Sep 28, 2009

Posted by in Advocacies | 13 Comments

How Else Can We Help? Dealing with Ondoy’s Emotional Aftermath

Over the weekend Typhoon Ondoy changed the lives of countless Filipinos. He spared no one. He knew no class, race or status. Hand in hand with Mother Nature, Ondoy showed us that we are not defined by what we have or who we are. Stories of loss and devastation are endless, as our stories of survival, gratitude, and yes, hope.

Today, we all begin the monumental task of rebuilding, not just homes, but lives. Many families are literally starting from scratch. As they pick up the pieces and start over, let us all offer up our prayers and support to them. Beyond prayers, let us also all get together and pitch in. There are countless ways in which we all can help. Many of us have taken on the challenge: donating, volunteering, spreading information. And yet, some still ask, how else can we help?

Over the next few days, psychosocial rehabilitation will be an increasing need.After the body is cared for, let us also find ways to help care for the souls of our countrymen. This is another way in which we can help.

If what we were witnessing unfold on television was heartbreaking, I can only imagine how terrifying and traumatizing being in that situation was and still is. When faced with such trauma, it is possible (and highly likely) that individuals undergo an emotional crisis or some form of post traumatic stress.  We might never know the extent of their grief or bereavement. They may be overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety, depression, despair, frustration which may not necessarily be felt right now, but may escalate as the days go by.  Post-traumatic stress can be like a devil in disguise. We may think our friends and family are okay and that they are coping with it but then symptoms and manifestations of PTSD may come like a theif in the night. Read more about PTSD here.

How can we help?

1. Lend a listening ear. Listen to their stories and help them process and grieve. You do not need to offer advice. A sympathetic ear and sincerely caring for what they have to say can go a long way.

2. Offer the right words of comfort. Many of us may think we are comforting with our words, but sometimes, we inadvertently downplay their feelings, thus leaving them even more grief-stricken or pained.

3. Find story books to help children cope with their feelings of loss and devastation. Also, allow them to ask questions and answer these as honestly as possible. This will help them feel safe and assured with what is going on around them.

4. Do not underestimate the small stuff. Picking up their mail, taking their kids out for the afternoon so they can have some time to themselves, or perhaps cooking them a home-cooked meal can be very helpful and comforting.

5. Lastly and most importantly,do not assume you know the answers. If your friend or family member is undergoing  emotional problems or distress, consult a psychologist, grief counselor, psychiatrist, priest, and similarly trained professionals.

* I will update this post when I gather information about how psychologists, counselors and similar volunteers can help providing psychosocial rehabilitation and care. As far as I know, groups are being mobilized and organized as I publish this post.


Ateneo Psych Department is organizing CISD efforts. Faculty and Psych Students are invited to coordinate with the department for briefing.

Efforts in the South area are being organized by some of my fellow DLSU Grad Students. If you are from the South and are interested in joining in, please leave a comment and/or email me your contact details at yapatoots@gmail.com and I will send these to those organizing efforts.
The Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP) calls on everyone to attend the Orientation and Organizational Meeting on Stress Debriefing for Survivors of Typhoon Ondoy this Saturday, October 3, 2009, 8-12 noon at the Alip Seminar Room, Philippine Social Science Council (PSSC), Commonwealth Avenue, Diliman, QC. This is open to both PAP and non PAP members who would like to extend their help.

Interested participants are requested to send their names and mobile phone numbers to any of the following:

Allan Bernardo – 09176256349

Caring Tarroja – 09285018013

Isabel Melgar09209532409

PAP Secretariat – 09277872012

You may also email your name and mobile phone number to jaysaplala@yahoo.com or through my Twitter account, http://www.facebook.com/l/a48de;twitter.com/jsaplala. You may also email the PAP Secretariat, pap_1962_08@yahoo.com .

Your presence this Saturday would be most valuable to those in need. Thank you and we hope to hear from you soon

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Sep 27, 2009

Posted by in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Pass or Fail? The Bayanihan Challenge.

