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    VIGIL. Members of petitioning organizations and communities as well as other supporters listen to the speaker during the vigil program outside the CHR. Photo by Geric Cruz/Greenpeace

    MANILA, Philippines – Drivers of climate change can violate human rights, and this is what the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) will look into in the first quarter of 2018.

    "The Commission will proceed with public hearings in 2018, despite the refusal of most of the big polluters to so far participate meaningfully. Companies that opt out of the proceedings lose the opportunity to demonstrate commitment to climate protection and respect for human rights," Greenpeace Executive Director Yeb Saño.

    Members of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, in a vigil held on December 11, praised CHR's planned public hearings on a petition filed against the world's largest investor-owned fossil fuel and cement producers.

    The petition was filed in September 2015. By July 2016, the CHR sent an official order to 47 companies, asking them to answer the complaint filed by disaster survivors, community organizations, and Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

    Below are some photos from the vigil:

    VIGIL. Members of petitioning organizations and communities are entertained during the vigil program outside the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Quezon City on December 11, 2017. Photo by Geric Cruz/Greenpeace

    POEMS. Karl Isaac Santos reads his poems to the members of petitioning organizations and communities during the vigil program. Photo by Geric Cruz/Greenpeace

    PERFORMANCE. Artist Noel Cabangon performs during the vigil program. Photo by Geric Cruz/Greenpeace

    EXPERIENCE. Elma Reyes, a petitioner from Alabat Island, delivers a message during the vigil program outside the CHR office. Photo by Geric Cruz/Greenpeace

    YOLANDA EXPERIENCE. Joanna Sustento shares her experience during Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) during the vigil. Photo by Geric Cruz/Greenpeace

    – Rappler.com


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    PREPAREDNESS. NDRRMC convenes the emergency response preparedness (ERP) meeting to prepare for Tropical Depression Urduja. Photo courtesy of Office of the Civil Defense

    MANILA, Philippines – Residents in areas that are expected to be hit by Urduja should prepare even if the tropical depression is moving slowly towards the country, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

    In a press conference on Wednesday, December 13, NDRRMC officials advised local government units and residents to monitor the track of Tropical Depression Urduja and prepare for possible heavy flooding and landslides.

    As of Wednesday afternoon, no areas have been placed under tropical cyclone warning signals as Urduja is still far from land. Urduja is expected to bring moderate to heavy rain within its 350-kilometer diameter. In particular, Bicol and the Visayas will be affected.

    Yun ang pinakiusap natin sa ating mga kababayan, lalong lalo na sa mga nakatira sa mga bahain na lugar o sa mga lugar na prone sa pagguho o landslide ay maging alerto,” NDRRMC executive director and Office of Civil Defense administrator Ricardo Jalad said. (We've requested the public – especially those living low-lying and landslide-prone areas – to stay alert)

    At 10 am today, the center of Urduja was located at 405 kilometers East of Guiuan, Eastern Samar with a maximum sustained winds of 55 kilometers per hour near the center and the gustiness of up to 65 kilometers per hour, moving north northwest at 7 kilometers per hour.

    “May kahinaan ang bagyo na ito, subalit inaasahan natin na kapag ito ay bumitaw doon sa tail-end of the coldfront na inaasahan natin, ito ay inaasahan nating bibilis,” Pagasa said. (The tropical depression is weak but we are expecting it to move faster soon as it detaches from the tail-end of the coldront.) 

    The state weather bureau also estimated the rainfall amount from moderate to heavy within the 350-kilometer diameter of the tropical depression.

    Charlie alert

    Meanwhile, the Department of Interior Local Government Central Office Disaster Information Coordinating Center (DILG CODIX) placed at least 20 areas under the Charlie alert as of 1 pm on Wednesday.

    The regions under Charlie Alert are the following:

    • Aklan
    • Albay
    • Antique
    • Batangas
    • Biliran
    • Camarines Sur
    • Cebu
    • Eastern Samar
    • Iloilo
    • Leyte
    • Marinduque
    • Masbate
    • Northern Samar
    • Occidental Mindoro
    • Oriental Mindoro
    • Palawan
    • Quezon
    • Romblon
    • Samar
    • Sorsogon

    Minimum critical activities that LGUs should be enforcing in affected areas include the following:

    • Secure power, water supply, and communications
    • Start preemptive evacuation
    • Announce forced evacuation
    • Prepare list of the evacuees
    • Distribute relief packs and conduct mass feeding
    • Stop traffic in landslide-prone areas

    Alert level Charlie is based on Oplan Listo (Operation Plan Alert), a disaster preparedness manual that provides mayors and other local government disaster management agencies a checklist that enumerates what should be done before, during, and after typhoons.

    This checklist seeks to "minimize mistakes that may cost lives and grave destruction to properties." It includes flowcharts that correspond to 3 phases of critical preparedness actions – Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie. It also provides a tropical cyclone information board and reference boxes and minimum actions to guide mayors.

    Alpha and Bravo alert

    Meanwhile, DILG-CODIX has raised alert level Bravo over 8 provinces which is expected to experience moderate to occasionally heavy rain: 

    • Camarines Norte
    • Capiz
    • Catanduanes
    • Cavite
    • Dinagat Islands
    • Laguna
    • Rizal 

    DILG-CODIX also raised the alert level Alpha over 6 provinces. 

    • Bataan
    • Bohol
    • Bulacan
    • Metropolitan Manila
    • Negros Occidental
    • Surigao del Norte

    NDRRMC has already advised its regional and local councils to take necessary preparedness measures ahead of the expected landfall of Urduja in Eastern Visayas on Friday evening or Saturday morning.

