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Monday, December 16, 2013

Third SOS solidarity mission off to Eastern Samar

The third solidarity mission of health disaster group Samahang Operasyon Sagip (SOS) is travelling again to Eastern Samar to reach the upland areas of Quinapondan, Giporlos, and Balangiga in Eastern Samar today, December 17 until the 22nd.  These communities very scarcely received relief and medical assistance since the onslaught of typhoon Haiyan.

SOS President Rosalinda C. Tablang announced that for the third wave of relief and medical mission efforts, they will be serving at least 1,500 families in barangays Sto. Niño, Catilian, and Anislag in Quinapondan; barangays Roxas, Huknan, 6, and 7 in Giporlos and; barangays Gimmayuhan, Cansumangkay, and Bunga in Balangiga -- all in Eastern Samar province.

In the midst of all the merry-making and warm heartedness this Yuletide season, Tablang appealed to “kind souls who may find joy in giving.”  “Not everybody may have as much in their pockets, but in so many other ways, each one can help,” she added.

“Aside from the family food packs that consist of 8 kilos rice, 5 pieces canned goods, ½ kg sugar, ½ L cooking oil, ½ kg mung beans, ¼ kg salt, ½ kg dried fish, and ½ bar laundry detergent, we are also bringing hygiene kits, plastic sheets, nails, flashlights, candles, and matches,” she said.

Tablang expressed that aside from the relief packs, the communities requested for simple construction materials to enable them to build their modest shelters anew.  “We are also bringing some gasoline to power the community chainsaw because the people want to rebuild their bridge in Barangay Huknan that was toppled down by [typhoon] Haiyan,” she noted.

SOS volunteers are also packing donated blankets, personal hygiene kits including sanitary napkins and jerry cans for potable water storage.

For the medical mission, the SOS team is headed by four doctors, including an infectious disease specialist from the United States, and several nurses.  

Together with the communities in Leyte and Samar in the Visayas, SOS is untiringly calling for immediate and comprehensive rehabilitation efforts.  

The continuous medical and relief missions of SOS are made possible through the kindness of donors, from all ages and all walks of life, here and abroad.  SOS is continuing its resource generation drives for the long term rehabilitation of affected communities in Leyte and Samar.  For inquiries, please contact Mel, 0947-4535788 or Grace, (+632) 929-8109.  They may also be emailed at

Sunday, December 15, 2013

SOS Continues Response to Typhoon Yolanda Aftermath

 You may read the SOS Newsletter Issue 2 here or
or download it here

One month after Typhoon Yolanda’s onslaught, the fate of millions is still in limbo. With victims of the super typhoon facing homelessness, joblessness and hunger, the Samahang Operasyong Sagip (SOS) continues its efforts in helping them get back on their feet once more.

The second series of medical missions and relief drive operations were conducted in 9 barangays in the 3 municipalities of Leyte- Albuera, Ormoc and Kananga. A total of 41 individuals, 5  of which were doctors, 11 nurses, 3 medical interns, and health workers and volunteers from Leyte-Samar, Manila, Surigao del Sur, Cebu, and United States of America comprised the medical and relief mission team.  They were divided into 2 medical mission teams and 1 relief distribution team. 

Families from far-flung areas outside the town centers ,who have received few or no relief assistance and medical mission since the typhoon, were chosen for the medical missions and relief drive operations.

A total of 1,942 patients from Barangays Tinag-an, Antipolo and Mahayag in the Municipality of Albuera; Barangays Lunoy, Sto. Domingo and Natubgan in the Municipality of Kananga; and Barangay Ipil in Ormoc were served. Meanwhile, the relief drive operations benefitted 1,436 families from selected barangays in the towns of Albuera, Ormoc, and Kananga. They were able to receive relief packs, plastic sheets, building materials like nails, saw, hammers, cooking pots, and used clothes. Three water filtration pails were given to representatives of the three towns for use of the communities.

The most common medical cases included upper respiratory tract infections, hypertension, wounds or injuries, skin infections, acute gastro enteritis, diarrheal diseases, tension headache and insomnia. These ailments were also observed in the first wave of SOS medical missions in Eastern and Western Samar. The people in Tinag-an, Albuera requested for psychosocial assistance and tetanus toxoid for wounds sustained during the repairing and rebuilding of their homes.

