Haiyan disaster relief volunteer trip in Philippines, DAY 2

MORNING OF DAY 2, SATURDAY 16/11; 6AM

The alarms are going off. It’s an early start today and I’m surprised that all the foreigners from Singapore are downstairs for breakfast on time, but the locals aren’t. “I heard them still talking at 3am, they can’t possibly have had much sleep?” I mused at the breakfast table.


“I think they got a call pretty late last night and they found out that 5 of their relatives in Ormoc were found dead. They were very upset,” Gil shared.

The impact of the situation is hitting harder and harder everyday. How devastating must it be for the organizers, to pour their heart and resources into feeding what’s left of the survivors when their own family isn’t around to feed?

PLAN FOR DAY 2

We are going to Medellin and Daanbantayan (those are barangays in Northern Cebu) today – 98% of their properties and crops are gone. We are coordinating with their mayors, so we know which areas have not received or received very little relief. After, we will also go to Ormoc, Leyte, coordinating with the mayor there. Very little relief has arrived, and one of the towns later tell us that we were the first to reach them. I wonder who else hasn’t had aid, as they wonder in turn if any help is ever coming?


It is absolutely crazy here – I’m surprised I still have been able to write stories of our experiences, edit pictures, manage social media updates, coordinate donations and blog about this Haiyan relief operation while on the road.

There is not a lack of things to do here and gone are the days of plenty of rest. There are days where the team gets back at 130am and leave by 330am – some sleep a few hours each night if even at all. Most of our lunch or dinners are a mix of meat and rice at anywhere from 3pm or 10pm, eaten in a local’s house or the back of the van with fast fingers. We are thankful to just have food – I heard that the US army are currently living on meals of protein bars so anything meat is a luxury.

I’m so grateful that God has given me plenty, but maybe it’s time to simplify my life. The people here have so much less than most people I know back home, but most still seem bucketfuls happier than white collar friends in Singapore who are miserable working. Travelling always helps me out things back into perspective – time to stop complaining!

People from Tacloban – the city that was majorly hit – are fast arriving in Cebu. We will distribute hygiene kits there next week and toys for the kids who are traumatized.

This Sunday, our mission is to visit 3 vicinity in Leyte and distribute relief goods among their smaller areas. So far, thanks to some of you reading this and with the donations we have received, we’ve managed to pack 4000 food and water relief packs, 500 hygiene kits and 500 packs for kids with infant formulas and basic toys. We hope we can distribute more as we need to reach more people.


In case you’re new to this update, there are millions left displaced and homeless from the wrath of Yolanda, otherwise known as Typhoon Haiyan – Asia’s biggest disaster since the 2005 Tsunami.

Please help us to help Philippines and any amount of donations are appreciated. Thanks to you, we can buy supplies and continue to feed and help the victims. PayPal link: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/588169/emal/5357393

My instagram appeal – Devastated, Deprived and Disabled after Haiyan wrecks Letye, Tacloban and Ormoc


I met a local Filipino man yesterday and his story triumphs all others. After being stranded overnight in Ormoc on Letye island, we were hanging around waiting for our boat back to Cebu in the morning, when this man limped past us in crutches. There was something about his feet that weren’t quite right – they flopped around lifelessly as he dragged his feet around absolutely painfully. He heaved most of his body weight onto his armpits and pleaded to us for food – Kinny, Meaghan, Yennie and I jumped up to help. We asked him if he was from this area, and we’re shocked to find out how far he had come. Despite being a cripple, he hitched his way here from his hometown in Isabela Letye, almost an hour and a half of travel from where we presently are!

No one had come yet to help his devastated area, and in desperation, he left his family and baby behind to seek food and supplies in the nearest big city. His disability, the destruction from the typhoon and lack of time all were huge odds against him but he still pressed on. We filled his bag with as much food and water as we had, sleeping mats and some money but somehow, it still feels like it’s not enough.

This man was blessed to have stumbled across a group of international volunteers, but others may not find such aid.

