The Emperor’s New Blog Post

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see,” French artist Edgar Degas said.  If this were the case, then 27-year-old artist, Lana Newstrom, who recently created quite a stir because of her “invisible art,” would be one of the greatest artists of all time.

photo released with the supposed art exhibit of newstrom's invisible art.  in reality, this is an altered photo of a bert stern show in italy.

photo released with the supposed exhibit of newstrom’s invisible art. in reality, this is an altered photo of a bert stern show in italy.

Her exhibit at the Schulberg Gallery in New York  some couple of weeks back which featured invisible paintings and sculptures was attended by art enthusiasts and by people who were simply intrigued by this whole event.  Some didn’t appreciate Newstrom’s art works, but others – especially those who have pockets to burn – happily bought some of the pieces that even commanded millions of dollars.

Does this sound insane?  Well, it is.  And satirical, too.  Apparently, this news was merely a fabrication of CBC Radio’s Pat Kelly and Peter Oldring for their show, This is That.   Many fell for it, though, and as much as I would hate to admit it, including me.

“Is this really the future of art? Nothingness?”  I asked myself after reading the article.  Although I love going to museums, the art world is still distant to me – its history and evolution, the different movements, the styles, the criticisms, the who’s who, etc.   My knowledge and experience of it is scanty, so certain concept art or any avant-garde style can sometimes make me scratch my head in confusion.   That is why I thought it was real – not the art works themselves, but the idea that some people would actually “create” something that is unseen and have the public agree with them.  Art can be weird at times, and the same can be said for those who worship it, purchase it, or pretend to appreciate it.

Reading about Newstrom’s invisible art news reminded me of another (almost) “invisible art” straightaway.  It was a poem that was included in my Philippine Literature class back in college – The Emperor’s New Sonnet .  It was created by poet, writer, literary critic, and painter Jose Villa Garcia (1908 – 1997).

Compared to Newstrom’s invisible art, Garcia’s work is more understandable because the title is a dead giveaway.  It is a clever poem, not in the way the words had been used – because obviously there isn’t one – but on the manner that his message and his art are conveyed through a blank sheet of paper.

the emperor's new sonnet

Maybe you’d think that I am “hopelessly stupid” for thinking that it actually conveys a message.  But whether you think of this as art or simple nonsense, there is no way denying that once you look at it, you get it, despite of the fact that nothing is written there.

Or is there?

“Everything you can imagine is real.”
― Pablo Picasso


Unearthing the Past, Evoking Emotions / A Case of (Philippine) History Repeating

I had the chance to teach Philippine History for one of my students several months back. We normally had English tutorials but since she was enrolled in a formal school and was having some difficulty with History, I was asked to help her out with the said course, at least for about a few weeks.

A part of me felt relieved to be teaching a different subject other than English. I had been feeling bored with it, and I thought that a new subject would somehow reduce that boredom. I like history, so I had no problem with the task that had been given to me. There was just one problem though: it had been a long while since I read anything about Philippine history; I had already forgotten some of the events and the relevance of certain names and dates. I knew I had to brush up on History to help the student better, but generally, I thought this change would do me some good.

arrival of legaspi

Unfortunately, I failed to realize the effect of this change on my student. My student, a 14-year-old foreigner, wasn’t exactly into history, as most children her age. In addition, she didn’t have an excellent command of English, and now she was supposed to study and memorize words and phrases in another language – Spanish! Terms such as encomienda, Royal Audiencia, cumplase, Consejo de Indias, Recopilacion, corregimiento, indulto de comercio, and even the title of one of the earliest books published in the Philippines, Doctrina Christiana en Lengua Española y Tagala (and that’s not even the entire title of the book on the cover), exasperated her and compounded her predicament.

As our classes progressed, I too, became a bit frustrated. There I was with a student who didn’t like what she was studying, couldn’t understand fully or even pronounce the Spanish words properly, and was a complete sleepyhead!  Teaching that class was a challenge, but it was a job I had to perform.

Frustration was not the only thing that developed in me as time passed by. There also arose a sense of sadness. It had nothing to do with my student or our classes, though. Rather, it stemmed from the subject itself – the Philippines’ history.