    The NDRRMC advised the public to monitor weather updates and advisories and preapre within their communities. Residents in areas to be affected are encouraged to heed the advice of local officials on evacuation when necessary. – Rappler.com 

     


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    EVACUATION CENTER. Rochel Waniwan, 34, cradles her 3-month daughter to sleep in an evacuation center in Barangay Cogon in Guiuan, Eastern Samar, on Thursday night, December 14. All photos by Martin San Diego/Rappler

    GUIUAN, Philippines – Rochel Waniwan, a 34-year old mother from Guiuan town in Eastern Samar, did not take chances before Tropical Storm Urduja’s (Kai-tak) intensifies. On Thursday, December 14, she took her family, including her three-month old baby, to an evacuation center in Barangay Cogon.

    They were among the 280 families from coastal barangays in Guiuan, Eastern Samar that have evacuated before Tropical Storm Urduja (Kai-tak) hit land.

    Urduja, which was almost stationary off the coast of Eastern Visayas early Thursday evening, December 14, was expected to make landfall in Eastern Samar on Friday morning, December 15.

    In a bulletin issued 8 pm on Thursday, state weather bureau PAGASA said Urduja is located 85 kilometers east southeast of Guiuan, Eastern Samar, barely moving west at a speed of just 7 kilometers per hour (km/h).

    STAY AT HOME. Mayor Christopher Sheen Gonzales advises Guiuan residents to stay at home or in evacuation centers as Tropical Storm Urduja threatens Eastern Visayas.  Photo by Martin San Diego/Rappler

    The tropical storm has maximum winds of 65 km/h and gustiness of up to 90 km/h. (READ: EXPLAINER: How tropical cyclones form). It brought moderate to heavy rain to the region. The provinces of Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte, and Biliran comprise the region of Eastern Visayas. Mayor Christopher Sheen Gonzales advised Guiuan residents to stay home or in the evacuation centers until further notice.

    “Food in evacuation centers are ready.  Keep praying and we’re hoping for zero casualty,” Gonzales told Rappler.

    Affected residents can call the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management officer through this hotline: 09369274926. They can also leave a message on the town’s Facebook account.

    Below are some images taken by Rappler's Martin San Diego from Guiuan town:

     

    (With baby) Rochel Waniwan, 34, cradles her 3-month daughter as she spends her first storm in the Cogon evacuation center in Guiuan, Eastern Samar, as residents brace for Urduja's landfall, Thursday night, December 14.

    – Rappler.com


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    YOUTH COLLABORATION. UNDP launches Regional Youth Project on Leadership, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Philippines. Photo by Keb Cuevas/Rappler.com

    MANILA, Philippines – A global study concluded that 7 in 10 young people have entrepreneurial dreams but due to lack of necessary skills, only 4 of them have realized that dream.

    On the brighter side, Filipino youth are leading the changemaker movement as 1 in 4 social enterprises operating in the country is led by a young entrepreneur. 

    To drive more youth-led social enterprises, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Citi Foundation launched their Youth Co:Lab partnership on Thursday, December 7, in Makati City.

    “The youth of the Philippines’ not only have a stake in the country’s development trajectory but can also play a critical role in shaping that trajectory," UNDP Philippines Country Director Titon Mitra said.

    "UNDP is delighted to work with Citi Foundation in providing a platform to enable youth-led social enterprises to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs in the Philippines," continued Mitra.

    Collab for youth innovation

    Youth Co:Lab is UNDP Asia Pacific's program that aims to catalyze youth innovation towards solving the world’s biggest social challenges, for the fulfillment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

    "We are proud to be partnering with UNDP to empower young people to take control of their future...I firmly believe that empowering young people to lead through entrepreneurship and social innovation is a critical part of the solution," Jim McCue, Citi Shared Service Asia Pacific Head said during the launch.

    UNDP-Rappler #HackSociety ideathon is one of the first national competitions under the program, alongside Thailand's and China's own youth innovation competitions.

    The series of youth social innovation events are to culminate at the UNDP Regional Summit to be held in March 2018 in Bangkok, Thailand.

    #HackSociety 2017 grand champion team LawKo will represent the Philippines in the regional competition. (READ: The winning ideas from #HackSociety– Rappler.com


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    'BIDA ANG HANDA' Uniformed and non-uniformed personnel of the Manila Police District participate in the 4th quarter simultaneous earthquake drill at the MPD Headquarters on December 15. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – At exactly 2 pm, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, representatives from the Office of Civil Defense and the local government of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan pressed the ceremonial button marking the start of the 4th National Simultaneous Earthquake Drill (NSED) on Friday, December 15. 

    Around the country, thousands of participants from the government,  non-government organizations, and schools performed the duck, cover, and hold technique for the regular nationwide drill led by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

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    The drill, now on its 4th edition this year,  is regularly organized by the NDRRMC to ensure that the public from the barangay all the way up to the national government knows how to respond to earthquakes.

    The first 3 nationwide earthquake drills this year were held in Cebu, Davao, and Cavite respectively. (READ: Earthquake tips: what to do before, during, and after)

    The third edition of the nationwide drill was widely criticized because it was scheduled during the anniversary of Martial Law declaration on September 21 where anti-Marcos mobilizations were expected. (READ: Netizens ask: Why hold quake drill on martial law anniversary?)

    It was reset to September 27 after President Rodrigo Duterte declared September 21 a holiday.

    Earthquake preparedness

    The quarterly simultaneous earthquake drill is held to test the preparedness and workflows of all government units in case a strong earthquake strikes anywhere in the country.

