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ABM’s Philippines partners have sent updates this week on the work they have been doing to reach communities devastated by Typhoon Yolanda. The Episcopal Church in the Philippines (ECP) continues to work with the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), in coordinating logistics and using the latter’s networks to maximise efforts to distribute and support humanitarian relief activities. ECP has also commenced planning for the next phase of their relief and rehabilitation work. The Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) through its own Task Force Emergency Relief (TFER) did its own assessment; many of its congregations were located in the areas directly affected by the super typhoon.

Following are excerpts from the report of Atty Floyd Lalwet, Provincial Secretary and National Development Officer (ECP):

Using the sustainable development approach, the ECP crafted a relief and rehabilitation program that will be implemented in three phases: a] emergency relief; b] developmental relief; and, c] livelihood rehabilitation.

For the first phase, the ECP established linkage with the NCCP which provided the network and access to appropriate communities urgently needing relief assistance. The first boxes of foodstuff and clothing from various congregations, institutions and dioceses of the ECP were directly brought to the NCCP for immediate dispatch to the affected communities. At that time, there was difficulty bringing relief goods to the most affected areas due to the closure of damaged roads, airports and sea ports and the NCCP was among the few officially-accredited relief agencies prioritized to avail of the limited access.

To get an on-the-ground experience and to discuss with ground staff of NCCP the areas where ECP relief will be focused, two (2) ECP staff person visited Tacloban and Eastern Samar on 25th – 28th November 2013. On 26th November 2013, the ECP sent two truckloads of 2,200 food packs, to communities recommended by the ground staff of the NCCP. The ECP food packs was distributed to 2,200 families in 10 communities in Western Samar.

The Episcopal Diocese of Davao, whose territorial jurisdiction includes Eastern Visayas, focused its relief work on Bantayan Island (Cebu Province). On 27th – 28th November 2013, it organized a medical mission, led by medical personnel of the ECP’s Bent Hospital in Zamboanga City and participated in by medical professionals from the Anglican Diocese of Sabah. It also distributed 1,500 food packs to Barangays Okoy and Balidbid, both of Santa Fe, Bantayan Island.

The ECP’s relief work has two distinguishing features: a] mobilization of foodstuff produced and processed by its communities; and, b] installation of solar lighting system in evacuation and relief distribution centers.

Disaster food relief usually consists of rice, noodles and canned goods. For immediate and short term relief, these food items may be acceptable but for longer term operation, the effect of these food items on health becomes a serious issue. Hence, the ECP is mobilizing and using more nutritious food items that are being produced and processed by its communities, more specifically: vegetable noodles, packed vegetables, sweet potato (camote) biscuits and insumix [an easy to cook mix of dried rice, legumes and fish]. These community-prepared and processed foods will make up the bulk of relief goods starting with the second relief mission in mid-December and onwards.

Lighting has become an urgent need in view of the destruction of infrastructure in the worst-affected areas. When it gets dark, affected communities relive the horrors of the deadly storm surges that came in the middle of the night of 8th November. The ECP staff who visited these areas observed that people were congregating on roadsides at night-time to get relief from the lights of passing vehicles. Also, light was needed as protection against possible violence on women and children.

In some areas, generators were in use but these require gas fuel which are in short supply. ECP mobilized its competence in community solar lighting systems and organized its first trip to Leyte and Samar for this purpose on 4th December. The solar lighting team also brought with them relief packs which included hygiene kits that contained, among others, herbal soap produced by an ECP community. Seven [7] systems have already been installed in major evacuation centers, with another 3 currently being installed, in Tacloban and Samar. The installation of solar lighting systems was made in communities which agreed that when power supply is resumed in their areas, the systems will be transferred to other centers or more remote areas that have yet to be reached by such power supply.

With support from its partners, ECP is committed to the recovery and rebuilding of communities. The developmental relief and livelihood rehabilitation work will have two tracks: a] working with specifically identified communities which do not have other partners; and, b] partnering with social enterprises in the affected areas that have been adversely affected. Initial explorations on these two tracks are currently being done.

For photos and more frequent updates on ECP’s humanitarian response, please visit:

Bulig Katilingban (Task Force Emergency Relief): Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI)

Many of IFI’s parishes in Eastern and Western Visayas were severely affected by typhoon Yolanda. The church launched ‘Bulig Katilingban’ (helping communities, in Visayan language) primarily as the regional body to coordinate IFI’s efforts to respond to the emergency, working with the national church’s national program Task Force Emergency Relief (TFER).

Initial estimates by IFI staff put the number of families and individuals needing emergency relief assistance in areas around IFI parishes and mission churches at more than 50,000 families. These areas cover Eastern Visayas, Western Visayas and Northern Cebu. Bulig Katilingban is organised into 2 operations centre (Palo, Leyte and La Paz, Iloilo), with IFI-Visayas and Mindanao Regional Office for Development (VIMROD) in Cebu as the overall coordinating centre.

Lina Magallanes met with the Obispo Maximo of IFI in Manila two weeks ago. Due to the extent of the devastation, there was considerable media coverage of the super typhoon all over the world. Ms Magallanes expressed concern about the seemingly huge humanitarian aid response. The Most Reverend Ephraim Fajutagana said ‘IFI’s Bulig Katilingban will go where there are no televisions.’ Foreign aid and technologies seemed to be streaming to the 2 most affected locations but many other places which were likewise severely affected had not been reached by emergency relief operations many weeks after the typhoon.

IFI’s relief operations is prioritising the need for temporary relief from hunger and food-related anxiety, and the need to secure family members from vulnerability to petty criminals and sexual abuse brought about by dark and unsecured living areas. Relief packs being distributed consist of 6-kgs rice (sufficient for at least 3 days, allowing family members to focus on their other needs), and one kerosene lamp for each family with 1 liter of kerosene.

Fr Herbert Fadriquela, Executive Director of VIMROD, has been travelling around the areas affected by the disaster, initially with a team to do needs assessment, and then with overseas visitors, visiting and commencing the first of the church’s relief distribution efforts in some areas.

Going forward, Bulig Katilingban intends to work on the rehabilitation of homes of Yolanda survivors – those coming from the poorest sections of the devastated communities. Psychosocial counselling is also another area which will be a focus for Bulig Katilingban.