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    MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) on Tuesday, December 26, appealed for humanitarian aid to help the more than 500,000 people affected by Severe Tropical Storm Vinta (Tembin), which hit 23 provinces in the Philippines before Christmas day.

    Senator Richard Gordon, PRC Chairman, made the appeal as the number of casualties and missing persons from the flashfloods and landslides continued to rise in the wake of Vinta. (READ: Flash floods wiped out village in Lanao Del Norte due to Vinta)

    "Rural communities, which are in remote mountainous areas, are the hardest hit. Some villages are swept away by surging current of mud and water. We're really on our toes right now. We're trying to figure out how to bring our help closer to our people who are suffering right now," Gordon said.

    The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) on Monday, December 25, reported at least 164 people dead while 171 remain missing, mostly due to flashfloods and mudslides in the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte, Lanao del Norte, and Lanao del Sur. Local goverments are conducting an ongoing verification on the total number of casualties.

    "The focus at the moment is to find those who are still missing and to alleviate the suffering of those who survived. Slowly but surely, you can be sure the Red Cross will continue to be there for the people affected," Gordon said.

    Those interested to send their donations may deposit to the following accounts:

    Banco de Oro (Peso)

    Account Name: Philippine Red Cross

    Account No.: 00-4530190938

    Type of Account: Savings - Peso

    Swiftcode: BNORPHMM

    Banco de Oro (Dollar)

    Account Name: Philippine Red Cross

    Account No.: 10-453-0039482

    Type of Account: Savings - Dollar

    Swiftcode: BNORPHMM

    Metrobank (Peso)

    Account Name: Philippine Red Cross

    Account No.: 151-7-151524342

    Type of Account: Current - Pesos

    Swiftcode: MBTCPHMM

    Metrobank (Dollar)

    Account Name: Philippine Red Cross

    Account No.: 151-2-151002182

    Type of Account: Savings - Dollar

    Swiftcode: MBTCPHMM

    Bank of the Philippine Islands:

    Account Name: Philippine Red Cross

    Account No.: 4991003652

    Type of Account: Savings

    Swiftcode: BOPIPHMM

    Aid

    Gordon said the PRC will distribute P3,000-cash grants to 1,500 families from worst-hit communities. Priority will be given to the most vulnerable victims, such as single parents and those who lost a family member. (READ: IN PHOTOS: Destroyed roads, bridges in Mindanao due to Vinta)

    "This is the fastest way we can bring assistance to our people. People are hungry before, now they are hungrier because of the typhoon. We want to give hope again to our people," he added.

    The PRC, through the support of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, will also distribute 1,000 non-food items in the coming days. Gordon added that more water tanks would be sent to provide clean water to the affected communities.

    Those with missing family members would also be assisted through PRC’s Restoring Family Links Program. (READ: First a war, then a storm: Marawi evacuees' tents ravaged by Vinta)

    PRC staff and volunteers have been providing humanitarian assistance prior to the landfall. They have provided hot meals to 5,039 individuals and psychosocial support to 1,728 people. Emergency responders rescued 339 people and distributed 108,000 liters of water. 

    The Qatar Red Crescent Society has responded to PRC’s appeal and donated P14 million for the provision of additional food items, non-food items, water, sanitation and emergency shelter. (READ: LIST: Countries offering sympathy, aid after Vinta in PH)

    The Manila Bulletin also donated P1 million to support PRC’s ongoing emergency and relief operations. – Rappler.com


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    HELPING HAND. DSWD Region XII Director Sarah Taha extends financial assistance to the families of the victims who died in different municipalities of Lanao del Sur in Typhoon Vinta' wake. Photo from DSWD Soccsksargen facebook

    MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) extended financial assistance to the families affected by Typhoon Vinta (Tembin).

    On Monday, December 25, DSWD Region XII with Director Bai Zorahayda Taha distributed cash aid to the bereaved families of the victims from several affected areas in Lanao del Sur – including the municipalities of Bacolod Kalawi, Madalum, Wato Balindong, and Tugaya.

    Disaster responders, volunteers, and residents brought 1,000 family food packs, 1,000 hygiene kits, and 1,000 malongs in Barangay Dalama in Munai, Lanao del Norte on Monday.

    The field office in Soccsksargen also continues to monitor the condition of Internally Displaced Persons from tent cities in the region who relocated to different schools for the continuous provision of assistance.

    Meanwhile, DSWD's Rapid Emergency Telecommunications Team has set up emergency telecommunications through Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) terminals and brought in satellite phones at Pindulunan village in Munai, Lanao del Norte. BGAN terminals connect a laptop computer to broadband internet in remote areas.

    Pindulunan village is among those barangays severely hit by Vinta and is a geographically isolated and disadvantaged area, according to DSWD.

    DSWD Officer-in-charge Secretary Emmanuel Leyco gave assurances to the public that the office will be working even during the holidays.

    "In light of the devastation left by Vinta, we are 24/7 even during the holidays to ensure that there is a steady supply of relief goods to augment the resources of the LGUs. We empathize with the affected families and we assure them of our commitment to assist them in their needs," Leyco said.

    #ReliefPH

    Leyco said the affected regional offices, nearby regional offices, and the central office are continuously monitoring the disaster operations.

    "Rest assured that the DSWD has the adequate resources to help our fellow Filipinos in need. We, at DSWD, are committed to find the quickest way possible to respond to the needs of the affected families and try to help ease their suffering,” he said.

    DSWD said they are still accepting volunteers to help repack goods at the National Relief Operations Center in Pasay City and in other DSWD regional offices. (READ: #ReliefPH: Help victims of Vinta)

    According to DSWD, there are about 23,775 families or 111,641 persons staying in 231 evacuation centers, while some 5,938 displaced families are staying with their relatives and friends. (READ: 60,000 in evacuation centers after Vinta onslaught)

    As of December 27, the agency has provided a total of P12,778,250 worth of relief assistance to the affected families in Regions MIMAROPA, Central Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao, Soccsksargen, CARAGA and ARMM.

    Typhoon Vinta left the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on Sunday morning, December 24, Christmas Eve, after triggering massive floods and landslides that left more than 200 people dead. – Rappler.com


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    VINTA DAMAGE. Severe Tropical Storm Vinta damages bridges in Lanao del Norte province including this one that leads to a remote village in Munai town. Photo courtesy of Ninoy Castro/DSWD

    MANILA, Philippines – From the air, President Rodrigo Duterte saw the extent of the devastation caused by Severe Tropical Storm Vinta (Tembin) in Lanao del Norte province on his way to a briefing in Tubod town on Wednesday, December 27.

