Philippines Disaster Relief and Updates

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We will do our best to update this blog post with the latest information we receive about those in the Philippines and how you can help. Please continue to pray for those affected by this storm. Thank you!

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Update: December 4, 2013 - 1 PM ET

The following was received from Edmond Macaraeg [December 5 in the Philippines]:

Greetings from Davao City! 

Just want to update you once again with regards to what we have done and are continuing to do to help our brethren in Leyte. 

We are continuing with our Relief Operations in Leyte, since the impact of the calamity is big and takes much time to be solved.

 Having been there for over a week during the first mission, one gets tired of eating canned goods three times a day; day after day.

 And it is also not good for one's health, when the diet is not nutritionally balanced. Thus, vegetable products and fruits rich in Vit. C were considered.

By way of review; on the second mission to Leyte, we included a full van-load of vegetable products and fruits which does not need any refrigeration.

 Among them were squash, sayote, carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic, tomatoes, beans, plus one extra-large basket of "calamansi" fruits (all stacked in plastic crates). Included was another electric generator (for Raul), plus several sets of Solar Panels & car batteries to provide electricity to places where we hold services and Bible Studies.

This second mission (headed by Charles and Roy) distributed those food products, plus with the help of Ben John Campos began installing solar panels where designated.

Obviously, it's nice to see said places being lighted with quiet, pollution-free, and continuously renewable FREE power source - from the sun!

The third mission which left last Sunday night (Nov. 24) included carpenters with hard hats, boots, and equipment to help repair or rebuild damaged houses.

 They also brought more Solar Panels bought from Davao City, because the stocks from Cebu City began to be exhausted due to high demands in that stricken area.

 Because of the extend of the calamity, all available carpenters in Leyte are busy either fixing their own houses, or helping fix their neighbor's or relative's houses. Thus, we had to import into Leyte our own repair team. Meanwhile, those on the second mission after distributing food stuff, went to Cebu City to buy building materials.

 And to carry all those materials from Cebu, then across the sea, and into the building sites in Leyte, they were authorized to purchase a Suzuki pick-up vehicle for such purpose.

For the fourth mission scheduled early next week, we plan to replenish more of the food stuff in Leyte, which should include more of the vegetable & fruit products stated earlier. 

We realize that with the extent of the devastation caused by that super-typhoon, even if they start to plant now, it will be at least 3-6 months before they can harvest anything.

 Thus, we need to be patient, have the willingness to sacrifice, and suffer some personal inconveniences in helping those people who were affected in that calamity area of Leyte.

In talking with Raul Villacote this morning, he said, Sayote which came from Cebu costs P25/pc! But with Mindanao being the "food basket of the nation," it is only 1/10th of that cost!

Also, with the repair and rebuilding program which has started, we may need to add more tools and equipment to speed up the work being done there. 

Just a little update on some of our activities and focus here at this point in time.

With warmest regards, and thanks for your help and support. 

Edmond Macaraeg 

P.S.: Raul Villacote mentioned to me this morning that because of his diabetic condition, he was not feeling well, and seems not to have recovered yet from the great trauma and ordeal he suffered as a result of the onslaught of the super typhoon. In connection with his crossing over to Cebu this coming Sabbath, he also plans to have a medical check-up to have his health condition professionally evaluated and treated accordingly. Let's also include him in our prayers.


Update: November 22, 2013 - 8:00 AM ET

Read a detailed report (with photos) from Edmond Macaraeg on the Relief Mission to UCG Members in Leyte affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan:

Go to this website:


Update: November 17, 2013 - 1 AM ET

The following was received from Daniel Macaraeg at approximately 11 PM ET November 16:

UCG Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) Relief Team Now Leaving Leyte.

We just received a call from my Dad around 10 am (Philippine time) that they have now left MacArthur, Leyte (the hometown of the Campos family) for Davao City.

The land trip home will take anywhere from 12-14 hours, so they should be here around midnight tonight.

Along with the six of them (my Dad, Richard, Charles, Roy Gilos, Gem Nagtalon, and Joshua Infantado) are:


Reuel and Meryl Campos

  • Ben John Campos

  • Kerin Tagayon

  • Grace Campos

  • Mark (friend of Grace Campos)

  • Eunice Campos

  • A male cousin of Eunice

They plan to stay and perhaps look for some jobs here in Davao for now. Power, mobile, and Internet communications have not been restored yet.

