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New customs rule: No opening of balikbayan box unless receiver is present


MANILA, Philippines – Customs inspectors who flag suspicious packages are not allowed to open them for examination until the receiver or his or her duly authorized representative is present.

This is according to a memorandum issued by the Bureau of Customs on Friday, December 23. (READ: 'Things to know about balikbayan boxes')

Meanwhile, balikbayan boxes containing contrabands or items that are possible threats to national security – such as explosives, firearms, and illegal drugs – will be opened only upon the written approval by the district collector of the port concerned.

The changes, according to the BOC, are intended to avoid cases of illegal smuggling through balikbayan boxes. 

An average of 1,000 containers of balikbayan boxes arrive in Philippine ports every month, and the government loses at least P50 million in revenue due to smuggling.

Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon also reminded the public not to abuse balikbayan box privileges. 

"Pabayaan 'nyo na ang balikbayan boxes. Privilege ito ng OFWs, maganda ito para sa kanila. ‘Wag sanang bastusin ang batas," Commissioner Faeldon warns possible offenders. (Leave the balikbayan boxes alone. They are a privilege accorded to OFWs and it’s good for them. Do not disrespect the law.)

Before this latest memorandum, customs examiners were only allowed to open and inspect suspicious boxes in the presence of a representative from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), a designated officer of an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) association, apprehending officers, and the freight forwarder consolidator. (READ: 'Delayed balikbayan box delivery? Here are the possible causes')  Rappler.com

Duterte cites 23 outstanding overseas Filipinos, organizations


AWARDEES. President Duterte honors 23 overseas Filipinos and organizations for their outstanding service to fellow Filipinos and to the Filipino community at the Malacañan Palace. Photo courtesy of Commission on Filipino Overseas

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte recently honored 23 overseas Filipinos and foreign-based organizations for their outstanding service to fellow Filipinos and the Filipino community.

He conferred on them the Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas (PAFIOO). Institutionalized in 1991 and organized by the Commission on Filipinos Overseasit is a biennial search for overseas-based individuals or organizations who have dedicated their work in the service of Filipinos; supported relief, rehabilitation, and development programs in the home country; or excelled in their field or profession.

“I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again,” Duterte quoted American missionary Stephen Grellet in his speech during the awarding ceremony at the Malacañang Palace.

HONOR. President Duterte speaks at the PAFIOO awarding ceremony. Photo courtesy of the Commission on Filipino Overseas

The PAFIOO has 4 categories: Lingkod sa Kapwa Pilipino (Linkapil) Award, Kaanib ng Bayan Award, Banaag Award, and Pamana ng Pilipino Award. 

Lingkod sa Kapwa Pilipino (LINKAPIL) Awardees

The LINKAPIL Award is conferred on Filipino associations or individuals for their exceptional or significant contribution to reconstruction, progress and development in the Philippines. The LINKAPIL awardees are:

  1. Edgar E. Aragones (Israel) – A Filipino caregiver who co-founded the OFW Israel Foundation, an organization which mainly assists Filipinos-in-distress in Israel;
  2. Pagyamanin Likas Musika (United States) – A non-profit organization based in San Jose, California, which preserves and promotes the playing and appreciation of the Philippines’ native Rondalla instruments, and at the same time provides scholarship programs and livelihood assistance to communities in the Philippines;
  3. Reunion e.V. Cloppenburg (Germany) – An association of Cloppenburg-based Filipinos and Germans which extends humanitarian assistance to the sick and less fortunate in the provinces of Iloilo and Romblon;
  4. Marina R. Sulse (United States) – A Filipina accountant and philanthropist who established a scholarship and summer camp program for less privileged students and residents of Taft, Eastern Samar.

Kaanib ng Bayan awardees

The Kaanib ng Bayan Award is conferred on foreign individuals or organizations for their exceptional or significant contribution to Philippine reconstruction, progress, and development; for having significantly benefited a sector or community in the Philippines; or for having advanced the cause of overseas Filipino communities. The Kaanib ng Bayan awardees are:

  1. Erlend E. Johannesen – the Norwegian founder of Streetlight Philippines, a non-profit organization based in Tacloban City dedicated to helping the city’s young vagrants reunite with their loved ones, and have decent life
  2. Sabine Korth – a German nurse who established the Mabuhay-St Francis of Assisi Primary Health Care Program, which contributes to the welfare of the local residents of Bugko, Northern Samar
  3. Sheikh Fahdel – a Pakistani hospital administrator who regularly offers free medical and mortuary services to Filipinos and their families in Lahore, Pakistan
  4. Tzu Chi Foundation – a Taiwan-based international non-governmental organization conducting volunteer work, relief aid, medical missions, and other community services in different parts of the world, including the Philippines
  5. Sabine Katharina Weiss – a German lawyer and current member of the National Parliament of Germany who provided legal and integration services to 10 Filipino human trafficking survivors in Germany, and established Pangasinan e.V., which delivers basic social services to local residents of Malasiqui, Pangasinan

Banaag awardees

The Banaag Award is conferred on Filipino individuals or associations for their contributions which have significantly benefited a sector or advanced the cause of overseas Filipino communities. The Banaag awardees are:

  1. Marilou S. Chin – founder of Stairway to Hope Learning Center, an alternative learning center which provides educational services to stateless children in Sabah
  2. Fidel M. Escurel – one of the founders of the Middle East and Africa Network of Filipino Diaspora (MEANFID), known for his invaluable service in advancing the interests of Filipinos in Qatar and the Middle East.
  3. Kapit-Bahayan Co-Operative Ltd – a registered housing cooperative which leases and maintains rental accommodations to low-to-medium income Filipino-Australian families and individuals, and assists in the integration of newly-arrived Filipino migrants in New South Wales, Australia
  4. Rodrigo B. Maristela – a strong advocate for Philippine culture, tradition, and arts in Germany, and the former president of the Association Lending Assistance in Exigencies at Home (ALA EH), an organization which provides charitable services for the less fortunate in the Philippines
  5. Philippine Nurses Association of Metropolitan DC Incorporated – the oldest organization of Filipino nurses in Washington DC, the United States, which primarily provides assistance to Filipino nurses so they could be integrated in Metropolitan DC, and conducts medical missions and other volunteer work in the Philippines
  6. Philippine Society of Mechanical Engineers - Central Region Saudi Arabia – an organization of Filipino mechanical engineers in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, dedicated in the professional advancement of OFW mechanical engineers, as well as providing outreach activities to fellow migrant workers