    Nakita ko ‘yung sa Salvador and ‘yung bridge. I suppose… ‘yun ang nawala. But it’s still flooded. It’s all water from the air,” Duterte said, addressing Salvador town Mayor Hassanor Tawantawan, one of the local officials who attended the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) briefing which the President held Wednesday afternoon.

    According to Tawantawan, it is difficult to reach the affected areas in his town, where 151 houses were “wiped out” during the storm. They need temporary shelters and equipment to fix impassable farm-to-market roads – immediate needs which other mayors also reported to Duterte.

    It was Duterte’s first time to meet the local executives since the storm that unleashed landslides and floods hit the southern Philippines on December 22, leaving at least 240 dead with scores of others still missing. Flash floods wiped out an entire mountain village in Tubod, where the meeting was held.

    Napakalungkot ho sabihin (It pains me to say that) we will end the 2017 with…so many deaths of Filipinos, ranging from carelessness to accidents and the typhoons. There seems to be sorrow prevailing in the country today,” he said.

    Mayors’ requests and Duterte’s promises

    It was also Duterte's first time to convene the NDRRMC since he assumed office, but no cabinet officials from agencies that constitute the NDRRMC were present during the meeting.

    "There are no other Cabinet members, pero ang importante ho dito para sa akin is DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways), and ang Agriculture," he told the mayors whom he directly asked to tell him what their needs were.

    The following were the requests of the mayors and the President’s promises:

    Mayor Casan Maquiling (Municipality of Munai)

    Request:

    • Rehabilitation of a bridge to facilitate faster movement of relief goods.  
    • The mayor noted that it takes them one day to bring assistance to affected barangays.

    Response:

    • Restore the bridge in 5 days with the assistance of DPWH and the army
    • In the meantime, order the air force to bring medicines and food to affected areas

    Mayor Leoncio Bagol (Municipality of Tubod)

    Request:

    • Repair of impassable roads and a bridge that lead to about 4,000 hectares of farmland

    Response:

    • Provide heavy equipment and assistance from DPWH and the engineering unit of the military in the area
    • To ask DPWH Secretary Villar to directly coordinate with Mayor Bagol
    • Ask the air force to bring food and medicine to the town 

    Mayor Allan Lim (Municipality of Lala)

    Requests:

    • Budget for the rehabilitation of the protection dike of the Maranding River, which irrigates 17,000 hectares of farms in the town, the food basket in Lanao del Norte
    • Rebuilding of a bridge that collapsed

    Response:

    • Send National Irrigation Administration (NIA) head Ricardo Visaya, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, and DPWH Secretary Villar, whom the President called his “star players” during disasters, to check the situation in the area and provide necessary assistance
    • Reiterated his campaign promise to provide “free irrigation” to farmers, noting that he allocated a huge amount for irrigation

    Mayor Barry Baguio (Municipality of Kapatagan)

    Request:

    • An ambulance

    Response:

    • Called Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) Chairman Jose Jorge Corpuz to provide assistance

    Mayor Aisha Azis (Municipality of Matungao)

    Request:

    • Assistance for the continuation of a P7 million water system that was damaged during the storm

    Response:

    • Gave assurances that he will give her the necessary funds after review.

    Does the government have enough funds?

    Duterte gave the mayors assurances that the government still has “money to spend and supplies to share” with the affected areas.

    “The money, as I said, is already appropriated. It’s in the departments concerned. I will just order them to come here and do their thing in whatever aspect they have to deal with,” Duterte said. 

    Duterte particularly said that there is enough money for education, health, and agriculture. 

    However, he did not mention where or how the government will fund the requirements of response and rehabilitation efforts in the province and other affected areas. 

    During the Agos Summit on Disaster Preparedness in July, Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda warned that the funds for handling calamities in 2017 are already insufficient. 

    "The [calamity fund] for 2017 – from the [National Expenditure Program] to the House and out of the [bicameral conference committee] – was cut down from P40 billion to P15 billion," he in July 8.

    Under the General Appropriations Act (GAA) or national budget, a total of P15.7 billion has been allocated for the DRRM fund, a P23-billion decrease from the P38.9-billion allocation in 2016.

    The law states that funds for disaster management activities should be sourced from the DRRM fund to respond to urgent needs during emergency situations. (READ: Where can you access disaster funds?)

    For 2017, a total of P15.7 billion – a P23-billion decrease from P38.9 billion in 2016 – has been allocated in the General Appropriations Act for the NDRRMC Fund, formerly known as “Calamity Fund,” which includes quick response fund allocations that are spread across various implementing agencies. 

    In March, Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad, Executive Director of the NDRRMC, said that only about P5.8 billion is left of the fund – not enough to fund the needs of affected areas that are recovering from disasters. Jalad said that the NDRRMC’s request does not yet cover the needs that arose from the flooding in Mindanao during that time and the strong earthquake that hit the Caraga region.

    Republic Act No. 10121 or the Philippine DRRM Act established a disaster fund on the national level to respond to urgent needs during emergency situations. Funding allocation is determined in the national budget upon the approval of the President as recommended by the NDRRMC.

    Local governments also request calamity fund assistance through their local DRRM councils, provided that they submit documents with the endorsement of the OCD regional director:

    The OCD evaluates all requests. Only with the go-signal from the President, as recommended by the NDRRMC, can the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) release a Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) and a Notice of Cash Allocations (NCA) to an implementing agency or LGU.

    Aside from the national disaster fund, the People's Survival Fund Act also provides financial assistance to projects that will address the impacts of disasters and climate change. Jalad said that NDRRMC also intends to tap this source of fund which has about P1 billion allocation.

    These are the challenges that the government will face as it deals with the last disaster in 2017, but the President expressed optimism that his administration will pull through.

    "Subukan lang ho namin (We will try) to fast track everything. You can be very sure of that." - Rappler.com


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    CHRISTMAS CRASH. A jeepney ran straight against a bus in Agoo, La Union. Photo from LTFRB

    MANILA, Philippines – Amid the hustle and bustle of the holidays, an expert is reminding everyone that there is a higher chance of road mishaps due to the high volume of vehicular traffic.

    According to University of the Philippines professor Jose Regin Regidor, the likelihood of road crash incidents is higher during the holidays when commuters flock to certain destinations. (READ: Waze tags December 22 as 'worst day to drive this Christmas')

    "Crash incidence is typically directly proportional to traffic. Traffic along certain roads are usually highest during December so there’s higher likelihood of crashes," he told Rappler on Thursday, December 28.

