An unfamiliar territory

Among many of the typhoon survivors is Patrick Vense Bajamunde, a third year Psychology major from UP Tacloban. After Yolanda struck his hometown and his school, he decided to cross-enroll in UP Diliman despite the promise of a campus reopening in January 2014.

By Yvette Morales and Charmaine Ycasas

Photos by Antonio Jose Galauran, UP Aperture

More than a month after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) devastated the Philippines, people in Eastern Visayas braced themselves to survive yet another calamity: its aftermath.

The survivors were divided. Some waited long and hard (and continue to wait) for relief goods to come. Some flew to Manila, in hopes for a better life compared to the ruins of what used to be their homes. Some had no choice but fled just to escape the nightmare.

What was left of their strength was used to seek food and refuge, while some, for education.

Among many of the typhoon survivors is Patrick Vense Bajamunde, a third year Psychology major from UP Tacloban  (UPT). After Yolanda struck his hometown and his school, he decided to cross-enroll in UP Diliman despite the promise of a campus reopening in January 2014.

“I decided to cross enroll to not waste time,” he said.

Photo from Micaela Papa of GMA News
Photo from Micaela Papa of GMA News

Yolanda’s wrath left nothing upright but the statue of the Oblation. It was not an easy sight for Patrick to see, but he deemed that waiting would not help his town’s rehabilitation.

This is why when UP President Alfredo Pascual released a memo urging all UP units to accommodate cross registrants from UP Tacloban, he gathered enough strength to cross-register.

“I have heard from a friend that the process of cross-enrolling here is quite easy. That is why I [gave] it a try,” he said.

With regard to the tuition fee, Patrick said he was “compensated” for the tuition he paid in UP Tacloban.

“Throughout the process, I only paid 46 pesos for 16 academic units,” he said.

Through the help of registration staff, Patrick said he was able to finish enrolling within a day.

Adjustment and recovery

The warm welcome of the Diliman community made Patrick’s adjustment and recovery more bearable. He immediately started attending classes after finishing his enrolment on Nov. 22, and said he was faring well in terms of academics.

“My professors allowed me to catch up with the lessons, activities and exercises I missed,” he said.

Language was not a barrier, Patrick said, although his mother tongue is Waray.

“I didn’t have much problem speaking Filipino since we are also using Filipino back in UPT,” he said.

Despite the good odds, Patrick was disheartened by some criticisms that he received upon entering the university.

He shared: “One thing that saddened me is hearing some students saying “talaga bang nasalanta ng bagyo ‘yan? Bakit nakangiti pa siya?” What I am supposed to do? Should I just cry in corner? No! I should stand up and move on towards the next phase. And that’s what I am doing right now.”

Support from his fellow students from UP Tacloban is another thing that keeps him going.

“It is really a good thing I am with my fellow UPT friends here, as we are supporting one another through ups and downs,” he said.

Until when?

Today, Patrick resides in Kamagong dormitory, with both water and electricity free of charge.

“They (different groups and organizations) have provided me with food, financial assistance, clothing, books and a dormitory to stay,” he said.

A welcome program and a candle-lighting ceremony in honor of Yolanda victims were also held at the Palma Hall (AS) steps on Nov. 22.

He noted that although moving on was a difficult task, various efforts made the process easier for him. Various groups and private individuals also helped the cross-registrants by providing them food and school materials, among others.

“They’re too many and I’m thankful for it,” he said.

However, Patrick could not help but be anxious about his future.

“I am just hoping that this will last ‘til my whole family is financially stable,” he said, as their dorm manager said all the assistance would only last “until donations are coming.”

Patrick’s home in Western Samar shared the same fate of those in Eastern Visayas. What’s worse, their family’s rice field, which was nearing harvest, was totally ravaged by the typhoon.

Patrick added that it was more costly to live in Diliman. Normally, a lunch set of rice, one viand and dessert would only cost P35 in Tacloban, but is priced P50 in UPD, he said.

With all the added costs, he relies on all the help he can get.

“I am just worried when that day comes and everything comes to an end,” he said.

When asked about whether or not he plans to return to Tacloban, Patrick’s answer was firm.

“Only if everything is back to normal – not only financially but also emotionally, [especially] after seeing all those dead bodies. After all, it is in UPT where I build and started my dreams,” he said.

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The top newsmakers of 2013

The year 2013 is definitely one for the books for the triumphs and mishaps both in the university and out. Take a look back on the events that shook and shaped the University of the Philippines (UP) and the nation before the year comes to a close.

By Tinig ng Plaridel

The year 2013 is definitely one for the books for the triumphs and mishaps both in the university and out. Take a look back on the events that shook and shaped the University of the Philippines (UP) and the nation before the year comes to a close.

Browse: UP students take the spotlightDisasters strike Visayas, MindanaoPolitics |  Campus policies, controversiesUAAP sportsPoverty and human rights

UP students take the spotlight

Arida is Miss Universe third runner-up. Photo from ABS-CBN.
Arida is Miss Universe third runner-up. Photo from ABS-CBN.

2013 proved to be a year for UP students to take the world spotlight. UP Los Baños alumna Ariella Arida placed third runner-up in the Miss Universe pageant Nov. 10. When asked about possible solutions to lack of jobs around the world, Arida said “education is the primary source and ticket to a better future.”

Hannah Espia’s film Transit, which discussed the plight of overseas Filipino workers in Israel, was chosen by the Film Academy of the Philippines as the country’s official entry to the Academy Awards or the Oscars in September. It figured with the films On The Job by Erik Matti and Thy Womb by Brillante Mendoza for the spot. Espia, alumna of the UP Film Institute, was also hailed as best director for the Cinemalaya film fest 2013.

The UP Pep Squad, despite losing the UAAP cheerdance crown to National University, placed third in the 7th Cheerleading World Championships held in Thailand last Nov. 22. The UP Streetdance Club also bagged bronze for the Megacrew division of the World Hip Hop Dance Championship in Las Vegas for the second year.

In July, Economics graduate Jonathan Allen Yabut emerged champion of the first Apprentice Asia, a reality show for top business tycoons hiring junior executives. Yabut went home with a one-year contract with show sponsor AirAsia.

Photo from Kristel Tejada’s Facebook page
Photo from Kristel Tejada’s Facebook page

Kristel Tejada suicide

UP Manila freshman Kristel Tejada, 16, took her own life March 15 allegedly due to her inability to settle tuition loans for the previous semester. She had to file a leave of absence a few days prior to her death, which caused uproar against the university’s retention policies.

