U.S. Taclobanons heartbroken over Yolanda devastation

By Fleur Magbanua-Mansur, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Nov. 11, 2013

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Tacloban City, ground zero for the most powerful typhoon in the world, has a population of more than 200,000. Now it’s in ruins. At least 10,000 people are estimated to be dead in this city alone.

There are a lot of Taclobanons in Phoenix, Ariz. Not only are they heartbroken because of the devastation left behind by typhoon Yolanda, they are worried sick for their families and loved-ones who they have not been able to contact due to power outages.

“Especially my dad who is not feeling well,” Rachel Antig said. “He is 86 or 87 years old. I’m worried that he probably just gave up. If they can let me know if they’re still alive or something because I don’t know. I don’t want to watch the news or anything because I cannot do anything right now.”

“All my family is there,” Shiela Encarnado-Phillips said. “Up to now I still have no update. I’m so worried, especially for my dad and my aunt.”

“We still have no contact with them,” Janet Pilapil-Oliveros said. “I’ve called my relatives to reach out to them but they also failed. We are hoping they’re transported to Cebu because it’s the closest to San Jose.”

Meanwhile, former U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas, who now lives in Arizona, met with the Filipino community over the weekend.

He says his heart goes out to a country he used to call home.

“You are always sad when people lose their lives,” he said. “But it’s great to see people come together to work, to save and restore lives. The Philippine government, the U.S. government, and NGOs all try to help. But it’s always sad.”

He added that the U.S. government is always ready to help.

“Our Office of Foreign Assistance team has been prepositioned,” Thomas said. “I know that NGOs are heading to the Philippines and doctors and medical teams are on their way. But we need to wait for the Philippine government to request.”

“We are praying for the Filipino people,” he concluded. “We know that you are among the most resilient on earth and that you will come through this latest calamity.”

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