Pope cuts Tacloban trip short amid typhoon in the Philippines

Pope Francis waves to well-wishers after mass in Tacloban.


Pope Francis cut his trip to Tacloban short Saturday as an approaching typhoon with blistering winds threatened the city in the Philippines.

The Pope donned a slicker to conduct an outdoor Mass for hundreds of thousands who gathered despite stormy weather.

The Mass in Tacloban was shortened after sustained winds of 80 mph and higher gusts howled toward the city.

Tacloban is still recovering from the 2013 disaster of Super Typhoon Haiyan, described as one of the strongest storms ever recorded with 195 mph sustained winds. It killed 6,300 people nationwide.

Typhoon Mekkhala was upgraded from a tropical storm and made landfall in the Philippines in the afternoon just northeast of Tacloban.

The Mass began about a half-hour after he landed. Wind rustled the hood on the pontiff’s slicker as he spoke to a crowd clad in raincoats.

Typhoon Mekkhala, which is called Typhoon Amang in the Philippines, was arriving on the island of eastern Samar — about 50 miles from where the Pope was in Tacloban.

Just two weeks ago, a tropical storm struck Tacloban and surrounding areas, causing a commercial passenger plane to slide off the runway while landing. Tropical Storm Jiangmi, renamed Seniang in the Philippines, killed 54 people in landslides and flash floods in that region, CNN affiliate ABS-CBN reported.

During the Pope’s visit to Tacloban, he will have lunch with survivors of the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan, renamed Typhoon Yolanda in that country. That typhoon displaced 918,000 families nationwide, the government says.

He is also to bless the Pope Francis Center for the Poor and will meet with clergy and more typhoon survivors in the cathedral in Palo.

The pontiff is also scheduled to perform an outdoor Mass in Manila on Sunday before millions of Filipinos.

By then, the storm should weaken to a tropical depression. Still, Manila could face gusty winds and significant rain during the Mass.

The Pope’s trip to Asian isles began Tuesday in Sri Lanka, and he landed in the Philippines on Friday.

On Friday, Francis met with President Benigno Aquino, and the pontiff urged the political leader to reject corruption and promote “honesty, integrity and commitment to the common good,” the Vatican said. He also spoke of “the moral imperative of ensuring social justice and respect for human dignity,” according to a copy of his remarks provided by the Vatican.

Here in the Philippines, countless families are still suffering from the effects of natural disasters. The economic situation has caused families to be separated by migration and the search for employment, and financial problems strain many households. While all too many people live in dire poverty, others are caught up in materialism and lifestyles which are destructive of family life and the most basic demands of Christian morality,” the Pope said in other remarks.

The Pope leaves Manila for Rome on Monday.

9 Stunning Then-and-Now photos showing how far The Philippines has come since Typhoon Haiyan


It has been a year since Typhoon Haiyan swept through the Philippines, wiping out low-lying coastal communities. More than 7,000 people either died or went missing in the storm, which was the most powerful to ever make landfall.

These nine before-and-after photo pairings show how residents have been rebuilding their shattered towns.


The coastline in Tacloban City.

Tacloban City.

A road along from the airport in Tacloban City

Tacloban’s Astrodome, which doubled as an evacuation center during the typhoon

A road along from the airport in Tacloban

The main road in Tacloban City’s Anibong district

Debris in Tacloban

The entrance to San Roque Elementary School in Tolosa District, Leyte

Basper Cemetery on the outskirts of Tacloban City. After the typhoon, bodies were placed on a road before being buried in a mass grave


Journey lead singer Arnel Pineda ready to release first solo album



Huffington Post/Associated Press:

Arnel Pineda says he’s been putting together an album of his own compositions in his own voice to release this year, but he quashed rumors that he’s gearing up to leave the American rock band Journey.

The Filipino singer and Journey lead vocalist said he will stay as long as the band needs him. Pineda also dismissed talk of a possible band reunion with former lead singer Steve Perry.

The singer spoke in an interview Tuesday during the launch of his version of the song “Charity” in the animated children’s music video “Cha-Ching” on Cartoon Network.

The song about donating money or time to those in need can be purchased from iTunes to benefit Typhoon Haiyan victims in the Philippines.

The singer has been involved in charity projects in the Philippines. Having risen from poverty, he said it was his obligation to help those who struggle with difficulties he experienced.

Pineda, now 46, was once a homeless teenager in Manila who at 15 started singing professionally with small bands. He found success after Journey guitarist Neal Schon discovered him in 2007 on YouTube singing hits of Perry and sounding strikingly like him.

“Even though I am still with (Journey) and we are touring, I am also working on my original materials and I am also recording them,” Pineda said, adding he aims to launch the album this year.

This year, Journey is touring the United States and Canada, and next year will tour South America. On rumors of a Journey reunion with Perry, he said he has not heard any talk of that.

If that happens, he said “I’d be more than happy to give way,” saying it would allow him more time with his family.

But Pineda said: “As long as they need me I will be there, I’m never gonna quit on them.”