Thanks again for the outpouring of support, love, concern, and practical help from so many around the world!


Update: November 14, 2013 - 12 noon ET

The following was received from Daniel Macaraeg at approximately 6 AM ET:

My Dad called my Mom a few minutes ago and she in turn called me to relay the latest developments:

Charles, Roy, and Reuel Campos are in Cebu City to get more fuel for our three vehicles. As you know, there is no good source of fuel in the island of Leyte right now.

But while they were in Cebu, they had a hard time arranging their return trip back to Leyte.

So Roy called me earlier today to request a letter on UCG letterhead addressed to the Philippine Coast Guard to allow them to board the ferry. Perhaps they assume that the purchased fuel will be resold at a higher price in Leyte, which is about six times more expensive than Cebu. I explained in the letter that the fuel will be used in connection with our typhoon relief operations.

My Dad, Richard, and Mr. Jose Campos are on their way to Isabel in the northwestern coast of Leyte. Richard texted me a few minutes ago saying that they are now in Ormoc City (a few kilometers east of Isabel) to send/receive news updates. They just visited the Astorgas and Ally Tambis -- he said they are doing fine. They are proceeding to Isabel tonight. Then, they will proceed to Hindang (a municipality on the southwestern coast of Leyte) to meet with Charles and add the fuel they purchased in Cebu. Charles, Roy, and Reuel Campos are planning to take the boat trip [in Cebu] at 9 pm.

The Villacotes plan to stay in Hindang for a week or more to rest and recover from the shock of the recent events. My sister Meryl also plans to vacation with us in Davao for a few days.

My Dad and his group plan to leave for Davao tomorrow, after finishing the rounds of all the members in Leyte.

This is the latest information I have for now. We will give you more updates as they become available.


Update: November 14, 2013 - 11:00 AM ET

Due to periodic inquiries concerning the 7.2 earthquake with epicenter in Bohol (occured October 15, 2013) and typhoon Haiyan (also called Yolanda -- occured November 7, 2013), the following is provided by Marino Bual:

My hometown is Candijay, Bohol which is about 9 miles from the epicenter of the 7.2 earthquake that hit Bohol. A number of my close relatives suffered major damages. A cousin who retired as a school principal (Purita Bual Virtudazo Melencion) a few years ago, together with her husband who also retired as school supervisor, built a 3-story home in the town of Buenavista, Bohol, where they had a mango plantation. Unfortunately, their home was close to the epicenter and was demolished by the earthquake and the mango trees down.

Another cousin, who is a retired Judge (Daniel Bual Bernaldez) and has been a Church pastor since retirement also sustained a major loss as his church building was also brought down by the 7.2 earthquake. Thankfully, the University of Bohol in the capital city of Tagbilaran did not seem to have major structural damages. The almost century old University is owned and managed by my cousin's in-laws (The Tirol family who are politically entrenched in the province).

I have not heard from many of my relatives in Bohol. My hometown of Candijay has no electricity and water at this juncture and all utility poles and cell phone towers are down. Unfortunately, the water system in the province uses electricity to pump water. Since there is no electricity there is no water. Thankfully, my late wife and I had a deep well manually operated water pump built twenty years ago on the side of our home. A good size cement flooring was constructed around the pump. Being the only source of water on our “long” street, people are lining up day and night to fetch water from the well.

However, my sister (Cresencia Bual Yu) in Baganga, Davao Oriental, is still experiencing major challenges in life. A widow for about 30 years God had immensely blessed their business operations in Baganga - - large coconut and banana plantations, a large tract of land planted with trees that were 50 plus years old; wholesale/retail copra in 3 large warehouses; several trucks to haul copra and merchandise; a thriving large general merchandise store supported by a 4th warehouse and a good size tri-level residence. Last year, a hurricane (Typhoon Bopha made landfall on December 3, 2012) with 175 mile sustained winds carrying 40 plus feet of ocean swells slammed several towns of Davao Oriental, with Baganga absorbing the brunt.

In my sister's neighborhood, practically all houses, schools, etc were leveled by the hurricane (Typhoon Bopha) and the swells damaged most infrastructure. Hundreds of the homeless residents were huddled in one of my sister's warehouse. Unfortunately, the habitable warehouse had its roof blown away so my sister had to request people to find what carpenters and workers would be available to replace the roof - - - at a premium cost. Then my sister had to provide blankets and, of course, feed them free of charge. Close to 50 people were also housed on the ground floor of her home. For weeks, the only way to get to Baganga was by motorized boat as the bridges and roads were damaged. One has to travel several miles to another town to be able to use cell phones.

