Typhoon, Floods in the Philippines: first-person BB report from Audrey N. Carpio of The Philippine Star

Philippines flooding, Sept. 2009 (for BB, from Audrey N. Carpio of The Philippine Star)

Photos, above and after the jump, shared with Boing Boing by Audrey N. Carpio of The Philippine Star. Her first-person account from the ongoing disaster follows, and includes recommendations on how you can help the victims. She shot the photos in this post two days after the typhoon, on a relief drive in a town called Tumana. Link to Flickr set.

Typhoon Ondoy by Audrey Carpio

Typhoon Ondoy, aka Tropical Storm Ketsana dumped 40 cm of rain on the Philippines last Saturday before he/she left to wreak watery havoc upon Vietnam and Cambodia. But Manila and its surrounding environs are still in various states of calamity, with many parts of the city still submerged under dirty brown water and others, while drying out, caked in leptospirosis-inducing mud. The government and its presidentiables have been slow to act upon what could've been their Hurricane Katrina-hero moment but quick to seize upon relief efforts for electioneering. Instead, it is thanks to the generosity and ingenuity of the Filipino people who mobilized themselves through Twitter and Facebook that hundreds of thousands of victims have been fed, clothed and sheltered.

As early as Saturday evening, when people began to realize that floods have flashed rather quickly and videos of drowning trucks emerged on YouTube, relief plans grew almost organically on the networks. Tweets encouraging people to gather food, blankets, and clothing for donations were some of the earliest; by the next day there was an updatable and sharable Google spreadsheet on all the drop-off and volunteer centers; by Monday, almost all status updates and tweets had to do with emergency hotline numbers, relatives of friends who were stranded on a rooftop, and traffic advisories warning which roads were impassable. A Google map of people in need of rescuing was uploaded, although its usefulness is questionable, considering the general low-techness of the National Disaster Coordinating Council's rescue squads they only had 13 rubber boats with which to deploy to the affected barangays †or villages (to put it into perspective, 1.9 million people were inundated with flood water, nearly 380,000 have been evacuated into schools, churches and other emergency shelters, and 246 people have died.

Philippines flooding, Sept. 2009 (for BB, from Audrey N. Carpio of The Philippine Star)

But many lives were undoubtedly saved through information dissemination, random, repeated and retweeted as they may be. Through a shotgun marriage of new and old media, all the streaming online updates and SMS messages were filtered through Gang Badoy, a social advocate (www.RockEdRadio.com) who took it upon herself to hit the FM airwaves and broadcast the news she was receiving: which places needed help, who was about to give birth, and whether crocodiles really escaped from the zoo. Radio still reaches a heck of a lot more people here than anything put on the web. Erwin Romulo, a journalist and colleague of Gang's, says, "The only thing some people had were cellphones that could pick up only FM. Going for 16 hours straight over three days, she reported what people sent in. Any info. Citizen journalism in all its raw and brazen glory. Gang never wavered though she sometimes sounded delirious or distraught with each update. Reacting real time, you'd think she sounded crazy. But at that time, she was the sole voice of reason."

It has been four days since the deluge, and Metro Manila is still struggling and on survival mode. Donation tweets have been getting more specific: "Please bear in mind need for halal food aid for Muslim flood victims in Maharlika Village," and "Folks, volunteerism is flourishing but not enough goods. Women need sanitary napkins, babies diapers, antitetenus injections, can openers." This country was not prepared for a disaster of this sort; climate change wasn't even on the agenda. A new storm is about to come in -- we'll keep you posted on how we do. In the meantime, watch this video.

You may donate here (UNICEF) or here (Red Cross/Philippines).

(Special thanks to Karen Marcelo for her kind assistance.)

Philippines flooding, Sept. 2009 (for BB, from Audrey N. Carpio of The Philippine Star)


  1. Craziness all over that area. I was in the Philippines 4 years ago and loved it. Thoughts go out to all people affected.

  2. Glad to see this posted here, as I submitted an entry with similar content a few days ago. I’m saddened at the loss of life and general ramshackle situation of initial relief efforts, but it really is heartening to find out that a lot of people care about the situation.

    The upside of using Twitter and other social networking websites: updates are real-time and speedy.

    The downside: there’s too much shit to wade through sometimes, and information should not be relied upon without verification. There have been calls for donation and Red Cross gave away its bank account number, but some devilish, enterprising individuals have been substituting their own account numbers.

    Though I think they did get a blurry nighttime shot of the escaped crocs.

    Thanks again, Xeni and the other head happy mutants.

    –adunaphel13 (can’t log in, Websense doesn’t like me logging onto boingboing)

  3. Thoughts and prayers goes out to everyone in the Philippines that is going through this terrible disaster. I hope and continue to pray that the good Lord will find a way ease things just a little.

  4. My parents, Canadian ex-pats in Manila, were in the airport out-bound when their flight was cancelled. It took 9 1/2 hours to get from the airport to a hotel. She documents her ‘trip from hell’ on her blog, http://jeaneb.blogspot.com/2009/09/trip-from-hell.html, but she’s thankful that at least she had a hotel to go to. Not many people were so lucky.

    I’ve been to some baranguays, and I would *NOT* like to be caught in one during this kind of flooding.

  5. Today, I volunteered to distribute goods to a critical area in Marikina City. It hurts to know that people can still manage to be happy even if they’ve lost most of the things they had. They were very thankful even if we knew that our provisions weren’t enough to last them a day.

    Homes are literally destroyed – it doesn’t matter if rich or poor people live inside them. And children are getting sick. Please help the Filipinos bring their lives back.

  6. An impromptu swim fest at the flooded Recto Subway.
    “A tribute to the resiliency and optimism of the Pinoy spirit in the midst of the harshest adversity.”

  7. Hi,
    The British Red Cross have launched the Asia Pacific Disasters Appeal to respond to the earthquakes in Indonesia, as well as the tsunami in Sumatra and typhoon in south-east Asia. They are urgently looking for donations to help support Red Cross emergency response operations across the region.
    All the info is at:



  8. that is sad very sad and hurricane season is just around the cornor for america im from florida the #1 hurricane state and im just very shoked i hope and pray for those who have nothing in the philipines. also i hope we dont get nailed by a hurricane this year unlike hurricane fay last year

Comments are closed.