Check out this link:

Journey lead singer Arnel Pineda ready to release first solo album


This amazing invention is saving countless lives after Typhoon Haiyan

Typhoon Haiyan

A boy gestures while washing in water from a broken pipe on Nov. 16, 2013, in Leyte, Philippines. 

TakePart.com ():

When natural disaster strikes, one of the first and most significant casualties is clean water: Humans can only go so long without liquids; as days pass without functioning infrastructure, bacteria spread and multiply, as does the threat of disease.

Large aid organizations’ answer has often been to send 747s stocked with cases of bottled water to the affected areas. But drop-offs like that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and leave behind a stream of plastic waste.

Enter WaterStep, a Kentucky-based aid organization that says it’s come up with a clever solution: the M-100 Chlorine Generator, a football-size water filter that allows survivors to produce up to 10,000 gallons of potable water per day.

Sixty of the devices are being used in the Philippines, says WaterStep CEO Mark Hogg. In November, Typhoon Haiyan’s massive storm surge and high winds pulverized some of the country’s most overcrowded and impoverished areas, killing more than 6,100 people, injuring another 28,000, and displacing more than 3.8 million.

The mini treatment system is not much to look at—the hose, pipe, and thermos configuration give it a distinctively Rube Goldberg feel—but its compact size makes it easily transportable to even the remotest of locations. Built with the help of engineers at General Electric and the Louisville Water Co., the device uses a pump, a filter, table salt, and a car battery to produce up to 1,000 gallons of water per hour.

The generator’s byproducts—chlorine and sodium hydroxide—are valuable resources for locals, says Hogg. They can be used to make either saline solution (which doctors use to treat dehydration and debride wounds) or disinfectants. Maintaining hygiene is crucial to water safety, especially in disaster areas. More than 880 million people worldwide lack access to clean drinking water, and 3.4 million people die every year from water-related diseases caused by poor sanitation.

In December, Hogg and a volunteer team composed of University of Louisville students spent a week in Cebu City, an area spared by the storm that’s become a hub of relief operations. There, they erected a temporary training center, teaching 150 local nonprofit workers to operate and maintain the chlorinators. “We had people from all sorts of surrounding islands come and visit for training,” Hogg says. “The impact for us was a dream.”

Other organizations, such as LifeSaver, have created individual water purification systems targeting survivors of natural disasters. While important, their purifying bottles and canteens can’t produce the same volume of clean drinking water that WaterStep can.

Haiyan was particularly devastating for the Philippines, but the country is accustomed to extreme weather events and will surely see more in its future. This is why Hogg believes the WaterStep system needs to play an ongoing role in providing potable water to the country’s residents. The generators can be kept in storage and pulled out when needed, he says, allowing locals to respond to natural disasters as they happen, instead of waiting for shipments of bottled water to appear.

The gift it brings is that ordinary people are going to have more tools at their disposal to do effective work with their water, sanitation, health, and hygiene needs,” he says.

Check out this link:

This amazing invention is saving countless lives after Typhoon Haiyan


Tenth grader Francis Nguyen makes 1000 paper cranes to raise money for Typhoon Haiyan victims

1000 PAPER CRANES. Tenth grader Francis Nguyen turns over to the Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC the proceeds of her paper crane folding fund-raising project. Photo by Majalya Fernando/Philippine Embassy

Japanese legend has it that if you make one thousand paper cranes, the gods will cure you. A Vietnamese-American student initiated a paper crane folding fund-raising project that would benefit children affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

Tenth grader Francis Nguyen, together with her friends Chieu Le, Teresa Do, and Kali Gabriel, got people from their community to fold 1000 paper cranes that generated a total of $1,000. A crane was equivalent to a one-dollar donation.

Cranes symbolize hope, health, happiness, and longevity. People need something to hope for and smile about when they believe there isn’t much to look forward to in their future, ”Nguyen said when she turned over the cranes and the proceeds to Philippine Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia.

The Crane Project, which seeks to bring hope after devastation, was inspired by the Japanese myth that if one folded a thousand cranes, his or her wish would be granted,” Nguyen added,

Nguyen previously folded paper cranes for victims of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in 2011.

YOLANDA DONATIONS. Ambassador Cuisia with members of the Vietnamese community who turned over donations for victims of Typhoon Yolanda. Photo by Majalya Fernando/Philippine Embassy

Cuisia turned over Nguyen’s donation to Feed the Hungry, Inc., a Philippine-based organization assisting relief and rehabilitation efforts in Eastern Visayas.

I would like to thank you for your kindness, generosity, and prayers. The children in the Philippines, especially those orphaned by the typhoon, need those things you mentioned—hope, health, happiness, and longevity—as we move from the relief phase to the rehabilitation phase,” Cuisia said, in response to Nguyen.

Cuisia also received over $18,000 from representatives of the Vietnam Buddhist Center and the Tu Bi Foundation.

Citing the Philippines’ acceptance of Vietnamese refugees during the Vietnam War in 1975, Thich Nguyen Hanh, Abbott of the Vietnam Buddhist Center said, “We are in debt to our Filipino friends.”

No words can express my gratitude and appreciation for what you had done for us, your support, your extraordinary generosity, kindness, heroism, and never-ending grace which comforted us through the most difficult time in our nation,” he added.

