Monthly Archives: September 2009

Latest update on the Philippines

Day 4! The number of people rescued has increased, but so has the number of fatalities.

In case you missed it, the Philippines has been in a state of calamity this past week due to Tropical Storm Ketsana (Philippine name: ‘Ondoy’). I blogged about it here.

Photos from TIME Magazine: http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1926456,00.html

Photos from LIFE: http://www.life.com/image/91234037/in-gallery/34262/a-killer-flood-hits-the-philippines

According to the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), these are the latest statistics (taken from this article):

Reported dead: 240

Missing: 37

Affected Filipinos: 319,881 families 1,872,036 persons

Damaged houses: 3,272

Totally damaged: 2,223    Partially damaged: 1,049

Cost of damages: P2,339,620,884

Infrastructure: P1,517,096  Agriculture: P882,524,884

The outpouring of support has been amazing. Relief and rescue efforts are happening all over the metro, but it’s still not enough. We still need more relief goods (there are so many people out there who need water and food, the goods disappear in minutes!) and better road access to reach those who are still inaccessible. On the one hand, we don’t want it to rain anymore so the flooded areas won’t get worse, but at the same time, some areas need the rain to wash away the massive amounts of mud that are drying up and making rescue operations more difficult.

Here’s a video of one of our Victory pastors (Coach Robert Gonzalez!) together with some of our church staffers, campus ministers and students from University of Makati (UMAK), taking relief goods to evacuated families in Taguig City:

I’m so proud of these guys, especially the UMAK students! This is just one of the dozens of areas these guys have gone to in the last couple of days.

If you’d like to help, do check out my last blog post for ways to support the relief and rescue efforts. Since I wrote that post, there has been lots of good news pouring in. Abby, Bridel, and their respective families are all safe (thank God!). And as for the kids from the Jesus Loves the Little Children Foundation (JLLCF), here’s the update I posted on Facebook:

I dropped by the River of God center at Galleria earlier to give a donation for JLLCF, and the pastors were telling me that the area is still inaccessible by vehicles. Only boats/rafts/amphibians can go near the center. The older boys (the ‘kuyas’–Benjie, Aldren, Loget, Ariel, Jovie, Jobeth, etc.) were able to build a makeshift raft that allows them to go to the market to buy stuff when they’re low on supplies and food. However, it’s still not completely safe because there’s still a current.

According to the pastors, the best items to donate would be non-perishable food items, because they still have trouble bringing them in. If the goods are to last them throughout the month (because the water still isn’t going down), they’ll need to be able to ration them.

Given that fact, they said it’s easier to give them RICE, CANNED GOODS or instant noodles. Not to worry, they have can openers on hand at the center :) Sana raw wag na muna yung sardines, because the first batch of food they got was sardines, so that’s all they’ve been having so far and for the next couple of days. Hahaha.

BOTTLED WATER is the most important need right now. Doesn’t matter which size, but the bigger ones (i think that’s 1.5ml or 1L?) are better for easier transport.

They also need CLOTHES for the little boys (ages 4 and up). They’ve been getting donations of clothes for the older kids and the houseparents, so don’t worry about them.

They decided that it’s best for everyone to stay in the center for now instead of evacuating them. At least at the center, they’re all safe and comfortable. They are so blessed because of that new school bldg in their center that was donated by HSBC. All the essentials are in the 2nd floor: kitchen, beds, bathrooms, etc. Plus they have a rooftop where the little kids can play. They also have one working landline that was just installed last week! Ain’t that a blessing? So we can check on them constantly. I just got to talk to Jovie earlier, and he said they’re all doing good. They get to hang out on the rooftop all the time and the little kids have just been playing.

The pastors said that the kids keep saying they’re doing good kasi “sanay na sa hirap” (in English: “they’re used to hardship”). They said that they’re so proud of the older boys (the ‘kuyas’) because they’ve really been doing everything they can to take care of the younger boys and houseparents and make sure they’re fed, even periodically going through the waist-deep water to get some food.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross is also going to be sending volunteers to check how they’re all doing, health-wise. Also, I was super thrilled to enter Victory Fort the yesterday and I saw that they had already set aside and sent a lot of donated goods to River of God and the Jesus Loves the Little Children Foundation. Yay!