In response to the calls of the Justice for Kristel Alliance, the Board of Regents passed a policy in April which reads: “no qualified student will be denied UP education due to financial incapacity.” Revisions to certain provisions in the Student Code were also approved in December.

Solis’ award-winning but plagiarized photos

Graduate student Mark Joseph Solis became a center of social media buzz this year when he submitted a plagiarized photo and won in a Chilean Embassy contest. The owner of the photo is Brazil-based photographer Gregory John Smith who cried foul over the internet and exposed Solis’ deception. In an interview with GMA News, Solis apologized and said that poverty forced him to enter the contest using Smith’s photo.

Urged by Solis’ former coworker, UP President Alfredo Pascual instructed the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG), Solis’ home college, to form a fact-finding committee to conduct a lifestyle check and recommend measures to be taken regarding the case.

The Cultural Center of the Philippines immediately issued a statement deploring Solis’ act of plagiarism. The Chilean Embassy also took back his winnings and chose another winner for the competition.

In October, the committee discovered that Solis submitted at least seven stolen photos in different photography contests, which put Solis in danger of losing his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. The UP administration is yet to decide on the case as of this writing.

Disasters strike Visayas, Mindanao

Photo from Micaela Papa of GMA News
Photo from Micaela Papa of GMA News

National disasters, both natural and man-made, struck the country in 2013. Less than a month after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake shook Visayas in October, super typhoon Yolanda wreaked havoc in the still recovering areas of Bohol and Cebu and left the entire city of Tacloban, along with neighboring provinces, in ruins due to a storm surge. More than 200 people were killed in the quake, while the Yolanda death toll already reached beyond 6,000, while at least one million families lost their homes, according to authorities. Yolanda destruction is estimated at nearly P37 billion.

Meanwhile, the rebel group Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) attacked Zamboanga City in September, which resulted in a 12-day standoff with the military. The arrested 266 MNLF men were recently transferred to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

Anderson Cooper, Korina Sanchez and the question of ethics 

Anderson Cooper of international media CNN, without prior announcement, travelled to Yolanda-struck Tacloban to report on the current situation of those affected. Cooper was warmly accepted by Filipinos in the area. When he reported on Nov. 14 about the slow pace of relief efforts by the national government, news anchor Korina Sanchez, coincidentally the wife of Interior Secretary Mar Roxas who was in-charge of the operations, cried foul over his reports and called Cooper out for his allegedly flawed reportage. That was the last day Sanchez was seen on TV. Rumors spread that due to the incident, Sanchez was suspended by the ABS-CBN management, but she immediately refuted the rumors and said she was away for a special feature on Tacloban.

 Home away from home

When supertyphoon Yolanda struck Eastern Visayas on Nov. 8, UP Tacloban (UPT)  was not spared from the devastation, leaving only its Oblation statue standing. UP Pres. Pascual later released a memorandum urging all units to accommodate students from UPT as cross-registrants. In Diliman, particularly, cross-registrants whose families were affected by the typhoon were reassigned to STFAP bracket E2 which waived them of their tuition fees and gave them a monthly stipend. They were also given dorm slots for their stay in the campus, as well as a return trip to their homes in Visayas for the holiday break.

The UP satellite health sciences campus in Palo, Leyte also suffered extensive damage. The two campuses are now under relief and reconstruction.


The political battlefield remained to be an arena to keep a watchful eye on, both in and out of UP.

Photo by Antonio Jose Galauran, UP Aperture
Photo by Antonio Jose Galauran, UP Aperture

Napoles and the P10-B pork barrel scam 

This year, Janet Lim Napoles pierced through the consciousness of Filipinos as the face of the P10-billion pork barrel scam. In an article published by the Inquirer on July 12, Napoles was revealed as the person responsible for the scam allegedly made through her bogus non-government organizations (NGOs), exposing the involvement of 28 lawmakers including Senators Enrile, Revilla, and Estrada. The exposure of the pork scam sparked outrage among private individuals and organizations both locally and abroad. A Facebook event, dubbed as the “Million People March,” was created to gather Filipinos in a march to Luneta Park on National Heroes’ Day, which lead to one of the most momentous non-violent protests in the country since the People Power with almost 75,000 attendees.

 Towards electronic polls and back

In the May 13 midterm elections, newbies Grace Poe-Llamanzares, Nancy Binay and Bam Aquino made it to the top 12 of the race, much to the surprise of analysts. But aside from the victory of these political rookies, the glitches in the transparency servers were also a highlight during the May polls, which earned the Commission on Elections (Comelec), election watchdog PPCRV and Smartmatic Asia a lot of flak from the confused public. Add to that the apparent rush of Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. to proclaim winners prior to the completion of transmission and canvassing of votes from all over the country.

The barangay elections, meanwhile, were spared from all the doubts surrounding the midterm polls for Comelec enforced manual balloting. This was mostly due to the poll’s smaller scope, as the Sangguinang Kabataan elections were also postponed to allow the Congress to introduce reforms to the system.

The Commission is currently making sure that 2013 candidates properly declared their campaign contributions, as the law mandates a cap in their expenses.

Magaling’s impeachment and the ‘colorful’ USC drama

The University Student Council (USC) issued a suspension to Councilor Christian Lemuel “Lem” Magaling through a memorandum on Aug. 30 after earning 6.5 demerits allegedly due to violating the USC constitution and house rules. Magaling placed second in the councilor race during the Feb. 28 elections.

Under USC rules, a councilor with six demerits is automatically suspended. After a series of trials, which lasted until wee hours, Magaling was suspended and reinstated twice by his colleagues. Formal charges were filed by members of the Education and Research Committee which Magaling heads, but these were eventually dropped Nov. 15.

Magaling is back as councilor but is placed “under close provision,” according to USC Chairperson Ana Alexandra Castro. (Read more: USC drops all charges against Magaling)

Hits and misses with foreign relations

In August, the Philippine government apologized to the family of the Taiwanese fisherman shot and killed by the Philippine Coast Guard in May. The PCG reportedly fired the fisherman’s boat when it allegedly entered the Philippine territory near Batanes. The Taiwanese government placed sanctions on the country such as freeze hiring, which reportedly resulted in the loss of 10,000 jobs for Filipino workers.

On the other hand, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada apologized to the Hong Kong government in October for the killing of eight tourists in the 2010 Manila hostage taking incident. Despite threats of economic sanctions, President Benigno Aquino III refused to apologize, saying that “one lone gunman” is responsible for the tragedy.

Campus policies, controversies

BOR revamps STFAP, student code

The UP Board of Regents (BOR) approved reforms to the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP) and revisions to the University Student Code last Dec. 13, following controversies surrounding the body’s Nov. 28 meeting.