Major health risks which could lead to serious disease outbreaks were noted. These include the lack of potable water supply, as observed in Barangay Ipil, Ormoc; Lack of adequate and safe shelter and housing; Lack of electricity make night time pitch black and movement in the areas difficult and dangerous; Undernourished children, and; Presence of stagnant water and debris, which are breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other carriers of diseases.

Most people in affected barangays have been trying to rebuild their homes and lives, yet many, especially those far from town centers, are still in dire need of assistance such as food, supplies and construction  materials. It is pertinent that they be part of the planning and actual implementation in the relief and rehabilitation efforts so as to ensure relevance of relief efforts and medical services.

We thus recommend the following:

      1. Government’s relief and medical assistance should include far-flung barangays.
      2. Assistance for people to rebuild their homes and communities, through provision of construction materials including GI sheets, nails, hammer, saw, etc. For sale construction materials promoted by DTI could not be afforded by many especially those whose livelihood was affected.

     3. Immediate and comprehensive health interventions to address potential sources of outbreaks and epidemics. These include immediate clearing of debris, provision of a safe water source, construction of shelter, assistance in food production and livelihood.

      4. Assistance for livelihood and rehabilitation- provision of construction materials, livelihood, food production, and economic activities.  ##

Friday, December 13, 2013

Pre-school raising funds for storm ravaged area

(Here is a an article originally published in The Kapiti Observer (12/12/13) and posted in the Facebook account of Marie Pagalilauan, a pre-school teacher of 3 to 5 year olds at Little Earth Montessori in New Zealand)

Little Earth Montessori pupils have been learning about compassion through fundraising efforts to help those affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

Parents at the Paraparaumu are holding a garage sale to raise money for the storm-ravaged nation on Sunday, December 15, at the Waikanae Beach Hall. Donated items will be sold on a "make an offer" basis. Further donation can be dropped off on Saturday, December 14, between 4pm and 8pm at the hall.

Proceeds will go to the Philippine non-government organization, Samahang Operasyong Sagip, to provide relief, medical and livelihood assistance to remote communities devastated by the storm, said spokeswoman Mayie Pagalilauan, who comes from the Philippines.

The pre-school also held a fundraising Filipino afternoon tea last month, where children and families got a taste of Filipino culture, through food, dancing by Munting Bayanihan Dance Ministry, and songs by teenage group Jizzles.

Little Earth Montessori students Tom Weber (left), 4 yo, and Millie Bonos (right), 4 yo,
served suman at the "A Pinoy Afternoon Tea"

The school has raised more than $1000.

Miss Pagalilauan said some children had volunteered to bring all their savings from their money banks to help the Filipino children who have no food or clean water.

The genuine generosity of the children moved me to tears and inspired me to do as much as i can to help my countrymen," she said.

She said the spirit of compassion and love shown by New Zealand had been very moving.

"Each one is doing their best to reach out and help in their own special way," she said.

"In the the Philippines, we call this bayanihan spirit...It is a spirit of mutual help and concern which has become the backbone of family and village life throughout the Philippine archipelago."

Fundraising garage sale, Sunday, 7:30 am to 1:30 pm, Waikanae Beach Hall.##

(Photo from Marie Pagalilauan's Facebook account)

(Photo from Marie Pagalilauan's Facebook account)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Second batch of relief and medical mission sent to Leyte

The second batch of relief and medical mission traveled to Leyte today to serve 1,500 families in three affected towns of Leyte.

The teams, composed  of 4 medical doctors, 10 nurses, and 9 health workers will bring aid to Alboera, Ormoc, and Kanangga in Leyte province.  The mission will start today, December 5, until December 9.