After a year, Baganga is slowly recovering (also thanks to international aid). My sister has exhausted her resources - - still housing and feeding a number of old neighbors who are not yet able to rebuild. Her tenants in the plantation told her that the only way that they can build new but small houses was for my sister to donate her entire forest of tall trees. So, all of the trees were cut and processed through a lumber yard (at my sister's expense) and practically all of her tenants have their housing again - - brand new.

Her loyal tenants replanted the “Forest”, planted 5,000 special breed of coconut trees that can have nuts ready for harvest earlier and also replanted a few thousand banana plants. Until the coconuts and bananas can have produce, my sister had her tenants plant vegetables. With God's further blessings, her general merchandise business is picking up. But her copra business operation is struggling because after the hurricane (Typhoon Bopha), the small copra producers brought their copras to my sister. With their dire financial condition they pleaded with my sister to buy their copra at the prevailing price before the hurricane. However, my sister was advised by her copra purchaser in Cebu that they would only pay 50% of the price as the copra were wet. On top of that the trucks (once the roads were repaired) asked for premium charges so were the ship owners who handled the shipment from the Port of Davao to Cebu. Out of the liberality of my sister's heart she was losing 90% in her copra business for about a year - - just so the small copra producers in Baganga can recover and also feed their families.

Then the 7.2 earthquake jolted Bohol. The youngest (Pacita) of my three surviving sisters (I am the youngest in the family) was serious and was confined in the hospital in Tagbilaran. Sister Crescencia left for Cebu then proceeded to Bohol. Before leaving she called her son (Dr. Samuel Bual Yu) who was attending a conference in Florida to immediately catch a flight back to the Philippines so he can accompany her to Bohol. Arriving in Tagbilaran Pacita had recovered well and wanted to go home to our hometown of Candijay. The police authorities told them that the roads and bridges that were already hanging to dear life after the earthquake were given finishing touches by typhoon Yolanda and it might be weeks before the roads and bridges can be repaired.

Returning to Cebu, sister Crescencia was thankful to God that her home in San Vicente Village sustained very minor damage. However, her daughter-in-law, Dr Emmeline Borromeo Yu had a shocker. Emmeline is the Dean of the Cebu Doctors University. The combined force of the earthquake and Yolanda caused a portion of the 4th floor to collapse. By providence Emmeline was visiting a patient as she is also the City pathologist. Otherwise she could have been killed.

As communication is limited, I still have to hear from my “clan” in the areas affected by the earthquake and Yolanda.

May the Almighty reward you for your munificent thoughts.

Marino B. Bual from Hillsboro, Oregon -- Hometown: Candijay, Bohol


Update: November 14, 2013 - 10:00 AM ET

Philippines Typhoon Update re: UCG members from Senior Pastor Earl Roemer:

Just got off a SKYPE call with Roy Gilos. Roy is one of the disaster relief team from Davao to Leyte.

As previously posted, they were able to leave Surigao Norte Mindanao Tues around 6 pm arriving on Leyte at 7:20 pm. There were 2 ferries that left within an hour or so of each other. The UCG team and vehicles were on the 1st ferry to leave. The 2nd ferry was mainly for the army and other officials of the gov't. The main concern of our team was the fact that the govt of Tacloban City and Leyte Island had released all jail prisoners not convicted or sentenced prior to the coming storm. The military and other authorities were going to Leyte to quell the looting and killing taking place because of the situation. Our UCG team thought they would wait for the army, etc once they got to Leyte--and join their convoy for safety's sake. But when our team arrived on Leyte, there were so many thousands of people waiting to catch the ferry OUT of Leyte, that there was no where to park and wait. Our team decided to proceed. God was merciful and granted them favor--they encountered no resistance and arrived in MacArthur around 11:30 pm.

Wednesday morning, Jose Campos was able to make contact with the Raul Villacote family who were at the Tacloban Airport waiting to be evacuated to Cebu. They had been at the airport 2 days waiting--no food, etc. Our team was able to make its way from the Campos's in MacArthur to the Tacloban Airport (about 45 miles). They spent 2 hours looking for the Villacotes and Lerias to no avail.  They left the airport somewhat discouraged but decided at the last moment to check out the Villacotes' home approx. 2 km from the airport. The Villacotes and Lerias had walked back there and were waiting. Roy reports that there are dead corpses strewn everywhere and that the stench is overwhelming.