In the newly-approved Socialized Tuition Scheme which would replace the STFAP, bracket cut-offs were modified and the benefits enjoyed by Bracket E2 students were increased. The number of pages required for submission during the bracket application process would also be reduced. Revisions in the University Student Code covered Articles 330, 430, and 431. (Read more: BOR approves STFAP, Code revisions)

Despite the absence of Student Regent Krista Iris Melgarejo and the lack of quorum among its members, the BOR continued with its regular meeting allotted to discuss these proposed revisions. The move was met with criticism and protest from the students. In a meeting with USC officials, Pres. Pascual explained that the BOR’s decisions during in November were “not binding.” A university-wide consultation was initiated before the Dec. 13 meeting, which led to the passing of administration-backed proposals.

Campus security threats

On Oct. 16, Political Science professor Dr. Perlita Frago-Marasigan was reportedly attacked and robbed at the Palma Hall (AS) parking lot. Marasigan was handcuffed and driven around the campus by unidentified men before taking her possessions and leaving her in broad daylight. This occurred after similar security breaches in campus, such as the stabbing of Sampaguita dorm lady guard Marlyn Sudario on June 27.

These security lapses urged the university to improve safety measures, part of which is the proposal to put up CCTV cameras around the campus. The UP Diliman Police (UPDP) said additional security forces have been assigned around UP Diliman’s 493-hectare lot to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Renaming of UP CBA sparks debate 

The renaming of the UP College of Business Administration (CBA) to the Cesar EA Virata School of Business (VSB) early this year has been subject to questions of legality and validity, not only in CBA but among the entire UP community. The hasty BOR approval of the proposal to rename the college, along with the reputation of Cesar Virata as a former personality of the Marcos dictatorship are among the points of inquiry cited by critics.

According to an excerpt of the BOR’s minutes of the meeting, “Virata has served UP, the Philippine government and the country for many years and with clear distinction.” This justification, however, was not good enough for the majority of CBA students. On July 17, the School of Business Student Council conducted a survey among their students and alumni on the issue of the renaming and found that 97 percent of their sample were against the change. An official position paper supporting the decision of the student majority to denounce the renaming was submitted to the BOR for final decision.

The issue, however, was not included in the agenda of the recent BOR meeting due to lack of a formal report from UP Diliman. Virata’s brand on the institution stands as of this writing.

UP Town Center occupies UPIS lot

The UP Town Center, a commercial hub built on the UP Integrated School (UPIS) lot along Katipunan Avenue, opened in September this year. Constructions are still ongoing for the planned call center, supermarket, and shopping center, but various restaurants and shops already started operations.

The Ayala Land Inc. won the bidding for lease of the land in 2012 and signed a 25-year contract with the UP administration. UPIS students, however, have yet to make a full transfer to their new building located in the former Narra Residence Hall inside the campus, reportedly due to lack of classroom facilities.

In November, three people were hurt when a portion of the Town Center’s ceiling collapsed around the time when supertyphoon Yolanda hit the country.

Anonymous pages rise to fame   

2013 saw how “anonymity” can serve different reasons. The year saw two Facebook pages creep to popularity amazingly fast: the annual election commentary page Factcheck Diliman and the controversial The Diliman Files.

Now on its fourth year, Factcheck Diliman remained to be the go-to site of students for tales and insights during the colorful season of the USC elections. But this year, Factcheck’s credibility was questioned as it received demands to strip off their anonymity and bare their principles.

Another page, The Diliman Files or TDF, continues to bask in anonymous confessions sent in through an online form. Entries range from controversial school escapades (may it be academic, sexual or excretory), professor-student interactions, and the usual crush confessions spanning all gender labels. The popularity of the page can be seen in the sudden rise of subscribers, climbing up to thousands in just a few days. Social media is really an unpredictable arena — you will never know what it is going to serve next.

UAAP Sports

UP swimmer gets TRO, competes for UP

Freshman Mikee Bartolome filed a formal complaint against her former school University of Sto. Tomas (UST) and the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) for its controversial two-year residency rule on Aug. 28. The rule obliges high school graduates transferring from one UAAP member school to another to wait two years before competing again as an athlete.

Bartolome, the reigning UAAP juniors swimming MVP, was refused by UST to represent UP on the seniors swimming tournament. She was represented by her father Vic, and they were assisted by Sen. Pia Cayetano.

Presiding Judge Manuel Sta. Cruz, Jr. released a 20-day temporary restraining order (TRO) on the UAAP rule on Sept. 3 “in order not to render the issues in this case moot and academic.” Thanks to the TRO, Bartolome was able to swim for UP, bagging a gold, a silver and two bronze medals in four events.

UP took the championship in the said meet to complete a five-peat. UST, meanwhile, boycotted the tournament in protest of Bartolome’s participation.

Maroons team shaken up, 0-14 record remains

The UP Men’s Basketball Team started the season with wrong footing when point guard Mikee Reyes decided to leave the team after one game. Turning to twitter to announce his departure after allegedly having a misunderstanding with Coach Ricky Dandan, Reyes later told the details in an interview with “I wasn’t asked nor told to leave, but I was told (by Dandan) that they didn’t need me. They didn’t need me to win,” Reyes said. “I don’t see that as quitting. I just didn’t see the reason to stay and play so I decided it was time to move on.”

Seven games later, it was Dandan’s turn to bid the team goodbye. It was confirmed that Coach Ricky turned in his resignation Aug. 19, leaving the coaching job to team manager Rey Madrid. The change in system was critical for the team, as the Fighting Maroons went on to lose the next six games under Madrid, finishing the season in the cellar with a 0-14 win-loss card. The only consolation for the Maroons’ woeful season was the naming of Kyles Lao as the UAAP Season 76 Rookie of the Year.

Poverty and human rights

PH a rising tiger… in prices of commodities

Consumers experienced numerous price hikes throughout 2013. Particularly towards the end of the year, prices of basic needs such as gas, petroleum and electricity skyrocketed. Liquified petroleum gas (LPG) prices rose by more than P14 per kilo. The Manila Electric Company (Meralco) declared an increase in electricity charges by over P4 per kiloWatt hour citing the annual maintenance shutdown of several power plants. Oil prices continued to increase, to which transport groups responded with a proposed two-peso increase in transport fares. Talks on fare hikes to public trains LRT and MRT were also closed in August for a P10 increase to be implemented within two years.

pope-francisPope Francis the ‘liberal’

Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina succeeded as the new head of the Catholic Church after Pope Benedict XVI resigned Feb. 28 due to the latter’s “deteriorating health.” Naming himself in honor of the saint from Assisi, Pope Francis became the first Jesuit and non-European pope.