    In Metro Manila, a study suggested that the movement of the West Valley Fault, which was expected to happen within our lifetime, is estimated to cause a 7.2 magnitude quake in metropolitan region and neighboring cities and towns. (READ: Preparing your family for an earthquake)

    At least 35,000 people could die and thousands more injured, the study estimated. (READ: INFOGRAPHIC: How powerful is a magnitude 7.2 earthquake)

    To spread awareness and start earthquake preparedness at homes and workplaces, NDRRMC also encouraged netizens to harness social media in influencing their friends to participate in the earthquake drill. The official hashtag for this year's fourth NSED is #BidaAngHanda. – Rappler.com

    Did you participate in the earhquake drill? Share your photos during the nationwide earthquake drill on agos.rappler.com/map


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    EVACUEES. Children play in an evacuation center in Eastern Samar, where Tropical Storm Urduja is expected to make land fall on Saturday, December 16, 2017. Photo by Martin San Diego/Rappler

    TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) kicked off the government’s national disaster response operation  for Tropical Storm Urduja (Kai-tak) at 5 pm, Friday, December 15.

    In a memorandum, DSWD officer-in-charge Emmanuel Leyco activated  the following cluster leads and member-agencies of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) “to provide emergency response and humanitarian assistance” to affected areas.

    • Search, rescue, and retrieval (Armed Forces of the Philippines)
    • Health (Department of Health)
    • Food and non-food items (Department of Social Welfare and Development)
    • Camp coordination and camp management (DSWD) 
    • Emergency telecommunications (Office of Civil Defense) 
    • Internally displaced persons’ protection (DSWD) 
    • Logistics (OCD)
    • Law and order (Philippine National Police) 
    • Education (Department of Education) 
    • Department of Energy (DOE)
    • Department of Transportation (DOTr) 
    • Department of Information Communications Technology (DICT) 
    • Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)
    • Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) 
    • National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) 
    • Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)
    • Philippine Red Cross (PRC)

    Leyco will convene NDRRMC's response cluster on Friday, 7 pm. 

     RESPONSE CLUSTER. DSWD, which is the lead agency for response efforts, will convene the NDRRMC's response cluster for Tropical Storm Urduja on Friday, December 15, 2017 at 7pm. File photo by the Office of Civil Defense

    DSWD, which is NDRRMC's lead agency for response efforts, also announced that it had a stockpile of 368,000 family food packs worth P223 million and other non-food items.

    State weather bureau Pagasa earlier warned that Eastern Visayas, particularly the Samar provinces, was still "in danger" as Tropical Storm Urduja continued to move slowly.

    Due to Urduja's extremely slow movement, Pagasa said that the tropical storm’s expected landfall was either on Saturday morning or afternoon, December 16. – Rappler.com


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    HEAVY FLOODING. At least 1,800 families are affected by the heavy flooding that hit Taft, Eastern Samar. All photos by Rhoda Baris

    TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – Days of nonstop rain due to Tropical Storm Urduja (Kai-tak) submerged houses in at least 5 barangays in Taft, Eastern Samar on Saturday, December 16.

    In a phone interview with Rappler, Councilor Rhoda Baris said at least 1,800 families from Barangays Binaloan, Malinao, San Pablo, Mabuhay, and Burac have been affected by heavy rain due to the slow-moving tropical storm.

    Houses from these barangays were completely submerged in floodwater.

    According to state weather bureau PAGASA, Urduja has already dumped almost two months' worth of rainfall in the area, particularly in Guiuan, Eastern Samar.

    In its neigboring area, the city council has already placed Tacloban City under a state of calamitydeclaration of state of calamity allows the appropriation of calamity funds, among other emergency acts. 

    Prior its landfall, PAGASA warned provinces in Urduja's path to "undertake appropriate measures against flooding and landslides and coordinate with their respective local government and disaster risk reduction and management offices." (LOOK: Bicol braces for Urduja)

    After lingering off the coast of Eastern Visayas since Thursday, Urduja is expected to make landfall on Saturday. (READ: 8 areas under signal no. 2 as Urduja moves closer to land

    Here are some photos taken in Taft, Eastern Samar: 

    EASTERN SAMAR. Tropical Storm Urduja is expected to make landfall in Eastern Samar on Saturday. Photo by Rhoda Baris

    SUBMERGED. At least 5 barangays in Eastern Samar are completely submerged in floodwater. Photo by Rhoda Baris

    FLOOD. PAGASA says Urduja has already dumped almost two months' worth of rainfall in the neighboring town of Guiuan, Eastern Samar. Photo by Rhoda Baris

    Baris added that they have already prepositioned relief goods to all flood-prone barangays 3 days prior its projected landfall. Rappler.com


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    PUMMELED. Heavy winds and rainfall pound Tacloban City as Urduja is expected to make landfall in Eastern Samar in the afternoon, Saturday, December 16. Photo by Martin San Diego/Rappler

    TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – Tropical Storm Urduja (Kai-tak) is expected to make landfall either in Eastern Samar or Northern Samar Saturday afternoon, December 16. (READ: EXPLAINER: How tropical cyclones form)

    As the storm intensifies, floods and landslides have hit Eastern Visayas. Meanwhile, Tacloban City, the region's capital, is under a state of calamity.

    According to state weather bureau Pagasa, Urduja has already dumped almost two months' worth of rainfall in the area, particularly in Guiuan, Eastern Samar. (LOOK: Houses in Eastern Samar flooded due to Urduja)

    MovePH, Rappler's civic engagement arm, and photojournalist Martin San Diego went around Tacloban City on Saturday morning as residents here brace for Urduja. Below are some of the images that San Diego took:

    STRONG WINDS. A man runs for his tricycle as it is moved by strong winds in Tacloban City

    CLOSED. Businesses close around Tacloban City as winds and rainfall intensify

    TOPPLED. A tree was toppled outside the Leyte Capitol as heavy winds and rainfall pound Tacloban City

    EVACUATION. Residents living by the sea leave their homes amid heavy winds and rainfall in Tacloban City

    DESTROYED. Billboards are destroyed by strong winds ahead of Urduja's expected landfall in Eastern Samar or Northern Samar

    MovePH's Rupert Ambil also took live images of the situation in Tacloban City as the storm batters the city. Watch his Facebook Live posts below. 