    Several road crash incidents happened within the Christmas week as shoppers and commuters rushed to their destinations.

    On Christmas Eve, December 24, 4 people were killed and 25 were injured when a jeepney lost its brakes and fell into a creek in Roxas village in North Cotabato province. On Christmas Day, December 25, a deadly road crash in La Union left at least 20 people dead and 26 injured. 

    "However, there are certain factors that increase that likelihood including those involving driver or rider behavior, and risk taking," he added.

    Regidor said that passengers should also be involved in reminding their drivers to drive defensively. (READ: On road safety and courtesy)

    "For behavior-related situations, passengers must get involved and demand their drivers drive safely – slow down, be less aggressive, refrain from counterflowing, etc. This applies to public and private vehicles," he said.

    On Tuesday, December 26, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) reminded the public to not rush their drivers.

    "Accidents like this happen only for two reasons: the driver is in a hurry or the passenger pressures the driver to meet a schedule," LTFRB Board Member Aileen Lizada said.

    "In this fast-paced season of holiday shopping, LTFRB would like to address this message, not only to the drivers, but also to the passengers of private or hired vehicles – do not rush your drivers. In fact, constantly remind them to follow traffic rules and observe speed limits," Lizada added.

    In 2015, the Philippine Statistics Authority recorded a total of 10,012 people killed in road mishaps across the country. (READ: IN NUMBERS: Road crash incidents in the Philippines)

    According to a WHO report, 53% of reported road traffic fatalities in the Philippines are riders of motorized two- or three-wheeler vehicles, while pedestrians make up the second biggest chunk of road user deaths at 19%. (READ: Road deaths in PH: Most are motorcycle riders, pedestrians)

    In the capital region, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) recorded 109,322 road crash incidents in 2016, a 14.33% increase from the 95,615 incidents recorded in 2015. – Rappler.com


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    REACHING OUT. DSWD's #HelptheHomelessPH aims to raise public awareness on the real plight of homeless families. Photo grabbed from DSWD facebook page

    MANILA, Philippines —The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) launched the #HelptheHomelessPH campaign to raise public awareness on the plight of homeless families and how to help them.

    On Thursday afternoon, December 28, the agency gathered families who have long made the Luneta Park their home and served them with lugaw (porridge) with chicken and egg.

    Social workers also distributed clothes, slippers, blankets, and were also distributed. 

    #HelptheHomelessPH, which was launched on December 20, seeks to make the public understand why homeless people stay in the streets and to redirect their perception about giving alms on the streets.

    Concrete actions for the homeless

    According to DSWD officer-in-charge Emmanuel Leyco, the activity on Thursday is the first of a series of efforts for homeless families. 

    "We must push for better and more concrete actions and programs that will end homelessness and give those who currently live in extreme poverty and want on the streets and alleyways of our cities and municipalities," Leyco said.

    The DSWD would like to work with local government units in coming up with humane and sustainable efforts to help the homeless in recovering and improving their lives, he added.

    During the activity, social workers shared the various services and programs that it provides and how these have benefited the poor. .

    For instance, the DSWD said that its programs for homeless families such as Modified Conditional Cash Transfer (MCCT) have benefited 5,575 families, while the Comprehensive Program for the Homeless and Sama Bajau (COMPRE) helped 10,390 families from 2011 to 2016 in the National Capital Region. (READ: P1 billion aligned for poor families to be hit by proposed tax reform - DSWD)

    Share time, effort, resources

    Leyco also asked help from various groups and private citizens to take part in the campaign.

    "Let us help the homele our time, effort, and resources," he said.

    According to DSWD, some "right and by sharing responsible ways" to help the homeless are organizing gift-giving actions, medical missions, feeding programs, story-telling, and art sessions for children.

    "It is very difficult to hold activities for the homeless because they are spread out all over the metro. But once you get started - once you've succeeded in gathering them in one place or once you've gone to areas where they congregate, it's easier: You immediately see and hear for yourself what they need," according to Ina Silverio, Information Officer of the Office of the DSWD Secretary. 

    Meanwhile, #HelpTheHomelessPH spokesperson Assistant Secretary Aleli Bawagan reminded the public that the DSWD discourages giving alms to the homeless due to the Anti-Mendicancy Law of 1978, which prohibits anyone from begging in the street. (READ: Do not give alms to beggars this Christmas - DSWD)

    Bawagan instead appealed to the public to support #HelptheHomelessPH by giving nourishing food and materials that families can immediately use in their daily survival and post stories about them on social media. — Rappler.com

     


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    Welcome to Right Of Way, a video blog on motorist and commuter issues in Metro Manila.

    Road safety advocate Vincent Lazatin chronicles the challenges and tribulations of navigating the metro.

    It's the holidays, and 'tis the season to be jolly, to be merry... and to be stuck in traffic.

    Join Vincent as he attempts to drive from one end of the metro to another during the season's busiest days. Will he get stuck in so-called Christmas 'carmageddon?' Watch it here on Rappler. – Rappler.com

    Got any photos or videos of problems on the road? Send them to rightofway@rappler.com 


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    PREPAREDNESS. NDRRMC conducts a Pre-Disaster Risk Assessment (PDRA) meeting at the NDRRM Operations Center. Photo grabbed from Civil Defense PH facebook page

    MANILA, Philippines – A week after back-to-back cyclones Urduja (Kai-tak) and Vinta (Tembin) hit Visayas and Mindanao, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) placed its national operation center on standby for a possible low pressure area (LPA) expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility before 2017 ends.

    According to Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), the cloud clusters outside the Philippine area of responsibility could form into a low pressure area projected to enter the country between the afternoon of December 30 to early morning of December 31.

    The cloud clusters are expected to develop into a tropical depression in the afternoon of December 31 or early morning on January 1, 2018, and will be named Wilma should it become a tropical depression.

    In a press conference, NDRRMC spokesperson Romina Marasigan said that the office will continue to have an emergency response preparedness meeting to make sure that its member-agencies are prepared and ready to assist the public. (READ: NDRRMC to public: Monitor weather updates this Christmas)

    “Maghahanda muli ang ating bansa sa panibagong banta kaya we would like to be sure sa paghahanda ng lahat ng ahensiya na mangunguna sa pagbibigay ng ayuda sa ating mga kababayan,” she said. 

    The Department of the Interior and Local Government has alerted the local government units (LGUs) concerned to make the necessary preparations especially in the recently affected communities by Typhoon Urduja and Typhoon Vinta.