Contrary to his predecessor, Pope Francis’ early term highlighted his liberal stand on issues. On his way back to Vatican from Rio de Janeiro, the 77-year-old pope said homosexuals should not be marginalized and should be integrated to society. Pope Francis also attacked the global economic system and capitalism as “a new tyranny” and asked world leaders to fight poverty and inequality. However, the Pope was “shocked” by same-sex adoption in Malta.

TIME named Pope Francis as its Person of the Year and was the December cover of LGBT magazine The Advocate.

Workers cry against the masters

Throughout 2013, several labor unions made noise to assert labor rights.

In April, workers from the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) and Pentagon Steel Corporation held strikes against their respective companies. The Digitel Employees Union (DEU) picketed in front of the PLDT main office along Ayala Avenue, Makati and  before the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) office in Intramuros, Manila to express their frustration against contractualization and for the integration of operations with PLDT. Aside from a reinstatement notice by DOLE in August, no updates regarding their case have been released.

In late May, Coca Cola Bottlers Philippines Inc. employees also held a picket in front of their factory in Santa Rosa, Laguna to call for wage increase and tenure. Three days after the start of their strike, the management and the unions reached agreements for financial assistance and regularization.

The Pentagon Steel Workers Union, on the other hand, picketed in front of their Quezon City factory to cry foul against their management’s mass layoff. At present, there has been no progress in their case. By Melissa Luz Lopez, Mariejo Mariss Ramos, Marisse Gabrielle Panaligan, Darlene Cay, Beata Carolino, John Edison Ubaldo, Jodesz Alysa Gavilan, Dexter Cabalza, Bryan Ezra Gonzales, Ardelle Costuna and John Reczon Calay

Behind the seen: Lantern Parade 2013 preparations

Despite earlier news that the Lantern Parade was cancelled due to give way to ongoing relief efforts for the recent typhoon, the annual event will be held Wednesday, Dec.18. The parade is set to start at 4 p.m.

By Thomas Benjamin Roca and Arianne Christian Tapao

It is that time of the year again when different colleges, student organizations and independent groups of the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman unite in joy around the academic oval to end the year inside the university.

Despite earlier news that the Lantern Parade was cancelled to give way to ongoing relief efforts for the recent typhoon, the annual event will be held Wednesday, Dec.18. The parade is set to start at 4 p.m.

This year, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs (OVCCA) heads the Christmas Festivities Committee, which supervises and oversees all the events that will happen during the whole season.

The Lantern Parade should, according to OVCCA head Prof. Melania Flores, be made as a relief drive more than a simple celebration.

Earlier, after the disaster that has wreaked havoc in Visayas, the UP administration said the Lantern Parade will be cancelled this year. Instead, college-based exhibits of lanterns has been proposed.

Photo by Mai Urbiztondo, UP Aperture
Photo by Mai Urbiztondo, UP Aperture

However, on a meeting last Dec. 6 in the Diliman Gender Office, Flores acknowledged the changed perspective of the UP community on the subject matter.

Nagbago na ang pagtingin sa Yolanda… Ang parade dapat bago ang theme: babangon tayo (The view on Yolanda has changed… the parade must express a new theme: that we will rise again),” said Flores.

The event’s mood will be scaled down as well. Taking the initiative, the UP administration made a simple lighting of the Quezon Hall facade, and saved 100,000 pesos.

This year’s Pasko sa UP expenses is projected at 700,000 pesos, with a 500,000-peso cut compared to last year’s costs. All the savings will be used to help the 332 students from UP Tacloban, together with 172 sheltered families of these students in meeting their physical and psycho-emotional needs.

In addition, the lantern-floats to be made by the different colleges and organizations must strictly be produced from recyclable materials.

There will also be no fireworks display this year. The Beta Epsilon Fraternity, who sponsors the post-parade fireworks, was told to redirect the funds to relief efforts this year.

The fireworks display will be replaced by the singing of Sulong Isko, written by Professor Reuel Aguila as tribute to Yolanda victims.

Parade attendees are also expected to participate in a one-minute blackout and are encouraged to use their mobile phones to light up the place.

At the end of the parade, all the lantern-floats will be transported to the Maskom Hill (near the College of Mass Communication’s Plaridel Hall) and will stay there for the night.

In the next two days, the recyclables from lantern-floats will be disassembled and put to use as help for Yolanda victims.

Attendees for the parade are estimated to be at least 50,000, comprised of almost 22,000 students, spectators, guests and alumni. The figure is expected to triple, as the celebration timed with the 30th anniversary of the founding of the College of Arts and Sciences, which includes College of Science, Social Sciences and Philosophy, Arts and Letters.

Flores said the number was actually an “underestimation.”

The three colleges will unite in making a lone lantern-float for the competition, which will be supervised by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.

The collective efforts of the UPD Police and Special Services Brigade, headed by John Barona, will be responsible for the regulation of the traffic along the university campus.

Changes to this year’s Lantern Parade are in fact in remembrance for a time of new beginnings, despite the tragedies and losses.

It is not only a commemoration for the year that the nation has triumphed to survive, but also a kickoff for a year that is yet to come.

While the students, faculty, alumni and outsiders are expected to bask in the glory of the celebration, one must remember that UP does not hold the parade merely for fun, but for its greater significance – to instill the dynamism of bayanihan and to fulfill its pledge to provide service from the people, for the people.

IN FOCUS: Oblation Run calls for disaster awareness

The 36th Oblation Run held Friday noon served as the Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity’s (APO) call to help Typhoon Yolanda victims.

Story by Jinky Cabildo and Alliah Czarielle Guerra

Photos by Luis Adrian Hidalgo, UP Aperture

The 36th Oblation Run held Friday noon served as the Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity’s (APO) call to help Typhoon Yolanda victims.

“We are urging for the reliable response for the government regarding the distribution of relief goods for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban and to raise concern for the environment,” said APO publicity official Darien Mitchell Bas.

Hundreds gathered in Palma Hall to witness the iconic protest run.

With colorful masks and roses in their hands, roughly 40 members of the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) fraternity ran naked around the premises. 

“I think it was very brave of them to do that,” said Gabrielle Goebl, an exchange student taking up Molecular Biology and Biotechnology.

“It was awesome! We don’t have this in Europe,” she added.

Statements written on the placards carried by the runners singled out issues such as government corruption, particularly the pork barrel scam, and misallocation of funds for disaster response.

The runners’ masks were also sold for P500 each with the proceeds going to Typhoon Yolanda victims.