     

    – Rappler.com


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    MANILA, Philippines – While showcasing vibrant lanterns and floats, the 95th Lantern Parade of the University of the Philippines-Diliman bannered bold statements on social issues like drug war killings and fake news. 

    Up to 2,000 people witnessed this parade of more than 50 floats and lanterns on Friday, December 15, at UP Diliman.

    In the awarding, the College of Engineering remained undefeated and won first place.

    The College of Arts and Letters placed second with their marionettes, while the College of Mass Communication got third place with their "fake news buster" carousel.

    In a statement, the UP Information Office said this year's theme is "UP Diliman: Paaralan, Palaruan."

    The theme is inspired by Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture, a 1938 book by Dutch historian and philosopher Johan Huizinga, who used the term homo ludens to describe the nature of man and society to create "play," which in turn forms their culture.

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    The participants from executive offices, colleges, and contingents from the various UP campuses performed in UP Ampitheater.

    The winning lantern carried the title "Inhinyero ng Diliman, Isipa'y Maglaro, Maglingkod sa ating Bayan!" (Engineers of Diliman, let your mind wander, serve the people). The lantern aimed to make a statement on gender equality, free education, labor rights, and agrarian reform.

    "Ang paaralan ang nagsisilbing palaruan ng mga malikhaing isip ng mga mag-aaral mula sa iba't ibang pamayanan. Dito sila naglalaro, habang iniikot ang napakalawak na mundo, upang bigyan pa nang mas malawak na perspektiba ang ating kaisipan sa usaping-panlipunan," the College of Engineering said in a statement. 

    (The university served as a playground for the creative minds of students from various walks of life. Here, they play as they wander and discover the rest of the world with the aim of gaining a better perspective about various issues that affect the society.)

    They were judged based on the adherence to the theme, creativity, and overall visual impact. 

    Here are some photos from the event:

    UNITY. The UP SIGMA KAPPA PI Fraternity portrays unity in brotherhood. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

    REMEMBERING. The UP Student Council marches in memory of EJK and Martial Law victims, and the innocent civilians of Marawi. Photo by Abigail Abigan/Rappler

    FLY HIGH. The UP Varsity Pep Squad lights up the parade with their stunning performance. Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

    DARK VILLAIN. The UP Academic Employees' Union depicts President Duterte as the villain Darth Vader. Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

    LEARN AND PLAY. One of the entries from College of Fine Arts makes a call for children's rights. Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

    SOCIAL ISSUES. The School of Statistics showcases different social issues in their advocacy float. Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

    NO TO DICTATORSHIP. The UP College of Science makes a statement against tyranny. Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

    SHOW OF UNITY. Members of SIGMA KAPPA PI Fraternity march together to show unity. Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

    CHAMPION. The College of Engineering's colorful carousel, with a rainbow flag and math book. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

    – Rappler.com


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    PUMMELED. €‹Heavy winds and rainfall pound Tacloban City due to Tropical Storm Urduja (Kai-tak). Photo by Martin San Diego/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – At least 3 people died while 6 went missing in separate incidents of flash floods and landslides ahead of the landfall of Tropical Storm Urduja (Kai-tak) on Saturday, December 16.

    In a press briefing on Saturday, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Executive Director Ricardo Jalad said the interior department is still validating if more people died due to Urduja. 

    According to initial reports on the ground, fatalities include a fisherman who died in an unspecified incident, another who was killed from a landslide in Biliran, and a two-year-old child who reportedly drowned after a flash flood hit Mahaplag town in Leyte. (LOOK: Houses in Eastern Samar flooded due to Urduja)

    The NDRRMC also said that 6 people are missing – 3 from Eastern Samar are still unaccounted for, while 3 remain missing from the landslide in Biliran.

    NDRRMC spokesperson Romina Marasigan warned the public not to underestimate Urduja.

    "Tropical storm ito pero ang pag-ulan na dala nito ay magdudulot ng malawakang pagbaha... Dahil matagal ito sa dagat ay nag-iipon ito ng tubig," Marasigan said. (It is a tropical storm but its rainfall can bring flooding because it lingered at the seas to store water.)

    Jalad also urged coastal communities living in the eastern seaboards of the affected provinces. "A storm surge warning is raised over these provinces," he said.

    The NDRRMC said that some 11,101 travelers remain stranded as 52 vessels in various ports were not allowed to sail. Meanwhile, more than 8,800 families have been evacuated to 141 evacuation centers by local government units. 

    Based on PAGASA's 2:30 pm advisory, Urduja is moving west at 15 kilometers per hour. It made landfall in San Policarpio, Eastern Samar, early Saturday afternoon. (LOOK: Urduja pummels Tacloban City)

    Urduja was in a "quasi-stationary" state on Friday, December 15, which means it was barely moving at 10 km/h, and was just lingering in Eastern Visayas. The tropical storm dumped almost two months' worth of rainfall in the area, particularly in Guiuan, Eastern Samar.

    The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) earlier activated the government's national disaster response operation to assist areas affected by the tropical storm. – Rappler.com


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    PUMMELED. €‹Heavy winds and rainfall pound Tacloban City as Urduja is expected to make landfall in Eastern Samar in the afternoon of December 16, 2017. Photo by Martin San Diego/Rappler

    Bookmark and refresh this page for updates

    MANILA, Philippines – Several flights and boat trips were cancelled Saturday, December 16, as state weather bureau PAGASA raised typhooon signals over several provinces due to Tropical Storm Urduja (Kai-tak).

    In a bulletin issued by PAGASA at 2:30 pm, Urduja made landfall in San Policarpio, Eastern Samar, on Saturday.