    The Department of Social Welfare and Development ensured the availability of funds and sufficiency of resources as it continued its relief operations and production of family food facks for affected communities.

    Marasigan reminded the public to stay alert and vigilant in believing and sharing information on socila media.

    "We enjoin the public to actively share advisories and warnings only from credible sources,” said Marasigan.

    NDRRMC advised the public to follow the orders of authorities in their respective areas if there's a call for pre-emptive and forced evacuation. – Rappler.com


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  • 12/29/17--02:54: How to prepare for floods
  • FLOOD. This file photo shows waist-deep flooding in Marikina on August 2016. File Photo by Martin San Diego/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – You read on the news that a heavy downpour is expected in your area. Do you know how to prepare for it?

    As a tropical country, the Philippines has only two "seasons" – it's either summer or rainy. We're also visited by an average of 20 typhoons yearly, which makes the rainy season an experience Filipinos are used to.

    Flooding would seem to be a normal occurrence for some. But what should we do in case of flooding incidents? How should we prepare for it? (QUIZ: Will you survive a world severely battered by climate change?)

    In an interview with Rappler, Project NOAH executive director Mahar Lagmay gave tips on how we can prepare for floods:

    Be updated with storm signals

    STORM. Tropical Storm Nona's (Melor) track on December 11, 2015 from 5 pm to 10:30 pm. Image courtesy of Weather Philippines

    Lagmay said that if a storm is coming, be sure to check whether it will hit your area.

    "But even if your location is far from the eye of the storm – where the downpour is the heaviest – it does not mean that you shouldn't prepare for it," Lagmay said in a mix of English and Filipino.

    As storm signals change, he added that those who will be affected must continously be up to date with the latest forecast.

    Check the hazards

    If heavy or continuous raining is expected in your area, Lagmay recommended to know the hazards in your area. Know if your area is flood-prone. 

    He added that landslides can also happen due to continuous raining, making it also important to check whether your area is landslide-prone. He said hazard maps are available on the NOAH website. (READ: Philippine hazard maps online)

    Alternatively, the map below shows areas in the Philippines that are susceptible to floods and flashfloods. This map is based on the shapefile versions of hazard maps produced by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

    Areas that are in violet have high susceptibility to floods while light yellow areas have moderate to low susceptibility.

    Evacuate if needed

    If you already know that your area is susceptible to floods, evacuate if needed.

    Lagmay advised to seek a safe place clear from related hazards or stay in evacuation centers prescribed by the local government. (READ: #FloodPH: Is it flooded in your area?)

    Those who are traveling and may be caught in the middle of the storm must also seek a safe place.

    "Safety first before anything else because the incident may claim lives," he said.

    Think in advance

    Lagmay said that it's always important to prepare for unexpected events. He added that preparation shouldn't be done in the last minute.

    "Preparation is not done in the last minute. You need to listen. It's a combination of warnings by the government and necessary action by the community about it," he said.

    Lagmay acknowledged that some Filipinos don't follow government warnings. (WATCH: Woman keeps her dogs safe during Urduja)

    "Sometimes, if we tell them to watch out for flooding or landslides, they are desensitized with the information. Now, you need to be hazard-specific, timebound, and provide real-time information on top of the forecast information," he said.– Rappler.com


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    RAPID ASSESSMENT. Humanitarian workers from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, conduct rapid assessments in Lanao del Sur towns that were hit by Severe Tropical Storm Vinta (Tembin).  Photos by J. Pangalian/UNHCR

    MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The humanitarian agencies of the United Nations are prepared to help the government address urgent needs in areas that were hit by Severe Tropical Storm Vinta (Tembin).

    So far, about 715,000 people are reported to have been affected by the storm. The storm has claimed at least 240 lives with scores of others still missing.

    “A lot of people are still in temporary evacuation centers, so they need some basic assistance with food,” UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Philippines Head of Office Mark Bidder told United Nations News in an interview.

    At least 1,630 houses have been destroyed while about 1,000 were damaged, leaving nearly 140,000 homeless, according to OCHA. Nearly 81% of the displaced people will be staying in more than 200 evacuation centers as the New Year approaches.

    OCHA has created an interactive version  of the Disaster Response Operations Monitoring and Information Center (DROMIC) to guide humanitarian actors on the ground.

    LIVING IN DISPLACEMENT. Thousands who are affected by Severe Tropical Storm Vinta flee their homes, including those who are already living in displacement across Mindanao.Photos by J. Pangalian/UNHCR

    Double whammy for Marawi evacuees

    Other members of the UN’s Mindanao Humanitarian Team (MHT), like the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), are currently conducting response operations and assessments to determine the extent of the damage to flooded homes, infrastructure, and agriculture.

    “Many families who fled Marawi City 7 months ago experienced a double whammy: displacement caused by the conflict, and the impact of Tropical Storm Vinta,” the UNHCR said.

    The UN Refugee Agency has sent a rapid assessment mission to Madamba, Madalum, Bacolod-Kalawi, Wato-Balindong towns in Lanao del Sur.

    Initial reports of the mission showed that some evacuation centers hosting Marawi families in Iligan City and the Lanao provinces suffered damage. Authorities moved the evacuees to school buildings where they will be hosted temporarily. The families have requested additional malongs, mats, and hot meals, according to the UNHCR.

    “This extreme wet weather is certainly not helping the conditions that displaced people currently face many of them are still not able to immediately return home,” OCHA’s Bidder said.

    BAYANIHAN SPIRIT. Affected residents and DSWD personnel help each other in delivering relief goods to an affected village in Munai town in Lanao del Norte, which was heavily hit by Severe Topical Storm Vinta. Photo courtesy of Ninoy Castro/DSWD

    Protecting children a priority

    Meanwhile, relief supplies prepositioned by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) are ready for dispatch to the storm-hit areas in Mindanao. Its field teams are also working around the clock to assess the extent of damage, according to the UN agency.

    “We stand ready to support the government and partners to address risks on children's life and health and alleviate suffering of affected communities as best as we can,” Lotta Sylwander, head of UNICEF operations in Philippines, said in a statement.

    Children are among the most vulnerable and are at a heightened risk of contaminated water, lack of food, and epidemics, and other hazards which often follow in the wake of a natural disaster.

    UN Secretary General António Guterres earlier said that the organization "stands ready to support the local and national authorities, in addition to the support already being provided by humanitarian partners.” (WATCH: What Duterte promised mayors in Vinta-hit Lanao del Norte)

    Vinta ravaged southern Philippines, particularly the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte, Lanao del Norte, and Lanao del Sur. 