Pamana ng Pilipino awardees

The Pamana ng Pilipino Award is conferred on Filipinos overseas who have brought the country honor and recognition through excellence and distinction in the pursuit of their work or profession. The Pamana ng Pilipino awardees are:

  1. Eduardo K. Araral Jr – the vice dean of research and the director of the Institute of Water Policy of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy of the National University of Singapore, one of the leading schools of public policy in the world
  2. Manuel G. Asuncion – a playwright, writer, newspaper columnist, Filipino teacher, translator, and co-founder of Dulaang Bayan Melbourne in Australia
  3. Danilo P. Buan – an inventor, educator, and mechanical engineer, who registered 28 patents in the United States for designs on bookbinding and paper punch machines.
  4. Guillermo B. Capati – a professional civil and environmental engineer in Queensland, Australia, with over 40 years of experience in waterworks and sewerage systems
  5. Emmanuel B. Liban – spearheads the efforts of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Agency in the United States on environmental compliance, environmental remediation, energy and renewable energy, climate change, and water and resources management
  6. Paulino M. Lim Jr – a critically-acclaimed novelist based in California, USA, whose fiction and literary works are mainly constructive criticisms of the political, social, and religious ills and situations in the Philippines
  7. Hernan M. Reyes – an internationally recognized surgeon, who led the establishment of the Society of Philippine Surgeons in America, which has consistently served poor communities in the Philippines through its annual medical missions.
  8. Rommel P. Sergio – an educator at the Canadian University of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates who has published scholarly works in the field of human resource management and organizational psychology

One of the Kaanib ng Bayan awardees, Erlend Johannesen, delivered the response speech on behalf of this year’s PAFIOO awardees. "The Filipino culture is truly the most remarkable, beautiful culture there is. The world has so much to learn from it. Where the Filipino spirit prevails, so will hope,” he said.

A total of 103 nominees from 22 countries were screened by 4 different committees: Philippine Diplomatic Posts, inter-agency technical committee, the multi-sectoral executive committee, and the Office of the President.  Rappler.com

Camarines Sur orders evacuation ahead of Typhoon Nina


PRE-EMPTIVE EVACUATION. The provincial government of Camarines Sur has ordered the evacuation of families living in low-lying and coastal areas ahead of the expected landfall of Typhoon Nina. File photo

MANILA, Philippines – The provincial government of Camarines Sur has ordered the evacuation of its residents in risky areas as it prepares for Typhoon Nina.

Governor Miguel Luis Villafuerte signed Memorandum No. 3 directing all mayors, barangay captains, and the municipal disaster risk reduction council to evacuate all families in vulnerable areas by 3 pm of Saturday, December 24. (READ: The role of LGUs, local councils during disasters)

Villafuerte said all families living within the 1-kilometer strip of land along coastal areas, those living along riverbanks and lakes, in low-lying and landslide prone areas, and in houses made of light materials should be immediately transferred to safer grounds.

Failure to comply, Villafuerte said, is a violation of Republic Act 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010.

In a bulletin issued 5 am on Saturday, state weather bureau PAGASA said Nina is already 475 kilometers east northeast of Guiuan, Eastern Samar. It again slowed down, now moving west northwest at 17 kilometers per hour (km/h) from the previous 19 km/h.

The typhoon now has maximum winds of up to 135 km/h and gustiness of up to 165 km/h and  is expected to make landfall in Catanduanes on Christmas Day, either in the afternoon or evening.

Signal number 1 is raised in the following provinces:

  • Camarines Norte
  • Camarines Sur
  • Albay
  • Catanduanes
  • Sorsogon
  • Masbate including Ticao and Burias Islands
  • Northern Samar
  • Eastern Samar

PAGASA warned that storm surges are possible in coastal areas in Bicol, Samar, and Quezon. Sea travel is generally risky in Northern Luzon and in the eastern seaboards of Central Luzon, Southern Luzon, and the Visayas.

Nina is expected to leave the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on Wednesday, December 28. – Rappler.com

#NinaPH: Line of vehicles at Matnog Port reaches 4 kms due to ferry cancellations


LONG WAIT. Around 500 buses and trucks have been stuck in Matnog Port since Friday, December 23, due to ferry cancellations caused by Typhoon Nina. Photos by Jhay-r Timosa/ RACER/ Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – If you are still planning to go to Samar by bus, you may want to reconsider.  You may end up spending Christmas eve stranded in your vehicle rather than enjoying the holiday with your loved ones.

The line of vehicles trying to cross Matnog Port, Sorsogon to Samar has reached more than 4 kilometers on Saturday, December 24, due to the number of ferry trips cancelled in preparation for the landfall of Typhoon Nina (international name: Nock-Ten).

According to Jhay-R Timosa of the Riders Anti-Crime & Emergency Response (RACER), the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) started cancelling trips at 5PM Friday, December 23, as the typhoon entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR).

"We were already here since around 11AM yesterday but the line hasn't moved since. There's at least a hundred buses and trucks in this line," Timosa told Rappler.

According to the PCG, there are around 3,682 stranded passengers in various ports in Bicol region, along with 392 RORO ships, as of 8AM Saturday.

Matnog Port is the nearest ferry crossing between Luzon and the Visayas. Many of the passengers stranded, Timosa said, are hoping to reach home for Christmas.


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Stranded as of 8am,Dec24 total of 3,682 pax;392 roros17 ves;6 mbcas in Bicol ports brought by Tropical Storm “Nina” <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NinaPH?src=hash">#NinaPH</a></p>&mdash; PhilippineCoastGuard (@PhilCoastGuard1) <a href="https://twitter.com/PhilCoastGuard1/status/812476023769952257">December 24, 2016</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>


Food needed

According to Timosa, food is the biggest need of passengers stranded in Matnog.

"We came here with only enough food for 24 hours. We've been here for more than that. The problem is that there are no food stalls along the line. It's very far," he told Rappler.

On Friday, December 23, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) advised those planning to travel to Bicol and Samar to take precaution and check for the possible cancellation of trips or flights.

The PCG has yet to release any statement on when the operations for Matnog Port will resume. Typhoon Nina is expected to make landfall in Catanduanes on Sunday, December 25 – Christmas Day at around 8PM.

"It's too late for us to go back to Manila because we've come this far. All we can do is wait," Timosa concluded.– Rappler.com

Stranded passengers in Matnog Port need food and water. Let us know if you're in the area and willing to give donations.

