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Everything you wanted to know about Tacloban’s ‘No Build Zone’ but are afraid to ask

Tacloban City—Two questions: What exactly is the No Build Zone? And why was it imposed on Tacloban’s coasts? Clearly, the latter isn’t as easy to answer as the former. After all, when environment and public works officials put up their “No Build Zone” signs in February, they cited presidential decree 1067, issued in 1976. Under the decree, also known as the Water Code, the government allotted public space along the …Read More

I talked, Miriam College students listened, but I forgot to take pictures

In this job, I get to talk a lot. But no one really listens to me. Which is good. After all, who wants to listen to the rants of someone like myself, a completely washed-out, middle-aged underachiever who always sounded like he was nursing a hangover? No one, right? Wrong. Apparently, Arnold Tenorio–who, is by the way, a friend of mine–was interested in what I had to say. [See: Arnold …Read More

Three things I learned from Yolanda victims

Tacloban City—Experience isn’t the best teacher—disaster is. Except that, as a nation, we can’t seem to learn our lessons, both historical and otherwise. We still can’t keep death and suffering to a minimum, despite decades of being visited upon by killer typhoons and similar catastrophes. And let’s not even forget about the horrors of Martial Law, a subject matter best discussed separately. As a people, Filipinos have managed to muddle …Read More

Line up and shut up

Tacloban City—Residents are no longer queuing up for relief goods. However, they still fall in line, for hours at a time, just to settle their bills. Yes, ladies and lesbians, gays and gentlemen, eight months after struggling through the world’s strongest typhoon, Yolanda survivors are made to suffer for—pardon the pun—a fate worse than debt. They have been forced to line up—and, to some degree, shut up—because agencies and utilities …Read More

Four things you didn’t know about post-Yolanda Tacloban

Tacloban City—Yolanda, Yolanda, Yolanda. In Tacloban, it’s still what people talk about. Yolanda remains a household word, an explanation, a prompt, and a meme—if you will—outside the Internet, offline, IRL. After all, the world’s strongest typhoon on record has changed the Eastern Visayas capitol in ways both profound and mundane. Below is a list of things you may want to know about the city seven months after Yolanda decimated it. …Read More

Why some Yolanda survivors didn’t get relief goods

Tacloban, Leyte—Whenever he found the time, the late Chicago Mayor took a swim at a private club immediately after lunch during his regular workday. Upon returning to the office at around two in the afternoon, Daley, who served as mayor from 1955 to 1976, was met by an official so special that he was the only one carrying the title in all of the city governments across the United States. The …Read More

How Naning, a mobile bar, solved a coño problem in Tacloban

MANILA–Jacques Palami had something of a coño problem, the term used to describe the concerns that ail the Philippines’ upper crust. He wanted a drink. Except that he had wanted it at the worst possible time and the worst possible place. It was December 2013 and he was in Tacloban, two months after supertyphoon Yolanda killed thousands, inside and outside the city. At that time, Tacloban’s streets were still littered …Read More

The Man in Black meets the guy with a Blackberry

I never got his name. Nor was I able to take down his number. And that suited his purposes perfectly. After all, he was trying to get rid of me, just like my frenemies. Good thing I was armed with a low-maintenance–and low-tech–handheld called (take note, iPhone and Samsung fanatics) the Blackberry. I pulled it out and threatened to take his picture using its phone camera, however admittedly embarrassing that …Read More

WANTED: Cake decorators, eJeepney drivers in Tacloban

TACLOBAN CITY–It’s hardly the kind of job ad you’d expect to see in Tacloban, a city leveled by Yolanda six months ago. But on the corner of Zaragoza and Salazar streets was a sign, posted weeks ago, looking for an “experienced cake decorator.” The ideal candidate, according to the sign,  should have “math skills” because “they may have to use fractions mixing icing [and/or] to create elaborate cake decorations” and “artistic ability” to conceptualize …Read More

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