Vhong Navarro and Tent Cities as Top Stories? I guess not.

Beyond the damp and muddy living conditions during downpours and the oven-like heat during noons, it is disturbing that the dismal abuse of dignity is confined to online reports. There is none to be seen on TV nor on any broadsheets.-- PHOTO: AFP/ OXFAM / ELEANOR FARMER

Beyond the damp and muddy living conditions during downpours and the oven-like heat during noons, it is disturbing that the dismal abuse of dignity is confined to online reports. There is none to be seen on TV nor on any broadsheets.– PHOTO: AFP/ OXFAM / ELEANOR FARMER

Surely,  the Philippines hasn’t rebounded from the ravage of  the Zamboanga stand off and the calamities that came, one after  the other, but why is  it, that the Vhong Navarro argumentum ad misericordiam hogging all forms of media while minimal attention is given to those in the South of the Philippines who are still living in tents and make shift homes?  One person’s problem has become  a national concern that major networks would rather sell this than  headline the lament of the Yolanda survivors during the 12,000 strong protest march in Tacloban of January 24, 2014.

It is disturbing that reports on the dismal abuse of dignity is confined online.  It seems that it is of no national concern that “sex tents”  sprouted at the relocation site of those displaced by the MNLF-Military standoff in Zamboanga and that even years after Typhoon Pablo struck, survivors are still living in tents and bunk houses at Compostela Valley.

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Beyond the damp and muddy living conditions during downpours and the oven-like heat during noons, the country’s Tent Cities that are supposed to offer temporary shelter to many survivors of war and calamities have become a humanitarian disaster and has left many of the displaced with deplorable living conditions.

The gravity of one survivor story to another, be it one from war or calamity, pulls at a new low but their recovery is relegated  as a side story.

While the rest of the country has been buzzing about showbiz controversy, there were those in the South who braved the night of the Lunar New Year with another landfall while another typhoon, in Basyang, struck with a storm signal # 2.  While emotional and psychological wounds are still bleeding incessantly,  the survivors are but last month’s headline for mainstream media.

For the tens of thousands of  survivors from Leyte, Samar and Iloilo who lost their homes, every storm is Yolanda all over again. Memories of being swooped by the strong winds and the ordeal of saving their friends and families from being engulfed and carried away by the raging sea water that came with the rising flood, haunt.

Salty flood water was ingested by most and the worst of those who suffered were the little children. Those who survived Yolanda, endured days of severe vomitting and painful diarrhea. The fortunate ones healed, others died due to dehydration for lack of immediate medical care. Their parents and relatives forever scarred by the negligence of those who professed or were mandated to help.

I met many of the young survivors and their families while serving at Operation Salubong’s Children’s Activity Area at the Villamor Airbase Grandstand.

Three of those young Leyte survivors are the children of Lyn from Tacloban and Irish of Palo. Knowing the kids gave me the chance to know their families.

My respect and admiration grows, the more that I get to know these Yolanda survivors from Tacloban and Palo, Leyte.

I would like you to know them, not for their resiliency, that has become quite ubiquitous in the Filipino culture, but as a reminder in these times where SUPERFICIALITY takes precedence over substance.

Mommy Lyn and her husband who is a Philippine Air Force soldier formerly based in Tacloban want to help in rebuilding their city as soon as the injured soldier fully recovers. Their plan was made depsite the compromise of leaving their two pre-school children under the care of Lyn’s mother at their new home in Cavite that was awarded to them by the Air Force.

Makes me wonder, as to how many would rather be a part of a rehabilitation, with compromises at that, when there is already a new chapter elsewhere that can easily be written?

The family of Irish, on the other hand, were among the first to leave the devastation in Visayas via C-130 but they were also among the very first who went back to Palo, Leyte.

Irish did so to answer the call of duty as a Public School Teacher regardless if she had to single-handedly care for her 2 year old child
since her husband was blessed with a job in  Manila during their 3 week relocation at the capital.

For over two months now, the mother and daughter along with other survivors in Palo have been enduring the  uncomfortable heat during noon time and the leaking evacuation shelter during the constant rain.

At night time, there is darkness since electrical power service has only resumed in selected areas which their politicians deem

Eric is the cousin of Irish, who was a fisherman in Palo prior to Yolanda. He was also among the firsts who made the Exodus from Leyte but opted to leave Manila via C-130 as soon as the opportunity presented itself. He would rather risk going back to nothing and hack it at the seaside of Palo, than be a TAMBAY and a LEECH in the city, where no opportunities for a fisherman like him abound.

Eric is currently sustaining himself through “pamamasada” of a tricycle.

Thanks to the kindness and trust of friends based in Canada and Australia, financial assistance was sent directly to the families on December 2013 and on January 2014.  Lyn used their share as pocket money to go back to Tacloban while Eric and Irish pooled in theirs to rebuild the devastated home of the father of Irish, a widower who has been depressed and traumatized after his home literally crashed upon him.

In less than a month, the dedication of Yolanda survivors complemented with bayanihan, transformed a make shift shelter into a livable humble home.

In less than a month, the dedication of Yolanda survivors complemented with bayanihan, transformed a make shift shelter into a livable humble home.

Through  the remittances and the GSIS loan that Irish received, the Php 50,000.00 total, built a humble home for her father. A home that not only made an old man smile but has also sheltered other survivors during that Lunar New Year’s landfall.