CHARLIE ALERT for LGUs: What to do before #NinaPH's landfall


STORM TRACK. At least 39 provinces are affected by Typhoon Nina. Graphics courtesy of DILG-CODIX

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) raised on Saturday, December 24, alert level Charlie in Metro Manila and 13 provinces that are in the path of Typhoon Nina (international name: Nock-Ten).

The alert was raised as the storm continues to strengthen before making landfall.

According to the DILG-Central Office Disaster Information Coordinating Center (CODIX), the following provinces will be within the 100-kilometer radius of Typhoon Nina's forecast track:

  • Albay
  • Bataan
  • Batangas
  • Camarines Norte
  • Camarines Sur
  • Catanduanes
  • Cavite
  • Laguna
  • Marinduque
  • Metropolitan Manila
  • Occidental Mindoro
  • Quezon
  • Rizal
  • Zambales

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.


CHARLIE. A set of preparedness actions that LGUs should undertake before a typhoon makes landfall. Infographic by Oplan Listo/DILG

Alpha and Bravo alert

Meanwhile, DILG-CODIX has raised alert level Bravo in the 13 provinces which will experience moderate rains and be within 300 kilometers from the forecast track:

  • Aurora
  • Bulacan
  • Eastern Samar
  • Masbate
  • Northern Samar
  • Nueva Ecija
  • Oriental Mindoro
  • Pampanga
  • Pangasinan
  • Romblon
  • Samar
  • Sorsogon
  • Tarlac

Light rains are also expected in areas where alert level Alpha is in place – 450 km from the storm track.

  • Aklan
  • Antique
  • Benguet
  • Biliran
  • Capiz
  • Cebu
  • Iloilo
  • La Union
  • Leyte
  • Nueva Vizcaya
  • Palawan
  • Quirino

Potential damage due to severe winds in all affected areas are listed as follows:

  • Twigs and branches of trees may be broken
  • Some banana plants may tilt or land flat on the ground
  • Rice in flowering stage may suffer significant damage
  • Some nipa and cogon houses may be partially unroofed

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

Be a Project Agos volunteer for Typhoon Nina.

Thousands of Filipinos urged to evacuate before Christmas Day


PREEMPTIVE EVACUATION. Thousands of Filipinos are urged to evacuate their homes before Christmas Day as Typhoon Nina (Nock-Ten) threatens to hit eastern part of the country

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine authorities urged hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate their homes on Saturday, December 24, as Typhoon Nina (Nock-ten) threatens to hit the eastern part of the country on Christmas Day.

Typhoon Nina is expected to be packing winds of 222 km/h when it makes landfall on Catanduanes, a remote island of 250,000 people, on Sunday, December 25, the US Joint Typhoon Warning Center said. 

It is then expected to hit the country's main island of Luzon, including Metro Manila, on Monday, December 26.

"We issued an advisory to local government units this morning to conduct preemptive evacuations," Rachel Miranda, spokeswoman for the civil defence office in the Bicol region that includes Catanduanes, told AFP.

Bicol, an agricultural region of 5.5 million people, is often the first area to be hit by the 20 or so storms and typhoons that pound the archipelago each year.

Cedric Daep, civil defense chief for the Bicol province of Albay, told AFP at least 400,000 people in that region alone needed to be evacuated.

"Our evacuation centers will not be able to accommodate all of them," he said. Others were being asked to stay with relatives or friends.

"We are requesting vehicle support" from other government agencies to move people to safety, Daep added.

State weather bureau PAGASA warned of potentially deadly 2-meter waves along the east coast, as well as landslides and flash floods from heavy rains.

Earlier today, the provincial government of Camarines Sur ordered the evacuation of its residents in risky areas by 3 pm as it prepares for Typhoon Nina. (READ: Camarines Sur orders evacuation ahead of Typhoon Nina)

Governor Miguel Luis Villafuerte said all families living within the 1-kilometer strip of land along coastal areas, those living along riverbanks and lakes, in low-lying and landslide prone areas, and in houses made of light materials should be immediately transferred to safer grounds. – Rappler.com

How Typhoon Nina compares to Milenyo, Santi, Glenda


SIMILARITIES. Project NOAH executive director Mahar Lagmay says Typhoon Nina is similar to past typhoons Milenyo, Santi, and Glenda. Photo from Mahar Lagmay's Facebook account

MANILA, Philippines – The damage when Typhoon Nina (Nock-ten) makes landfall on December 25, Christmas Day, could be similar to damage brought by Typhoon Milenyo (Xangsane) in 2006, Typhoon Santi (Nari) in 2013, and Typhoon Glenda (Rammasun) in 2014, according to Project NOAH executive director Mahar Lagmay.

In an interview with Rappler on Saturday, December 24, Lagmay explained that Nina is similar to Milenyo and Glenda both in track and in wind strength, while Nina is also like Santi in terms of wind strength.

Lagmay said it's good to compare Nina to the past typhoons, since those are still fresh in the memories of those who were affected. Read on to find out what their similarities are.

Wind strength

As of 11 am on Saturday, Nina had maximum winds of up to 150 kilometers per hour (km/h) and gustiness of up to 185 km/h. These are exactly the same as Glenda in 2014. Note, however, that Nina has since intensified further.

Lagmay said those who were affected by Glenda would remember how roofs of houses were blown away, trees were toppled, and crops were destroyed. The wrath of the 2014 typhoon was also felt in Metro Manila, as it caused blackouts that paralyzed the country's capital.

DAMAGE. Century-old acacia trees uprooted in Burgos Avenue, Cabanatuan. File photo by Jeoff Laura

Though Santi's track is different from Nina, it was quite devastating. It barrelled through Luzon in October 2013, uprooting trees and leaving more than a million people without electricity.

"Strong winds is just one of the hazards. The rains that will trigger floods, landslides, and storm surges, those are other hazards associated with typhoons. The comparison [now] is based on the wind strength, although there may also be rains which we are expecting also to be heavy," Lagmay said.


Lagmay said Nina has almost the same track as Glenda and Milenyo.

GLENDA'S WRATH. A commuter braves rain and winds caused Typhoon Glenda in Quezon City. File photo by Manman Dejeto/Rappler

PAGASA has warned that Nina would affect Southern Luzon, Central Luzon, and Metro Manila. These are almost the same as areas affected by Milenyo.

In 2006, Milenyo left more than 100 people dead and affected around 3.8 million people. (READ: Worst natural disasters in the Philippines)

Similar to the forecast for Nina, Milenyo also brought heavy rain to Metro Manila.

