MANILA, Philippines – The relationship between the Philippines and the United States has swung from love and hate at different times
But the crisis in Eastern Visayas proves a friendship that goes back stands.
Carmela Fonbuena reports.
They lost everything, houses, possessions – worst of all they lost loved ones. Still, they were lucky to survive the strongest typhoon recorded and luckier to get a seat on board a C130 plane.
ILDIRICO DIAZ, YOLANDA SURVIVOR: Yung bahay namin na-wash out. yung kamag-anak namin namatay. Ang mga anak nila mga labing-anim ang patay kaya nagpunta kami rito at nanghingi kami ng tulong sa kamag-anak namin dito. (Our house was washed away. Our relatives are dead. Their 16 children are dead. We went here to ask help from our relatives.)
The faces are different but the stories are the same. 50-year-old Ilderico Diaz is from Guiuan, Eastern Samar.
He’s among 2,500 survivors who landed in Villamor Airbase in Manila.
ILDIRICO DIAZ, YOLANDA SURVIVOR: Ang tubig sa amin umabot ng 100 feet. Nasa tabing dagat kami, sa Pacific Ocean. Kinarga ko rito sa balikat ko ang apo ko. Papunta kami sa bumagsak na lubi. Pagdating ng madaling araw nagtago kami sa kweba. Langoy lang. wala naman kaming sapalaran kami kung mabuhay patay. (The water reached 100 feet. We are located near the sea, the Pacific Ocean. I carried my grandchild on my shoulder. We walked across fallen trees. Come early morning we hid in a cave. We just swam. We have no other choice or else we’ll die.)
Ildirico left his wife and 6 children and fought to get a seat on the cargo plane. He says he will return with food to feed his hungry family.
It’s been a week since Yolanda devastated Central Visayas. There is plenty of aid but it is not reaching the people who need them the most.
The Americans were among the first to send aid, immediately flying in C130 planes and Osprey aircrafts to support the three C130s of the Philippine Air Force. The Americans will now move their aid and resources to the neglected towns of Eastern Samar.
BRIAN GOLDBECK, US EMBASSY CHARGÉ D’ AFFAIRES: All of those assets are now moving resouces from Tacloban out to multiple points, 16 or 18 different drop points. I think there’s good distribution now happening in areas that have not seen distribution before.
Joint Filipino and American exercises had prepared for a scenario like Haiyan.
BRIAN GOLDBECK, US EMBASSY CHARGÉ D’ AFFAIRES: Clearly we’re working shoulder to shoulder with the Philippine government trying to work our way through the suffering. This reflects our dedication to a good friend, good ally the Philippines.
The Americans brought in so much in resources. It’s a running joke – they’re building a base here. Proponents of increased US presence in the Philippines say this is a clear example of the benefits of that deal. The critics are quiet in the face of hard realities the country badly needs its American friends now.
Carmela Fonbuena, Rappler, Manila. – Rappler.com
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