The book was made for high school students, so the discussion wasn’t as comprehensive as it should be. Despite this, the abridged narration of the historical events made me remember how Spain subjugated and exploited this country – both its people and its resources. The ways how Filipinos were treated as lower and less significant than the Spaniards, the centuries of violence, unfair treatment, brainwashing, and poverty. Re-reading the narration of Philippine history led me to ask the same question my student asked me one day: Why did the colonization took more than three centuries to end? Of course, ending Spanish colonization of the Philippines was not as simple as demanding Spain to leave the country alone, but for it to happen for three hundred thirty-three years simply seemed an incredibly vast amount of time, too, wasn’t it?

front cover of Doctrina Christiana.  I was able to buy a reproduced print of the book during a Book Fair

I was able to buy a reproduced print of the book during a book fair at Instituto Cervantes de Manila

My student, who became relatively more interested in the subject later on, had to study only two and a half chapters of the Spanish era with me, but within those two and a half chapters, certain words and phrases appeared many times over. Phrases like “forced to work,” “the people suffered….,” “unfair,” “corruption,” “poverty,” and many others. I actually wanted to sum up those two and half chapters this way to make things easier for her: “It was a really shitty time, being under Spain.” Of course, I didn’t do that. I would have made an overgeneralization (or would I have not?) Besides, I couldn’t say the word shitty to her.

Before long, our history classes were over. As soon as her final exams were done, so were our lectures. This time, it was she who felt relieved. I, on the other hand, was experiencing – to some degree – anger. Although our classes were finished, I was still hung up on the subject. Some parts of the book especially fired me up:

1) “The masses also suffered from unfair taxation and forced labor. From 1571 to 1884, all Filipinos paid taxes to Spain… Only a minuscule part of the taxes went to public works, health and security programs for the natives. A large part of the money went to officials of the civil government and to the friars. Whatever was left in the coffers was used to finance its armed forces, the church, the bureaucracy and the Spanish expeditions to the Moluccas. Because of these expenditures, the colonial government was often in deficit. Annual infusions from Mexico became necessary. The monetary infusion was called real situado, an annual subsidy that stopped only in 1821.”

2) “Because of his relative independence from the government is Spain, the Governor-General engendered corruption in the Philippines. His position can be bought or granted as a favor. Governor-Generals had a brief term of office, so except those with pure hearts and noble demeanor, the Governor-Generals lost no time in enriching themselves. They often capitalized in the unfair taxation system and the Galleon Trade.”

3) “The King of Spain implemented some steps to curb the abuses of the Spanish officials in the Philippines. One of these was the Royal Audiencia which was founded in 1583… But these steps proved to be futile because it became easier for a corrupt official to bribe an investigator or to overturn their judgement with the use of their political influence in the Philippines or Spain.”

4) “…The alcalde mayor was often a model of graft and corruption and inefficiency. This was because most of the alcalde mayores in the Philippines were not trained for the position, and had only come to the Philippines to make themselves rich.”

5) “The provincial governor had the power to collect taxes from the people. Many took advantage of this opportunity to amass profits. The alcalde mayor forcibly collected taxes in the form of cash when harvests were abundant. He brought the produce at very cheap prices… He would hide his profits and remit to the treasurer only the minimum revenue required from his province.”

6) “The gobernadorcillo was a respected member of the community… His salary was small but just like the provincial governor, he had plenty of opportunities to profit from his position. The cabeza de barangay and other municipal officials also abused their powers.”

7) “Graft, corruption and malversation of public funds were prevalent from the provincial to the barrio levels. The public had no one else to turn to about their complaints against erring officials. Bureaucrats could easily exact revenge on their rivals. The helplessness among the natives was mirrored in their saying: “the Governor-General was in Manila, the King was in Spain, and God was in Heaven” which meant that all of them were too distant to hear the people’s cries. This abuse of power was one of the causes behind the people’s periodic uprisings against the colonial government.”

The negativity wasn’t directed towards the Spanish colonial system or anyone else in history anymore but to the people in government in the present.  I was reading a part of history yet I felt like I was reading the headlines of current broadsheets!  You see, around the time my History class was happening, a significant political scandal erupted: the pork barrel scam. This scandal, to simplify it, was the issue of public money being used to fund fraudulent projects, and millions and millions of pesos supposedly going to crooked government officials’ pockets, too.

photo courtesy of

This wasn’t the first time that some Philippine legislators and other government officials had been involved in graft and corruption scandals, but this one was too much. The extent of corruption and the amount of money involved were tremendous. Millions of Filipinos are still living in destitute and many things – basic things – are still needed to be provided for and then you hear how a minute portion of society are enjoying the hard-earned money of the taxpayers! Who wouldn’t be enraged by that?

