Tacloban Travel Journal

Tacloban city – Mar 10

Nice hotel and a comfortable sleep. Breakfast in my room before pickup and then headed for Cabuloran community about an hour from Tacloban. All through the drive were signs of the typhoons destruction. We passed two mass grave sites, one marked that 1,000 bodies were buried in that location. In Cabuloran, there are 65 families, all rice farmers, who are participants in the “receivers to givers” program to build houses on their own land. We visited the location where they are making the building blocks, using another type of soil that the ones we visited yesterday, and doing it all by hand, as they don’t yet have a pulverizing machine. I learned that 5 cubic meter of soil makes 600 blocks. They are also growing yellow ginger for sale as a natural medicine (stomach problems, arthritis), and also using it to make natural pesticide for their rice crops.

In several places we drove past government and helping organizations temporary housing for typhoon victims and much of it is still occupied. It is made of temporary materials and won’t last long, but the families don’t want to move out as many of them have no other place to go.

Returning to Tacloban, we drove to the E-CARE office and apartments where the staff live. It’s a small space and well arranged for office and living space with apartments on the second floor. We then drove to the MacArthur monument on the beach of Leyte Gulf where he landed with American and Filipino troops in Oct 1944. The place is marked with several statues of American and Filipino soldiers and the Philippines President, in a shallow pond. It struck me that General MacArthur was not as big a man as he is portrayed in the statue. Down the street a little further is a Korean monument to the Filipinos who fought in the Korean War and a marker of the restoration work done by the Koreans after the typhoon; “We have repaid your lost blood with our sweat.” One marker was for a primary school rebuilt by the Koreans.

Next we drove to the shopping mall, a modern air conditioned mall much like you might find anywhere in the US. This one too had armed security guards at the entrances and a metal detector. Guards check the contents of bags and women’s purses. We had KFC for lunch, only served with rice and gravy instead of potatoes and gravy.

Leaving the mall, we drove along the street closest to the ocean past one of the ships that was washed ashore during the story. It was nestled tightly against the wall of a house and on the shore side of a building still standing from the storm, like it was lifted over the building and set down on the other side. As we drove along the shore highway, block after block of small and large buildings not yet rebuilt, including the Episcopal hospital. We were drove further north looking for another of the ships that had washed ashore, finding only half of the stern section left. It’s hot, so they brought me back to the hotel to rest and work on my travel journal and we’ll go out to dinner tonight – my treat. Gideon and his associates have been wonderful hosts and gone out of their way to make sure I see as much as possible of their work and the local sites.

I offered to put a website for E-CARE, and did some research about available domain names and purchased episcopal-care.org, anticipating Attorney Floyd’s approval for me to go ahead with the website.

Tacloban to Manila – Mar 11

A lazy day today with an afternoon flight to Manila, so I slept in and walked down the street in front of my hotel to find a cup of coffee. When Gideon and Julius picked me up, we went to the Santo Nino Shrine and Heritage Museum, one of the 29 “rest houses” build by Fredinand and Imelda Marcos during his term as Philippine President. The two story “palace” shows signs of aging, deferred maintenance, and typhoon Yolanda. It is filled with rare objects from all over the world and was probably splendid in its hay-day. It has 29 bedrooms, a chapel that would probably seat 300 people, and an entire floor for the family, with a bedroom for each. The Marcos family never stayed in this house and it was taken over by the Philippine government when the Marcos reign ended.

We then went to the E-CARE office for coffee and lunch and I put all my photos on a thumb drive as a “backup” should something happen to my camera – I’m up to about 650 photos. After a typical Filipino lunch, prepared by the staff, I went to the airport for my flight.

My flight was an hour late departing and arriving in Manila. The new terminal 3 at the Manila airport is first class – it would be great if terminal 1 where the international flights come and go were so nice.

I took a “ticket cab” to some friends, Mike and Cat, who have an apartment in the Makati section of Manila. Makati is a relatively new section and is “high end” compared to the older parts of Manila. I saw few Jeepne and no tricycle cabs, and lots of high end shops and residences. Their apartment is on the 31st floor and offered quite a view of Manila bay. We went to Greenbelt Mall, a huge shopping mall for a great Indian dinner. It was nice to catch up with Cat, a high school friend of our daughter, Beth.

Mike arranged for a cab to take me to Cathedral Heights and I got to bed just after midnight.