    About 20 typhoons hit the Philippines each year.  Rappler.com


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    APP. SafeSpacesPH is an app developed by LoveYourself in partnership with Save the Children. Screenshot from SafeSpacesPH

    MANILA, Philippines – In a country where buying contraceptives remains an issue, how do you protect yourself from unforeseen incidents?

    This is the question that human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention group LoveYourself sought to answer. (INFOGRAPHIC: How is HIV transmitted?)

    In partnership with Save the Children, LoveYourself developed SafeSpacesPH, a platform for all sexual health and wellness needs. It is a mobile application where establishments that dispense condoms with water-based lubricants can be located.

    LoveYourself Executive Director Ronivin Pagtakhan said that many people do not know that government-subsidized condoms are given for free or where to get these free condoms.

    "The government offers condoms for free not just as contraceptives, but more importantly as a protection against contracting HIV and STIs (sexually transmitted infections). We just have to mobilize its distribution to ensure that we really target and reach the right market or people," Pagtakhan said.

    According to the Department of Health, a total of 44,010 HIV positive cases and 2,156 died among people with HIV since 1984 to 2017. (READ: Number of new HIV cases in PH breaches 1,000 mark)

    Pagtakhan pointed out that correct and consistent use of condoms with water-based lubricants remain the most effective method in preventing the spread of HIV.

    But accessibility to these services is still a huge challenge.

    "A sizable number of condoms procured by the government are largely unknown and untapped by the public, hence sometimes these were put to waste unused," he added.

    Spread awareness

    DEPOTS. An actual interface of the SafeSpacesPH App showing the location of depots with the free condoms. Photo from LoveYourself

    LoveYourself and other HIV prevention groups aim to inform the public that sexual health and wellness is a basic right, especially to the youth and men-having-sex-with-men who are most at-risk to these sexual health concerns.

    SafeSpacesPH shows "depots" or "safe spaces" that are non-discriminatory and sex-positive establishments. The app ensures that these depots have a sufficient supply of condoms for distribution. It also allows you to report how much supply is left, so the management can restock.

    A registered user can easily check the supply status of a specific establishment. They can also give feedback and comment on the safe spaces.

    LoveYourself said that through this application, people who need condoms don't need to go to a clinic, or buy over-the-counter of a convenience store with worries and fear of judgment anymore. (READ: 'Stop HIV shaming: When status is not the story)

    "There’s nothing wrong in protecting one’s self, more so in using condoms with lube during sexual activities," the advocate group reiterated. 

    The mobile application can be downloaded on Google Play store and App Store. (READ: The thing about condoms

    The group also encourages the public to visit its two clinics along Shaw (LoveYourself Anglo) and Taft-Buendia (LoveYourself Uni), where people can take free and confidential HIV screening and free condom with water-based lubricants.

    Growing epidemic

    According to the DOH, cases of HIV in the Philippines is the "fastest growing" epidemic among Asia Pacific countries.

    DOH reported that more Filipinos acquired the virus from 4,300 in 2010 to 10,500 in 2016. The figure is estimated to hit 142,000 by 2022 and 313,000 by 2030.

    Last December 4, the House of Representatives passed the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy bill with a vote of 188-0. The measure aims to prevent spread of HIV and AIDS. – Rappler.com


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    SAFETY REMINDER. Manila Fire District shares safety tips in a series of lecture in the launching of Oplan Iwas Paputok. Photo from BFP-NCR PIS facebook.

    MANILA, Philippines — To intensify fire safety awareness campaign of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), the Manila Fire District launched "Oplan Iwas Paputok" in Tondo, Manila on Saturday, December 30.

    BFP, together with Philippine National Police, Department of Health and local government units joint effort to promote a fire-free holiday in the community. (READ: Know what to do in case of fire)

    Manila firefighters conducted free lectures, gift-giving and distribution of fire-safety flyers to the community, as well as,  other fire stations in the country as well.

    They also asked everyone to help prevent fire incidents by avoiding using firecrackers at their residences. Instead, they can watch and display fireworks on common spaces and authorized areas by local governments. (READ: Duterte limits use of firecrackers to 'community displays')

    BFP Chief Director Leonard Bañago encouraged the public to follow rules in using firecrackers to avoid accident.

    "Alam naman natin ang mga trahedya. Maraming napuputulan ng kamay, mga daliri, lalong lalo na sa mga kabataan, dahil sa patuloy na paggamit ng iba't ibang klase ng mga ipinagbabawal na paputok. Kaya patuloy po natin suportahan ang ganitong klase ng programa, at yung pag-iwas sa paggamit ng ipinagbabawal ng pamutok," Bañago said.

    (We all know the tragedies. Some lost their hands, or fingers, especially the youth, because of the continued use of illegal firecrackers. That's why we're asking everyone to continue their support in this kind of program, and avoid using illegal firecrackers.)

    While hoping for zero firecracker-related incidents, Bañago gave assurances to the public that all BFP personnel will be on full alert at their respective stations in case of any emergency.

    Earlier this year, a New Year fire razed at least 5 houses, including two ancestral homes in Sta. Ana, Manila. In 2016, a fire hit at least 1,000 homes in Manila, affecting around 3,000 families shortly after they welcomed the New Year.

    The DOH has recorded a total of 141 fireworks-related injuries in 2016. — Rappler.com


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     MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) expressed its gratitude to volunteers who responded to its call for help to repack relief goods at the agency's National Resource Operations Center (NROC) in Chapel Road, Pasay City.

    “We thank everyone who volunteered their time and energy to help us repack relief goods to be distributed to disaster victims. Your time is the most precious gift you have given those in need this holiday season,” DSWD Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Emmanuel Leyco said as the year ended.

    The relief goods will be distributed to internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Marawi City as well as to families affected by Tropical Depression Urduja (Kai-tak) and Severe Tropical Storm Vinta (Tembin).

    The recent storms caused heavy flooding and landslides in the Visayas and Mindanao regions, displacing thousands.

    “The DSWD has a mechanized production system which automates and streamlines the production of family food packs (FFPs), but since we need to continuously respond to the needs of hundreds of thousands of families affected by the series of calamities that struck the country, we have to augment the production of our relief resources through manual repacking,” Leyco said.

    The number of volunteers who went to the warehouse to help in repacking activities averaged 600 people a day, according to Sophie Mendiola of the Production Management Division of NROC.

    On December 26, the DSWD was able to produce 41,600 FFPs with the help of the volunteers.

    The agency targets to produce 80,000 FFPs a day for its relief operations. 