The resentment was further fueled when one of the world’s worst disasters, Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), hit and devastated the central Philippines. The government should have done its job focusing on essential projects like DISASTER PREPAREDNESS and management, building stronger and decent evacuation centers, and even upgrading weather equipment and warning systems. But no, they were too busy enriching themselves.

More than a hundred of years have passed since Spain left the Philippines, but it still feels like the Filipino people are still suffering the same way they did while under Spain. Only this time, the enemy is no longer the colonial masters but the Filipinos themselves. And that is what makes all these things the sadder.

When will it end? When will the Filipinos be truly free?


Bridging the (Age) Gap

“Switchfoot frontman and guitarist Jon Foreman celebrates his 37th birthday today!” read the caption on the photo posted by a local radio station on its Facebook account last month.*

I like Jon Foreman. He’s one of the most inspiring musicians I know. I love the music that he and his equally talented buddies in Switchfoot make, and I admire the articles he write every once in a while. Despite my admiration for his work, I must admit I don’t know much about his personal life. I don’t know when his birthday is or even what his full name is. So, when I learned about his age, I was quite surprised!  What? We’re only several years apart?!  All along, I thought he was much older than I was.

Learning about Jon’s age made me think about the ages of some of my other favorite musicians: their ages were all in the line of three… just like mine now! How is that possible? I mean how is it possible that we are all in the same age bracket now? Why are our numbers so close all of a sudden? When did that happen?

I am not in denial; I know I am not getting any younger, but how come when I was younger, say, when I was in my early twenties, Jon Foreman and my other favorite musicians seemed older, but now that I’m older and they’re older too, our age gap doesn’t feel as far as I once thought it was. Even the gap with my sister, who’s almost a decade older than I am, doesn’t feel as distant anymore compared to when she was 20 and I was 11.

Why is it that when you are young and you compare yourself with the older people, the age gap seems so wide, but as you grow older, it can feel as if the distance isn’t that far after all? Is it because the younger one and the older one could now be sharing similar experiences in their lives? For instance, a child and a young adult may have completely different life experiences, but by the time the child reaches 38 and the young adult 48, by then, they would have had some similarities – finding and losing jobs, getting into relationships, etc.  Does that in a way bridges the gap between them?

I suddenly remembered this scene from the movie, Big Fish, where a younger version of Helena Bonham Carter was talking to the character of Ewan McGregor:

JENNY: How old are you?

EDWARD: Eighteen.

JENNY: I’m eight. That means when I’m eighteen, you’ll be 28. And when I’m 28, you’ll only be 38.

EDWARD: (a little wary) You’re pretty good at arithmetic.

JENNY: And when I’m 38, you’ll be 48. And that’s not much difference at all.

(Eager to get off this subject…)

EDWARD: Sure is a lot now, though, huh?


Clearly, I can relate to this conversation. How about you? Have you ever felt like this before?


*Note: There are a number of entries that I haven’t been able to work on these past several months due largely to time constraints, a lack of focus, and even at times, laziness. The succeeding posts are part of that backlog.

The Real Thing: Phoenix Live in Manila 2014

Note:  This is a detailed look back at Phoenix’s first Manila concert held last January 21 at the World Trade Center as seen and experienced through the eyes of a fan.  If you want to read a review that simply retells the details of that night – one that expresses very little emotion – then head over to my music page, the EOS.

Almost, almost, almost the real thing.
It was a sunny April afternoon in 2013 when I saw Phoenix live for the very first time. It was an unexpected event. I didn’t know that that day was the Coachella performance. I just heard the announcement from someone a few moments before Phoenix walked on stage. Although having a decent spot seemed impossible considering the multitude of people already flooding the venue and how incredibly late I learned about the concert, I was still able to secure a nice and comfortable place – right in front of the action!

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention – it was live on Youtube.