Let’s keep praying that the donations keep pouring in, and that everyone there is kept safe and healthy. Let’s also pray for better transportation for them–sturdier boats are needed; boats that can be covered so that the relief goods can be protected and not stolen…but at the same time let’s also pray that the people in the surrounding areas are also safe and provided for. I know that the River of God church will also use the excess goods to provide for the other people in the surrounding areas.

Again, let’s praise God that they’re safe and let’s thank Him for everything He has blessed them with! They should rename the place to “Jesus REALLY LOVES These Children Foundation”. Haha :) Thanks again to everyone for keeping them in your thoughts and prayers! :)

Hooray for these heroes! –>

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Philippines in a STATE OF CALAMITY.

There are so many people that need help in our country right now, I don’t know where to start. I’ve been gathering clothes to donate, then stopping to post updates. If it’s possible and safe, I wish I could leave the house and physically do something to help, but before I do that, I just want to get the word out there. In case you haven’t heard of what is happening in the Philippines, do check these out:

News, photos, and videos here: http://www.nowpublic.com/environment/philippines-flooding-60-dead-tropical-storm-kestana-hits

More here from ABS CBN News: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/09/26/09/arroyo-visits-hard-hit-marikina

CNN report: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/09/26/philippines.floods/index.html

BBC report: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8277018.stm

It broke the record for the largest amount of rainfall ever to hit Metro Manila. Reports say we experienced one month’s worth of rain in just 6 hours. That was yesterday.

Today, it’s still raining, and while thousands have already been rescued (last count was 5,146), thousands are still waiting to be rescued, stranded on their rooftops or in the second or third floors of their homes or buildings. Even if they are safe, they lack food and have been freezing, due to being engulfed by winds and rain since yesterday morning. Some of the areas are still unreachable because the floods have not entirely subsided, and the sad part about it is that these areas are spread out across Metro Manila, not just concentrated in one area. And to make things worse, the sun is about to set in around an hour, making it more difficult for rescue operations to navigate the affected locations.

Evacuation centers and hospitals are filled, and they badly need bottled water, food, and supplies, among others. As of last night, some places (even hospitals) did not have electricity and their ground floors were already flooded. Some streets and highways are still clogged up, making it difficult for rescue operations to go through. The mobile phone lines are erratic, and by now, the phone batteries of those stranded have run out, making it impossible to communicate with them at the moment.

I still haven’t heard from my friend, Abby. Her parents live in Cainta, and I know she’s been staying at their place the last couple of days. Cainta is one of the areas most badly hit by Typhoon Ondoy/Kestana. Another friend, Bridel, is unreachable too. Her family home is in one of the villages hit in Pasig. Across Metro Manila, in Del Monte, Quezon City, my uncle (my mom’s brother) and his family were stranded on the roof of their home. Last we heard from them was yesterday. As the hours go by, I get more reports of missing friends. Two of my former co-workers at MTV are in trouble: one is stranded with her family in Cainta, and another one still can’t be reached. Another friend, Acel, is stranded with her husband and their 1 y.o. baby who now has a fever. (Update as of 10 pm: Bridel and her family are stranded in 2nd floor of their home and badly need edible/cooked food. I heard that Abby and her family are at her neighbors’ house, but they are still unreachable. My uncle and his family were able to get to dry land via a makeshift raft. Right now, I’m grateful that they’re all safe and alive.)

I just got a text message that the people (houseparents + kids) at the Jesus Loves the Little Children Foundation in Pinagbuhatan in Pasig City are safe but stranded in the second floor of the school building next door to their home that was just recently finished. Praise God for that! Unfortunately, they’re going to need help soon; I don’t know how long they can last without food. There are a lot of kids there, and I’m sure a lot of others from the community have taken refuge in the building. These people are very special to me, and my heart is breaking at this news. From Pastor Rachel Sanchez of Jesus Loves the Little Children (she and Bishop Chito live near the center):

“Flood and high waters everywhere specially in Pinagbuhatan. We cant go to the home. We’re trapped inside our houses. Children and staff at the orphanage are safe. They are in the 2nd floor of building. Literally, building is their noah’s ark. Praise God the construction is so timely. Community houses are gone. Bishop walked in waist deep water to get to church. No power and houseparents could not go anywhere to buy food, everything is submerged. Praise God we are safe! Many died. Many are missing too. Need food and toiletries for kids. Not passable for vehicles. We need help asap.”