    Assistance to evacuees

    Nearly 22,000 families or about 107,000 people are still staying in 192 evacuation centers in regions MIMAROPA, IX, X, XI, XII, and ARMM due to Vinta,  according to the latest report of the DSWD Disaster Response Assistance and Management Bureau (DReAMB).

    So far, the agency and local government units (LGUs) have provided a total of P16,392,250 worth of assistance to affected families and individuals. Of the amount,  P11,560,510.00 came from DSWD, while P4,831,740 came from LGUs.

    The DSWD continues to coordinate with the local government units of the affected cities and municipalities to monitor the status of families who are still staying in the evacuation centers for the provision of relief assistance. 

    Meanwhile, the humanitarian agencies of the United Nations  said they are prepared to help the government address urgent needs in areas that were hit by the recent disasters. (WATCH: What Duterte promised mayors in Vinta-hit Lanao del Norte)

    #ReliefPH continues

    The DSWD is still calling for additional volunteers.

    “We are still calling for volunteers to help us in our repacking activities. Right now, we are in need of night shift volunteers who will render their time within 8:00 pm to 8:00 am,” Leyco said.

    Interested groups and individuals may coordinate with Mendiola through the following contact details:

    • Landline: 553-9864
    • Mobile: 09307669595

    You can also sign up here if you or your organization wish to help in packing additional relief goods.

    {source}

    <iframe src="https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScU1NRH-QSGZYlV5j9fAkVcqd-eD4Km0-JOD8elSFXIXJuyVg/viewform?embedded=true" width="760" height="500" frameborder="0" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0">Naglo-load...</iframe>

    {/source}

    Agos, powered by eBayanihan is also crowdsourcing information about ways to to help the victims of the disasters.

    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 the hashtag #ReliefPH in all your posts.– Rappler.com

     


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    MANILA, Philippines – On New Year’s Eve, December 31, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) urged residents in areas to be affected by the possible first storm of 2018 to prepare and prioritize their safety. 

    “We are expecting the Low Pressure Area (LPA) which has entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) to develop into a storm tomorrow, January 1, or on January 2. It will be named Agaton,” NDRRMC spokesperson Mina Marasigan told media in Filipino on Sunday, December 31.

    The LPA off Mindanao entered PAR early Sunday, state weather bureau Pagasa said in a bulletin issued 11 am.

    Pagasa warned that the LPA or tropical depression is expected to bring moderate to heavy rain to Mindanao from Monday to Tuesday, January 1 to 2, so residents there should brace for possible flash floods and landslides. (LOOK: Philippine hazard maps online)

    “We are calling on the public not to ignore the warning because the rain might be disastrous in affected areas. Make sure that you and your families are prepared,” Marasigan said in Filipino.

    Marasigan noted that the LPA is expected to bring rain to the same areas that were hit by Tropical Storm Urduja (Kai-tak) and Severe Tropical Storm Vinta (Tembin).

    Mindanao is still reeling from Vinta, which hit land just a few days before Christmas as a severe tropical storm. Vinta left at least 240 people dead. It also came on the heels of Urduja, which battered Eastern Visayas and left at least 47 people dead.

    Heed evacuation orders

    Marasigan implored to residents to be affected to stay vigilant and follow the orders of local government officials in their respective areas. (READ: Quick links: Preparing yourself, your family and home for disasters)

    “Evacuation orders by local government units are critical to ensuring your safety and your family’s,” Marasigan said in Filipino. 

    Before typhoons strike, LGUs are advised to follow measures outlined in the Department of the Interior and Local Government's (DILG) Oplan Listo.

    Oplan Listo uses 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.

    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 evacuees
    • Distribute relief packs and conduct mass feeding
    • Stop traffic in landslide-prone areas

    The manual includes flowcharts that correspond to 3 phases of critical preparedness actions – Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie. It also contains a tropical cyclone information board and minimum actions to guide mayors.

    The 1991 Local Government Code and the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 mandate local government units to be on the frontline of emergency measures during disasters. – Rappler.com

    Check if your mayors are taking these minimum preparedness activities that LGUs should be enforcing in areas expected to be affected by Agaton. Tell us how prepared your LGUs are through email (move.ph@rappler.com) or Twitter (@moveph).

    Stay alert and ready with the latest weather and disaster information through Agos.


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    MANILA, Philippines – Budget airline AirAsia drew flak on social media as the "worst" and "lousiest" airline after Facebook user Claudette Cledera shared her bad experience during her travel on her social media account.

    In a Facebook post on December 30, Cledera said she and her family were about to board the plane when a guard grabbed her carry-on suitcase. The guard weighed the suitcase without permission and said that the baggage weighed over the allowed limit.

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    Cledera was shocked when she saw that her suitcase went over 7 kilograms (kg). When she checked again with her parents, her suitcase only weighed approximately 4 kgs.

    "I absolutely did not add any new things to my suitcase and actually even left a few more things with my mom before leaving the hotel. So it was clearly impossible for my suitcase to weigh more than 7 kgs," Cledera said.

    Cledera added that she would have complained if all passengers went through the same process and if it was done at the check-in counter and not at the boarding gate.

    For overweight baggages, AirAsia charges P800/kg at the check-in counter and P1500/kg at the boarding gate.

    As of posting, Cledera's post racked up atleast 6,900 reactions and has been shared at least 3,530 times.

    'Lousiest airline'

    In another post on Thursday, December 28, Cavite Governor Jesus Crispin Remulla slammed AirAsia for being the "lousiest airline in the world" on his offical Facebook page.

    Remulla said that his 88-year-old mother-in-law Vilma Diaz was charged HK$60 (P384) and an additional HK$450 (P2,882) just so somebody would assist her.

    {source}<iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fboyingremulla%2Fposts%2F1347199955390721&width=500" width="500" height="306" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true"></iframe>{/source}

    "Do airline passengers have rights? When you are old and weak, airlines like AirAsia will not provide you a wheelchair. They will not lend you any," the governor said.

    "They will not care unless we boycott. Senior citizens are given rights in the Philippines by all the other airlines. Except AirAsia na mukhang pera (greedy). But they have no rights according to AirAsia, even as PWDs (Persons with Disabilities) in Macau. Lousy," he added.

    Updated rules

    Many netizens agreed with the posts and urged AirAsia to review the policy as well as to be consistent in implementing their rules.

    In AirAsia's website, the rules in cabin baggage allowance was last updated on December 21.

    RULE. AirAsia airline posts their updated rule on baggage allowance. Photo grabbed from AirAsia.