Ever since I got to know their music several years ago, I only got to experience them live vicariously – through the reporting of an online music magazine, fan video uploads, or past recorded live sessions.  That Coachella live stream was the closest thing I got to watching Phoenix live and real time, but still that was not enough to satisfy my desire to experience their music live myself – to be one with a crowd, to let every note fill my fingertips, to be right there in bursting glory of it all… until January 21, 2014.

Victim of the Crime
Despite my intense longing to see Phoenix live, I was calm on the day of the concert, which was rather strange considering I had waited for that day to arrive for a loonng time. Well, I was a tad nervous (take note, nervous, not excited) but I was generally steady. I didn’t feel as happy and super excited as I had thought I would be. There were no butterflies in the stomach, no neon lights flowing in my blood, no confetti bursting in my head when I thought about the concert that was only hours away from happening.  Even after months leading up to the concert, I was just calm about everything.  And I didn’t know why.

I tried to determine why I felt that way.  I mean, I got more excited about a concert I had attended four months prior, and to think I was not even a big fan of that band!    And then there I was, on the day of the Phoenix concert itself feeling curiously tranquil! This had never happened to me before.  It was possible that the cause of this calmness was a combination of stress from work, the activities connected to Manila Wants Phoenix, and my not winning the M&G contest (twice!); being extremely busy and tired had probably prevented me from letting everything sink in, for the excitement to seep through.  But whatever the real reasons were, they certainly didn’t keep me from watching a band that I adored. 

Napoleon says to come over here!
It felt surreal being at the World Trade Center in Pasay City last January 21. Although I had reserved seats, I, together with my sister, who eventually became my official photographer, went to the venue about 5:30 p.m. There were already people lining up at WTC’s entrances by the time we got there, all getting ready to secure their places inside. The whole place was generally quiet. The overcast sky the whole day that day painted a gloomy picture, and it belied the events that were to be.

We went inside the venue at about 6:30, and were able to find our spots quickly.  Although our seats were far from the stage, it was not as far as I had expected them to be.  I immediately noticed the chairs for the VIP ticket holders.  They seemed out of place in the with their black and white chair covers.  They made me feel like I was going to attend a seminar rather than a concert. 

Despite Karpos Multimedia’s announcement last December that the show would start at 8:00 sharp, we had to wait for more than hour for it to begin.  I went in and out of the venue several times while waiting for the show to start to meet some members of Manila Wants Phoenix, who would later on be instrumental in allowing me to meet Christian, Branco, and D E C K unplanned!

I’m just too glad to say no, just too glad to say no….
The audience was composed of a different mix of people, but generally young; many of them wore midriffs and boots. My sister and I spotted some guys trying to imbibe a Thomas Mars aura by wearing a light blue shirt. Some women, on the other hand, flaunted their fancy dresses and high heels, which made me wonder how the hell they were going to dance, let alone move, in those killer heels. One thing was common for everyone though – the cameras. What’s a concert without those cameras/iPads/phones ruining concerts nowadays, right?

Because I didn’t own a fancy smart camera phone, my sister then offered hers, thinking I would want to capture the moments of the event; I gladly said no.  Being a fan for years and the owner of a page for Phoenix, I had already seen tons of videos, photos, and livestreams of their concerts.  I had already become familiar with their setlist (for this tour at least), the versions and mashups, some of their LED backdrops, even with some of the things that they were going to say!  What I needed that night was to experience them LIVE – to dance, to listen, and sing along.  To be in the moment.  All those years, I had only seen them through a screen, and I didn’t want to watch them through another one.  Besides, there were hundreds of people there who were nearer the stage than I was and had cameras with better resolutions than mine; I decided I’d just rely on them.

I’ve waited so long there’ll be no decency, no!
It was almost 9:20pm when the lights were turned off and the sound that was similar to the beat of tribal percussion instrument floated in the air. Covered in the shadows, Phoenix casually went on stage and the crowd simply exploded with energy and ecstasy. Then, a buzzing of synths. The introduction of Entertainment, their first single off Phoenix’s latest album Bankrupt! signaled the start of Phoenixmania in Manila.

The East Asian keys of the song filled WTC and soon, Thomas Hedlund was banging the drums like a drunken monster.  A massive LED video wall projected a vibrant red background and dancing lights accompanied the six guys on stage.   This video wall and strobe lights that danced and flashed would accompany the succeeding songs all throughout the show.  These were definitely not something a person with photosensitive epilepsy would appreciate.  Otherwise, they were dazzling!