"Maaalala 'yun nung mga tinamaan [ng Typhoon Milenyo]. Remember the track, halos kaparehas or malapit sa track ng Typhoon Nina. Tatamaan 'yung Camarines, Quezon, and Laguna... 'Yung Milenyo, marami 'yang winasak na bahay dahil sa malakas na hangin," Lagmay said.

(This will be remembered by those hit by Typhoon Milenyo. Remember the track, it's almost the same as Typhoon Nina's track. The Camarines provinces, Quezon, and Laguna will be hit. Milenyo destroyed many houses because of strong winds.)

'Don't lower your guard'

Lagmay called on the public not to be complacent even as they are enjoying the holidays. He advised residents of areas in Nina's path to be on alert for government announcements and weather updates.

"Remember that you still have to be on alert even if it's already Christmas. Don't lower your guard because we have other hazards to think about, not just the typhoon. The hazards are strong winds and heavy rains that may trigger floods, landslides, and storm surges," Lagmay explained. – Rappler.com

DSWD: P8M worth of goods prepositioned for Typhoon Nina


MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Saturday, December 24, raised the red alert status a day before Typhoon Nina (international name Nock-ten) is expected make landfall in Catanduanes.

Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said that various response teams are ready to address emergency situations in areas that will be affected by Nina.

“Our Quick Response Teams (QRTs) are now on standby and are monitoring the situation of the areas under the typhoon’s tracks,” she said. “The NDRRMC Response Cluster is also on red alert to prepare for Nina’s possible damages.” 

In preparation for the possible onslaught of the typhoon, DSWD, through its field office in Region V, has already prepositioned goods amounting to P8,057,600 ($161,866) in 25 local government units. 

Aside from this, a total of 571,707 family food packs (FFPs) are already placed in strategic locations around the country while the DSWD Central Office and the National Resource Operations Center (NROC) are on standby with stocks and funds amounting to P875,350,057.69 ($17,584,627).

Taguiwalo called on the public, especially people who are travelling to their respective provinces for the holidays, to remain vigilant and observe precautionary measures. 

“I know that our citizens are now busy preparing for their Noche Buena feasts. However, we reiterate our call to the public to also prepare for the possible onslaught of the typhoon and to strengthen their coordination with their local disaster agencies,” she said. “We need to prioritize the safety and security of all, especially our children, pregnant women, PWDs and senior citizens.” 

The Civil Defense Office in the Bicol region, meanwhile, has urged those who will be affected by Typhoon Nina – around 400,000 – to do preemptive evacuation. (READ: Thousands of Filipinos urged to evacuate before Christmas Day)

In a bulletin issued 5 pm on Saturday, state weather bureau PAGASA said Nina is already 390 kilometers east of Virac, Catanduanes. It is still moving west northwest at 15 kilometers per hour (km/h). Four areas are now under tropical cyclone warning signal number 2. 

The typhoon now has maximum winds of up to 175 km/h and gustiness of up to 215 km/h. – Rappler.com


NDRRMC issues flood advisories due to Typhoon Nina


MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – As Typhoon Nina (Nock-ten) continues makes landfall in Catanduanes Sunday, December 25, flood advisories in different regions have been issued by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). (READ: Catanduanes under signal no.4 as Nina intensifies)

As of 7 pm, the following waterways in 40 provinces in 9 regions are likely to be affected because of thunderstorms and heavy rain:


  • Camarines Sur – rivers and tributaries in Lower Kilbay, Catabangan, Ragay, Tinalmud, Tambang and Tagonoy
  • Sorsogon – rivers and tributaries in Lower Donsol, Ogod, Putiao, Cadacan, Banuang-duan, Fabrica (Tugbugan), and Matnog
  • Catanduanes – rivers and tributaries in Cabuyan, Bato and Pajo
  • Camarines Norte – rivers and tributaries in Labo and Daet Basud
  • Albay – rivers and tributaries in Guinale, and Upper Donsol
  • Masbate – rivers and tributaries in Lanang, Mapayawan, Mandaong, Asid, Malbag, Guiom, Nainday, Daraga, Nauco (Aguada), and Beleno


  • Laguna – rivers and tributaries Pagsanjan, Pila-Sta Cruz, San Juan, and San Cristobal
  • Cavite – rivers and tributaries in Laboc (Balsahan), Cañas, Ilang-Ilang and Imus
  • Quezon – rivers and tributaries in Upper Umirat, Lower Bolbok (Lawaya), Malaking-Ilog, Iyam, Macalelon, Catanauan, Silongin, Lagda, Pagsanjan, Yabahaan, Bigol, Guinhalinan, Vinas, Calauag, Pandanan, Sta. Lucia, Lugan, Malaybalay, Maapon, Bucal (Lalangan), Lakayat, Tignoan, Agos, Abinawan (Polilio Island), and Upper Kilbay-Catabangan
  • Rizal – rivers and tributaries in Upper Marikina and Kaliwa
  • Batangas – rivers and tributaries in Lian, Banabang-Molino, Pansipit, Kapumpong, Rosario-Lobo, and Upper Bolbok (Lawaya)


  • Occidental Mindoro - rivers and tributaries in Abra de Ilog, Cagaray, Labangan, Magbando, Lunintao, Anahawin, Monpong, Amnay, Pola, Pagbahan, Mamburao, and Ibod
  • Oriental Mindoro - rivers and tributaries in Malaylay-Baco, Pulang Tubig, Magasawang Tubig, Butas, Pula, Agsalin, Bansud, Samagui, Bongabon, Baroc, Bulalacao, and Balete
  • Palawan - rivers and tributaries in Abongon, Lian, Barabakan, Rizal, Caramay, Langogan, Babuyan, Bacungan, Ihawig Penal, Inagauan, Aborlan, Malasgao, Apurauan, Baton-Baton, Aramayawan, Ihawig, Panitian, Pulot, Lamakan, Kinlugan, Eraan, Tiga Plan, Malabangan, Ilog, Bansang, Conduaga, Culasian, Iwahig (Brookes), Okayan, Canipan and Busuanga, Coron
  • Marinduque - rivers and tributaries in Tawiran-Tagum and Boac


  • Bataan – rivers and tributaries in Balanga and Moron
  • Aurora – rivers and tributaries in Casiguran, Aguang, and Lower Imuray
  • Zambales – rivers and tributaries in Panatawan, Sto Tomas, Bucau, Bancul and Lawis