    Passengers are allowed to carry one piece of cabin bag onboard that will fit in the overhead compartment and must not exceed 56cm x 36cm x 23cm including handles, wheels and side pockets.

    In addition, each passenger is also allowed to carry one piece of laptop bag, handbag, backpack or any other small bag that must fit under the seat in front of you and will not exceed 40cm x 30cm x 10cm.

    The total permitted weight for two pieces must not exceed 7kg.

    AirAsia has not yet released any formal statement.Rappler.com

    *HK$1 = P6.41


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    TRASLACION. Devotees try to get near the carriage carrying the image of Jesus of the Black Nazarene as the annual Traslacion starts at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila on Saturday, January 9, 2016. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – As the year opens, Black Nazarene devotees prepare for the upcoming Traslacion on January 9, 2018.

    Millions of devotees of the Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno pledge to participate in the procession starting at Quirino Grandstand to Quiapo Church every year, hoping for miracles or thankful for them.

    Last Sunday, December 31, thousands of devotees joined the Black Nazarene thanksgiving procession early Sunday. (IN PHOTOS: Thousands join Black Nazarene thanksgiving procession)

    The Black Nazarene statue, crowned with thorns and bearing a cross, was brought to Manila by Augustinian priests in 1607. It is also believed to have been partially burnt and blackened when the galleon carrying it caught fire on a voyage from Mexico, another Spanish colony at the time.

    The official Facebook Page of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo released the list of activities for the upcoming Traslacion. Here is the list:

    • December 31, 2 am– Thanksgiving Procession
    • December 31 to January 8, 6 pm– Novena Mass
    • January7, 1:30 pm– Replica procession
    • January 9, 12 mn– Eucharistic Celebration at Quirino Grandstand. Fr Hernando Coronel is the presider of the mass while Archbishop of Manila Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle will give the homily.
    • January 9, 5 am– After the morning prayer at 5 am, Traslacion starts from Luneta to Quiapo Church.

    – Rappler.com


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    MANILA, Philippines – While others were posting New Year's messages online, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian exchanged heated tweets with curses and foul words on Twitter while he was in the United States a few hours before 2018.

    The conversation started when Gatchalian, using his personal Twitter account, replied "The nation already lost its soul in the last 6 years" to Maria Ressa's Rappler article post about the Liberal Party.

    Screengrabbed from Twiiter

     

    When the netizens noticed the thread and started to call him "balimbing" and "trapo" or traditional politician, the senator replied to a netizen "Gago ka!"

      

    And another..

    Netizens were quick to slam Gatchalian for his choice of words:

    {source}

    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">Sir never say that to us.kami.po sng nsgpapasahod sa inyo.we deserve all the respect.</p>&mdash; bethen olavera (@OlaveraBethen) <a href="https://twitter.com/OlaveraBethen/status/947734538830036992?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 1, 2018</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

    {/source}

    {source}

    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">One more thing, Senator, the year is clearly indicated in the screenshot. I hope that you&#39;re much more scrutinizing, observant, and clear thinking when doing the job the Philippine people has elected you to do.</p>&mdash; Saul de Jesus (@unSauLicited) <a href="https://twitter.com/unSauLicited/status/947745336457494528?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 1, 2018</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

    {/source}

    {source}

    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">1. Language please. Hindi porke&#39;t Presidente ganyan magsalita, tutularan na. Also, pakisabihan ang Presidente. Susme.<br><br>2. The year in question is exactly the point. Resibo culture is very much alive. BIR is proud.</p>&mdash; J to the world (@ceejong) <a href="https://twitter.com/ceejong/status/947745667555790849?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 1, 2018</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

    {/source}

    'Balimbing, trapo'

    His reply got the attention of a user @Stewart___O who immediately posted a screenshot of Gatchalian's tweets praising Former President Benigno Aquino III and showing support in the past administration on way back 2012.

    {source}

    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">Ewan ko sa yo, Win. <a href="https://t.co/yjSQSQPn2C">pic.twitter.com/yjSQSQPn2C</a></p>&mdash; Stewart(@Stewart___O) <a href="https://twitter.com/Stewart___O/status/947695561037238272?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 1, 2018</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">At what point in the last 6 years did we lose our soul? I’m confused. <a href="https://t.co/cxB8p6XjTk">pic.twitter.com/cxB8p6XjTk</a></p>&mdash; Stewart  (@Stewart___O) <a href="https://twitter.com/Stewart___O/status/947707224842952704?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 1, 2018</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Was it while he was dreaming of Pnoy? <a href="https://t.co/cm9FkoNXDU">pic.twitter.com/cm9FkoNXDU</a></p>&mdash; Stewart  (@Stewart___O) <a href="https://twitter.com/Stewart___O/status/947707386944405504?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 1, 2018</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

    {/source}

    The senator then asked the year of his tweets when a netizen @tr1pnautic retweeted @Stewart___O's post and said "the internet never forgets".

    Hacked?

    Meanwhile, others were skeptic if it was Gatchalian using his account. Gatchalian confirmed that it was him.

    The online conversation on Twitter racked up reactions from the public, with tweets condemning the act of the senator. Gatchalian has not yet released any statement about his tweets.

    Here are the rest of netizen's reactions:

    {source}

    <a class="twitter-timeline" data-partner="tweetdeck" href="http://go.rappler.com/https://twitter.com/MovePH/timelines/947766783372533760?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">Sherwin Gatchalian tweets - Curated tweets by MovePH</a> <script async src="http://go.rappler.com/https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

    {/source}

     

    Rappler.com 


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    MANILA, Philippines – A 7-year-old girl from San Juan City remains missing since November 21, 2017.

    Ayesha Labiaga was last seen wearing a white sando, blue shorts, and blue slippers with a smiley on it. Ayesha has speech difficulties.

    Her guardian, Gerald Labiaga, told Rappler she went missing around 5:30 in the afternoon.

    "Lumabas kasi 'yong bata na yon. 'Pag bago kasi 'yung tsinelas niya, mahilig siyang lumabas," Gerald said. (She went outside. When she has a new pair of slippers, she likes going out.)

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    Gerald said they have been asking San Juan City police for help to no avail. He said they would not allow them to file a blotter because they could not produce a death certificate indicating her sister, Ayesha's mother, is dead. (READ: What to do when you find missing kids)

    "Nung pumunta ako ng headquarters, hindi nag-issue [ng blotter] kasi walang death certificate na patay na ang mother niya. Hindi naman ako magsisinungaling," he said. (When I went to the headquarters, they did not issue a blotter because I don't have a death certificate indicating her mother's death. I would not lie about it.)