“Trying To Be Cool”

I was expecting to see some familiar backdrops that they usually used during their tour last year – the fountain at Versailles, The Hall of Mirrors, and even Everest, a metaphor for the band’s quest to conquer perfection in their music.  But none of them were present, instead Phoenix used a video of 1960s Parisian streets leading to the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile, the interior of Notre Dame Cathedral, ruins of – I’m assuming – some Roman pillars (when they performed Rome) and probably the most memorable of them all – Mayon Volcano.

When I saw Mayon Volcano being flashed on the screen during Chloroform, I thought, “What mountain is that?  Wait, its perfectly shaped cone looks very familiar!”  And then I asked my sister, “Mayon ba ‘yan??”  Although it was no Everest, I think it still reflected the band’s philosophy in music making, being Mayon a symbol of perfection.  It was nice to know that Phoenix tried to connect to the country that they were performing in.  It just made me wonder though if they flashed the photo of Mt Fuji when they recently played Osaka and Tokyo!

The lights and backgrounds were only a small component of the entire concert.  The meat of the concert was, of course, the setlist.  A big chunk of the setlist consisted of songs coming from Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix; in fact, 9 out of 10 songs were taken from WAP – Fences was the only one that wasn’t played.

Apart from their most popular songs, I looked forward to them playing the song that made me fall in love with them – If I Ever Feel Better.  I wanted to see these live too: Run Run Run, (I was impressed when I saw it performed live at Lollapalooza 2013.)  Don’t, Playground Love, Funky Squaredance (starting from part 2 onwards), and the full studio versions of Drakkar Noir and Countdown, but I knew that there was only an extremely slim chance that those last 5 songs would make it to the official setlist of this tour.

So imagine my surprise when they did a mash-up of If I Ever Feel Better and Funky Squaredance!  I think it would have been better of these two songs separately though and not in a medley.  (As with Funky Squaredance, it would have been great if they did Live! ThirtyDaysAgo version of the song. ) Nevertheless, I enjoyed them, along with the others: Long Distance Call, Consolation Prizes, S.O.S in Bel Air, The Real Thing, and Armistice.  But it was the performance of Sunskrupt! that completely made an impression on me.

I had seen Love Like A Sunset and Sunskrupt! played “live” but none of them gave me the same emotional pull when I saw it last January 21. I remember reading an article in 2009 about a Love Like a Sunset performance held somewhere in the US. I could clearly imagine the narration of the author that I got all teary-eyed just thinking about how breathtaking it must be to watch this instrumental being played.


When Phoenix played Sunskrupt! with all its visual accompaniments, I was just quiet the whole time, magnetized by the intensity of the moment.  When Thomas stood up to sing, and the melancholic guitars and steady drums of Love Like a Sunset part 2 entered, I suddenly remembered the magazine article.  And then I realized that the moment I longed to have was already happening.  I was in it, witnessing everything!  There was fulfillment, happiness, sadness, and nostalgia; the music carried me off to a place I had never been.  By the time Sunskrupt! ended, small pools of water had gathered in my eyes.  It was a magical moment.  Suddenly, I felt like one of the girls in the Chloroform video. 

Sunskrupt! may be the most memorable part for me but these were also special:

1 When Thomas exclaimed “Oh my God!” in reaction to the audience’s singing and loudness during Lisztomania. The whole show was actually loud.  I remember not hearing anything else during Entertainment (reprise) because the music was just blasting away my eardrums.

2 Thomas’ crowdsurfing.
I felt scared for him when I saw how the people reacted to his presence. I thought he was going to drown in the crowd! I felt terrible for him afterwards. Lamog!


3 The confetti blast

I read several days before the concert that a rain of confetti could be expected from a Phoenix concert, but I didn’t believe it because the only shows I had seen where it rained confetti were at Primavera Sound (they actually used fake money, not just plain confetti) and at the Aragon Ballroom. I didn’t think they would pull a stunt like that in Manila.  But surprise, surprise, they did!

True, True and everlasting, it didn’t last that long
The Phoenix concert was comparable to their albums; it was short. It might have contained 21 songs, but nine of them were done in a medley. I would have preferred to hear more from It’s Never Been Like That or Bankrupt! but I guess with Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix having more mass appeal, they probably decided to play more from it. Well, then they would just have to add more songs the next time they drop by the country!