Council for Health and Development's (CHD) Board of Trustees secretary and former chairperson Sr. Edith Eslopor, OSB reported that the Missionary Benedictine Sisters run St. Peter's College of Ormoc in Ormoc City suffered a considerable amount of damage displacing thousands of its students.  Sr. Edith is among the SOS coordinators together with community based health program Health Empowerment and Action for Leyte and Samar (HEALS) in the Leyte mission.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

SOS Responds to Typhoon Yolanda Devastation

You may read the SOS Newsletter Issue 1 here or
or download it here

The Samahang Operasyon Sagip (SOS) immediately convened after the onslaught of Super Typhoon with the aim to bring immediate food relief and medical assistance to survivors. Volunteer doctors, nurses and other health workers were tapped to attend to their medical and food needs. Forty-five volunteer Health Science students from different schools and community health workers from Quezon City, Pasig City and Paranaque City helped the more than 1,500 relief packs for the affected families in Eastern Samar and Western Samar provinces. The relief and medical missions transpired from November 21 to 25, 2013.

A total of 40 individuals actively participated in the relief and medical missions in 14 barangays in the towns of Hernani and General MacArthur in Eastern Samar and Basey, Western Samar. The team was composed of 10 doctors, 2 medical interns, 16 nurses, 4 health workers, 3 volunteers from the Haitian American Nurses Association (HANA) and National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), five photographers from the Samahan ng mga Litratista ng Rizal (SLR), 2 representatives of Medico-International and 2 human rights workers. A total of 1,088 patients were served while 1,664 families were given relief packages. Table 1 in page 2 shows a detailed account of survivors reached by the missions.

The medical mission team found the affected community members to be suffering from colds and cough, upper respiratory tract infections, hypertension, arthritis, error of refraction, diarrhea, lower and muculo back pain, skin diseases and injuries. There were also a number of obstetrics cases and pulmonary tuberculosis suspects.

The present situation in the visited areas of Eastern and Western Samar is disturbing. In Hernani town, almost 80 percent of houses were damaged, with more than 200 families in Barangay Batang living in make-shift tents. Typhoon Yolanda inflicted serious economic dislocation to the affected families. Fishing, which is the main source of livelihood were crippled as Typhoon Yolanda either destroyed or swept away fishing boats. Coconut trees were uprooted or snapped; hectares upon hectares of rice and root crops were destroyed.

The devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda once again showed the vulnerability of the people, especially the poor segment of the country’s population to disasters.  Amidst the suffering of millions of people who lost their homes, their loved ones and their livelihood, the Samahang Operasyong Sagip (SOS) calls on the people to contribute their resources to the victims of Typhoon Yolanda. SOS also calls on doctors, nurses and health professionals to lend their talent, time and resources to help alleviate the suffering of our fellow countrymen.

SOS scored the government for its inefficiency and inept leadership in responding to the recent emergency.  It called on the government to:

1. Lift the December deadline set by the Department of Social Work and Development for food relief assistance. Ensure swift and far-reaching food and non-food relief provision to all Yolanda-affected population.

2. Act on rebuilding the lives and livelihood of the affected population by providing:
    •  house repair/reconstruction assistance program to families whose houses were destroyed;
    • livelihood/economic assistance program which includes provision of fishing boats and important fishing paraphernalia such as fishing nets and cooling boxes;
    • agricultural assistance package which includes provision of rice and vegetable seeds, coconut seedlings and important farm implements to resume agricultural activities; livestock dispersal

3. Address the immediate health problems and concerns of the affected population.  Concretely, act on:
    • malnutrition problem especially among children which will be further worsen by Typhoon Yolanda.
    • prevention of epidemic which includes vaccination against cholera, safe and potable water system installation, health and sanitation campaign  infrastructure (health education and building of latrines)
    • attend to the mental health and wellness of the community. 

4. Institute and implement a comprehensive disaster risk reduction program geared at building the capacities of communities in preparing and responding to disasters must be instituted and implemented.  Correspondingly, there must be an increase in the budget for Disaster Risk Reduction. ##

Fact Sheet: Medical-Relief Mission

November 20-25, 2013 

Medical Mission – 1,088 beneficiaries from 5 barangays in the municipality of Hernani and 3 barangays in Municipality of General MacArthur in Eastern Samar province; 6 barangays in Basey, Western Samar.
Relief Distribution operation – 1,664 families from 14 barangays in municipalities of General MacArthur, Hernani, Basey.
The areas covered are mostly far-flung barangays outside the town centers who have received few or no relief / assistance.