    Flights

    Cebu Pacific cancelled the following flights on Saturday:

    • 5J 651/652 Manila-Tacloban-Manila
    • 5J 649/650 Manila-Tacloban-Manila
    • 5J 373/374 Manila-Roxas-Manila

    Boat trips

    2GO cancelled the following ship voyages as a hold departure order is enforced in ports:

    • Manila North Harbor Terminal - SFX, SRU, STC, SMA, SLG, at SAH
    • Batangas Port - SAP, SIL, SRD
    • Zamboanga Port - SAU
    • Cebu Port - SJP

    PAGASA said that sea travel remains risky in seaboards of areas under tropical cyclone warning signals. Thousands of passengers have been stranded at various ports. (LOOK: Houses in Eastern Samar flooded due to Urduja)

    Based on its forecast track, Urduja will eventually get downgraded back to a tropical depression by Monday, December 18, then leave the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on Tuesday, December 19. – Rappler.com


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    AFFECTED FAMILIES. Rochel Waniwan, 34, cradles her 3-month daughter as she spends her first storm in the Cogon evacuation center in Guiuan, Eastern Samar, as residents brace for Urduja’s landfall, Thursday night, December 14. Photo by Martin San Diego/Rappler

    TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – Around 221,386 persons or 50,653 families have been affected by Tropical Storm Urduja (Kai-tak) across 4 regions as of 2 am Sunday, December 17, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

    In response to this, the social welfare development and local government units (LGUs) have provided P718,995 worth of assistance to those affected by the storm. Of this figure, P422,680 came from the national agency while the P297,315 came from LGUs. 

    "The Department remains on red alert status as it continues to monitor the status of families who have been affected by Urduja," DSWD said.

    After lingering off its coast since Thursday, December 14, the tropical storm finally made landfall  in San Policaprio, Eastern Samar on Saturday, December 16, and continued to move slowly over the northern part of Samar province on Sunday, bringing more heavy rain.

    According to state weather bureau PAGASA, Urduja has already dumped two months' worth of rain – 780 mm of rain to be specific – over Guiuan in just a 24-hour period. Its normal rainfall for an entire month is just 440 mm.

    The strong winds and heavy rain have submerged houses, stranded passengers in airports  and ports, and displaced residents across different regions. Due to the tropical storm, the local council also declared a state of calamity over Tacloban City. 

    As of 2 am on Sunday, a total of 20,342 families or 87,719 persons are currently staying inside 264 evacuation centers in the regions of Bicol, Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas, and CARAGA. Around 7,120 have also been stranded in various ports across the country.

    The field office of DSWD in Eastern Visayas released 1,040 Family Food Packs (FFPs), 2,080 pieces of malong, 2,080 hygiene kits, and 20 sacks of clothing in Tacloban City.

    It has also released 894 FFPs, 1,788 pieces of malong, and 1,788 hygiene kits to Giporlos town in Eastern Samar.  More than 1,700 food packs, malong, and hygiene kits were also given to Barugo town in Leyte.

    DSWD has prepared a stockpile of 368,000 family food packs worth P223 million as well as food and non-food items worth P393 million for those affected by the tropical storm. – Rappler.com

    If you want to help internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Marawi City or if you have reports about their humanitarian needs like temporary shelter, relief goods, water, and hygiene kits, post them on the Agos map, text to 2929 (SMART and SUN), or tag MovePH on Twitter or Facebook. You may also link up with other organizations that called for donations.


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    KILLED. Dead body of Fr. Marcelito Paez inside Gonzales General Hospital morgue in San Leonardo Nueva Ecija. Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines - A week after the burial of activist priest Fr. Marcelino Paez, the Catholic Church said that the killing incident only shows that even those who work for social development in the community is no longer safe. 

    The Catholic Bishops' of the Philippines' National Secretariat for Social Action–Justice and Peace, better known as Caritas Philippines (NASSA/Caritas Philippines), called on the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to conduct a thorough investigation of the brutal killing of Fr. Paez.

    Paez, from the Diocese of San Jose, Nueve Ecija, was killed hours after helping facilitate the release of a political prisoner in the province on December 4. According to a police report, he was driving along Jaen-Zaragoza road in Barangay Lambakin, Jaen, Nueva Ecija, at around 8 pm when motorcyle-riding suspects shot him.

    In a statement, Caritas Philippines said that the killing of Paez was "an attack on the Church and her mission for social justice and empowerment of the poor." 

    "Church people are only complimenting the government’s task in promoting, defending and fulfilling the human rights of the Filipinos for common good. As long as the government only serves and works for and with the 'few', conflicts of interest may fuel government to attack anyone or groups who work for social justice and common good," the statement said.

    They also asked everyone to make a stand and unite in promoting social justice and in denouncing all brutal and senseless killings in the name of change. 

    "Let us stop these acts of violence and denounce any attacks against human life, human dignity and human rights."

    On December 10, hundreds of priests brought Paez the “silent, loving, and prayerful presence" of Pope Francis during his funeral mass. (READ: Father Tito Paez: A comrade for others- Rappler.com


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    HOME OF GIANT LANTERS. San Fernando City holds the annual Giant Lantern Festival on December 16, 2017. All photos by Vee Salazar/Rappler

    PAMPANGA, Philippines – Dubbed as the Christmas capital of the Philippines, Pampanga province celebrated the annual Giant Lantern Festival on Saturday night, December 16.

    San Fernando City – home of the giant lanterns – danced in Christmas colors as different barangays (villages) competed to be the best lantern makers in the city.

    The Giant Lantern Festival, also known as Ligligan Parul in the local dialect, usually coincides with the Simbang Gabi, the 9 days of Masses before Christmas. It started in 1908 and has been celebrated every year since then, except during the Martial Law years.

