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REACTION PAPER:
“SUPER TYPHOON YOLANDA

Internationally known as Haiyan, it has been called the most powerful storm to make landfall in recorded history not only in the Philippines but in the world was named by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) as Super Typhoon Yolanda hit the country in the 8th of November 2013. Prior to its enter in the Philippine area of responsibility, Haiyan was categorized by the Hawaiian-based U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) as “super typhoon” due to having maximum sustained winds that is over 215 kph. The PAGASA does not have a super typhoon classification so it is indeed the strongest typhoon ever struck Philippines. The worst hit provinces were Leyte and Eastern Samar, with a combined population of 2.3 million, winds of 270 kph up to 312 kph, and a storm surge as high as 7 meters or 21 feet.

We only thought the typhoon Yolanda will come in and out of country for a few days and everything will be back to normal but then we under estimated it and never thought that it will leave Philippines with mass devastation killing thousands of people. We did think that government agencies were prepared for the coming of this super typhoon however, it was not enough. Many were blaming the government as the usual way of thinking of Filipinos but in this case no one is to blame but also people who did not want to evacuate when they were told to evacuate.

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The super typhoon Yolanda leaving the Philippines with a death toll of 6,201 people, over 28,626 injured and more than 1,785 still missing.

The days after the typhoon Yolanda strucked Central Philippines, raking-off 1.1 million houses left people homeless and displaced. Day by day, bodies are still being found, survivors were struggling without food, shelters and clean drinking water, so everywhere in those provinces was just a total bedlam. Then relief goods were sent in the area but there were no order, many people have been looting and so many people were blaming the government for having no preparations, contingency plans and could not even conduct the relief operations orderly. Government were hit by many criticisms brought by the local and international media but I have to say they must also know days before this happened, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council and DILG had made efforts to activate all local government units to immediately evacuate families in the non-safe zones.

As early as November 6, 2013, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas gave instructions to all governors and mayors in the Bicol, Eastern Visayas and Mimaropa to activate their local disaster risk reduction and management councils and disaster monitoring systems in preparation for the land fall of the super typhoon. Page 3

Roxas, who is also the vice chairman for disaster preparedness of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, (NDRRMC) said the local executives should immediately adopt measures on how to effectively warn residents, particularly those living along the coastlines and other danger areas, on the possible impact this super typhoon. Other than that, Roxas and his team arrived at Tacloban Leyte the day before the typhoon hit Central Visayas region to make sure all necessary measures are carried out.

Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated before the typhoon arrived, but many evacuation centres - schools, churches and government buildings - proved unable to withstand the winds and storm surges. However, still, many residents near the danger zones such as the coastal areas did not want to leave their homes as they think this typhoon is like the other typhoon where they can overcome.

In this scenario I think government is not only to blame here. We also have to accept the fact that Filipinos are fond of point fingers at someone after the damage has been done but the truth is we must see what is more beyond that. Our country has been always getting many types of natural calamities but it is time to face what message these calamities are telling us, we have to change as people. We have to admit that as residents of this country where we live every day, we have to take responsibility too. Philippines is our home and we must do our own share to protect it. Like what we always learn in elementary, “the Family is the basic unit of the Page 4

society” but why are we are not protecting our family, instead, we let our government to protect our family. Looking at the ratio, our government cannot protect all Filipino families which are about millions, but they are always there to guide us and help us the way they can.

I believe that it is time that we stop looking who is to blame and look at the Yolanda tragedy as a big lesson that we should not just do people power to oust a President or to complain with the performance of our government but we should begin using people power to protect and help our own families and communities.

I can see the spirit of “Bayanihan” is very much alive but always only during the times of disasters or after the damage has been done. Yes there were many relief giving efforts initiated by fellow Filipinos here and abroad that is goo will but there why don’t we inspire and use our bayanihan to prevent disasters, to secure our Filipino families first? That would lessen the number of casualties.

Thus, in my view, yes this is a super typhoon and so unfortunate that in all countries around the world it struck Philippines. Many Filipinos are making comments and taking this tragedy positively that this Philippines was hit because Filipinos are strong people and can handle and survive these tragedies. It is positive in a way but it is sad that we even think like we deserve this devastation because we are strong people. It is never the measure of who is the toughest but if we can Page 5

do something to prevent it then why not do it? I see this Yolanda tragedy as a lesson for all Filipinos that we should move forward, we must strive to make our lives better and thus make our homes safe to live in. This is our homeland so we must protect it.

Let us learn to do our part as citizens of this country and stop the habit of blaming and whining at other people or to the government. The change must come from ourselves, let us make ourselves a good role model for the youth which will produce great future leaders with high morals and not the trashy future leaders.

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