My name is Estelle and this is my Instagram appeal. (We are a small private group of civilians from Singapore, Australia, Indonesia and beyond, helping a small team in Philippines #styleyoursoul and #bangonormoc to provide relief aid across as many small areas as we can.) To date, we have bought, packed and distributed 8,000 food and water relief goods, 800 hygiene kits, 400 bags for children, and 300 sleeping mats/blankets/mosquito nets in Letye, Ormoc and Northern Cebu. Some clearly need more help than others, and so many more need help.

>> For enquiries, please email loveyouwrongtime@gmail.com
>> Any amount of donations are appreciated. PayPal link: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/588169/emal/5357393
>> Visit my blog for more information and updates of our mission in Philippines for Haiyan’s disaster relief:

http://loveyouwrongtime.wordpress.com/2013/11/15/singaporeans-go-to-typhoon-haiyan-affected-areas-help-us-to-help-philippines/

No matter how you contribute or help to spread this message, it will go a long way in helping us help Philippines through the biggest disaster in Asia since 2005’s tsunami. Thank you and God bless!

DAY 1 OF TYPHOON HAIYAN DISASTER RELIEF TRIP TO PHILIPPINES CEBU – Live updates from Singapore volunteers

DAY 1 OF TYPHOON HAIYAN DISASTER RELIEF TRIP TO PHILIPPINES CEBU – FRIDAY, 15 NOV 6AM

***I will update with more pictures from my camera when I get back to civilization! Please share this post with as many people as you know and WE HOPE YOU WILL HELP US TO HELP PHILIPPINES. Full details at the bottom.***


The first batch of warrior friends – getting onto our Cebu flight now after exchanging some donations. Keep me and the team I’m with in your prayers please? This whole thing is hitting is pretty hard now. Our schedule may include sanitizing people and helping to clear dead bodies, along with any other work needed at the evacuation centre around Philippines. People are desperately messaging me to help find their husbands, sons, loved ones who are all missing. It’s quite overwhelming really. Don’t know how ready we are.


Team Singapore has landed in Cebu, and with our total group check in of 190kg + 110kg (there was a lot is squeezing, begging and bag bursting!), it’s time to send off some of the relief goods that we have flown over. Toothpaste, vitamins and more are immediately dispatched with one of our local contacts – thanks Aaron! You the man!


Next stop off is checking into the place we’re staying in, and it’s bumper to bumper traffic all the way into Cebu suburbs.

I was prepared for the worst – sleeping on floors with no air con and hopefully no cockroaches – but the group’s organizer had set up an awesome host family for us to stay with.

“This is not a holiday,” I have to keep reminding myself, but this was a lovely start to what I otherwise expected. A delicious local Filipino spread fills us up every morning and night – Tita’s cooking is a fine example of Cebuano hospitality. Salamat Tita!

After lunch, we headed to another local’s house, and the labour begins. Trucks filled with relief goods are already pulling out of the porch, and we swap out with sweaty Filipino boys who are tired out from days of helping out with Typhoon Haiyan related aid.


Everyone warmly greets us and welcomes us, and I’m quickly instructed that each relief bag needs 3 and a half cups of rice and a 1litre bottle of water. Along with tinned goods, this properly feeds a family for only about 2 days, but it’ll have to do.


We quickly form a factory line of splitting and sacking rice, bagging, and packing. Groups of locals come and go, some are friends of the family and some are just fresh-faced volunteers like me. The younger ones are 100% efficient and 200% dedicated – they worked so much faster than our white collar fingers!


“Imagine Singaporean kids doing this,” one of our group members posed to me. “No f**king way.” It’s true. I’m disappointed that Singapore didn’t give much – a $200,000 calamity donation from a country that spends millions on fireworks each year is questionable. I discovered that I’m the only Singaporean in the relief team from Singapore, but there are plenty of small communities in Singapore and big-hearted individuals I know who have helped in other ways.


Some of the other members of our crew came in on the evening flight, and we continued to work late into the night. They invited along a Wall Street journalist who was on their flight to join us – to join amusingly enough, she actually did! She was lovely and it was so interesting exchanging opinions with her on our current mission and what we thought of the situation.