    This year, Barangay Dolores once again produced the best giant lantern in town. It has bagged the grand champion award since 2014.

    Barangay San Jose, with its intricate geometric designs, won first runner-up.

    Last but not the least is Barangay Del Pilar as the second runner-up.

    A total of 10 barangays competed for the best giant parol award this year. Other barangays who joined this year's festival were the barangays of Calulut, Del Rosario, San Juan, San Nicolas, Sindalan, Santa Lucia, and Telabastagan. 

    Check out the photos at the 2017 Giant Lantern Festival:

    – Rappler.com


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    Bookmark and refresh this page for updates

    MANILA, Philippines – Tropical Storm Urduja (Kai-tak), which made landfall on Saturday, December 16, slammed several provinces in the Visayas and Luzon.

    Initial reports from the ground indicate damaged infrastructure, agriculture, and disrupted livelihood. Many citizens have fled to evacuation centers. (LOOK: Urduja pummels Tacloban City)

    Roadways have been flooded and some sections of major highways are impassable due to landslides and other obstructions. Thousands remain stranded in ports and terminals.

    According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), at least 3 people have died due to the tropical storm, while 6 remain missing. More than 8,800 families have been evacuated to 141 evacuation centers by local government units.

    The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) earlier activated the government's national disaster response operation to assist areas affected by the tropical storm.

    Here's a list of relief operations for victims of Urduja:

    Matnog, Sorsogon

    According to Bike Scout Philippines, food is running low for stranded passengers at Matnog Port in Sorsogon. Those who can bring food, water, and other basic supplies can send an email to bikescoutsph@gmail.com or text 0908 472 1554. Interested groups and individuals may also reach Bike Scouts through their Facebook group page.

    Ormoc City, Leyte

    Youth volunteers are packing and helping in distribution of relief packs to evacuees in Ormoc. Those who are willing to help may visit the relief operation based in CSWDO on the first floor of the New Ormoc City Hall.

    Crowdsourcing information

    Help us crowdsource information and populate this list. If you know of an ongoing relief operation or an organization preparing to respond, please provide us with information via the following communication channels:

    Please include "#ReliefPH" in all your posts.– Rappler.com


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    CANINE FRIENDS. Janet Romulon checks on one of her 3 dogs in their small home in a coastal village in Tacloban City as strong winds from Tropical Storm Urduja pummeled Eastern Visayas on December 16, 2017. Photo by Martin San Diego/Rappler

    TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – As strong winds and heavy rain brought by Tropical Storm Urduja (Kai-tak) pounded Tacloban City on Saturday, December 16, Janet Romulon left the evacuation center and hurried back home. 

    She was worried about her 3 dogs. 

    "They're stuck inside the house. I returned to make sure they're all right," Romulon said. 

    Pets were not allowed in the evacuation center, according to Romulon.

    Romulon's family was among the 750 families that sought shelter in evacuation centers across Tacloban City.

    The city was placed under state of calamity on Friday, December 15, due to widespread flooding and landslides.

    At least 80 barangays in the city were flooded while 8 were hit by landslides on Friday as the tropical storm dumped heavy rains on Eastern Visayas.

    No casualty has been reported so far, but two were injured by a landslide in a barangay. – Rappler.com 


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    STRANDED. Around 60 passengers are stranded at the New Tacloban Transport Terminal in Brgy Abucay a few hours after Tropical Storm Urduja made landfall in Eastern Samar, Saturday, December 16. All photos by Martin San Diego/Rappler

    TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – Passengers are left stranded in various ports and terminals as Tropical Storm Urduja (Kai-tak) ravaged parts of Luzon and Visayas. Urduja made landfall on Saturday, December 16.

    At the Tacloban New Transport Terminal in Abucay village, some 60 passengers headed to different parts of Eastern Visayas waited for the next available ride without any guarantee.

    According to DSWD, there are 7,120 stranded passengers in Eastern Visayas, Mimaropa, Caraga and Bicol Region as of 2 am on Sunday. 

    In an interview with Rappler, Mario Abaracoso said he left Guiuan in Eastern Samar on Thursday afternoon to visit his hometwon in Catbalogan, Samar. He has been in the terminal for two days.

    "Wala na kaming nakakain, gawgaw na lang. Kung may kakilala, ganoon...Walang nagsasabi [kung kailang babyahe], kanya-kanya na lang," he said. (LOOK: Urduja pummels Tacloban City)

    (We don't have anything to eat, sometimes we just have flour. If you know anyone, then you [get to ask for food]. Nobody tells us if there will be [buses] available for travel, to each his own.)

    Abaracoso said he and his co-workers only prepared enough money for the fare and did not expect to stay at the terminal this long.

    Floods and landslides hit Eastern Samar, while Tacloban City is under a state of calamity. Thousands remain stranded in ports and terminals. (LOOK: Houses in Eastern Samar flooded due to Urduja)

    Urduja slightly weakened late Saturday afternoon after making landfall, state weather bureau PAGASA said in its 5 pm bulletin.

    Rappler photographer Martin San Diego documented the situation at the Tacloban New Transport Terminal Saturday night:

    – with reports from Martin San Diego and Rupert Ambil/Rappler.com


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    MARINE SANCTUARY. Inside the marine park in Pilar are coral reefs, seagrass, and mangroves that serve as vital habitats for marine life. All photos by Yasmin Arquiza

    MANILA, Philippines – When super typhoon Yolanda lashed the Visayas in 2012, it took 5 days before relief goods reached the town of Pilar, in the Camotes group of islands in Cebu. Yet, no one went hungry among its 11,000 residents, according to Susan Cataylo, who heads the disaster risk reduction office in the municipal government.

    “Our marine sanctuary gave us the food we needed,” Cataylo said.

