management, different issues and communicate with the hospitals.”

Baby boy Israel is the second “miracle baby” born in the aftermath of Haiyan. On Monday, baby Bea Joy Sagales was born at an emergency clinic in the ruined airport in Tacloban City, Leyte.

While the devastation from Haiyan was severe, the international community’s response has been generous. At least 37 countries have begun assisting the Philippines while others pledged aid.

The world’s strongest typhoon to make landfall, Haiyan killed 3,621 people and the death toll is expected to climb. The typhoon ravaged Eastern Visayas, flattening cities and towns, and leaving thousands homeless. 

Amid the destruction, stories of hope and heroism have emerged as Filipinos and the international community rush to help the victims. –


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