Weather reports say that the rain will continue pouring all day. Let’s pray that the situation doesn’t get worse. Lives still need to be saved, people need to be clothed and fed, and after all this, thousands of lives need to be rebuilt. People lost their homes, cars, and everything they owned. Some have lost family members as well. According to this report from the Red Cross, 96,138 people have been affected.

If you live in Metro Manila and you’d like to help, there are many ways to do so. Right now, all evacuation centers and hospitals need bottled water, food, clothes, blankets, and milk for children. I can imagine they also need medicines, medical supplies, rubber boats and life vests, and even things like cellphone chargers and prepaid load to help them communicate. Facebook and Twitter are flooded with options of venues to send donations; you’re sure to find one in an area near you. Here’s another resource to check out that lists down a list of places where you can drop off relief goods: http://spreadsheets.google.com/lv?key=tBMVeBvbdAtYRaRB6ErFWnA&toomany=true. I am also updating a list of helpful links to websites with comprehensive information at the end of this post. For most of these places, volunteers are also needed in these areas to help pack and distribute food and emergency supplies.

If you’re in the Philippines and you’d like to donate quickly and easily, you can donate to the Philippine Red Cross Flood Rescue Operations by sending a text message: type RED<space>AMOUNT and send to 2899 (Globe) or 4483 (Smart). To those who live in Canada and the US who wish to help in the rescue and relief operations, I’m not sure, but I think you may donate through the American Red Cross. Call 1-800-435-7669 (just got this info from Facebook and Twitter). You can also donate via the Canadian Red Cross here: https://www.paypaq.com/redcross/new/index.php. For those who would like to remit their $ for donation, please remit to ABS-CBN Foundation, Inc. Account # 5630020111 or coordinate with ABS-CBN Foundation if you’re in the U.S. at 1-800-5272820. More info on how to donate to the Philippine Red Cross here: http://www.redcross.org.ph/Site/PNRC/wtd.aspx. You can also donate through our church here: http://victory.org.ph/archive/typhoon-ondoy-relief.html. We have ongoing relief efforts coming out of all our churches all over Metro Manila.

Understandably, we are all overwhelmed, and it’s difficult to decide where to start. I hope, after reading this, you’ll have an idea of what you can do to help. Even if it’s just spreading the word to people who would be able to offer goods or assistance, please do it, because every little thing we can do right now will count.

Most of all, do keep our country in your prayers. 2 Corinthians 1:4 says that “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.” If you’re reading this now, let’s thank and praise God for keeping us safe, but let’s also do whatever we can to help rescue, heal, and rebuild our nation. Let’s spread the blessings and love to those who need them the most right now.

* * *

More useful links here (I’ll be updating this list):

http://sites.google.com/site/ondoymanila/home

http://sourpolitics.wordpress.com/2009/09/26/typhoon-ondoy-emergency-hotlines-and-relief-operations/

http://randomsalt.wordpress.com/2009/09/26/helplines-and-hotlines-for-typhoon-ondoy-victims/

http://www.gmanews.tv/story/173248/list-of-addresses-of-flood-stranded-people-needing-rescue-with-interactive-map

http://beta.ateneosanggu.com/

* * *

UPDATE as of September 28. 12:48 AM:

From Rachel Sanchez of the Jesus Loves the Little Children Foundation:

“Hi liz. The children are ok. They are in the second floor of the new building. The water is still waist deep. We bring food to them daily. The roads are not passable, only rafts and boats.”

“Donations of canned goods, noodles, rice, milk, medicines, and toiletries for the orphanage and community are being accepted at the River of God church located at lower level east lane, Robinsons Galleria mall, Ortigas, next to LTO and Ryan Cayabyab’s music school. Tel #4701439.”

“Monetary support for Jesus Loves the Little Children can be sent to these accounts:
Direct Deposit – Peso Account
Account Name: Jesus Loves the Little Children Foundation, Inc.
Account No.: 6791001283
Bank: BPI Family Bank – Ortigas Branch, Emerald Ave., Ortigas Center, Pasig City 1600 Philippines

Direct Deposit – US Dollar Account
Account Name: Jesus Loves the Little Children Foundation, Inc.
Account No.: 398929500013

Bank: Philippine National Bank, JMT Bldg., ADB Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City 1600 Philippines”

(You can verify that these are the real account numbers here: http://jllcf.com/sponsorship.htm)

According to her, they estimate that it could take 1 month for the water to recede :(

We love these kids. I’m so thankful that they’re safe.

