The Yolanda Aftermath: Northern Cebu Edition


6 days after super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit the Philippines, my client-turned-friend Jenifer Martinez invited me to deliver relief goods to her town in northern Cebu called Bogo, one of the hardest hit areas in the island province of Cebu.  While most media attention is focused on Tacloban, Leyte, I felt I had to write about my hometown Cebu.

While Cebu City was literally stormed by Yolanda, it wasn’t even a fourth of the destruction it caused up north.  Immediately after she passed, several towns in the north were isolated among them being San Remegio, Bogo, Daan Bantayan and Bantayan Island in the northern tip of Cebu.  I was wondering why I never heard from those areas or saw footages on TV when power and cable TV was restored the day after.  Turns out, they lost all forms of communication, power, and roads were impassable over there.

Photos courtesy of Rene & Roland Joseph Ybanez

Highway to Bogo and Hagnaya

Kota Beach Resort, Bantayan - what's left of it.

The cottages at Kota Beach Resort, Bantayan Island

A week later, admittedly, our lives haven’t gone back to normal.  We try but it’s too hard to ignore the huge destruction and harsh realities caused by the most powerful typhoon recorded this year.  Everyday we see footages from CNN, BBC and local channels covering different areas of the Philippines that were badly hit.  People are homeless and dying of hunger and thirst.  Those that have been spared, like us living in Cebu City, have been very busy packing relief goods.  Shelves of grocery stores have been emptied.  Bottled water suppliers and rice dealers can barely keep up with the orders for relief goods.  Despite the tragedy, it’s comforting to know that so many of us have gone out of our way to help those in need.  

Happy to help!  

Nov. 12, Tuesday - my office temporarily turned into a packing centre for Bantayan and Madridejos.

Today's assembly line goes to Bantayan.

 As always, our dogs George & Diego, are part of the action too!  

Nov. 13, Wednesday - We leave work early to pack eggs at the egg kitchen in Kaona Grill, Lahug, Cebu City.  Hardboiled eggs can last 10 days without being refrigerated.  It can give instant nourishment to the hungry victims and won't require them to do any cooking (since water is scarce.)
Nov. 14, Thursday, we load up the truck at Hyundai Cebu, and head up north. 

We convoy the truck bringing our relief goods.

Along the highway leading to Bogo, you will see children holding signs up like this. (Photo c/o Christine Lim)

At the Bogo Coliseum which has become the staging ground for relief operations.  You will see that the galvanize iron sheets on the roof have been blown away by the storm.  

The Bogo City Hall has lost its roof.  Glass windows are shattered.  The sofa of the mayor is already on the ground.  

RAFI Relief goods distribution at Barangay Cayang, Bogo.

The Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) is one of the legitimate non-government organizations (NGOs) in the Philippines.  

You can deposit your donations through the following:


Bank: Union Bank

Account name: Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc.

Account type:  Current

Account number: 0027-8000-3279


Bank: Union Bank
Account name: Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc.
Account type: Savings
Account number: 1327-8000-0852
Swift Code: UBPHPHMM

Paypal Account: rafi_treasury@rafi.org.ph

Mayor Juni Martinez (with his back in this pic) welcomes the Israeli doctors who have arrived in Bogo to set up a temporary medical facility.  

The Israeli doctors have arrived!  

150 Israeli doctors have arrived in Bogo to extend medical help to all the victims in the north.

Nov. 15, Friday - photos from Rene Ybanez going to Bantayan Island to distribute the relief goods.

Distributing the relief goods in Bantayan

Kids lined up for hardboiled eggs.  The smile on that boy's face is priceless! :-) 

After having visited Bogo yesterday and seeing the neighboring towns along the way, I can say that yes, Northern Cebu needs help.  But at some point, they also need to get back on their feet.  Relief goods are called so to temporarily relieve them.  Now it’s time to rebuild and restore livelihood. 

To all those who have helped in every way they can, to all the countries who have extended their aid, to my staff who gave their time (and strength), our clients, my yoga group, my high school friends, JCI Zugbuana, PIID, The Dancing Toes, my family and to the rest of our country.... A BIG THANK YOU!       

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