One of the Titas received a call and after 15 minutes of listening to her emoting in Filipino, she starts to cry. “My brother called,” she explained to me. “He and some other people have travelled for a long time to send thousands of packs of relief goods yesterday, but it wasn’t enough. So many people were left without any food or water, and they cried. He was crying watching them cry. We are so tired doing so many things, but there are just so many people who have starved for seven days and still don’t have nothing.”


Across 12 hours, almost 4 fresh deliveries of rice arrived – so much rice to sack and unpack but it’s still not enough. We pack in sweaty heat until 2am and wait for others to arrive. A last operation meeting is done and we’re back home in Cebu at 230am.

Tomorrow is a new day, with new purpose.

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>>> We are a small private group from Singapore (with leaders Lotte Edwards, Kinny Johnston and me Estelle Kiora as the only Singaporean) who are now in Cebu Philippines, and furiously working with some organizations to help smaller affected areas of Typhoon Haiyan that are not getting much help. Please email loveyouwrongtime@gmail.com if you would like to help or visit my blog for more information and schedule updates of our mission:

http://loveyouwrongtime.wordpress.com/2013/11/15/singaporeans-go-to-typhoon-haiyan-affected-areas-help-us-to-help-philippines/

@philippinestar #styleyoursoul
#typhoon #haiyan #yolandaph #travel #purpose #philippines #charity #volunteer #mission #girlfriends #cebu #thoughts #ontheroad #disaster #instahub #pictureoftheday #bestoftheday #sgig #bloggers #helpphilippines
#reliefPH #sg #banganormoc #bangantacloban #banganvisayas #ormoc #letye #tacloban #gugmasaguiuan

Singaporeans go to Typhoon Haiyan affected areas – help us to help Philippines!

My friends packing food and water supplies this week for urgent dispatch to the organizations they are working with. It's a start but not enough.

My friends packing food and water supplies this week for urgent dispatch to the organizations they are working with. It’s a start but not enough.

Hello friends, family, Facebookers and searchers, a small private group and I are going to disaster sites in the Philippines TOMORROW onwards to help for 1 week.

SITES WE ARE GOING TO:
ORMOC, LETYE, and there are other smaller areas affected by Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda) that are NOT receiving help from bigger organizations and official charities. Ask any of your friends in Philippines – a lot of people are dying from hunger and every bit you can do counts.

A few of my awesome friends have organized a small group and we are going to CEBU TOMORROW MORNING and doing day trips out by boat, van and bus to the lesser known but heavily affected areas that desperately need help. We have a huge schedule planned with transport, cleaning people, sanitizing, and urgently packing food and water – 700 packs have been sent out yesterday but we still need help to raise money so they can arrange more packs over the next weeks.

We are in coordination with 3 organizations in 3 different cities that were greatly affected by Yolanda – Bangor Ormoc, Gugma sa Guiuan which is handled by the Mayor’s chief of staff, Bangon Bohol.

***If there are any of you who would like to help or contribute to our mission, please let me know and anything at all is much appreciated. We need all your help possible.***

MY EMAIL FOR ENQUIRIES ON THIS PRIVATE MISSION: LOVEYOUWRONGTIME@GMAIL.COM
If I don’t respond to enquiries before I leave, I will respond when I am back – Philippines will need help for a long time more.

MORE INFO:
Since this is an emergency and my friends felt the need to help and share the blessing asap, we are not connected with any official charity.

THINGS THAT THE DISASTER SITES NEED THAT WE ARE BUYING:
Rice, water, canned goods in easy open can, candles and matches (no electricity there), sleeping mats, blankets, mosquito nets, baby formulas for the infants in the evacuation centers, hygiene kits which will include soap and toothbrushes.

***

This is the plan – please share the news, keep us in your prayers, contribute where possible and anything you can do is much appreciated. I will update more frequently on my instagram @estellekiora wherever I can, mostly to let my Mom know that I am alive…

Small searchings and wonders today about love and time

To love as Jesus loved takes time. TIME is the thing Satan wants us wasting, so we don’t connect with people face-to-face like the church Jesus started.