While many come for the public display of nudity, the essence of the protest remains. Bren Panaligan and Miguel Ramos, both from Pamatasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, believe that the Oblation Run was effective in conveying its message to the crowd and also to the media.

The Oblation Run is an annual APO tradition that started out as promotion for the 1977 play “Hubad na Bayani”. Since then, it has become known a call for attention and action on pertinent issues.

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How you can help: Yolanda relief operations

The following are various relief efforts around Metro Manila to help victims of supertyphoon Yolanda.

compiled by Pathricia Ann Roxas

The following are various relief efforts around Metro Manila to help victims of supertyphoon Yolanda.

Jump to: Quezon City  |   Manila   |   Pasig   |    Taguig   |    Mandaluyong   |   Makati    |    Other


  1. Yolanda- RFL Tracing Form: Welfare Desks including RFL and tracing services are established in the affected areas. National Societies abroad that are approached by families without news of their loved ones can contact the PRC Social Services Department.
    Mobile: 0917 532 8500
    Landline: 527 0000 loc. 126, 527 0867
    Twitter: @philredcross @justcallmelloyd @ilovemishang @lynvgarcia or use the #TracingPH
    Online link:
  2. Rescue PH: A site where people could send requests for rescue via SMS
    Text: “RescuePH< Name of person to rescue >< address, municipality> ” SEND TO 26008(Globe) or 68008 (SMART)
    Sample: “RescuePH Juan dela Cruz #5 Avenida Ave, Davao City Collapsed roof 0918-1231234”
    Or online:
  3. Hashtags on FB and Twitter 

#RescuePH (Urgent Rescue Needed)

#YolandaPH (Media storm coverage)

#TracingPH (Report Missing Person)

#SafeNow (Resolved #RescuePH)

#ReliefPH (Resource Coordination)

#FloodPH (Damage Reporting)


Open Relief Operations Centers via (as of 8:30pm, Monday, November 11, 2013)

Quezon City

  • UP Foundation, Inc. (cash donations): 929-1941, 981 8500 local 4304; DETAILS:
    Payee: U.P. Foundation, Inc.
    Address: Room 102, Fonacier Hall (Alumni Center)
    Magsaysay Avenue, University of the Philippines
    Diliman, Quezon City, 11021. Union Bank of the Philippines (Acropolis Branch)
    Peso-Savings Account No.: 00053000-6820
    171 Bridgeview Bldg. E. Rodriguez Jr Avenue, Bagong Bayan, Quezon City2. Philippine National Bank(U.P. Campus Branch)
    Apacible Street, U.P. Campus, Diliman, Quezon City
    Branch Code: 1275
    Peso-Savings Account No.: 393565000023
    PNB Swift Code: PNBmPHmm3. Philippine National Bank (New York Branch)
    Branch Name: PNB New York Branch
    Branch Code: 700
    Customer ID No.: 9400378
    US Dollar-Savings Account No.: 94003788000015
    30 Broad Street 36th Floor, New York, NY 10004
    Tel. No.: (212) 790-9600, Fax No.:(212) 382-2238; Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company
    Head Office, Metrobank Plaza, Senator Gil J. Puyat Avenue Extension, 1200 Makati City, Philippines
    Branch code: 066
    EURO Savings Account No.: 066-2066-600429
    Swift code or routing No.: mbtcphmm
    Fedwire/Fedline: 0260-02846
  • IskoOperations: UP Diliman USC Student Council, New CHK gym, UP Diliman, Commonwealth Avenue, Alex Castro, 0917-8725396, Tweet @uscupdiliman
  • TulongKabataan: UP System, UP Office of the Student Regent are accepting donations in cash or kind. Dropoff point: Vinzon’s Hall, UP Diliman, Quezon City. Contact Eds (0927)384-1392 or Zie (0916)796-5740) for more information.
  • Ateneo De Manila Disaster Response and Management Team is accepting cash donations. Check this page on how to donate. For inquiries contact the Office of the Vice President for Social Development at (632) 4266001 locals 4051, 4054, 4099.
  • Citizen’s Disaster Response Center is calling for donations and volunteer’s at 72-A Times St., West Triangle Homes, Quezon City. Call 929-9820 for inquiries.
  • Rock Ed Philippines is focusing on donations of new underwear for victims of typhoon Yolanda. Drop off point is at Route 196 Bar along Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City. You may also deposit cash to BPI account# 3080-0073-44 of Rock Ed Phillipines. Tweet @gangbadoy for more details.
  • AWANA Organization Philippines is accpeting donations starting Monday, November 10, 9am-6pm at 35-A Scout Tobias Street, BrgyLagingHanda in Quezon City. For cash donations, you may visit us at our office or deposit your donation to: BPI Family Bank (E. Rodriguez-Broadway Branch) Peso Current Account Number: 6871-0015-86 Dollar Current Account Number: 6874-0059-22 Swift: BOPIPHMM. Contact Jennifer Jansalin at (02) 376-5688 or 0928-8531693
  • TulongKabataan Relief Drive is calling out for volunteers, food, medicine and non food donations. You can donate via Paypal or sign up to volunteer. Operations ongoing at the following addresses:
    • KabataanPartylist HQ: #5 Palosapis St., BrgyAmihan, Proj 3, Quezon City
    • CEGP National Office: 37-C Yale St., Cubao, Quezon City
    • LFS HQ,:1650 Sisa St., SampalocKaratula Up, Manila
  • Lingap Gabriella Manila, drop off relief goods, medicines, and cash donations at 35 Scout Delgado St., Brgy. LagingHanda / 25 K-10th Street, West Kamias, Quezon City. Contact 374-3451 for more details or tweet @gabrielaphils.
  • OplanKaagapay/NOYLeads, Junior Chamber International Philippines (Philippine Jaycees) is accepting donations at 14 Don A. Roces Avenue, Quezon City. Contact Ismael Penado at 749-9399 for inquiries.
  • Simbahang Lingkod Ng Bayan (SLB) is launching Task Force BangonPilipinas, a call for humanitarian assistance for the survivors and affected families of the recent disasters which devastated our nation. Cash and check donations may be deposited here:
      (Account Name/Payee)
      Bank of the Philippine Islands (Loyola-Katipunan Branch)
      BPI Peso Checking Account Number: 3081-1111-61
      BPI Dollar Savings Account Number: 3084-0420-12
      ROUTING NO: 021- 0000-21
    • Or send directly to: SIMBAHANG LINGKOD NG BAYAN
      Loyola House of Studies
      Ateneo de Manila University
      Loyola House 1108, Quezon City
    • Volunteers may contact:
      Program Manager for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management
  • The Center for Disaster Preparedness is accepting any kind of donations for the victims of TS Yolanda and Visayas’ earthquake. Donations may be dropped off at the Center for Disaster Preparedness Foundation Inc. CSWCD bldg., R Magsasay Ave. UP Campus, Diliman, Quezon City. You may also call 926 6996, 928 7285.
  • Youth Alliance Philippines Inc., is pooling donations (cash or in kind) for a relief operation and Medical Mission in Leyte in conduit with UP Pahinungod. Donation drop off point is at #28 Brixton Hill Street, Barangay Santol, Quezon City. Monetary donations may be deposited in this bank account:
      • BPI: 1589 1220 18
      • BDO: 000 301 000 816
      • Please contact Althea Perez (09178388432) and Tina Arroyo (09064449166) for more details.


