Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan- No Joke

I know wikipedia is frowned upon and in college we are banned from using it…but my blog, my rules.. and thank goodness I won't have a prof grading this!  The following is a brief description of the recent typhoon that plagued the Philippines via wikipedia:

"Typhoon Haiyan, known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, was an exceptionally powerful typhoon that devastated portions of southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines, in early November 2013. It is the DEADLIEST Philippine typhoon on record,[1] killing at least 5,235 people in that country alone.[2] Haiyan is also the strongest storm recorded at landfall, and unofficially the fourth strongest typhoon ever recorded in terms of wind speed.[3]"


I know we have all heard about it the news. Seeing it is one thing, but knowing your family is actually going through it is far worse.  As many of you know I am half Filipino.  My mom is born and raised Filipino.  She grew up on Panay Island, in San Enrique (near Iloilo), in Barangay Braulan.  I have had the pleasure of visiting her home three times before, and nearly all of her family still resides there to this day.

 Map of Panay Island

This was two years ago when I visited my family after a tournament with the Malditas.

Earlier this month I was away from my parents house down in South Carolina for a friend's wedding. I had been driving and prepping for the trip so hadn't been on social media or any media for that matter. One of my friend's texted me and asked if my family and friends were okay because there was a typhoon on its way.  Well, I have been in the Philippines during  typhoon and it is a usual thing there.  There has already been at least 10 this year so hearing about a typhoon didn't alarm me at first. Then when I saw it on the news I got worried after realizing the severity of the incoming storm.  I called my mom to see if she had spoke to the family.  The news in America was telling us it was a Level 4 storm, but for some reason my family in the Philippines only heard it was a Level 1.  My mom was only able to get a hold of one of her relatives and during the conversation they were cut off.  Typhoons and rain always mean terrible phone service and often times the electricity will go out, but with what we were hearing in the news, my mom and I were both worried.  My mom went into big sister mode (being the 2nd oldest of 6) and started to make sure her family was ready for the storm and really knew was heading towards them.  

The path of Typhoon Haitian

If you compare the picture of where my mom's family is located up above with this one you can see that they are pretty much right below that red swirl.  Now, we could only wait and see what cards the universe would deal my family.  Luckily, my family in the Philippines were all safe and alive and no serious injuries.  My friends in Manila, as you can see on the map, were hardly affected, just the normal strong winds and heavy rain dampening a day in Manila.    

But back to the barrio (the term we use to describe the neighborhood or area in the countryside, similar to "campo").. my family pretty much live in one designated area.  There's my lola's house and then her kids have their homes nearby, all within walking distance of one another.  And then the wives and husbands of my aunts and uncles also have family members nearby.  That is why when you go to the Philippines, EVERYBODY is your family, and why filipinos are known to be friendly and welcoming (unless of course you catch me in a soccer game or on a mtv challenge then my maldita side comes out :p). 
Just a few of my relatives!

Inside my Lola's house last year with my cousins, tita, and lola

In front of my tita's house last year. Houses like these suffered significant damage.

In my tita's house two years ago. Much of the houses are constructed with bamboo. 

Anyway, of the homes, my lola has the strongest, so a lot of the family gathered there.  Lola Iluminada (what an awesome name!), had around 30 people cram into her home during the storm.  And good thing too, because all they other homes that weren't as sturdy were partially shredded as you will see in pics below.  

Roof blown off

Roof blown off and even inside is damaged

Destruction and debris

 More destruction

and more

Tree damage

Well, what is going on now?  Because so many people were affected by the typhoon most resources are limited.  Carpenters for rebuilding are tending to their own families right now.  Generators are triple the price and are only in main cities.  My family is currently trying to acquire one, but it is turning out to be a arduous task.  One of my cousins in Manila might have to get it there and then travel by boat instead of by plane to get a generator to my family.  Power is out for the next few months probably and that is why a generator helps!  
 The make shift kitchen for the meantime

For now, my family are back to how our ancestors lived which for a filipino in the barrio won't be as hard as it would be for some of us.  For me, I don't know if I would survive!  When I visit there, one second I see the chickens basking in the afternoon sun, next thing I see my 10 yr old cousin snapping its neck and then I see the chicken and all its parts on the dinner table :).  They don't waste a thing out there! Luckily, nearby neighbors have generators and charge a mere 40 pesos for phone charging (though that is a dollar here and that adds up!).  So I guess I would survive.. as long as I could charge my phone and my cousins can snap chicken's necks.

We're also lucky that the newly paved main road is still open, linking us to the nearest open town that is still up and running. The hospital is also in good condition. Unfortunately my lola is there now after being injured in a post typhoon motorcycle accident.  Why my badass 83 yr old tiny-but-tough-as-nails Lola was left on a motorcycle to be hit by my careless cousin who's motorcycle was stuck in the ridges of the muddy mountain road... I don't know.  But I am sure when Lola is back to her normal health some one is going to get pinched. Hard. Lola is THE boss in the barrio. I also think this mini accident happened for a reason, because my Lola can be stubborn and she refused to see a doctor after her terrible cough and aches and pains as she had too much to do in the barrio!  They just suffered from this crazy typhoon.  So I get it. Family first.  Gotta make sure everything is getting done.  Well, lola, you can't do all that when you're sick.  And because my family dragged her to the hospital (hopefully they took the trike this time), she found out she had tuberculosis and pneumonia.  My lola has been able to get the proper care and STILL after all this tragedy, sickness, bruises, etc.. she in high spirits.  That is my lola.  And I see my lola in my mom today.  My mom is always reminding me family is everything, to be thankful for what I have, and to help people whenever I can. I am so proud to be related to both of them and that is why I am so proud to be a filipino.  
Lola and i

Nanay (mom) when our family went to visit the Philippines for the first time. never thought I would ever see my mom do this!

So in light of this typhoon and the destruction that it has caused, I have decided to find a way to help my family who have been directly affected.  The last few weeks I have been accepting donations to paypal account heathercooke13@gmail.com and I have also been auctioning off items on eBay where 100% of the money is being sent to my family in the Philippines to help rebuild their homes. 

Autupgraphed Photos:

Also, my fellow challenge buddies Sam from Real World San Diego and Robb from Real World St. Thomas, on their own accord contacted me and sent me their jerseys to help raise money!

So far, I have raised over $3000 between ebay and paypal donations.
My challenge jersey from Rivals 2 went for over $300!
My recent Philippine National Team Jersey went for over $400!
Other jerseys and items relating to soccer and real world made over $800!
So for the people that have already helped, thank you so much!!! Know that you are directly helping my family rebuild their homes lost in Typhoon Haiyan.  They will have a much easier time thanks to all of you.  Some of you I know, and some of you I don't, either way I can't tell you how thankful and grateful my family and I are for your generosity!

I will be trying to update my blog as I receive information.  Thank you so much for reading!

<3 Cooke