I hope during their second visit, these things would also be taken into consideration by the next concert producers.

1 Remove the chairs!
Apart from them looking awkward, they also didn’t give people more room to move. Yes, having the chairs were convenient, especially since we had to wait for almost 1 ½ hours, but they were also an impediment to movement.

2 Follow the schedule. Please don’t make the audience wait for too long again.

3 Lower ticket price.
Many Phoenix fans may be sosyal but a lot aren’t, too.  A number of people were not able to watch the band because the tickets were expensive (roughly $126 for the VIP, and $87 for the Gold section), way higher than in other countries: Phoenix’s Scotland 2014 gig was only £17.50 (P1300) and one of their Australian shows this coming March only costs AUD95 (P3800)! I think it wouldn’t hurt if the concert producers would lower down the price even a bit.

4 If possible, ban iPads and other tablets with huge screens! 

Hook up with me. Meet me at the rally. backstage exit.
Even before the announcement of Phoenix’s concert in Manila, my gut feel already told me in the earlier part of 2013 that Phoenix were going to visit Manila in the earlier part of 2014, and that I would even be able to meet them. How the hell I would be able to meet them, I didn’t know. I just knew it was going to happen. So, when Karpos had a Meet&Greet contest last December, I didn’t hesitate to join. However, luck was not on my side and I lost… two times.

What I didn’t know was that my loss was actually a blessing in disguise, for in the end I would be able to meet, have photos taken and get their autographs (the photo of the Manila Wants Phoenix paper below was made possible with the gracious assistance of a Karpos representative).  I would no longer go into details but my own version of meet and greet happened about an hour after the concert.   Christian Mazzalai came back on stage, and he was the first member I was able to talk to – such a down-to-earth and friendly guy!  Walang ere!  He even hung out with the fans for about 15 or 20 minutes!  After my encounter with him, the others and I got to catch Deck, Branco, and for some, Thomas before they finally left WTC. 

I have some photos with them but I’d like to keep them private, but these I can share. 

from those Parisian boys with brotherly love to Manila ♥

from those Parisian boys with brotherly love to Manila ♥


The Real Thing
Almost a month after the concert, here am I still unable to absorb everything that had transpired. When I look back at photos and videos, I simply cannot believe that it happened. Was I really there? Everything was real yet unreal at the same time.

I might not have gotten extremely thrilled as I had wanted myself to be, but everytime I remember the details of the concert and my meeting with them, they never fail to paint a smile on my face and heart like Phoenix have always done to me all these years. And that is something you cannot fake.


Concert photos are courtesy of Phoenix, Kris Rocha, Karpos Multimedia, Jeeves de Veyra, Magic Liwanag,Carla Barretto, YouTube users easteleventhstreet (for the screen shots of Rome & Sunskrupt!), Del Robles (for the screen shots of If I Ever Feel Better + Funky Squaredance) and Filippo L’Astorina (for the Brixton Academy 2014 show).

Special thanks to Karpos Multimedia Inc. for bringing Phoenix to Manila and for facilitating Manila Wants Phoenix‘s special request, and a personal one as well.  

After Yolanda: The International Community Responds to Philippines’ Call for Help

The Philippines is no stranger to natural disasters. Being an archipelagic country and a part of the Ring of Fire, the country has endured earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, lahar flows, landslides, flooding, crazy monsoon rains, and typhoons. Among these natural calamities, typhoons are the Philippines’ most frequent visitor. The country gets an average of 20-22 of them in one year. Some don’t make landfalls, while some are vicious and leave a trail of destruction and death behind – bitter souvenirs for the Filipinos to remember for a long time.

You can say that Filipinos are used to typhoons. We have suffered at their hands repeatedly. In fact, there have been a number of times when these merciless guests have made us drop to our knees and made us wonder if we’d ever be able to get back up again. But we did. Because there was no other choice but to stand up and move on.