Check out this link:

Tenth grader Francis Nguyen makes 1000 paper cranes to raise money for Typhoon Haiyan victims


Filipino Kids Return To Playing Basketball Amid The Rubble Of Typhoon Haiyan

Basketball has long been a popular sport in the Philippines. And after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the central part of the country, survivors have improvised ways to play the game.

A game in Tacloban City, one of the locations hit hardest by Haiyan.

These players scavenged nails and wood from wreckage to prop up the hoop.

At the Old Children’s Park in Tacloban City.

Outside the Tacloban astrodome.

In Guiuan municipality.

More from Guiuan.

In Jaro municipality.

Note the grounded freighter in the background.

This stadium in Tacloban has been turned into a shelter.

This Grantland piece by Rafe Bartholemew puts the phenomenon of post-disaster hoops in context and includes some memorable images from past floods.

The Tacloban Active Basketball Center had been running training sessions throughout the fall on Saturdays. The last note posted on their Facebook page announced a session on Nov. 2.

Check out this link:

Filipino Kids Return To Playing Basketball Amid The Rubble Of Typhoon Haiyan


Armless Pilot Jessica Cox Raising Money For Typhoon Victims

Motivational Filipino American speaker and armless pilot Jessica Cox is joining the effort to raise funds for victims of Typhoon Haiyan, reports ABS CBN.

I do want to help the disabled the best way I can and the best thing to do right now is to get the word out that we are collecting funds because Handicap International is on the ground now working to help all those victims,” she said.

Cox’s relatives are from the town of Mercedes, an area devastated by Haiyan. Her great aunt died in the disaster and she suspects when she visits the area possibly in March, she will not recognize it.

You can hear her thoughts on the disaster in this video report…


Visayas Disaster Relief


Here is a Philippine disaster relief site, set up by our good friend and Team-Yellow supporter, Lani Evans:

My friends know how important the Philippines is to my heart. This is my other country…where most of my family lives, where I have dual citizenship, where every year I go back to give back to those less fortunate. 

When I first went to Cebu as a child, I realized that the only difference between me and my island counterparts is that they had the misfortune of being born into poverty on another part of the planet. They have Third World problems of necessity and survival and I have First World problems of luxury and excess. Right now they’re desperate for our excess. 

Typhoon Haiyan has left thousands dead, nearly a million displaced and countless others hungry for food and water in our region called the Visayas. In the wake of the strongest storm in recorded history and a 7.3 earthquake that hit just a month prior, millions are in need of basic necessities…food, water, shelter and medicine. 

Aid distribution has been hindered by unscrupulous government officials and corrupt organizations. For that reason, I’m focusing my efforts on going back to Cebu to personally get supplies for those desperately in need in the Visayas. Those who know me know that this part of my purpose and now we have an even greater need for help.  

When I return to the Visayas, I’ll focus on buying rice, medicine, basic supplies (toothbrushes, soap, etc.) and repairing homes in hard hit areas of northern Cebu (my home island), Bohol and Leyte. I’ll document everything in pictures as I’ve always done in the past to show where your donation goes. 

Whatever you can do towards this mission is so humbly appreciated. 

Daghang Salamat! 

Please help the cause!!!

Check out this link:

Visayas Disaster Relief


Typhoon Haiyan destruction in Philippines visible from space


Super Typhoon Haiyan is visible even from space. One of the most powerful storms to ever hit the Philippines, Super Typhoon Haiyan arrived on Nov. 8 with sustained winds of up 190 mph (305 km/h) in the hours before it made landfall. The aftermath of the storm can be seen in before and after false-color images captured by the ASTER sensor aboard NASA‘s Terra satellite.

The most dramatic change is in the hills above Tacloban, reports NASA’s Earth Observatory. Comparing ASTER images snapped in 2004 and in 2013, just days after the storm, reveals the hills were stripped bare of vegetation. (Plant-covered land is red; bare ground is tan.)

Along the coast, where a powerful storm surge flooded Tacloban, the ASTER image suggests mud and floodwaters still cover the ground. About 800,000 people were moved to storm shelters, but Haiyan’s deadly flooding reached a height of 20 feet (6 meters) in the central Philippines. Further inland, the blurry outline of the city’s neatly gridded streets could indicate debris blown down by the storm, the Earth Observatory said.

NASA scientists are using satellite imagery to produce damage maps that will help aid disaster relief efforts in the Philippines, NASA officials said in a Nov. 14 release.

Current estimates place the death toll at more than 2,000 people. Thousands remain missing and relief efforts have been hampered by the difficulty of reaching remote islands, according to news reports.

Check out this link:

Typhoon Haiyan destruction in Philippines visible from space


Linkin Park’s “Music For Relief” raises money for Philippines

Linkin Park is raising money through their charity organization Music for Relief to send aid to the Philippines in response to the devastation the country has suffered after the most destructive and powerful typhoon in history. It’s inspiring not only to see Asian American musicians make it big but to see them use their success to help others.

Donate $25 for a bracelet and donate $100 to be entered to win 2 tickets and 2 meet and greet opps in a special Las Vegas show next January.