-> Have I watched too much rubbish on TV lately or just squandered my precious time reading all sorts of nonsense I will never need to know, that I could have better spent caring for other people?

I realized that sometimes when I’m out with friends, my heart is distracted with worry and my fingers are too busy with Facebook on my iPhone. It takes so much effort for people to arrange a meet up, but when they do, some of us are physically present – although we aren’t mentally 100% there.

Could I have been a better listener yesterday? What am I doing with my time today?

#God #wonder #love #seekandyouwillfind #Godswill #life #YOLO

The best of San Fermin 2013: A tourist’s experience of the bull run, bull balcony and bull fight

Whether I’m up rushing for my balcony viewing of the bull run at 7am, strolling the streets in the afternoon, or trying to fall asleep at 2am, there isn’t 5 minutes where the music stops playing. And by music, I mean everything – I recognized a range of Spanish classic pop songs, to David Guetta and Gangnam Style. Pamplona during San Fermin is a perpetual 24-hour party. It reminded me a bit of my college days in Australia – a number of cobbled alleyways reeked of beer and piss.


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*Bull Balcony viewing of the San Fermin Bull Run*

This was one for the bucketlist. Christine and I got the evening train in, and landed smack in street festivities of San Fermin. It was 11pm, and roads were closed when we got in, so our taxi dropped us off as far as it could. We pushed through crowds of inebriated party goers to navigate unfamiliar streets and quite quickly, found our way to our accommodation in Pamplona.


We were already tired, but its hard to ignore the jolts of adrenalin and cheers from celebrating locals. We were welcomed by our lovely local host, who briskly ushered us into a tight and tall apartment building – it was stairs only, and I struggled with my month-long luggage bag up 6 storeys.


My room was small, homely and cosy – a refreshing change from the usual hotels. There was something wrong with it though…

………..
The noise. I wouldn’t even call it noise – “noise” is an underestimation. This, is deafening. I didn’t expect this, but be prepared for gunshots, marching drums and brass trumpets accompany the screams of party-goers every 5 minutes. It’s too hot to sleep if the window is closed, but it’s too noisy to sleep when the window is open.


I asked for an adventure, but I didn’t know I wouldn’t be able to sleep.

There are many things I do alone, but I’m glad San Fermin isn’t one of them.


I can’t believe it was as loud last night at midnight as it is in the morning at 6am. The party goers are screaming, tension is building, but I’m perched high up and safely on our balcony. We’re living through San Fermin (pun intended) the only way we know how – VIP style!


So much safer than being on the ground. Not long now till the morning bull run!


A sea of red and white – kind of like the Singaporean National Day parade, but 10x crazier. With bulls. And beer. And Spaniards.


Run with the bulls and you’ll have instant bragging rights, or die trying. I’ll rather stay safe and high up on the balcony please, it’s much nicer to be injury and trample-free!


I just want to shout “nacho libre” and see who responds!

Arriba!

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*Bonafide bull fighting (Tauromachia)*
Location: Plaza De Toros

I woke up smiling, completely clueless as to what I was in for. Surprises are always fun right? My friend/blogger sister Chrispytine now lives in Europe and she told me about a trip to San Fermin in Pamplona that she was organizing.


The travel plans matched mine, and I put my hand up for it straightaway. I’ve always wanted to see a live bull fight – cartoons and movies could hardly do it justice and the bull fighters were depicted as such heroes. So off, we go.


Thanks to my immense lack of research before coming for a bullfight, I didn’t actually know that the celebratory tradition of bull fighting climaxes in the slow, drippy bloody death of a bull. The bull fighters (Toreros) and Matadors (senior bull fighters), spend half an hr per round teasing the bull with pink or red cloths while getting close enough to spear it. Slowly, but surely (bloody), it falls over in defeat. All the locals, half drunk on their BYO beer and wine, yell “ole ole ole” in victorious hurray.