Super Typhoon Yolanda's track

Super Typhoon Yolanda’s track

Very recently, however, one typhoon surpassed all the other typhoons that we’ve had before. Its international code name was Haiyan, the 24th typhoon to hit the country, and unfortunately, it’s not going to be the last one for the year. Known locally as Yolanda, this typhoon is said to be the greatest typhoon in the world that has ever made landfall in recorded history. It immediately entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) at Storm Signal #4, the highest storm warning, on November 8 and completely left the PAR a couple of days after, leaving behind flattened buildings and houses, crushed telecommunication and transportation systems, and wrecked power grids. Yolanda has killed thousands and left hundreds of thousands more wounded, hungry, thirsty, and homeless. In total, it has affected millions of people. Visayas, the central part of the Philippines, which actually suffered a strong earthquake last October, has been utterly devastated.

infrared image of Yolanda's eye

infrared image of Yolanda’s eye c/o NASA

There are no words to describe how horrible this tragedy is. Everytime I listen to the news and see these reports and images of the aftermath, I am merely speechless. I CANNOT IMAGINE what the survivors are going through. I know the data, the facts, the figures, but they are overwhelming; my mind cannot comprehend the immensity of the destruction. It was “just a storm” and yet it looked like Visayas has been pounded by tsunamis. It is quite shocking. Seeing the survivors’ plight and hearing the people’s stories simply break my heart.

Many other hearts got broken, too not only here in the Philippines but also in other parts of the world. Many tragedies that have struck the Philippines have prompted other countries to offer assistance before, but I don’t think I have seen anything of this scale and magnitude. If there’s anything good to mention amidst this tremendous calamity, it would be that the help coming from the international community is equally so.

Below is the list of countries that have generously given their resources to help the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda as of November 16, 2013.

(For the full document please view this Philippine Government Matrix. The document is updated often.)

The amount is indeed staggering! That list only documents the aid coming from governments and big international organizations; however, there are still numerous private organizations that are helping as well, whose assistance are yet to be officially recognized.  Countless ordinary citizens whose names will not even likely enter official public records anymore are pooling their donations and rendering their service to help people whom they don’t even know.

As a Filipina, I am deeply touched and grateful to know that the whole world is behind my country, that millions of people care. It’s amazing to see that many countries from different corners of the world have been mobilized for a single reason. A huge misfortune may be upon the Philippines right now, but the kindness and generosity shown by the world at least give us a glimmer of hope.

(credit goes to the owner of the image)

(credit goes to the owner of the image)

In a Facebook post by the Philippine Red Cross last week appealing for volunteers and donations, it included this line: “It takes a nation to rebuild a nation.” Clearly, the appeal primarily targeted the Filipinos. But now, looking at the amount of support other nations have given to the Philippines, it seems like sometimes, it would take a slew of nations to rebuild just one.


Ways To Help the Victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) [updated as of 11/12]

It takes a nation to rebuild a nation.

In light of the recent tragedy that devastated the Visayan Region of the Philippines this weekend due to Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), here are some things that people can do to help and agencies to which they can go to donate and render their volunteer services.

I will add some more in the next few days.  I hope this helps…  I really do. – 11/11/13


Here are a couple of links that comprehensively list the various agencies, NGOs, (local and international) and media channels where you can forward your donations to.



other important info:

*Note on the first photo:

if interested to volunteer for the philippine red cross, you’ll have to fill up this form first.  for more details, please go to their offial website.

*Note on the second photo:

If you are looking for a family or friend, use #TracingPH #RescuePH or fill up

Welfare Desks including RFL and tracing services are established in the affected areas. National Societies abroad that are approached by families without news of their loved ones can contact the PRC Social Services Department

Mobile: 09175328500, 09473844497
Landline: 5270000 loc. 126, 5270867

Twitter: @philredcross @justcallmelloyd @lynvgarcia
Email:,, —

*Note on the third photo: 

For monetary donations, you may deposit them to:

Dakila – Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism, Inc.
Banco de Oro
Loyola Heights Berkeley Residences Branch
Savings Account No. 003570047800
Swift no. BNORPHMM

*Note on the fourth photo:


and last but not the least, i’d also like to express my gratitude to all the countries that have expressed and given their sympathy and support to the philippines.  it’s great to see the world moving for a cause.  it’s just unfortunate that that cause has to be this tragedy.

anyway, i found this image floating around the web and i think it simply captures the philippines’ gratefulness and appreciation to the assistance being given by the entire international community.  we are deeply moved.  

thank you

(credit goes to the owner)