    The tide was low during the storm and its aftermath, and the coastal dwellers harvested a bonanza of shells, fish, and other seafood swept to the shallows from the Pilar Municipal Marine Park. The 179-hectare protected area includes a 20-hectare no-take core zone, which means fishing is banned inside the waters marked by white buoys.

    The spillover of marine life from the park was a blessing for Pilar’s residents, who realized that conservation can spell survival when disaster strikes.

    Located in the smallest island in the Camotes group, the town of Pilar is striving to protect its natural ecosystems – from the forests in the uplands to the coral reefs in the sea – as a way of shielding the vulnerable coastal community from the impact of climate change.

    Pilar Mayor Eufracio Maratas established the municipal marine park in 2005, when he was still a councilor. Inside the sanctuary are coral reefs, seagrass, and mangroves that serve as vital habitats for marine life. Fisheries laws were strictly enforced, to restore abundance in fishing grounds that had been decimated by dynamite fishers. (READ: Mangroves are PH's best shield vs climate change)

    Increased fish catch soon gave islanders enough income to send their children to school, says Cataylo. Coastal villagers helped manage the park and monitor marine resources. A trust fund was set up, and volunteer guards got a share from fines imposed on violators. The innovations gave Pilar the award for best marine protected area (MPA) in 2009 from the MPA Support Network, with the P100,000 prize going to communications equipment for fish wardens.

    Combating sea level rise

    Islanders had began to observe the rising sea level in the previous decade.

    “The seawater is nearing the level of the causeway at the pier,” said Cataylo, adding that it used to be much farther down.

    The situation worsened after Yolanda, which defoliated the mangroves and ravaged beaches that had already been damaged by rampant collection of sand used as building material for houses and roads.

    CLIMATE RESILIENT. Barangay Cawit is home to a 5-hectare marine sanctuary with a wide expanse of seagrass beds.

    The town began a beach reforestation project using romblon plants to mitigate sea level rise. It was also replanted, along with bamboo, in denuded slopes in the barangays of Esperanza and Dapdap.

    The two barangays share a Marine Sanctuary and Mangrove Reserve, a popular tourist destination that provides an opportunity to enhance awareness on the impact of climate change through signboards identifying climate-resilient tree species.

    The government also embarked on a 40-hectare mangrove reforestation project to protect Pilar’s coastline from surging waters. Meanwhile, students planted endemic species of trees in upland areas, as part of the ridge-to-reef strategy to prevent further erosion that could smother coral reefs with silt. (READ: #HackSociety: 6 ideas for a climate-resilient PH)

    Nursery for baby danggit

    In Barangay Cawit, there’s a 5-hectare marine sanctuary with a wide expanse of seagrass beds. Fishers used to harvest the fish fry of danggit (rabbitfish) and turn them into ginamus, says barangay Captain Lilibeth Donasco, so they decided to make the area a no-take zone. (Ginamus is a native condiment popular in Visayas and Mindanao.)

    The marine reserve is located in front of the barangay hall, making it easy to protect the danggit nursery, and allowing the fish to grow to adult sizes and repopulate the seas.

    BARANGAY DAPDAP. The barangays of Esperanza and Dapap share a marine sanctuary and mangrove reserve.

    Just across Cawit is Poro island, and between them is a shoal that is considered one of the richest fishing grounds in the Camotes Sea. The shallow sandbank was declared a marine sanctuary a few years ago, although just like the Camotes Island Mangrove Swamp Forest Reserve, which is under the National Integrated Protected Areas System, there is little marine governance in place due to lack of interest and funds.

    As a 5th class municipality that relies on the bounty of the sea for its 1,800 small-scale fishers, Pilar benefits from the support of residents to conserve marine resources, as well as non-government organizations such as Plan International and Rare.

    When he took office last year, Mayor Maratas allocated government funds for coastal resource management that includes financial incentives for guards who take turns protecting the marine sanctuaries.

    Five years after Yolanda, and even more destructive typhoons that followed through the years, the town of Pilar is proving that small steps can be taken to help fishers adapt to the inevitable impact of climate change. There is still much to be done, and Cataylo is hoping that their efforts can be sustained in the years to come. – Rappler.com

    The author is the senior communications manager in the Philippine office of Rare, an international conservation organization thatpromotes sustainable management of municipal waters and responsible fishing behavior among Filipino fishers. For more information, visit www.rare.org/philippines


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    Tropical depression Urduja is the latest storm to hit the Philippines. In its wake, it left towns that have been devastated by winds, heavy rain, flooding, and landslides. Bridges have been swept away and ports shut down because of strong waves that can easily capsize even large ferries. One of these ports that have been closed down by the storm is the one located in the small coastal town of Matnog in Sorsogon.

    Matnog is the primary crossing point for travelers on their way by land and sea from Manila going to the Visayan provinces of Samar and Leyte. In 2013, when Typhoon Yolanda made landfall in the Philippines, a large part of the aid that was sent to affected areas passed through the crumbling pier in Matnog Port.

    For the past 4 days that tropical depression Urduja has been battering the eastern coastline of the Philippines, authorities have shut down the Matnog port, stranding up to 7,000 passengers who are still sitting in buses, cars, and trucks on the highway leading to the port. By this time, many of the people who are stranded there have already ran out of food, water, money. Most of their mobile phones are either out of power or have no more telephone credits to make calls or send text messages. (READ: DSWD: Over 220,000 affected due to Urduja)

    For 4 days, Bike Scouts volunteer Winston Regarde has been documenting and helping as many people as he can with the meager resources available to him.

    Storie of generosity

    On Sunday, December 16, Winston spent his last P200 to buy food for the people on the bus that he took to get to Matnog. Owners of a nearby local club from Sorsogon also distributed food to the stranded passengers, helping them tide over for at least another day.