Over the past 24 hours, I’ve been trying to monitor what people, establishments, and the like did to help Filipinos weather the wrath of Typhoon Ondoy. This was the worst rainfall ever recorded by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services or PAGASA. Reports also state that this is even worse than the rainfall dumped by Hurricane Katrina. If there is one thing the typhoon proved, it’s that the spirit of Bayanihan is still alive. However, while some acts were amazing others were, well…way beyond disappointing.

Here is a compilation of efforts seen and experienced by those in my social networking and microblogging sites. As such, these are reposts/plurks and I do not know how true or accurate accounts are. I am just sharing what I read.

So you decide…did these people pass or fail the Bayanihan Challenge?


DLSU/CSB/UP Diliman (as plurked) : faculty, staff and students trapped on campus were made to spend the night. Matresses and some food provided. Officials even implored for them not to leave as it was unsafe.

Schools like Playschool International, Xavier School, Ateneo, Poveda (and many others I am sure) are accepting donations and mobilizing volunteers.

Neighbors in Antipolo area welcomed stranded neighbors in their homes which were on higher ground. Also reported same cases in Fairview.

Bloggers maximized their online potential by compiling lists of relief centers, contact numbers and ways to help victims. Spreadsheets and similar media were also utilized to help locate and map out locations of those still trapped and in need of help.

Individuals post on Facebook appeals for help and updates on those trapped and rescued, while others joke about the country deserving what it got and that people should not complain kasi “di babaha kung di nagtatapon ng basura eh” (granted there is a point in that…but seriously?)

Supreme Court cancels Bar Exams early Saturday afternoon, thus allowing barristers from not making journey to Manila area necessary.

Licensure Exam for Teachers (LET) cancelled in Metro Manila around 10 PM of Saturday, but reported pursual of exams in Northern Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao would push through. Last minute, exams were canceled too.

Establishments like Fitness First in MOA allowed customers to stay overnight as they were unable to head home. Other reports, however, said that people were asked to leave because the mall would close. Some malls opened their doors for those who could not head home.

MRT/LRT operates for 24 hours. Flate rate of Php 10.00 implemented to help stranded commuters. Also, people were allowed to camp out in LRT/MRT stations.

Taxis jacked up prices to take residents to their destinations. One example, a taxi ride from airport to Muntinlupa was priced at Php 1200.

Overheard on DZMM (I wasn’t paying attention much), a donut store was selling whatever donuts they had left at Php 80.00. Reporter stated it was shared by a texter.

Cebu Pacific waives Rebooking fees for those who missed flights TODAY to accommodate those who could not make it to the airport.

MMDA suspends Number Coding throughout the week.  As reported by a friend: “in the midst of the deluge yesterday, hub’s company truck was towed in EDSA. Obstruction daw. Duh. Ang bad bad bad talaga ng ibang tao! X-(.  MMDA people towed the truck. MMDA!!! They were supposed to be helping instead of being major pains in the ass!!! What violation is that when a truck stalls because of flooding? Somebody from MMDA pls clarify this to me.”

Relief goods were quickly gathered, but difficulties in distributing them were encountered as flood waters made reaching evacuation centers and homes virtually impossible.

Reports of shortages of rubber boats all over the metro. Large companies let choppers, trucks. All as the Philippine Star reports GMA used P 800 – Million emergency fund for her foreign trips and junkets.


In my favorite movie, Freedom Writers, I remember most the line offered by the character of Miep Gees, the woman who hid Anne Frank in her attic from the Nazi’s when the student called her a hero. She replied: Oh, no. No, no, no, young man, no. I am not a hero. No. I did what I had to do, because it was the right thing to do. That is all. But even an ordinary secretary or a housewife or a teenager can, within their own small ways, turn on a small light in a dark room. You are the heroes. You are heroes every day.

Typhoon Ondoy gave us all a chance to be a hero. Did you rise to the challenge? I sure hope so. 

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Sep 27, 2009

Posted by in Uncategorized | 0 Comments

The Philippines in a State of Calamity: How to Help.

