Philippines in Devastation; First Hand Observations

photo c/o National Post
photo c/o National Post

Natural disasters will be an ever-present reality on this incredibly wondrous earth that we cohabit. Whether it be a tornado, hurricane, tsunami, earthquake, raging rivers overflowing their banks, typhoons as the horrendous fury that just swept over the heavily populated Philippines, or any other natural occurrence, the cruel and often deadly carnage left behind amounts to a catastrophe of unparalleled proportions.

The wreckage is piled high, unbelievably complete and stretching as far as the eye can see and beyond. In the Philippines the death toll steadily rises and relief is desperately needed for those who have survived the demon of destruction that carved its way over this country with unrelenting severity. The people of the Philippines cry out now for the very basics in life…water, food, electricity, communications, fuel, emergency medical aid…and the compassion of mankind.

Philip Cartmel, a friend and former colleague of mine, has posted his own personal first-hand observations and struggles in the Philippines where he had traveled to and lived through this horrific natural occurrence. Phil has loved ones in the region and has also been facilitating new children’s education facilities there. Life for he and the people of the Philippines is currently in a state of chaos quite beyond comprehension. With each piece of rubble picked up the horrible reality of yet more bodies beneath is an imminent fear and constant reality. Phil’s accounting here is self-explanatory and I will leave most of this post to his writing.

You see, Phil Cartmel and I have both retired from a thirty year career in property/facility management and administration. Through all those years we have seen more than our share of disasters experienced at individual properties under management…devastating fires, pipe floods, property failure of a severe nature due to water ingress, arson and much more. We have seen the disparaging looks of disbelief, shock and grief on the faces of those victims of circumstance, the tears streaming from eyes of torment, frustration, anger…and loss. We have seen the heartbreak of death amoungst loved ones.

Sheer survival is our first instinct as human beings and through the carnage as it occurs and our only thoughts are of getting through the minutes of horror as the fury of Mother Nature bears its wrath upon us and moves on…and digging out and reconstructing somehow in the days, weeks, months and in some cases years that follow. I can only implore that you read the following first hand account and extend to those devastated people your prayers, your donations…whatever you can do to help them through this terrible time in their lives. For many of us we could very well be a victim in kind some day. The days that I did not hear back from Phil were painful, anxiety-filled moments for me. To see his first post on Facebook, however brief, when he finally found a way to communicate were truly answered prayers, a gift from Heaven. As you will see from his post below, Phil remains anxious about his own welfare and all those who surround him there in the desolation of destruction and death.

This kind of carnage…I just cannot imagine.

© Don MacIver 2013; All Rights Reserved

Philip Cartmel

Well it has been two weeks now and the extent of the damage to the Region is over whelming. Three times the number of deaths as Hurricane Katrina that garnished so much attention. President Aquino under estimated the damage and national pride seems to have stood in the way of calling for international assistance.


The stench of bodies has begun to rise out of uncleared debris as evidence the body count shall continue to rise. Clinging to their faith Philippians naively that mother church will come and save them. They starve, live with injury and growing infections from untreated wounds that may eventually kill them. My Girlfriends mother walks around with a huge bump on her head not wanting to complain about the house roof that fell on her head. Now they live under a tarp too shy, too embarrassed, too proud to ask for help directly. Somewhere out at sea there may be as many as 1500 lost souls who will never be seen again and may prompt sharks and other sea predators to enter the coastal waters to eat their remains.


The fishing industry has been devastated. Fishermen bring in but a fraction of their usual catch and markets in places as far as Manila lack their usual stocks. More than 200,000 Acres of Coconut farms are wiped out for the next 5 – 8 years providing they can be replanted promptly with new trees. Rice stores were contaminated, shortages of fuel make distribution impossibly hard. Livestock was destroyed and there was no water at all until recently. This storm packed winds 60 kilometers stronger than Katrina and hit some of the densest areas of population on the planet. Even many of the 800,000 persons evacuated prior to the storm died in community centers that never expected a 20 foot storm surge.


Kids and the aged were easy targets. In a country where 34% are under 14 it will be sad to see what proportion were taken by the storm. I was hoping to have some cell phone support prior to heading out to some of the out lying areas to give a hand in rebuilding homes and where ever else I can help. There was no phone, no electricity or any way to make a call for help. This is worse than a combat region I am hearing and it would be nice if I can gather some support. There has been looting and violence and I will have to ensure to be self sufficient as the Malaria risk rises along with other diseases after such a catastrophe.


One thing that I do ask for is nails. Since the storm there has been short supply of building nails as folk try to fashion some type of shelter among all this mess…and pray we don’t experience another Typhoon for a while as the weakened remains will not bear much. Please pass this post along. I don’t have many Facebook Friends but those that I do I really appreciate taking the time to read this…and if the risk ends up being greater than me…thanks for being my friends.



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2 thoughts on “Philippines in Devastation; First Hand Observations

  1. Excellent article my friend. Eleven of my Engineers and their families and homes were wiped out from that typhoon. Spent all week on conference calls with the U.S. and Philippine Embassies helping to reach out to next of kin and arrange to have the U.S. Engineers returned home for burial and… well…. my heart aches to all who effected by this disaster.


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