  • St. Scholastica’s College is accepting donations (cash or in kind). You may drop off the donations at 2560 Leon Guinto St., Manila, located behind DLS-College of St. Benilde. For cash donation, you may look for Sr. Selene or Dr. Rebecca Cacho. For donations through check or deposit, account name is St. Scholastica’s College Manila, BDO account number 4580-000-210. If the donor is not based in Manila, inform the BDO manager that the deposit is for relief operations and have your fees waived. You may then email your transaction receipts to for proper acknowledgment.
  • Phi Yolanda Relief Operations of Phi Kappa Mu Fraternity and Phi Lambda Delta Sorority of UP Manila, Pagkalma Park, UP College of Medecine, Pedro Gil St., Malate, Manila, Contact Miko – 09175129144 or Gela – 09277029488, tweet @PhiLambdaDelta
  • TulongTomasino of the UST Simbahayan Community Development Office in Manila is accepting donations. Tweet @USTCSC
  • Center for Social Action and Concern (COSCA) De La Salle University Manila, food and non food donations can be droped off at the COSCA Office 2nd Floor, Br Connon Hall. Contact Joseph Rosal at (0922) 899-2558 for inquiries.
  • UP UgnayanngPahinungod-Manila is organizing a university disaster response medical mission to Leyte with plans of relief distribution focused on Palo, Leyte. Contact Dr.Lulin Luz starting November 11, Monday (landline: 526-6950 and 526-6951) for inquiries and donations. In need of donations particularly medical supplies and volunteer MD’s, nurses, and health care personnel and volunteers for packing of relief goods.
  • SorokUni Foundation Inc. is accepting donations in cash and in kind for the victims in Visayas. Donations can be dropped off at SorokUni Foundation Inc. 3rd Flr. ECJ Bldg. Real St. Intramuros, Manila. Cash donations may be deposited to this bank account:
    • BPI Acct Name: SorokUni Foundation Inc.
    • Acct No. 4991-0015-52
    • Contact Ms. Bernadette or Ms. Grace at 025775999/ 09175921724 for more informtion. Their facebook account can be accessed here.
  • Caritas Damayan, Caritas Manila Inc is accepting relief goods at 2002 Jesus St. Pandacan, Manila. Cash donation may be coursed through:

Peso bank accounts:

BPI SA# 3063-5357-01

BDO SA# 5600-45905

PNB CA# 10-856-660001-7;

UNION BANK CA# 00-030-001227-5

Dollar bank accounts:

BPI #3064-0033-55 (swift code BOPI PH MM)

PNB #10-856-660002-5 (swift code PNB MPH MM)


      • The MVP TulongKapatid Center will be open today from 9AM to 5PM to accept cash and relief goods at the Meralco Covered Tennis Court, Meralco Compound, Ortigas, Pasig City. Contact EdsAddun at (0939)913-3771 or 632-8301 for more details.
      • The University of Asia and the Pacific is accepting donations (both in cash and in kind) for Typhoon Yolanda victims. Drop off point is at the Pearl Drive entrance of the school. For further information contact Erika Ng at 09175598862 or e-mail her at
      • Operation Blessing Philippines is accepting donations in cash and kind at E. Rodriguez Ave. C5 Road cor. Corporal Cruz BagongIlog, Pasig City. Call 477-7802 to 04 or (0917)581-2603 for more details. Operation Blessing is also accepting volunteers for their partners in Cebu and other nearby areas.

Taguig City

  • Victory Church Fellowship at LGF Every Nation Building 32nd St. Corner University Parkway, Bonifacio Global City is now accepting relief goods.
  • U! Happy Events is accepting donations at URBN Bar and Kitchen in the Fort Strip, Bonifacio Global City. Contact Harvard Uy de Baron at (0917)887-4278 for more details.
  • St. Michael’s Church at The Fort is accepting donations through Father Arnold. Water and food are badly needed. The church addesss is at 39th Street, North Bonifacio Triangle, Bonifacio Global City.
  • TindogTacloban, a partnership among private individuals, Victory Christian Fellowship (VFC), and the City Mayor’s Office of Tacloban are accepting donations and volunteers for deployment. Contact Ms. Joey Hernandez at 347-3975 for inquiries. Donations may be dropped off at the following locations:
    • VCF Alabang – 4th Floor Filinvest Wing, Festival Supermall, Alabang, Muntinlupa City
    • VCF Fort – 32nd Street corner University Parkway Bonifacio Global City
  • Hands on Manila need volunteers who will pack relief goods for Typhoon Yolanda survivors at the Army Gym in Taguig. The map can be found here.

Mandaluyong City

      • Give a Drop of Love, CFC Foundation, Inc. WWP at Apartelle 12, Starmall Complex, EDSA cor. Shaw Blvd., Madaluyong City are accepting food/non-food donations. For cash donations: CFCFI BPI Mandaluyong Branch, Dollar: 0184-0279-84 or Peso: 0181-0504-89. Fax your deposit slip to (+632) 718-2213. Contact Anna Arcaya at 718-2213 or (0923)583-8577 for more details.
      • The Dream Project Philippines is accepting donations at the RFM Corporate Center, Pioneer cor. Sheridan Street, Mandaluyong City. Contact Prim Paypon at 09088100424.