  • Eastern Samar - rivers and tributaries in Oras, Dolores, Ulot, Taft, Borongan, Suribao, Llorento, Balangiga, and Sulat
  • Northern Samar - rivers and tributaries in Catarman, Bugko, Pambukhan, Catubig, Palapag, Mano, and Gamay
  • Leyte - rivers and tributaries in Sangputan, Palo, Salano (Quilot), Daguitan Marabang, Cadacan, Bongquirogon, Salug, Pagbanagaran, Pagsangahan, and Binahaan
  • Southern Leyte - rivers and tributaries in Bisay, Himbangan, and Pandan
  • Samar - rivers and tributaries in Basey, Silaga, Calbiga and Jibatan


  • Cebu – rivers and tributaries in Kotkot, Mananga, Guinabasan, Balamban and Sapang Dako
  • Negros Oriental – rivers and tributaries in Libertad, Tanjay, Candugay, Siaton, Cauitan, Sipocong, Bayawan, Pagatban, and Lower Tyabanan
  • Bohol – rivers and tributaries in Inabanga, Ipil, Matulid, Loboc, and Abatan


  • Antique - rivers and tributaries in Sibalom, Ipayo, Cagaranan, Palawan, Cairauan, Dalanas, and Tibiao
  • Capiz - rivers and tributaries in Panay, Mambusao, Panay Malinao, Alingon, and Balantian
  • Iloilo - rivers and tributaries in Pinantan, Barotac, Akalaygan, Jalaud, Jalano, Jagdong, Jalaur, Lamunan, Jaro-Agaman, Sibalom and Guimbal
  • Negros Occidental - rivers and tributaries in Malogo, Sicaba, Grande, Himocaan, Danao, Upper Tyabanan, Sipalay, and Lower Ilog
  • Aklan - rivers and tributaries in Ibajay, Aklan, and Jalo


  • Daval del Norte – rivers and tributaries in Tagum-Libuganon, Tuganay, Saug and Lasang
  • Davao del Sur – rivers and tributaries in Davao, Talomo, Lipadas, Tagulaya Sibuyan, Digos and Padada Mainit
  • Davao Oriental – rivers and tributaries in Catul, Dapras, Bangagas, Mahaneb, Manurigao, Caraga, Casaunan, Quinonoan, Bugnan-Mayo, Bitanayan, and Sumlog
  • Compostela Valley – rivers and tributaries in Matibo and Hijo


  • Surigao del Norte – rivers and tributaries in Surigao and Magallanes
  • Agusan del Sur – rivers and tributaries in Ojot, Wawa, Libang, Maosam, Kasilan, Gibong, Adgaoan, Sinulao, Kayonan and Andanan
  • Dinagat Islands – rivers and tributaries in Malinao Inlet and Gaas Lulet
  • Agusan del Norte – rivers and tributaries in Lake-Mainit-Tubay, Asiga, Agusan, Linugos, and Cabadbaran
  • Surigao del Sur – rivers and tributaries in Cantillan, Toracan, Tandag, Tago, Hubo Oteiza, Hinatuan, and Bislig

The NDRRMC warned those living in mountain slopes and low lying areas of these river systems, as well as the concerned Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils, to be on alert for flash floods and landslides. – Rappler.com

Refresh this page for updates.


#ShareLove: Volunteer group feeds Manila's homeless on Christmas Eve


SPIRIT OF GIVING. FEED and Bike Scouts volunteers prepare meals for the homeless of Manila. Photo by Arlit Janry Parlero/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – While everyone else was busy preparing their Noche Buena on Christmas Eve, Saturday, December 24, a group of volunteers gave their time to feed Manila's homeless.

Food for Empowerment in Emergencies and Disasters (FEED), a volunteer non-profit organization that offers assistance and support during calamities in the Philippines, gave out food packs and relief goods to 1,000 homeless people in the area of Raja Sulayman Park in Malate.

According to Chuck Torres, a FEED member, the group decided to sacrifice their time to be with people who need help. "This is the first time we conducted an outreach during Christmas and it is something we can continue for the years to come," he added.

The outreach was made possible with the help of private individuals and members' donations. The Bike Scouts of the Philippines helped distribute food packs to homeless, reaching as far as Roxas Boulevard. (READ: Bike Scouts PH to ride 1000km for disaster preparedness)

A group of youth volunteers from an Ortigas-based church also helped and brought new shoes for the homeless.

Children were the biggest beneficiaries during the program. Aside from dinner and goods, they received treats like cotton candy and ice cream.

How FEED started

GIVING. The homeless also receive relief packs and donated clothes during FEED's event. Photo by Arlit Janry Parlero/Rappler

FEED started as a group of artists who called themselves ART Relief Volunteers. They bonded together during Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) when they served as volunteers at Villamor Airbase and deployed to Tacloban in December 2013.

The organization is not yet registered as a non-governmental organization (NGO) at the Securities and Exchange Commission, but they are planning to do so in January 2017.

"We don't even have an office yet. But we keep on going because we think that it's the least we can do to help. Especially during Yolanda, I felt strongly that it was a sin not to help," Malen Manait, a FEED member, said.

At the moment, the group gathers donations by posting on their Facebook accounts. They welcome everyone who wants to devote time to become volunteers.

In 2016, FEED conducted 4 other outreach programs in Northern Samar, Batanes, Isabela, and Mandaluyong – using mostly their own money to make the programs happen.

As tiring as the program was for the group, seeing the smile on the faces of the beneficiaries was enough to make them feel the true meaning of Christmas.

"What keeps us going is the thought that these are our kababayan who need help. We need to help," Manait concluded.– Rappler.com

Rappler intern Arlit Janry Parlero is a senior AB Journalism student from Centro Escolar University Manila. 

Project NOAH issues storm surge advisories


For the latest updates on Typhoon Nina (Nock-ten), go to our live blog

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Project NOAH raised storm surge advisories for more parts of Quezon, Camarines Sur, Albay, Masbate, and Sorsogon on Sunday, December 25, as Typhoon Nina (Nock-ten) is set to make landfall in Catanduanes this evening.

As of 2 pm, Camarines Sur has been placed under signal no. 4, Albay under signal no. 3, and Quezon under signal no. 2.

Several municipalities in Quezon are under Storm Surge Advisory 2, which means there could be storm surges at least 3 meters or 9 feet, 8 inches high. (READ: How to know if storm surge threatens your area)

As a point of reference so people can visualize the height of a storm surge, Project NOAH uses boxing icon and senator Manny Pacquiao as an example. Pacquiao's height is 1.66 meters or 5 feet, 4 inches.