This is reposted from my cousin’s Facebook Page. I am amazed at the info about the storm. I though Hurricane Katrina was the worst ever (and was glad we were unaffected) but apparently, we were worst hit. To top it off, no matter how much their disaster council failed at that time in the US, we don’t have the resources they did. According to news reports, a Php 800-million emergency fund for the country was used by the President for foreign trips.


from Tanya Escaler:

The rainfall brought by typhoon ONDOY to Metro Manila and nearby areas in a span of six hours on Saturday was the most in recorded history, surpassing the previous record for the metropolis in 1967. Hurricane Katrina dumped over an inch of rainfall in Louisiana for 3 hours and another 0.5 inches per hour over the next 5 hours on August 29, 2005. Ondoy dumped an average of 2.24 inches per hour for six hours… and is still going.










Red Cross donation through SMS: text RED<space>AMOUNT to 2899 (Globe) or 4483 (Smart)

Relief Goods can be sent to Caritas Manila Office at Jesus St., Pandaca Manila near Nagtahan Bridge (tel.no. 5639298/5639308).

Relief goods can also be brought Radio Veritas at Veritas Tower West Ave. Corner EDSA (tel no. 9257931-40).

Aquino volunteers: contact Jiggy Cruz who is organizing relief goods collection and distribution. Or call Ms. Clare Amador at mobile no 9285205508 or Jana Vicente at 9285205499 for more details regarding Noy/Mar relief efforts.

Roxas volunteers: donations for flood relief can be brought to Balay, Expo Centro, Edsa cor. Gen, MacArthur, Araneta Center, Cubao.

Victory Fort is opening its doors to those affected by the typhoon. Call 813-FORT

Charo Limaco has posted a list of specific items needed and where to donate them: Water, blankets, shoes, and clothes etc.. are being accepted at the Hillsborough Village chapel for families whose houses were washed out in the nearby sitios.

Junior Chamber International – Manila will be accepting donations at the Baypark Tent on Roxas Blvd starting tomorrow to help the victims hit by typhoon Ondoy. Volunteers are welcome to join the packing of goods.

Donations of any kind for Payatas communities affected by Ondoy accepted at ARANAZ stores in Rockwell & Greenbelt.

TeamManila stores in Trinoma, Mall of Asia, Jupiter Bel-Air and Rockwell shall be accepting relief goods (Canned Goods, Ready-to-drink Milk, Bottled Water and Clothes) for distribution by Veritas to displaced countrymen due to Typhoon Ondoy.

Caritas Manila Office and Radio Veritas (see above) appealing for the following goods: Canned food, rice, used clothes especially for children, milk

From Kuya Ed Ramirez: SLBTFN is accepting donations already. Please drop it off sa Ateneo Cervini Dorm. Then we will work with groups around the area to assess w/c evacuation center needs help immediately. SLBTFN is Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan Task Force Noah, a disaster response arm.


Generous souls in the US who wish to help in the rescue and relief operations, you may donate through the American Red Cross. Call 1-800-435-7669.






Let’s do what we can to help in this calamity.

It’s really heart breaking seeing pictures and watching the videos of what happened yesterday. To us who are lucky enough to be safe, let’s do our part in helping the affected ones.

All Petron gas stations now accept relief goods


Water, blankets, shoes, and clothes etc. are being accepted at the Hillsborough Village chapel for families whose houses were washed out in the nearby sitios.

Donations of any kind for Payatas communities affected by Ondoy accepted at ARANAZ stores in Rockwell & Greenbelt.

LUCA store:
We’re preparing relief goods. Send your old clothes & donations (no cash pls) to any LUCA store: Rockwell, Shang-rila or Eastwood

TeamManila stores in Trinoma, Mall of Asia, Jupiter Bel-Air and Rockwell shall be accepting relief goods (Canned Goods, Ready-to-drink Milk, Bottled Water and Clothes) for distribution by Veritas to displaced countrymen due to Typhoon Ondoy.