Makati City

  • ETYSBM Student Council of Mapua Institute of Technology is now accepting relief goods at 333 333 Gil Puyat Ave, Makati City. Contact Angeline Bernardino (0915)446-9715 or Edgar Aquino (0905)149-2319 for more information.
  • Santuario de San Anotio Church at 3117 McKinley Road, Forbes Park, Makati will be accepting on November 10 at 9am at the Parish Center. The goods will have to be packed in Manila for immediate distribution in Tacloban and other affected areas. Call (632) 843-8830 to 31 for more details.
  • The Palladium, Ateneo Law School’s official publication, is accepting donations for quake and Typhoon Yolanda victims in the Visayas. Drop your donations at The Palladium PubRoom, 3/F Ateneo Professional Schools, Rockwell, Makati City. For more information, contact Abe Guinigundo at 09162504430.
  • The Lyceum College of Law is collecting relief goods at the LPU Law Student Government Office,Lyceum College of Law 109 L.P. Leviste Street, Salcedo Village Makati City. For further inquiries, please contact Fudge Tajar at 0915 3422304.
  • Punongbayan&Araullo is accepting donations in cash and in kind until Wednesday, November 13. Donations may be dropped off at their office in 19th, 20th and 23rd Floor, Tower 1 The Enterprise Center, Ayala Avenue, Makati City. For more information, contact YusophMaute (09234501004/09175793177). For cash donations:
        • Bank Account Name: P&A Foundation, Inc.
        • Bank Account Number: 096-3-09652319-0


Other places in Metro Manila

  • De La Salle College of St Benilde’sYakap Mo YakapKo Benefit Concert was originally a benefit concert for the kids in Smokey Mountain. The Betina and Catalino Yap Foundation was planning to build a library in the area. They will be accepting donations during the event on November 22, 2013, 6pm-10pm. Regular price for the concert is Php 300.00
  • Dakila’s Ride and Rock Relief is calling on artists, cyclicts, donors, and individuals willing to donate their talent, time, and relief goods on November 10, 9am to 4pm at My Little Arts Place, 222 Wilson St., San Juan City, Metro Manila. For inquiries call 435-4309.
  • De La Salle Santiago Zobel through its Social Action Office (SAO) now accepts donations for the affected communities in the recent Typhoon Yolanda. Kindly bring all donations to Gate 2, 3, and 7 of the campus. For inquiries, contact Mr.Jayjay Jacinto at 0917-8597602 or Ms. Evangeline De Peralta at 0917-5638870. Please deposit your cash donations to the school account with the following details:

Account Name: De La Salle Santiago Zobel School
Bank: Union Bank of the Philippines, Ayala Alabang Village
Peso Account: 0180-3000-6691
US Dollar Account: 0181-0100-9418

Send a scanned copy of the deposit slip to for proper acknowledgment.

  • The Mu Sigma Phi Relief Operations of the UP College of Medicine s now again accepting donations for victims of Typhoon Yolanda. Eman (0925-884-3050) or Billy (0927-571-1017/0922-535-6100).
    • Monetary donations may be deposited at the following account:
      Account name: Mu Sigma Phi Relief Operations
      Account number: 504259500015
      Bank: Philippine National Bank (PNB) – PGH Branch
    • Donations from overseas may also be coursed through the following:
      Swift Code: PNBMPHMM
      Routing # 01008-0081
  • The Philippines General Council of the Assemblies of God (PGCAG), Inc., is accepting donations for the victims. Donations in kind may be dropped off in their office in Bethel Bible College Compound, Gov. I. Santiago Ave., Malinta Valenzuela, City. They may be reached through 0922.8653757 (SUN), 0908.8217812 (SMART), 0917.7965025 (GLOBE) or email them at donations may be coursed through the following peso bank account:
    • Banco De Oro (BDO) Peso Savings Account (Karuhatan – Mc Arthur Highway Branch)
      Account Name: Philippines General Council of the Assemblies of God, Inc.
      Account Number: 3850000618
      Swift Code: BNORPHMM


  • DSWD is accepting donations: NAIA Chapel Road, Pasay City (at the back of CAAP)
    • RoelMontesa – 09263469927,
    • Elma Pille –
    • Cash deposits accepted – DSWD Bank Acct. at Landbank of the Philippines Nos. 3122-1011-84 (current) and 3124-0055-81 (savings) Fe Catalina Ea – 09186281897
    • Repacking of relief goods ongoing at DSWD-NROC, Pasay City. Interested volunteers can call 8512681 to schedule.
    • World Vision, an international Christian humanitarian, development and relief organization is accepting donations for Typhoon Yolanda survivors. Donor hotline 372-7777 or visit their website
    • Operation WalangIwanan – GawadKalinga
    • World Food Programme Philippines is accepting donations through their website
    • ABS-CBN SagipKapamilya pledge lines (02) 411-0183, 411-0182, 411-0115
      Accepting relief goods and cash donations, with other drop-off points nationwide: Cebu, Bacolod, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro and Davao
    • The Philippine Red Cross provides many ways to donate. Hotline: 143 Trunkline: 5270000
      • You may also SMS donations by texting RED<space>AMOUNT to 2899(Globe) or 4143(Smart)
    • Cebu Provincial Government, is in need of volunteers to repack relief goods for Northern Cebu, Leyte, and Bohol. Contact Ms. Evelyn Senajon at 254-7198 and 254-8397, PSWDO, Ground Floor Executive Bldg., Cebu Provincial Capitol.
    • The Office of Senator Bam Aquino, Extension Room 23, 5/F Senate of the Philippines, GSIS Financial Complex, Pasay City, is accepting donations Monday to Thursday from 9am – 6pm. ContactMr. Ares Goyena at (0917)621-6311.
    • The Philippine Daily Inquirer is accepting cash donations through the following accounts:
      • BPI – C/A 4951-0067-56
        Account name – Philippine Daily Inquirer Inc.
        Metrobank – C/A 7286-8109-30
        Account name – Philippine Daily Inquirer Inc.
        Contact Bianca Casilag or Connie Kalagayan at 897-8808 or 899-4426.
    • All LBC branches are accepting donations for typhoon Yolanda victims until November 30.
    • The Archdiocese of Manila is accepting cash donations for Yolanda Relief Fund. You may deposit in any of the following bank accounts:
      • For Peso donations: BPI S/A #0053-2762-53.
      • For USD donations: BPI S/A #0054-0089-53
      • For Euro donations: BPI S/A #00545-0139-49
      • Account name:ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF MANILA, BPI Plaza Cervantes Branch, Binondo, Manila
      • For acknowledgement of donation, please contact or send deposit slip to: TREASURY AND ACCOUNTING DEPARTMENT, Arzobispado de Manila,121 Arzobispo St., Intramuros, Manila
      • TEL/FAX Nos. (632)5273852, 5273953
      • Email at:
    • Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC), through Jollibee Group Foundation (JGF), is now accepting donations for our kababayans affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). Drop your donations in JGF coinbanks found in over 2,000 JFC stores (Jollibee, Chowking, Greenwich, Red Ribbon, MangInasal and Burger King) across the country. You may also opt to directly deposit your cash or check donations to these bank accounts:
      • PESO ACCOUNT: Metrobank – CubaoAraneta Branch (Account Name: Jollibee Group Foundation – 473-7-47301401-3)
      • DOLLAR ACCOUNT:BDO – Megamall Branch Account Name: Jollibee Foundation, Inc.Account Number: 100661267008Swift Code: BNORPHMM

(This page is being constantly updated for information.)