As of 2pm, Lagmay said the following, in particular, are affected:

  • Gumaca, Quezon
  • Lopez, Quezon
  • Quezon, Quezon
  • Calauag, Quezon
  • Guinayangan, Quezon
  • Plaridel, Quezon
  • Atimonan, Quezon
  • Del Gallego, Camarines Sur

Meanwhile, the following are under Storm Surge Advisory 1, which means there could be storm surges at least two meters or 6 feet, 5 inches high.

  • Atimonan, Quezon
  • Alabat, Quezon
  • Buenavista, Quezon
  • Burdeos, Quezon
  • Perez, Quezon
  • Ragay, Camarines Sur
  • Caramoan, Camarines Sur
  • Tinambac, Camarines Sur
  • Calabanga, Camarines Sur
  • Bato, Camarines Sur
  • Balatan, Camarines Sur
  • Cabusao, Camarines Sur
  • Libon, Albay
  • Oas, Albay
  • Ligao, Albay
  • San Pascual, Masbate
  • Claveria, Masbate
  • Magallanes, Sorsogon

How to interpret

Lagmay said affected residents can use the agency's simulation map found on its website to determine where to go next if their area is affected by storm surges.

Different colors on the map represent different heights of flooding which could be caused by storm surges.

Red stands for high storm surge hazard, which means 1.5-meter floods or floods that will reach or go beyond the head. This is also the same level as Pacquiao's nose, according to Project NOAH.

Orange means medium hazard or 0.5-meter flooding – water levels up to the thigh until the head. This is also the same level as Pacquiao's waist to nose.

Yellow means low hazard or knee-high floods.

If your locality is not classified under the 3 colors, your area is deemed safe from storm surges.

Refresh this page for the next storm surge advisory from Project NOAH. – Rappler.com

Bambuhay: How bamboo weaving helped jumpstart a community's recovery from Yolanda


The municipality of Busuanga is known for its pearls, but it was also once known for its bamboo weaving industry.

The proliferation of plasticware during the 90s, however, led to the industry's demise.

According to the National Statistics Coordination Board, Busuanga remains one of the poorest municipalities in the Philippines. The situation turned for the worse after Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) devastated the area.

Caritas Philippines launched a livelihood development program through the #REACHPhilippines project, which includes the revival of the bamboo weaving industry.

Among the beneficiaries is 64-year-old Andresa Daco who started weaving in 1975. 

Now she shares her skills with the younger generation.

"Pinipilit ko sarili ko na matuto dahil 'yon ang i-she-share ko sa mga kasamahan ko at sa mga anak ko. Para kung ako matanda na, maalaala nila ang, kuwan ko, nagawang kabutihan. Kasi wala akong pinag-aralan 'yon na lang ipamana ko sa mga anak ko," she said.

(I force myself to learn because that's wht I can share with other people and my children. So that when I am old already, they will remember that I did something good. I didn’t have proper education. This is the only thing I can pass on to them, to my children.)

Aside from lending them capital, Caritas Philippines also started a product development training for the weavers in November as part of the commemorative anniversary of Super Typhoon Yolanda.

The Bambuhay shop was put up in Coron where they can better market their products to tourists.

"The bamboo weaving industry almost died but now it’s part of the community’s recovery. We needed to bring back the means of livelihood that they already know how to do," said Father Edu Gariguez, NASSA/Caritas Philippine Executive Secretary. – Rappler.com

DSWD starts relief operations for those displaced by Typhoon Nina


MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has started providing relief assistance to families affected by Typhoon Nina (Nock-ten) on Christmas day. 

According to the welfare department’s Disaster Response and Management Bureau (DReAMB), a total of 585 families have been displaced by the typhoon in Region V. They are currently staying in two evacuation centers in Guinobatan, Albay.

Meanwhile, around 975 families residing along coastal and riverside areas in the municipalities of Pambujan and Rosario in Northern Samar were evacuated to 14 centers in the region.

At least 50,000 family food packs (FFPs) have been delivered to DSWD Field Office V on Sunday afternoon, December 25, while Tuguegarao already received 15,000 FFPs the day before. 

In addition, 6,000 pouches of arroz caldo were also distributed to affected families. 

Help needed 

The delivered relief packs were part of the prepositioned goods worth P8,057,600 ($161,866).* These were prepositioned by the DSWD in 25 local government units in preparation for the onslaught of the typhoon.

While all DSWD quick response teams remain on standby to address emergency situations, Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo called on the public to remain vigilant given the threat posed by Typhoon Nina. She also asked for help for those affected.

“We need to continue to be vigilant, especially now that ‘Nina’ has intensified, and we continue to ask the public to heed all warnings that will be issued and to coordinate with local disaster agencies,” she said.

“We need to remain alert and even in the midst of our merry-making not forget that many of our kababayans are experiencing an emergency situation because of Typhoon Nina,” she added. 

As of 2 pm Sunday, state weather bureau PAGASA said Nina is already 110 kilometers east of Virac, Catanduanes and is still moving west at 15 kilometers per hour (km/h). 

The typhoon maintained its strength, with maximum winds of up to 185 km/h and gustiness of up to 255 km/h. – Rappler.com

*$1 = P49

WATCH: Girl wishes to be next Aeta teacher from her village


TARLAC, Philippines – How far are you willing to go to get an education?

In Bamban, Tarlac, students of Sitio Burog Elementary School endure a long uphill walk to reach their school everyday. There's only been one college graduate from the town ever since.

This is where MovePH met Ericka Cosme, a 15-year-old Aeta student who wishes to be a teacher in her school someday.

"I want to be a teacher so that I can help the children here," Cosme said in Filipino.

SHARE LOVE. Students from Sitio Burog Elementary School in Tarlac receive slippers and books from MovePH. Photo by Vina Salazar/Rappler

There are 200 students in Sitio Burog Elementary School, with only 2 teachers and 3 classrooms. But this does not dampen the students' eagerness to learn.

"Even if others look down on us because of our curly hair, we don't allow them to bring us down. We continue to attend classes," Cosme added.

Areva Liwanag, one of the teachers in the school, said the community is very welcoming.

"It's more enjoyable to teach in remote areas because the people here are very supportive and appreciative. I think here I learned simplicity, and I appreciate how patient and diligent they are as students," Liwanag said.

In early December, MovePH went to the school to give the kids slippers, textbooks, and crayons as part of the #ShareLove campaign for the holidays.

The gifts will hopefully encourage the children to continue their studies. – Rappler.com

How are you sharing love this Christmas season? Let us know at move.ph@rappler.com.

