CDO: Our Vacation Turned Relief Operation – Part 1

Posted: January 1, 2012 in Blog, Events, Travel
Tags: , , , , , ,

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CDO: Our Vacation Turned Relief Operation
Part1
ITLog No. 13
(26-30 December, 2011)

We had planned this trip months in advance to as to let our kids experience the wonderful adventures Cagayan de Oro has to offer, specially the white water rafting which I had already done twice, once in 2007 with my brother, and again in 2009 with my travel partner, carol; plus the other activities The Adventure Capital of the Philippines has to offer.

But tragedy struck… Typhoon Sendong (international codename “Washi”) made landfall in Northern Mindanao and brought much destruction to Cagayan de Oro and Iligan.

The Manila Observatory cited historical evidence that storms rarely make landfall in Mindanao. That fact has been used to explain why local officials and the public didn’t show much of a response to warnings about Sendong’s pending arrival. The Manila Observatory noted that in the last 15 years, only six tropical cyclones crossed Mindanao, and only one in 10 years in December.

None of the previous Mindanao storms had this kind of impact.

The Manila Observatory also noted that Sendong ranked among the most destructive tropical cyclones in Philippine recorded history, including Uring (1991, Ormoc), Pepeng (2009, Northern Luzon), Juaning (2011, Bicol) and Ondoy (2009, Metro Manila).

Yet all of them were classified as “weak”, suggesting that PAGASA’s current storm warning system, which takes into account only a storm’s wind speed, is inadequate for indicating the potential danger of a coming storm.

Typhoon Sendong hit very late in the season, and it also hit to the south of the typical path for Philippine tropical systems. It is only once every twelve years, on average, that a tropical cyclone impacts Mindanao, so this was a shock indeed especially since it may be the worst in over 60 years. Adding to the element of surprise were the following conditions: the storm sped up just prior to landfall (making timely warning difficult); once over land, the storm slowed or stalled above the mountainous terrain, pouring down extraordinary volumes of rain in a short time; the flooding occurred in the very early morning time which was fraught with great darkness; and, finally, many local authorities did not carry out evacuation orders.

A week after Typhoon Sendong hit, we were scheduled to visit CDO and with the efforts of concerned groups and individuals we brought with us boxes of relief goods for CDO, including loaves of bread (which was a hit when we distributed them), toothbrushes and toothpastes, candies for the kids, packs of noodles, canned goods, blankets and pillows, and clothes. Since we could not carry all these items, we had to ship them thru Zest Airways but not the perishable goods which we had to pay for its cargo.

Our flight was scheduled to leave at 0330hrs, so we picked up the kids in Sucat, Parañaque then headed to the domestic airport where Tin and Geloy (who booked their flight in order to help in the relief) were waiting for us at the entrance when we arrived, so was Mervin together with 23 boxes which contains 400 loaves of bread was also there to try and ship the boxes for free but since it was not sure when Zest Air could ship it for free, and this has to be distributed before the expiry date, we decided to pay the cost of shipping, but since the terminal gates opens only at 0130hrs we had to wait in line at the gate of the terminal.

Finally allowed to enter the terminal, passing thru the customary checks, we headed for the check-in counter where we were assisted by Malu Gamboa and Arnel Pansoy, who made sure that the boxes we check in are safe. Then waited for our flight at the departure area.

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Boarded the plane and left Manila at around 0345hrs, with an hour and 15 minutes of flight time, we tried to get some shut eyes but since it was the first plane ride of kyle and Mikael they could not sleep because of the excitement. Arriving around 0500hrs in CDO airport, got our bags and boxes that we brought and was greeted by my sister and brother-in-law together with the Franciscan seminary brothers including my older brother who are in Davao, and were doing medical missions in CDO (which became sort of a family reunion for us) and then headed to the cargo area to claim the boxes of bread.

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Heading to the house of my sister, we passed by kala-kala (this was the part of CDO which was the worst hit by the flood) and saw all the destruction the flood had caused CDO. Upon reaching the house and given our room assignments (girls stayed at the girls room, and the boys in the boys room, while the brothers stayed in the guest room). After bringing all the boxes down, and the others started to rest, I decided to join the Brothers on their Medical Mission. After heading to Morning Mist Subdivision where they took a bath and changed, we headed for Barangay Consolacion and set-up in a school still covered in mud.

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After a long day and eating our lunch late in the afternoon, we had to end the Mission because of the impending rain, so we packed-up all the things and said our goodbyes then headed back to Morning Mist Subdivision to bath and change. After freshening up, we headed for SM CDO to buy some mosquito nets to distribute, but since they had just a limited stock, we decided to get it and then get others in cogon area the next day. Headed back to the house in Tibasak, where we ate our dinner then just to relax we had a jam session with the kids. Playing till we all felt sleepy and retired for the day.

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Continued…

All photos are owned and copyrighted by Joey Rico (also known under these names: alien_scream).
All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized use, copy, editing, reproduction, publication, duplication and distribution of the digital photos, without his explicit permission, is punishable by law

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Philippines License.

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