3 medical mission teams and 2 relief distribution teams, from a 40-man team with 10 doctors, 16 nurses, 2 medical interns and health workers and volunteers. 

1.  Many barangays especially those far from town centers have received few or no relief assistance from any group, whether government or private. One example is Barangay Cacatmonan in the municipality of Hernani, where the typhoon destroyed all but 1 out of 35 houses. The barangay captain and several counselors, carrying a list of survivors in the barangay, requested that their barangay be given relief goods.
Other survivors lament that only those with high numbers of casualties are prioritized so that their barangays are not given or seldom included as beneficiaries.

2. Some cadavers and debris are still not retrieved and cleared in the barangays.

3.  The survivors are living in most vulnerable conditions:
a. Some are staying in evacuation center in public schools (some barangays in Basey), some in tents made from tarpaulins.
b. Lack of electricity make night time pitch black and movement in the areas difficult and dangerous.
c. Survivors have difficulty cooking food in tin cans using firewood from debris.

4. Major health risks which could lead to serious disease outbreaks were noted:
a. Lack of water supply.
b. Lack of toilet facilities.
c. Lack of shelter.
d. Irregular provision of food.
e. Crowded condition in evacuation areas.

5. Common illnesses include: upper respiratory tract infections, hypertension, arthritis, error of refraction, diarrhea, wound and injuries, skin diseases.

6. Other needs: people verbalized need to reconstruct their houses and desire to start livelihood activities. The people lined-up for construction materials such as nails, saw, hammers.

1. Systematic way to reach out to far-flung areas and provide urgently-needed relief and assistance.
2. Immediate retrieval of cadavers and clearing of debris, both for faster relief efforts and health and psychological recovery of survivors.
3. Immediate and comprehensive health interventions to address potential sources of outbreaks and epidemics. These include immediate clearing of debris, provision of water source, construction of shelter, construction or provision of latrines, provision/assistance in food production. Medical teams and service groups must reach far-flung areas not only those in town centers.
4. Start reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts: provision of construction materials, livelihood, food production, and economic activities.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Media Release: November 27, 2013

References:             Rosalinda C. Tablang     
                     President, Samahang Operasyong Sagip

                      Darby Santiago, M.D.
                      Convenor, Samahang Operasyong Sagip
                      0927-9259413 / (+632) 929-8109

Health disaster group: All is not yet well -- epidemic may soon take over affected communities; call for comprehensive rehabilitation plan

(Philippines) – In its press conference today, disaster health group Samahang Operasyong Sagip (SOS) criticized the government anew for its inefficiency and inept leadership in responding to Yolanda’s backwash after seeing for themselves the concrete situation of the super typhoon aftermath and its survivors.

Returning from a five-day medical and relief missions in Western and Eastern Samar, the 40-staff team of SOS volunteers reported that massive economic dislocation is experienced in the fourteen (14) barangays of Hernani and Gen. McArthur of Easter Samar and Basey of Western Samar.

Rosalinda C. Tablang, president of SOS said that the main sources of livelihood were gone.  The strong floods swept away or destroyed fishing boats, felled coconut trees, and submerged crops. 

“The people are left with nothing.  It’s been nineteen (19) days since the disaster and the survivors see no light at the end of the tunnel.”

Based on stories from some barangay officials, Tablang said it is “not clear” what the local and national government is planning for the rehabilitation of communities.  “As to how long the makeshift tents in Brgy. Batang in Hernani Eastern Samar will stand to provide shelter to the survivors, nobody knows.  No serious government aid or rehabilitation plan is apparent,” Tablang lamented.

Meanwhile, SOS convenor and medical doctor Darby Santiago warned that another surge of disaster might hit the distraught villages.  “Because of poor sanitation, lack of clean water sources, and absence of latrines, cholera epidemic may soon take over the affected families if immediate health intervention is further delayed,” Santiago shared.

He said that the people’s battle to survive is not yet over.  Epidemics could soon arise if government health authorities do not act soon. 