5,700 stranded passengers bound for Matnog Port to be evacuated


LONG WAIT. A photo taken on December 24, 2016 shows around 500 buses and trucks stuck in line outside the Matnog Port due to ferry cancellations caused by Typhoon Nina. Photos by Jhay-r Timosa/RACER/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Local authorities will evacuate stranded passengers in line at the Matnog Port in Sorsogon, which became congested as ferry trips were cancelled due to Typhoon Nina (Nock-ten).

According to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), more than 5,700 passengers in 542 vehicles stranded along the Maharlika Highway will be housed in various elementary schools in the towns traversed by the route.

Matnog Port is the nearest ferry crossing between Luzon and the Visayas. Many of the stranded passengers spent their Noche Buena on the road.

Sorsogon is currently under signal number 3 due to the typhoon.

The DILG said the following schools will serve as evacuation centers:

  • Matnog – Matnog National High School
  • Irosin – Gallanosa High School
  • Juban – Alindogan Elementary Schools, Cayetano Hall, Juban Gymnasium
  • Casiguran – Casiguran Gymnasium
  • Sorsogon City – Grand Terminal

Around 6,400 food packs will be distributed to the stranded passengers, through aid from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Passengers fear danger

According to Jhay-R Timosa of the Riders Anti-Crime & Emergency Response (RACER) group, as of 7 pm on Sunday, December 25, buses in the long queue were still in the same area where they have been since early Friday morning, December 23, when the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) suspended ferry crossings to Samar

"It's already raining here and the wind is blowing hard. We're experiencing the typhoon," Timosa told Rappler.

"We're afraid of our location because we are in a mountainous area and we might experience landslides," he added.

According to Timosa, the local government of Matnog town has been providing passengers food and water since Saturday, December 24. – Rappler.com

Cardinal Tagle to parishes: Prepare to help LGUs hit by Nina


BEFORE LANDFALL. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle leads the Christmas Eve Mass at the Manila Cathedral on December 24, 2016, a day before Typhoon Nina (Nock-ten) made landfall in Catanduanes. Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle appealed to parishes within the Archdiocese of Manila to prepare to help local government units (LGUs) affected by Typhoon Nina (Nock-ten). 

"His Eminence Cardinal Tagle appeals to the parishes to be ready to assist local government units in case they come to us," said Monsignor Jose Clemente Ignacio, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Manila, in a text circular to all parish priests of the archdiocese.

The Archdiocese of Manila directly covers 2.4 million Catholics in the cities of Manila, Makati, Pasay, San Juan, and Mandaluyong. 

Ignacio pointed out that Nina "is feared to cause damage in its path due to heavy rains and strong winds."

"The government is doing its best to protect our citizens, especially the vulnerable and the homeless. They are sheltering and feeding them," Ignacio added.

Ignacio told Rappler on Sunday, December 25, that this memo is "an additional appeal" as parishes "usually respond when there are disasters."

He added in a text message: "We have received several requests for prayers. Those in Albay and Naga were saying malakas daw talaga (it is really strong). Let us continue praying."

State weather bureau PAGASA has placed Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, and southern Quezon under signal number 4, which means these areas will bear the brunt of Nina.

Metro Manila is among the areas under warning signals, with PAGASA having placed it under signal number 2.

On Sunday, Nina made its second landfall in Sagñay, Camarines Sur around 9:30 pm after making landfall in Bato, Catanduanes at 6:30 pm. – Rappler.com

#ReliefPH: Help victims of Typhoon Nina


This is a running list of relief efforts. Please refresh the page for updates.

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Typhoon Nina (Nock-Ten) made landfall in Catanduanes and Camarines Sur on Christmas evening, Sunday, December 25, bringing strong winds and heavy rains to Bicol. 

Initial reports from the field showed damaged infrastructure, extreme flooding, and disrupted lives. Thousands of Filipinos were forced to evacuate and spent their Christmas in evacuation centers.

As Typhoon Nina barrels its way through southern Luzon, response and recovery begins for many affected victims in the Bicol region.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has started providing relief assistance to families affected by Typhoon Nina on Christmas day, December 25. 

At the agency's warehouse, volunteers have been helping social workers pack more relief boxes for distribution, DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said.

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Other government offices, civil society groups, and the private sector have also mobilized help for the affected areas. Here's a list of relief operations for victims of Typhoon Nina:

  • Office of the Vice President. Vice President Leni Robredo has started relief operations for victims in Typhoon Nina. For those who are conducting relief operations in Metro Manila, send your name and contact number to Mara at 0998-5917371. For volunteers based in Naga who want to help in repacking, distribution, and delivery of relief goods, please contact Raffy (09177929349) or Laarni (09198240048). The OVP has put the following items as top priority: bottled water, easy-to-open canned goods, rice, blankets, clothes, and toiletries. 
  • Task Force Tindog Bikol. Vice President Leni Robredo also announced that as of 12 noon, Monday, The Task Force Tindog Bikol of Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership has started receiving donations for the survivors of the typhoon. Here's how you can donate: 

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  • Philippine Red Cross. PRC has been conducting rescue and relief operations since Typhoon Nina's landfall on Sunday, December 25, former Chairman and now Senator Richard Gordon announced. Those who want to help and who are in need of help may contact their hotline 143 or 790-2300.


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Crowdsourcing relief efforts

Rappler's civic engagement arm, MovePH, is helping the government, civil society, and the private sector crowdsource information on what's needed and where relief is needed most. This information will be mapped on the Agos Alert Map and published on Rappler X.

If you have an ongoing relief operation, please post your operation and your call for donations on Rappler X. Rappler will share your post on social media.

If you are in need of any relief, you can Tweet or post on Facebook with the hashtag #ReliefPH. Agos volunteers are monitoring this hashtag and will connect you with organizations who can help. – Rappler.com

#RoadAlert: Roads closed due to Typhoon Nina, repairs


MANILA, Philippines – Several road sections in regions affected by Typhoon Nina (Nock-ten) were impassable to traffic on Monday, December 26, both because of ongoing slope protection projects and the effect of the typhoon.

Other roads in several areas also remain closed due to damage caused by a previous typhoon, according to the Department of Public Works and Highways.