Relief Goods can be sent to Caritas Manila Office at Jesus St., Pandaca Manila near Nagtahan Bridge (tel.no. 5639298/5639308) . Goods required are: Canned food, rice, used clothes especially for children, milk


Relief goods can also be brought Radio Veritas at Veritas Tower West Ave. Corner EDSA (tel no. 9257931-40). Goods required are: Canned food, rice, used clothes especially for children, milk


NoyMar relief Operations: You may get in touch with Clare Amador from our office at 9285205508 re the NoyMar relief efforts. You may also get in touch with Jana Vicente at 9285205499. Drop off for relief donations is at Balay Expo Center across Farmers Market Cubao


From Kuya Ed Ramirez: SLBTFN is accepting donations already. Please drop it off sa Ateneo Cervini Dorm. Then we will work with groups around the area to assess w/c evacuation center needs help immediately. SLBTFN is Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan Task Force Noah, a disaster response arm.

LUCA store in Eastwood.

Ateneo is now accepting donations for the victims of Ondoy. Donations may be dropped at the MVP LOBBY.


For donations of relief goods, please deliver them to CRS Office, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City. or call 0915-1162853. Food, Medicine, Clothes and other relief items are much needed.


LUCA store in Shangrila.


Drop your donations at the Philippine Army Gym
Aranaz Stores (for Payatas communities)
Rockwell and Greenbelt will accept donations

Balay Expo Center across Farmers Market Cubao will accept relief donations

Team Manila
Trinoma, Mall of Asia, Jupiter Bel-Air and Rockwell shall be accepting relief goods for distribution by Veritas

TXTPower.org will forward donations to Red Cross Paypal
Smart Money – 5577-5144-1866-7103

Other options:

1. Clare Amador (+63928-5205508) or Jana Vicente at +63928-5205499). Drop off for relief donations is at Balay Expo Center across Farmers Market Cubao.

2. Drop off points: One Orchard Road Building in Eastwood, or message http://www.twitter.com/miriamq for more details.

3. Donations for Ondoy Victims to be distributed at the Philippine Army Gym inside Fort Bonifacio or GHQ Gym in Camp Aguinaldo starting now.

4. Relief Goods: Caritas Manila Office (+632-5639298, +632-5639308) or Radio Veritas @ Veritas Tower West Ave.. Cor EDSA (+632-9257931-40)


72-A Times St., West Triangle, QC.
will accept relief goods

Manor Superclub, Eastwood City
will accept goods and other emergency items starting Sunday at 10 am

All Petron brancheswill accept relief goods

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan Task Force Noah Ateneo Cervini Dorm

Caritas Manila Office, Pandaca, MANILA accepts relief goods esp. milk, dry clothes, food

Philippine Army Gym Fort Bonifacio accepts relief goods

Camp Aguinaldo CRS Office, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City
will accept food, medicines, and other relief items



Typhoon Ondoy hits Metro Manila, Philippines on September 26, 2009

Typhoon Ondoy Demolishes Eastwood!

- please forgive me if i fail to mention credit where credit is due for this compilation of photographs from all over -



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Sep 26, 2009

Posted by in Teacher's Corner | 6 Comments

Rainy Days are Here Again: How Should Schools and Workplaces Respond to the Challenge?

According to PAGASA, today’s rainfall was the worst in recent history. I found myself glued to the television for most of the day, watching how flood waters rose and inundated places which no one would have ever imagined. In fact, I was amazed at a photo I came across in my friends blog site (photo was taken from a student’s Facebook profile, I think).  On one hand, I am grateful this disaster happened on a Saturday when there are no classes for most students. I feel for the students who had make-up or laboratory classes and graduate classes today.

This led me to thinking about how schools should respond when weather is this bad. Ideally, it would be nice if classes were suspended early enough to avoid people getting stuck in the middle of a downpour. However, with today’s weather, even when there is no storm signal warning, the flood waters and weird weather gets the better of everybody. Since classes started last June, there already has been a lot of cancellations, many of which coming around noontime, when rains usually get bad.  Not to defend the Department of Education or the weather bureau, I think they are also caught in a quandry. Granted that sometimes some people drop the proverbial “ball”, sometimes they don’t really have a choice.  I mean, if they cancel to early, they get called out for it. Too late, it’s the same thing. As the saying goes, damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

For college students,  it’s even worse! Their classes are often the last to be cancelled. Often times, it isn’t till flood waters have risen that suspensions are declared.