Studying in Diliman, living in Tacloban

Much to her chagrin, people who lived in places not affected by the typhoon even found humor in the disaster. For them, she could only say: kung alam niyo lang (if only they knew).

Contributed by Alex Austria

Updated Nov. 14, 10:44 p.m.

Nov. 8, 2013 started out like any normal Friday for DJ Pesado, a fourth year BS Materials Engineering student from the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman. Though she knew that a strong typhoon would hit her hometown in Tacloban, Leyte soon, she initially shrugged it off.

Sanay na naman kami doon sa Region VIII, na laging dinadaanan ng bagyo (Coming from Region VIII, we are already used to being hit by typhoons),” she shares. DJ even had prior contact with her sister, who is in Tacloban, the night before Supertyphoon Yolanda (International name: Haiyan) hit their hometown.

Her sister told her that though it was already Signal No. 4 in Tacloban, there was nothing to be worried about.

“Normal lang sa amin na mag-imbak ng food, mag-aayos ng bahay kung may mga tulo (It was normal for us to store food and to fix our roofs when there’s a leak),”says DJ.

She only started to worry on the day of the storm surge, when she saw footages from a major news network of the extent of the damage caused by Typhoon Yolanda across Tacloban. In her 20 years of living there, DJ said she has never encountered a storm that strong in the typhoon-prone region.

DJ tried texting and calling her family in Tacloban, but to no avail. It was about the same time when she learned from news reports that all communication lines were cut in her hometown.

DJ was in UP that day, attending her classes. But she couldn’t focus, knowing all too well that their place back in Tacloban, V&G Subdivision, was a flood-prone area.

“Kung may bagyo, lagi yang may joke sa amin: ‘Oh, may barko na ba sa V&G? (Whenever a storm comes, there’s always this running joke in our area: ‘Oh, are there now ships inside V&G?’),” she recalls.

Tacloban, Leyte was one of the hardest-hit areas during the wrath of Typhoon Yolanda. Photo from
Tacloban, Leyte was one of the hardest-hit areas during the wrath of Typhoon Yolanda. Photo from

DJ soon found that the recent storm was no laughing matter for them.

Data from the National Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council show at least 1,774 were reported dead across the country, with thousands more injured and at least 82 people missing.

Police estimate the number of casualties to reach up to 10,000 people in Tacloban City alone. The towns remain without power and communication signals as of this writing. Families remain in evacuation centers, which are running low on food and water.

Much to her chagrin, people who lived in places not affected by the typhoon even found humor in the disaster. For them, she could only say: kung alam niyo lang (if only they knew).

But she knows that she cannot blame those people. DJ admits that she has had her own share of indifference in past disasters which occurred in other parts of the country.

Parang ganun lang din ako, [kasi] wala namang effect sa akin yung mga nangyayari (I was like that, because the disasters didn’t affect me before),” she recalls.

But as someone who has directly experienced fearing for one’s family and loved ones in a typhoon-ravaged area, she gained a new perspective.

Since nabaliktad, naramdaman ko na yung sakit, yung inis. Parang, marami na ang namatay dito, ganyan pa rin kayo? Pero…di ko na sinasabi explicitly. Nasa isip ko na lang kasi yun nga, I was in their shoes once (Now that the tables have turned, I can now feel the pain, the frustration. I can only think: many people have died here, but why are you like that? But… I don’t say it explicitly. I keep it to myself, as I was in their shoes once),” she said.

But the Internet and social media had their use for those like DJ, who are on the lookout for any information about their loved ones. She said they were helpful especially for those who had no means of communication to Leyte and Samar.

Despite the convenience, she could not help but be wary, as some data were unreliable.

Since walang makaka-verify sa info posted, it’s up to us kung maniniwala kami o hindi. Pangit man o hindi ang info, iniisip na lang naming na sana ma-verify na lang agad (Since no one can verify the information posted, it’s up to is to believe it. Bad or good, we just hope that the information may be verified soon),” she said.

DJ has tried the Google Person Finder and the different trackers set up by media organizations, but has so far failed to receive any word from her family in Tacloban.

Some towns are worse off, as DJ cites examples of her friends who do not have any news whatsoever about what happened in their respective hometowns, such as one from Dulag, a coastal area in Leyte.

These areas are given very little attention, unlike Tacloban, Palo and Ormoc as seen in the news, she adds.

But until they know nothing from their families, the best DJ and the others who have families afflicted by the typhoon can do is to help.

Since the typhoon hit, DJ devotes her spare time at the local branch of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) or in various relief operations set up by local governments, colleges and universities.

DJ appeals to the public to donate relief goods and help in their packing: Kahit kaunti lang talaga na tulong, okay na yun (Small efforts to help [typhoon victims] are enough).

She adds that pity alone is not enough. “Hindi kami makakabangon kung awa lang ang ibibigay (We won’t be able to recover on pity).”

Though not everyone can relate to what she is currently going through, DJ wishes they would be sensitive enough to know how the calamity has affected an entire region.

Homes, establishments and sources of livelihood were left as scrap as the supertyphoon hit Tacloban. Those left standing were ravaged by survivors, in search of food and supplies to get them by.

With her story, she hopes that the impact of the devastation of Typhoon Yolanda goes beyond the pictures that one now sees frequently in the media.

Maramdaman na rin sana nila kung gaano kalala ‘to (I hope they realize how serious the situation is),” says DJ. “Life goes on here. Hindi lang namin mapigilang umiyak paminsan. Paano babangon ang Leyte at Samar? Back to scratch lahat (Life goes on here. We just can’t refrain from crying sometimes. How will Leyte and Samar recover? Everyone goes back to scratch).”

For DJ and her friends who came from Eastern Visayas, the whole experience is painful. “Dito, wala lang siya. Pero doon, wala talaga. Tumigil ang oras (Here [in Manila], it’s nothing. But [in Visaya], nothing’s left. Time stopped),” says DJ.

Tumigil ang buhay sa amin.”

UPDATE: DJ was able to contact her family on Tuesday afternoon. Her father said they were all safe, and are surviving on relief packs from the Department of Social Welfare and Development. He fears that supplies might soon run out. Security is unstable in the area as police personnel deployed there are not enough to cover the whole city, he added.

(Alex Austria is a fourth year Journalism student from the UP Diliman College of Mass Communication. Other contributions may be sent to, and will be subject to editing.)