The Lerias have been airlifted to Manila to stay with relatives. The Villacotes are choosing to stay in Hindang, Leyte for the time being. Hindang is on the West coast of Leyte and didn't suffer damage like on the East coast where Tacloban is located .In the Villacote's neighborhood, most of the homes suffered extensive damage. Water and mud were "head high". The Villacote's home had waist deep water only. The roof of a neighbor's house blew off in the storm and landed on top of the Villacote's new van. Other than a few dents the van was protected from all the storm!! Raul Villacote plans on being in Cebu City on this coming Sabbath to serve the brethren there.

As of right now (and for the next 2 hours) Roy, Charles Macaraeg and Reuel Campos are in Cebu. They took the ferry over from Leyte. They are there to buy fuel for the vehicles. Fuel on Leyte IF you can find uncontaminated fuel, is selling for 300pesos per liter (approx. $30/gal), with a 2 liter maximum sale. On Cebu fuel is 50pesos per liter.

The 3 team members have been granted free passage on the ferry and do not have to wait in line to be "prioritized" for passage since they are doing disaster relief work!

All the best,

Earl Roemer


Update: November 13, 2013 - 8:30 AM ET

Report from Philippines of activities through Wednesday, November 13 by Daniel Macaraeg:

Hello Mr. Roemer and U. Bong,

I arrived late last night from a 10-hour trip from Lipata, Surigao. I was with the group of 10 that left around 3 am Monday morning. We arrived Lipata, Surigao at 10:45 am. The original plan was to leave Monday and be back by Friday. But due to typhoon Zoraida following on the heels of typhoon Yolanda, all shipping vessels were banned from crossing over to Leyte until yesterday around 5 pm. Due to these delays and also to save on costs, we trimmed our group down from 10 to only six. Since my Dad won't be able to be back until early next week, someone was needed to go down and be in Davao to help conduct Sabbath services. Of course, I also need to make and send these reports, among other things.

In addition to food, fuel and other transport costs, we have budgeted a certain amount for each individual. 

[By the way, my Dad just called 5 minutes ago. He is in the Tacloban airport, looking for Mr. Villacote among the thousands of people there who are also waiting to board a plane to leave their devastated city. Anyway, my Dad's party are in dire need of more fuel to make their rounds as there are hardly any gas stations available. The few that are open have a very long line and they only ration it to about 2 liters per vehicle. They are also in need of more food. They plan to buy more fuel and food in Hilongos (port town in the western part of Leyte which was not as badly hit as the eastern coast) or in Lipata, Surigao (the northern tip of Mindanao -- the jump-off point going to Leyte). They might have to cross over from San Ricardo, which is about 2-3 hours from MacArthur Leyte, just to buy gasoline in Surigao City.]

Let's continue to keep them all in our prayers.




Update: November 12, 2013 - 6:00 AM ET

Earl Roemer, Senior Pastor for the Philippines provides this information:

UCG employee Roy Gilos Skyped from Surigao del norte in Mindanao. The convoy is stranded there--no ferries allowed to run to Leyte.

The Leria in family in Tacloban evacuated. Mr. Leria went back and hung on to a tree through the storm. All are OK, but their home was destroyed.

Elder Raul and Marita Villacote evacuating to Cebu. Tacloban is now "a dead city." James Villacote hopped a C-130 to Manila.

The Astorgas have not reported in as of this evening (Monday). I (Earl) talked with Ed Macaraeg via Skype audio who has been at port waiting clearance for 30 hours.

Jose Campos OK. Needs nails, food. staples for the duration. Second floor of house blown away,

So as of now, all we know.

Tax-deductible (in the US) donations that will be used directly for victims can be made through


Update: November 11, 2013 - 2:00 PM ET

From Aaron Dean, International Advisor - United Church of God

Our Philippine office, located in the South Island of Mindanao was protected from a direct hit of the tropical storm. An update from Daniel Macaraeg said they have sent a group to help people on the island of Leyte where the most devastation has occurred. They are taking some supplies and cash as all ATM machines are down although we do not know what stores would be open or have any supplies.