As mentioned, school cancellations can be a slippery issue too. As soon as a suspension is declared, parents flock to pick up their children in school, which can also prove to be a challenge. It was interesting to hear how one school schedules the dismissal of the students in increments so as to lessen traffic and attempt some organization in dismissing. On the other hand, some schools do not have such contingency measures. In the university I teach in, it is nice to know that provisions are made for students who find themselves stuck inside campus when these things happen, especially since Taft Avenue is notorious for sudden flooding. I am grateful I have never needed to avail of these provisions myself, but still it is comforting to know.As a teacher in that school, it makes me feel secure that if I have to, I can wait out the storm there and not have to brave the floods where I bet my car would end up just stalling on me. This is usually how it would look by then:

Katipunan Road outside Ateneo, Miriam, near UP

Katipunan Road outside Ateneo, Miriam, near UP

Vito Cruz near DLSU, CSB, SSC

Vito Cruz near DLSU, CSB, SSC

At this point, virtually impossible to make it home safely! What I’ve done on a personal level is pack an emergency kit. I think this would help me especially knowing that my school will allow me to stay in campus overnight if need be. Perhaps offices can do the same.

So now I pose this question: how are your schools/workplaces responding to these kinds of emergencies?

photo taken from www.azraelcoladilla.com.

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Sep 16, 2009

Posted by in Teacher's Corner | 6 Comments

The Lost art of RESPECT.

If there is one character trait I would say is missing in many adolescents and young adults this day and age, its being respectful. People today seem to have forgotten what the word RESPECT means. To some extent, this goes beyond just the younger generation and extends to a large majority of people. It’s as if we have forgotten what good morals and right conduct are all about.

Just this past week, two striking examples of this lack of respect was seen by the world. First, there was that infamous Serena Williams outburst at a line judge who called her out for a foot fault. Understandably, an athlete with passion for her game will feel frustrated and angered about such a call, but there was no excuse for the gross disrespect shown in court. Second, we saw Kanye West disrespect the young country star Taylor Swift. Perhaps West’s opinion that Beyoncé deserved the award more than Swift was valid, but coming up on stage and rudely interrupting Swift’s acceptance speech was greatly disrespectful, not just to Taylor Swift, but to the music industry and the public as well.

These are just a few if very public displays of disrespect. In a more private arena, we see how children disrespect parents by answering back (explaining their side or reasoning out politely is a different story). We see how people violate personal space and privacy through stealing their photos and blog posts. In traffic, we have people who swerve left and right, totally disregarding the fact that other motorists try to patiently wait in their place to get to their destinations too.

It seems to me that in the five years I’ve been teaching in the undergraduate level, I have seen a steady decline in the level of respect students show me in class. For example, I notice now that when I handle freshman classes, a great majority of the students no longer sit quietly and show proper classroom decorum. I remember that as young as I was back when I first started teaching, when I’d walk into a classroom, I commanded respect. I didn’t have to do anything, but as soon as I’d enter, the students would straighten up and wait expectantly. This is very different to today’s behavior. Students now are grossly disrespectful. They talk out loud in their seats, they go on Facebook in the middle of a lecture and they even take calls while I am talking or explaining something. I do not think these sentiments are solely mine, as I have had many a discussion with colleagues about how different students are now from the time they started teaching. Compared, too, to the time I was a student, I don’t think any of my classmates were as disrespectful as students today.

This got me to thinking, what happened to the people of today?  My hypothesis is that perhaps we’ve encouraged them so much to stand up for what they believe in, but perhaps we have not highlighted the importance of boundaries. Perhaps it’s also that we have taken this for granted. It saddens me to see how differently simple etiquette and good manners are grossly overlooked this day and age. It begs the question: where are we going wrong? Did we create a generation of the uncouth and uneducated?

With all that said, what would it take for tomorrows future leaders start valuing one of the most basic tenets of human behavior — respecting each other? How can we expect people to respect the law or honor integrity if we can’t even treat each other right?

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