    Gerald also said that the social welfare services in San Juan City government was not helpful.

    "Nakakadismaya kasi. Nagpunta ako sa munisipyo ng San Juan, una di ako pinansin. Nung nagpunta uli ako pagtapos kong magpunta sa Quezon City Hall para i-report 'pag may nakakita, sinabi lang sa akin, iwan diyan ang report, sila na bahala. Tapos no'n, wala na," he said.

    (It's disappointing. I went to San Juan City Hall. At first, they did not pay attention to me. When I went again after going to Quezon City to report possible sightings, they just asked me to leave there the report and they will work on it. After that, I didn't have any news.)

    Gerald's brother, Al Nikko, told Rappler that Ayesha can also be identified with her keloid scars on her right foot. She also has a cigarette burn on her right shoulders.

    "Miss na namin ang pamangkin namin. 'Pag darating ako ng trabaho, kusang lalapit yun at tatawag sakin na Papa," Al Nikko told Rappler. (We miss our niece so much. Whenever I come home from work, she would come near me and call me Papa.)

    Sightings of Ayesha can be reported through Al Nikko at 0936 205 9653 or through Gerald at 0975 061 8070.– Rappler.com


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    HEAVY FLOODING. Agaton brings heavy rains over the province of Biliran. Photo by Rafael Medalla

    MANILA, Philippines – While others spent the first day of 2018 celebrating, some residents from the province of Biliran evacuated their homes after flood hit the town of Kawayan on Monday, January 1. 

    In the photos posted by Biliran resident Rafael Medalla, ankle to knee-deep flood can be seen in Barangay Tucdao, Kawayan, Biliran, due to the rains brought by Tropical Depression Agaton.  One of the hardest hit by the flood in is the Tucdao National High School. Classrooms have been submerged in water while chairs can be seen swept by the flood. 

    The nearby Tucdao bridge was temporarily closed on Monday due to heavy flooding. 

    Biliran is still recovering from the devastation caused by Tropical Depression Urduja (Kai-tak), which the region as a tropical storm a few days before Christmas. (READ: Duterte vows speedy aid for Biliran, Urduja-affected areas) 

    In the latest bulletin, state weather PAGASA said Agaton slightly accelerated over the Bohol Sea before dawn on Tuesday, January 2, after making landfall in the Dinagat Islands-Siargao Island area at 1 am. Biliran is located around 250 kilometers northwest of Siargao Island. (READ: EXPLAINER: How tropical cyclones form)

    Prior to its landfall, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) advised  residents in areas to be affected  by the possible first storm of 2018 to prepare and prioritize their safety. 

    Here are some photos of the flooding in Kawayan, Biliran: 

     NO CLASSES. One of the hardest hit by the flooding is the Tucdao National High School in Kawayan, Biliran. All photos by Rafael Medalla

    TUCDAO BRIDGE. On January 1, the Tucdao bridge was temporarily closed due to the floodwaters. Photo by Rafael Medalla

    INSIDE THE SCHOOL. Chairs are stacked together in the flood-hit building of the Tucdao National High School. Photo by Rafael Medalla

    SWEPT AWAY. Some chairs are being swept away due to the flood. Photo by Rafael Medalla

    NEW YEAR. Flood greets Biliran residents on the first day of 2018. Photo by Rafael Medalla

    URDUJA. Biliran is still reeling over the devastation caused by Urduja in the province a few days before Christmas. Photo by Rafael Medalla

    – Rappler.com 


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    MANILA, Philippines – At least 3,061 passengers have been stranded in ports due to Tropical Depression Agaton, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said. 

    The PCG recorded this around midnight of Tuesday, January 2, an hour before Agaton's landfall in the Siargao island and Dinagat Islands area. On Tuesday, many are expected to head to ports and bus terminals to return to work after the New Year's Day festivities.

    Based on the PCG report, the biggest number of stranded passengers was in Northern Mindanao with 1,519 passengers in 5 different ports. The rest of the stranded passengers and vessels come from Central and Eastern Visayas. 

    In its latest weather bulletin on Tuesday morning, state weather bureau PAGASA hoisted public storm warning signal number 1 over 14 areas where sea travel is also suspended. 

    PAGASA also advised the public that it is risky to venture out into the seaboards of Northern Luzon and Southern Luzon, eastern seaboard of Central Luzon, and eastern and western seaboards of the Visayas due to the surge of the northeast monsoon.

    In the past, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) has advised passengers to monitor weather updates and be guided by travel schedule and advisories to avoid getting stranded in ports. (READ: Prepare for Agaton, first possible storm of 2018 – NDRRMC

    On Tuesday, the PCG said that it recorded 23,152 and 6,125 outbound passengers in all ports nationwide as of 12 am and 6 am, respectively. – Rappler.com 


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    MANILA, Philippines – Humans of New York (HONY) founder Brandon Stanton announced on his Facebook page that he will be in Manila in late January.

    In a Facebook post on Monday, January 1, Stantos made a shoutout to Filipinos who are interested to serve as his interpreter as he goes around Metro Manila to take portraits and do interviews. 

    Main qualities needed: English proficiency, lots of energy (we work long days), and an outgoing and friendly personality,” he said in his post.

    He also asked for leads on "special" people with interesting stories.

    "If you know a special person who is doing amazing work and whose story needs to be told, let me know about them!" Stanton said.

     

    {source}

    <iframe src="https://web.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fweb.facebook.com%2Fhumansofnewyork%2Fposts%2F2087644804642942&width=500" width="500" height="294" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true"></iframe>

    {/source}

    Those interested may send their application to honyassist@gmail.com.

    According to his page, the viral page of HONY began as a photography project in 2010. The initial goal of the project was to “create an exhaustive catalogue” of the city’s residents.

    As of posting, the Facebook page has been liked by over 18 million Facebook users.

    One of the most popular HONY posts featuring a Filipino was about a man who professed his love for girl he had met in New York. "Now I am wondering when we will be together again," Warren Villanueva said in the viral post

    {source}

    <iframe src="https://web.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fweb.facebook.com%2Fhumansofnewyork%2Fphotos%2Fa.102107073196735.4429.102099916530784%2F672081942865909%2F%3Ftype%3D3&width=500" width="500" height="639" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true"></iframe>

    {/source}

    Warren Villanueva and Janina Pangilinan, the subject of the post, were married more than a year later in New York on on June 12, 2015.

    HONY also premiered as a documentary series in August 2017, featuring 12 half-hour episodes. – Rappler.com

     

     


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