Recall that Eric is a fisherman turned “mamamasada” while Irish is a working mom of a 2 year old who both lost their belongings and their homes, yet they are capable of  exemplary  GENEROSITY, a generosity so scarce from people who have a good access to life’s amenities.

Note worthy also,  is how these survivors from Palo were unyielding to accept any further financial assistance until I have received PROOF of how the previous remittances were spent! True to their word, they made the effort to borrow a mobile phone with a camera, buy the memory card that had the before-and-after photos of the house and even spent for the courier! All that just to show how the funds were spent.

What RARE TRANSPARENCY, a transparency absent from those mandated to deliver it!

Like that of the home awarded to a wounded soldier and his family and the transparency well complemented with bayanihan, I pain to see more structures that afford opportunities for more survivors to fully recover . Such not only heals physical and emotional wounds but also that of the lasting psychological injury of a people ravaged not just by war and calamity but worse prostituted by corruption.

But my country have seen too much of those who have lived large and have left so less for those who need so much.


I know that we are to see more of them while many of my “kababayans” are recovering at a turtle’s pace. There had been too many who have unabashedly and apathetically conformed to a system that have shackled the likes of Lyn, Irish and Eric to a standard that they do not deserve.

I have yet to see if my people have learned any from the miasma of the Napoles corruption, the chaos of Zamboanga and the debilitating trauma of Bohol, Samar, Iloilo and Leyte.

Now is the best opportunity to make it.
Or would this present another opportunity to again
“break it” while the country is hypnotized by yet another reality teledrama.

12 Replies to “Vhong Navarro and Tent Cities as Top Stories? I guess not.”

  1. These absurd stories about Vhong and the tent cities are what I call an escapism to people from the harsh living in this god-forsaken country.

    Of course, it’s the government’s idea to divert the people’s attention to something else rather than face the true issues such as corruption and the pork barrel case.

  2. The stories you shared with us here are truly moving…. Thanks lots for sharing them. I need to hear stories like these to keep me from losing my faith in my fellow Filipinos considering all our flaws as a people…. And yes, so many things have opened my eyes to the stark truth that we can no longer trust mainstream media because it has become a puppet of the powerful and has come to worship profit, damning all others….

  3. The very heartfelt message is well said.

    The juxtaposition of these two stories/events, which sit at either end of the news spectrum, and the subsequent exposure and reaction ( mainstream and social) are a mirror on societal values and a sad one at that.

    People tend to refer to 3rd world countries primarily as an economic descriptor, but what is highlighted here is third world thinking, and partly explains some of the associated problems which remain rooted in society and why the philippines remains a highly troubled nation, falling further behind its ASEAN neighbours

    Wrong priorities – dumb down
    Wrong messages –
    Life is cheap – more concern from international community
    Gossip/infotainment rules – to an excessive degree
    Justice is not for all – businessman lee will not end up in jail.
    If a celebrity is involved then so will mar roxas be.
    People love the blame game – and never own up to anything.
    There ia an almost inbred ability to complicate the simplest things.
    More time is spent talking than doing, often finding reasons/excuses not to do anything
    People love to play the victim
    Lessons are never learnt – deja vu
    Whatever the tragedy boy abunda will sensationalise complete with tears and background music

    Soon the country ‘moves on’ to the next ‘water-cooler’ subject and victims are forgotten.
    The entertainment value has diminished.

    Maybe all the time spent on news programmes on american trivia – ?why – could be better used to focus on issues at home. But i guess the lazy/cheap way is to just play ‘packages’ from american news channels than anc – abs-cbn actually employ reporters and journalists.

  4. This Navarro case is being used by the Aquino propaganda machine; to divert the attention of the people from their dismal condition…it is a Diversionary Tactic…implemented by the Media; like the Lopez Media.
    Can you see they are putting the Navarro case on the forefront.
    This is also one way to divert the attention of the people; from the massive corruption scandals, of the Aquino regime.

    When will we ever wake up…

      1. Kudos to NBI and other related gov’t agencies for doing an excellent job on helping Vhong with his case. I hope they would take his case more seriously like bringing it up to the supreme court or just a whole month of live senate hearing cause he deserves justice! Screw that alleged pork barrel scams against pnoy and his crew!

    1. Uh, I don’t think he’s trolling/a fanboy.

      Now I’m wondering if some of the GRP people have become too paranoid that even a subtle sarcasm now sends them guns blazing (and shooting somebody’s feet in the process). As much as I dislike the current administration as any other sane man would, we should constantly keep ourselves in check; else we’d end up behaving like the same impulsive, rabid Noytards that we were fighting off in the first place.

  5. Thanks to Mike for re-raising the really important issues and dumping over the distractions. People should still realize that Yolanda victims are still having a hard time and continually need help.

  6. to hell with all that problems facing the country as long as the moron and stupid filipinos are entertained by all these showbiz moro-moro. fuck that vhong navarro,cornejo and lee.i can include also that imbecile president.

  7. the wealthiest are laughing and the suffering of the people shifts to irrelevance after the foreign news media leaves the country. Vhong Navarro becomes the national tragedy the countries news media focuses on,WHAT?

    to speak about the obvious is no longer fashionable:
    Why does democracy, and the mere right to vote in a rigged election, seem to offer the ‘massa’ such false hope? anywhere one goes, its obvious that the elected gov’t. will not yield to the people’s will, so what is the point of these elections?

    LEAVE THE COUNTRY(there will be no change!):AS FAST AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN!

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