Power and services are still down. We understand our minister in the area is well but we do not have complete information about all our membership, property damage or total needs.  Keep praying for the safety and health as disease usually follow tragedy. 

You may note from the following post, the local Philippine office has set up a paypal account for those wishing to help. However, those in the United States who wish their donations to be tax deductible should make their contributions through the home office to UCG Good Works - designated for the PhilippinesLife Nets is also taking tax deductible donations.  There are many government agency and US Philiippino community that are willing to ship and deliver supplies or food, clothing and other materials for reconstruction of the area. We appreciate your continued prayers for all who will suffer as the rebuilding begins.


This post by Eliza Rachel de Vera as the storm was active shows some of the needs:

The last email update from my father in law (Edmond Macaraeg) was a response to Mr. Dean's post in United Church of God Facebook post on Typhoon Yolanda (International name:Haiyan). I will shortly send that email to you. I spoke with my husband a few hours ago, and he along with my brothers-in -law are going to Leyte to help in the relief operations.

My brother-in-law Daniel Macaraeg posted in the UCG Philippines Facebook page about the relief operations that they will be undergoing this coming Monday.  Please see the link below:

Meryl, my husband's youngest sister lives in Leyte and my in-law's last communication with her was last Friday around 4 am, before the typhoon hit the island and according to my father-in-law, she, together with her husband and his family have evacuated to a higher place. To date, there are no current news about them. Most of the updates that I get are from the local Filipino TV from cable, social media posted by the locals to youtube and from my husband and in-laws. I watched the Filipino TV this morning and saw how bad the devastation was. Death toll keeps going up as relief operations from the government are coming in. The evacuation centers are also not functioning properly. The typhoon has ripped off the roofs and are also flooded.  Relief is hard to reach Leyte and other islands since debris from the fallen trees and  parts of houses that were ripped off by the the typhoon are scattered around the roads. Most of the cell sites went down, there are no electricity, so the islands devastated by the typhoon have no means of communication except for the media who updates the country with what is happening as well as social media such as you tube or Facebook to those who live oversees. 

I think our brethren in the Visayas region (Leyte, Cebu, Bacolod etc) will need help for clean water, clothing as they start to clear up their homes. I think it is hard for them to get clean water since flood waters came in as the typhoon entered the Philippine area of responsibility. 

Let us pray for the safety of those who will be going to Leyte. We do not know what kind of obstacles that they will encounter. One option is for the Philippine air force to fly them with other groups to help out in the relief operations. The Air Force informed my husband that they are still on stand by to there is no assurance for them to be flown out so the most possible option is for them to drive to get to the Leyte. They will be taking two SUVs with my in-laws and some volunteers to help in the relief operations.

The link above also includes a donation section through Paypal to facilitate faster sending of monetary help. We can also have non-monetary relief such as used clothing, blankets and anything that will help out the brethren rebuild their lives. I know some shipping companies here in Los Angeles that ship goods to the  Philippines. The Filipino community here in LA is also coming up with relief help so the shipping of non monetary items will reach them faster because the shipping companies will make it possible for the relief to get in as soon as possible.


Update: November 11, 2013

"Super-storm" Typhoon Haiyan (also known as typhoon Yolanda) hit the island nation of the Philippines on Nov. 7-8, 2013, leaving behind a trail of devastation. Possibly the strongest typhoon on record to make landfall, it has affected tens of thousands of people along the coastline. We are greatly concerned for the well-being of those affected by the storm, not just now, but as recovery begins and progresses. We are raising funds to aid in the recovery process. Because assessments of the damage are ongoing we will maintain contact with our associates in the region, who will help us determine how these funds will be most helpful to those affected.

Donate Online to Help! or visit


November 8, 2013 3:30 PM ET

From Aaron Dean, International Advisor - United Church of God:

We would like to ask for your prayers for our brethren in the Philippines. We have not had any reports, and may not have them for a few days, as communications may be difficult. It is reported that Super Typhoon Haiyan, the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane, slammed into the Philippines today with sustained winds of 315 km/h (195 mph) and gusts as strong as 380 km/h (235 mph).

"If it maintains its strength, there has never been a storm this strong making landfall anywhere in the world," said Jeff Masters, founder of Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Few buildings in the rural areas can withstand these severe winds.

Pray for the lives and property of those living through this storm. It is likely roads will be closed and food will not be easily available, perhaps for days. We hope to provide updates about our members as we receive more information.