    BAYANIHAN SPIRIT. Bus conductor Julito Gaviola cooks for his stranded passengers at Matnog port in Sorsogon. All photos by Winston Regarde

     

    The residents of Matnog as well have been very generous, opening up their homes to people who need a shower or a safe place to sleep for the night in a heart-warming display of the Filipino spirit of bayanihan – no questions asked, no payments, just pure and honest generosity.

    There have been other stories too that truly restores confidence in humanity, such as the unexpected help that came from the rescue units of Sorsogon province. They arrived late at night at an out-of-the-way bus stop to rescue passengers who had run out of money, food, and water as they tried to wait out the storm for 3 days. It was really a save that came in the nick of time when the people on the buses had not eaten and was thirsty for a day and were losing hope that anybody would come to their aid.

    On a bus in Matnog, there was one particular story that stands out for being a shining example of how a simple act of good can make a really big difference. It’s a story about a bus conductor named Julito Gaviola.

    Normally, people don’t really notice bus conductors, they just hand out tickets and collect bus fare. On this particular bus trip, though, nature intervened and passengers got to know their conductor a little better when Julito, in spite of being stranded himself with very little personal money, decided to share his own provision of rice with his passengers who had no more money for food or water after three days of sitting and sleeping outside the Port of Matnog.

    As a bus conductor, Julito isn’t professionally obligated to share his rice and the bread that he bought with his own money with the passengers on his bus, but he did – and in that moment Julito became a hero that nobody expected. He became a hero for all of us.

    AMID THE STORM. Winston with Julito Gaviola (Gray shirt) pose with other stranded passengers. Photo by Winston Regarde

    Through all of this, the stories about the people and the storm was being documented and dispatched by a volunteer of Bike Scouts Philippines named Winston Regarde.

    Winston is a quiet person. He rides an old steel bicycle that constantly breaks down because of its age and the volume of use due to Winston’s response volunteer work for the Bike Scouts and for his own community in Montalban, Rizal.

    Bike Scouts Philippines is an initiative whose members work as volunteer bicycle messengers in places that are severely affected by natural disasters. It started in 2013, when Bike Scouts teams deployed to Tacloban, around Leyte, and Samar to help evacuees and isolated communities get in touch with relatives and aid agencies that provided them assistance. All of the work was done using bicycles for over 4 months. (WATCH: Bike Scouts PH, the unsung heroes of Yolanda

    Job done

    Winston had sent in 4 days worth of dispatches to the Bike Scouts Volunteer Network and Project Agos when a request was sent to him to help find a Filipino Paralympic athlete named Roland Sabido who had represented the Philippines at the recent ASEAN Paralympics and helped win two bronze medals for the Philippines. He was alone and stranded somewhere in Matnog.

    The work of Bike Scouts Philippines and its volunteer network is to provide people affected by natural disasters with an alternative means of reaching out when regular lines of communication become unavailable, or they are isolated by the effects of natural disasters. In true Bike Scouts fashion, Winston set out to find Roland to assure the athlete’s relatives and friends that he is okay.

    By this time, Winston himself had already run out of money and basic supplies, having spent his last money to help others. With no access to a bicycle and no money for a tricycle ride he ran the distance from the port to the diversion road that was crammed with buses and people waiting for the port to open.

    JOB DONE. Winston finds Roland Sabido among the stranded passengers in Matnog, Sorsogon.  Photo by Winston Regarde

    It wasn’t easy looking for one person in a place crowded with thousands of people. Under the heat of the sun and with a constant reminder of his own hunger, thirst and a lack  of certainty on his mind, Winston set out to do the work of a Bike Scout volunteer – to find people in the midst of a disaster or a crisis and help them reach out to the people who care and worry for them.

    All of this happened in a far-away place just this morning where thousands are stranded. He could have just given up and informed the people waiting for word from halfway around the world that it was too difficult, or that he was too hungry and thirsty to walk the length of waiting buses that stretch over 5 kilometers long.

    Instead, he walked the mile to send a short message on Sunday morning, saying “job done.”  – Rappler.com


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    MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd), on Sunday, December 17, called on the public, particularly those living in areas affected by Tropical Depression Urduja (Kai-tak), to report the condition of schools in their community.

    The crowdsourcing campaign, dubbed #SchoolPatrolPH, aims to provide education officials with a quick snapshot of school buildings damaged due to the slow-moving tropical depression.

    The heavy rain brought by Urduja triggered floods that submerged houses, left passengers stranded in airports and ports, and forced residents to flee their homes. Hardest-hit areas include Eastern Samar, Biliran, and Leyte.

    In Biliran alone, at least 26 people were killed in landslides, according to the local government.

    How to report

    The public can send photos and post status updates on their Facebook and Twitter accounts using the hashtag #SchoolPatrolPH. The posts should be set to public.

    Reports can also be sent via SMS to 2929 for Smart and Talk N' Text subscribers.

    Text Format: <Name>, <Location>, <Name of school>, <School address>, <Condition of school building> #SchoolPatrolPH
    Sample Text: Juan de la Cruz, Taft, Eastern Samar, Taft Public Elementary School, school was completely submerged in flood. All teachers and students safe. #SchoolPatrolPH

    Rappler's Agos platform will map all #SchoolPatrolPH reports on agos.rappler.com and relay the information to authorities.

    School principals are also required to send flash reports to their district superintendents and to the DepEd central office. The DepEd's Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Service (DRRMS) is gathering all reports. – Rappler.com

    If you want to help those affected by Urduja or if you have reports about their humanitarian needs like temporary shelter, relief goods, water, and hygiene kits, post them on the Agos map, text to 2929 (Smart and Sun), or tag MovePH on Twitter or Facebook. You may also link up with other organizations that called for donations.


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