My fellow foreigner friends and I have shell-shocked faces, sort of dismayed – and yet we clap and take pictures when we’re supposed to, feeling like we should try to enjoy the expensive entertainment that we came here for. An animal who is trapped into its own death is not a win for me, but we did pay for it.

How horrifying and heart-breaking to watch, my tears of sinking realisation punctuated only by the joyful roars of everyone else in the stadium. Surely a sport that honours the cruel torture and total death of an innocent animal is cruel and inhumane? I don’t think I have a right to criticise this long-standing cultural activity, so deeply a part of the lovely country of Spain which has warmly welcomed me. I decided I don’t like this world-famous sport at all, but it’s a little too late and also kind of ironic, considering I’m watching this while eating my kebab. My stomach feels sick with the thought and I start to visualize rainbows and butterflies.

Think it’s time to consider vegetarianism.


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If anyone’s interested, I’ll write a proper post with camera pictures on the top things we did in Pamplona for San Fermin and a first-time breakdown of how much/how to get around, but it’s up to you to consider turning vegetarian after you experience this too.

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->SORRY FOR THE LACK OF UPDATES, I’ll UPDATE MORE WITH PROPER PHOTOS WHEN I’M BACK END JULY. MEANWHILE, I’M OBSSESSED WITH INSTAGRAM VIDEO SO FOLLOW MY TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM (@estellekiora) FOR LIVE UPDATES! Xoxo

Spending a week in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, Cambodia is heartbreaking, but will make you a better person

I love my country, but Singapore is getting too glitzy and I know I need to shake myself out of this spoilt bubble that I’ve created around me. Singaporeans like me spend hundreds of dollars on taxis every month, and it has become so normal to watch my friends or overseas visitors spend anywhere from $2,000-$30,000 a night at my favourite nightspot haunts. Having my own business now means that I need to better appreciate the value of money, so I am taking a break with my parents to visit their friends in Cambodia. I need to escape this unhealthy perspective that I sometimes create for myself in my comfort zone at home.


Phnom Penh is much cleaner and has a surprisingly slightly westernized landscape. My days here are easily filled with $3-5 meals in beautiful restaurants, $1-2 coffees and drinks at spacious alfresco settings and conversations with a substantial number of expatriates – mostly sent here to work with the government, business projects and NGOs.


With the strength of my US dollar or Singapore dollar, it is simply impossible to be disappointed with $2 clothes at The Russian Market or Central Market, sleeping in $40 boutique hotels, or enjoying $9 per-hour massages at fine spas.


(Cambodia… #likeaboss)


In the rural countryside, the clouds are much nicer and there is lots of space. Locals tread under the searing sun and atop raw sandy land, going about their day to day.

It’s common to see motorcycles carrying trays of heavy and bulky items, or 3 adults clutching each other as scarfs and hats shade most of their face. Skinny cows or cats roam the land, and young children beg me everyday for food or money. Some are commonly run by begging syndicates and by giving in to one person, you are usually just disappointing 100 others. I want to give them all the dollars I have, but I know that’s not the way to help get them off the streets. The Cambodians need more than just money to break their poverty – they need a lot of support, jobs, education, love and probably a miracle.


Sure, people see that the Golden Triangle (Thailand, Cambodia and Laos) is dirty and backward, but when I look at Cambodia with my heart instead of my eyes, I see so much more.


(Challenge your compassion – go back in time and witness the horrors of humanity at the Genocide museum and The Killing Fields.)

The Cambodians are lovely people, albeit shy and fearful – oppressed by the unfortunate circumstances that toppled their once glorious kingdom. They were the second richest empire next to the Roman empire! How could so many problems happen to one country in such a short period of time? I am deep in sad thought as I sit in my wonderful air conditioned first class bus and eat my Twisties.

It’s one thing to see pictures or read books, but being present here will fill you with genuine understanding and clear impact of the change that the nation needs.
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(Still in Cambodia on the way to Siem Reap… More stories and pictures to come soon.)