We love these kids. I'm thankful that they're all safe right now.

Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

I’m on a [reading] roll!

In marriage, is love really enough? Now that’s a common question, don’t you think?

Having grown up in a broken home, I always thought that a good marriage was something only found in fairy tales. I was pleased to find out later on that a good, strong, faithful, and godly marriage can actually be a reality. But I always wondered, how is it possible? Do people just get lucky? Does it depend on how attractive or ‘cool’ you are as a spouse? Are people just naturally better at it than others?

I figured I wouldn’t get all my answers, but as a single woman with my family background, I always wanted to understand more about marriage. No other book explains the relationship between a husband and wife better than Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. I first heard about it through one of my former employers (and one of my mentors), Anthony Pangilinan. Shortly after, I heard about it again from my friend, Eric Villarama. Anthony and Eric both have awesome marriages (Anthony is married to Maricel Laxa and Eric is married to Donita Rose), so I made a mental note to check out this book. One year later, I’m happy that I finally got a copy!

Based on Ephesians 5:33, the book gives a fresh perspective on marriage the way God intended it to be. People can read this verse over and over again and totally miss out on what Dr. Eggerichs picked up and wrote about in detail in this book. Have you ever heard of unconditional love? Yes, right? What about unconditional respect? Now that’s something you don’t hear often.

I don’t want to spoil it because I think it’s a “must-read” for all married folks out there. And for all the single people like me, I think it’s a great book to read, too. It sheds a lot of light on the differences between men and women, so if you find yourself often having conflicts with the people around you from the opposite sex (e.g. parents, siblings, classmates, co-workers), this just might be the reference material you need. :)

“Today’s gonna be a good day!”

This is SO COOL!

Another version + how they did it! (Starts at 4:01)

Awesome!

Fearless by Max Lucado

Do you find yourself perpetually living under a dark cloud, feeling depressed and defeated?

Or do you often feel like you’re stuck in quicksand–overwhelmed and nearly paralyzed?

Chances are, you’ve been hit by the big, bad wolf called FEAR. You may not recognize it, because sometimes it calls itself WORRY, ANXIETY, DOUBT, or INSECURITY. But no matter what you call it or what it looks like, it’s fear, and it’s ruthless in coming after you, unless you’re able to discover the only way to disarm it.

scaled_e1252009347Fearless is the new book by one of my favorite authors, Max Lucado. From the cover alone, I knew it was calling out to me. From the image of the carefree person jumping into the water, to the tagline, “IMAGINE YOUR LIFE WITHOUT FEAR”, I knew it was a must-read.

The book didn’t disappoint. Like most Lucado books, this one was easy to read, and was filled with powerful lines that I’m filing away into my list of favorite and important book quotes.

“Fear, at its center, is a perceived loss of control.” – Max Lucado, Fearless

In the book, Lucado deals with the most common fears of people: rejection, loneliness, financial lack, overwhelming obstacles, violence, death, and being wrong, among  others. For a Bible-reading Christian like me, reading this book helped remind me of the many awesome ways that God takes care of me and protects me, and how He took every strategy of fear in consideration and provided a timeless solution. Thus, this book helped me see fear as nothing but an annoying little ant in the light of a big God. For others though, I can imagine that some of Lucado’s insights would be new, fresh, and liberating–at least that’s my prayer for every person who reads this book.

If you’re looking to be set free from the strongholds of fear so you can live a passionate, joyful, and storm-proof life, get your hands on this book!

If you want to preview the book, click here.

Focusing on the present

I’m currently reading Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On: Trusting God in the Tough Times by Stormie Omartian. It’s a nice book to read, and I’m already down to the last chapter. Today’s notable quote from the book:

“Along with not looking back, it’s not good to look too far ahead, either. Doing so may cause you to worry about where you think you should be, and that can be overwhelming too. Looking back, you see all that you didn’t do. Looking too far forward, you see all you think you can’t do. It’s best to embrace the step you’re on and say, ‘God, give me the ability to do what I have to do today.'”