The following roads were closed to traffic as of 7 am on Monday:


Tacloban City

  • Rizal Avenue Extension, K0905+(-1067) to K0905+619



  • Abra-Cervantes Road
    • K0432+194 Baay Bridge (Note: Damaged by previous typhoon. Detour road is at the river below the bridge.) 
    • K0455+822.2 Manicbel Bridge (Note: Damaged by previous typhoon. Detour road is at the river below the bridge.)
  • Kalinga 
    • Balbalan-Pinukpuk Road -K0507+200, Apatan Section
    • Tabuk-Banaue Road -K0538+100, Lubo Section
    • Lubuagan-Batong Buhay Road - K0476+1400 Balatoc Section (Note: Damaged by previous typhoon.)
    • K0476+1400 to K0476+4000 Balatoc to Batong Buhay Section



  • Marikina-Infanta Road
    • K0107+200, Infanta, Quezon
    • Querocep Bridge, K0109


  • Diokno Highway, K0072+560, Kalaka, Batangas


Camarines Sur

  • Daang Maharlika Highway, Naga City/Milaor Brdy Road
  • Tigaon-Goa-Lagonoy-Caramoan Road
  • Pili-Tigaon-Albay Bdry Road
  • Daang Maharlika Highway, along K0460, Sta Teresita, Baao


  • Catanduanes Circumferential Road (intermittent section) Juction Bato-Baras Road Baras-Gigmoto-Viga Road Jct Catanduanes Cir Rd- Panganiban-Sabloyon Road

The following road, meanwhile, was deemed "hardly passable."



  • Wright-Taft-Borongan Road, K0858+150, Barangay Fatima, Hinabangan, Samar (Alternate route: San Juanico-Basey-Marabut Road)

– Rappler.com

Catanduanes heavily damaged, in need of relief goods


FALLEN POSTS. Catanduanes Governor Joseph Cua says major roads are also impassable in the area. Photo from Governor Joseph Cua

MANILA, Phillippines (4th UPDATE) – Catanduanes is now under a state of calamity after being heavily damaged by Typhoon Nina (Nock-ten) on Sunday, December 25, according to Governor Joseph Cua. (READ: Typhoon Nina makes landfall in Catanduanes)

"Catanduanes is now under state of calamity" after a resolution by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Cua said in a message to Rappler on Monday, December 26.

On Monday afternoon, the Philippine Air Force deployed one of its C130s from Mactan Air Base to Catanduanes to bring relief goods to the province.

The typhoon made its first landfall in the town of Bato early Sunday evening, Christmas day.

At least 50% to 70% of power is out in the province because of fallen electrical posts, leaving majority of roads also impassable.

"Reports also indicate 21 landslides in [the towns of] San Miguel going to Viga, Panganiban, and Bagamanoc, and numerous destruction of electrical posts and lines and uprooting of several huge trees which hamper transportation," Cua's message continued.

“Walang makadaan. So far, motorcycle ang puwedeng dumaan but binubuhat pag may nadaanan na natumbang poste o pag may natumbang puno. Hopefully, baka bukas puwede na, okay na rin,” Cua earlier said.

(No one can pass. So far, only motorcycles can pass, but they have to be carried when there are fallen trees and posts. Hopefully, tomorrow, the roads will be passable already.)

He also said electricity supply in the province would take time to be fixed.

With maximum winds of up to 185 km/h and gustiness of up to 255 km/h, he added there were a lot of houses either damaged or destroyed by the typhoon.

He said Nina is comparable to Typhoon Rosing (Angela) in 1995, one of the strongest typhoons to hit land in the Philippines, also causing massive damage in Catanduanes.

“Maraming na-unroof na bahay. In fact yung ibang nakita ko sa picture, yung ibang mga newly constructed multi-purpose buildings nagiba, including the posts.”

(A lot of roofs were blown away. In fact, I saw from other photos that even those newly constructed multi-purpose buildings were destroyed, including posts.)

So far, Cua confirmed one casualty in Virac, Catanduanes. He could not provide details yet.

“With Nina’s strength, if we hadn’t done any preemptive measures, there would be more casualties,” Cua said. 

Aside from Catanduanes, neighboring Camarines Sur has also been placed under a state of calamity by its governor, Miguel Villafuerte. 

Relief goods needed

In a meeting at the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council on Monday, Cua announced that the province badly needs relief goods to be given to affected residents.

“Kailangan namin ngayon is relief goods. Yung mga na-damage na bahay, yung mga tao diyan sa evacuation center, babalik na yan. Magre-repair na ng mga bahay nila, siyempre hindi sila makakatrabaho. So kailangan nila ng relief goods para ma-sustain naman nila yung pagkain ng pamilya,” he said.

(We need relief goods now. Families at the evacuation center will go back to their houses and repair them. Of course, they will not be able to work. So they really need relief goods to sustain the food of their families.)

He said that delivery of goods will not be an issue since the roads will be fixed in the next two days, and the weather is currently good. The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines also allowed a C-130 plane to fly to Catanduanes, Cua said.

Once the typhoon signal for the province is lifted, ports will also resume operations.

When an area is placed under a state of calamity, the local government will have access to funds to help them respond to the needs of typhoon victims in the area.

Cua said that his province badly needs funds to help them recover from Nina.

“We have limited funds, in Catanduanes we have only less than P500 million internal revenue allotment. We are 98% IRA [Internal Revenue Allotment] dependent, so we really need the support of the national government." – Rappler.com

‘Stolen’ diamonds seized in balikbayan box


MANILA, Philippines – At least 22 pieces of allegedly stolen diamonds were seized inside a balikbayan box from Malaysia a few days before Christmas, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said in a statement.

The diamonds were hidden in a plastic resealable pouch inside a wallet that was among the contents of a balikbayan box sent by a certain Arturo Rivera from Kuala Lumpur and consigned to Lajane Basilio of No. 34 Luaka, Purok-1, Bataan.

"It is disheartening to confiscate a Balikabyan Box believing it contains gifts and items for love ones of overseas Filipinos in the Philippines. We could not tolerate Filipinos abroad using these boxes in all forms of smuggling as it violates our laws,” Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon said.

Faeldon said that the BOC was able to detect the smuggled diamonds after National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Dante Gierran tipped them off that the cargo was shipped as part of 246 packages in a container van onboard ocean vessel Sima Genesis 0231 that arrived last December 5, 2016 from Port of Klang, West Port, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

BOC said that the package was only valued at P56,000. Based on global prices, however, diamonds are pegged at US$1,400 (Php 70,000) per carat.

The seized diamonds are now under the custody of the Manila International Container Ports (MICP) and the BOC said it is preparing cases to be filed against Rivera and Basilio. – Rappler.com

1 USD = Php 49.65