The SOS medical team was composed of nine (9) medical doctors with different specializations, fifteen (15) nurses, two (2) medical interns, and four (4) health workers.  They served more than 1,000 patients.  The people’s medical conditions ranged from upper respiratory tract infections, hypertension, arthritis, error of refraction, suspected primary tuberculosis, diarrhea, musculo-skeletal pain, and urinary tract infections.  Some obstetric cases were also seen by the OB Gyn doctor of the group.

SOS also slammed the Department of Social Work and Development’s (DSWD) pronouncement to end the food relief provision in December and implement the “cash-for-work” and “food-for-work” program for the survivors of typhoon Yolanda.  Tablang cited an interview aired by a news program to a woman who said she is taking part in the DSWD repacking of relief goods in a DSWD managed warehouse because she hopes to take home 6 kilos of rice given to volunteers like her.  The woman said she needed the rice to feed her family because they only received a relief pack once since the typhoon hit.

“Despite millions of donated cash and goods to the affected populations, skewed government policies make it more difficult for the survivors to receive immediate relief.  Amidst the people’s loss and empty stomachs, the government should provide livelihood and house reconstruction support instead of making people work for donated goods,” said Tablang.

Tablang and Santiago reiterated that at the end of the day, “the survival of the affected population and rehabilitation of communities is the government’s call.”

They called on the Filipino people, as well as health professionals, to share their resources and lend their talent and time to the affected families.

Likewise, SOS demands the government to immediately and decisively (1) continue food and relief distribution; (2) act on rebuilding the lives and livelihood of the affected population; (3) address the immediate health problems and concerns of the affected families; (4) institute and implement a comprehensive disaster risk reduction program geared at building the capacities of communities in preparing and responding to disasters; (5) increase the budget for disaster risk reduction.##

Monday, November 18, 2013

SOS volunteers to conduct medical and relief mission in Eastern Samar

When Samahang Operasyong Sagip (SOS) signaled the alarm to help the people of Samar, scores of volunteers from different fields enlisted to take their part in the national and international effort to aid the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

Basing from reports that some towns in Eastern and Western Samar are still unreached by government aid as of this writing, the SOS, in coordination with its partners in Samar Island, identified three (3) areas to bring immediate relief and medical aid: General McArthur and Hernani in Eastern Samar and, Basey in Western Samar. SOS teams will be leaving for Samar on November 20 and stay on until the 25th.

“Despite the propensity of damage and loss to lives, adequate government aid has not reached the peoples of these three towns,” said Rosalinda C. Tablang, president of SOS.  She added that inefficiency and bureaucratic processes has “gotten in the way of delivering food and medicines that are urgently needed” in these towns among others.

Tablang shared that their medical and relief delivery teams plan to distribute relief packs and conduct medical and minor surgery services among the affected families and individuals in said towns.  They hope to bring relief and medical aid to more than 1,500 families there.

The medical team is composed of 10 medical doctors from different specialties, registered nurses, and health workers.  The relief delivery team on the other hand is composed of volunteers from Manila, representatives of health NGOs and a journalist and private group Samahan ng mga Litratista sa Rizal (SLR Camera Club).  Medico International, a German-based NGO will also be joining the relief and medical mission.

SOS, established in 1990 as a response to the effects of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption, said that the mission will only be the first among several efforts that they will do to help the people of Samar.

“With this initial visit, we also hope to draw up the master plan for the rehabilitation of the said communities in the months to come.  Much will be based on the initial assessment from the ground,” Tablang said.

“What SOS and its volunteers do is to bring aid to the people from the people which will help them carry on with what is left.  However, apart from bringing aid, the task of rebuilding communities anew lies in the hand of the state because it is their primary responsibility and they have all the resources to realize the rebuilding program.  But this requires resolve and political will.  Unfortunately, the government lacks that,” Tablang ended.

Rosalinda C. Tablang - 0927-9259413 | (+632)929-8109

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


The world’s most powerful typhoon of the year, Typhoon Yolanda (International code name Haiyan), struck the Philippines Thursday, November 7, 2013. According to the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical and Services Administration (PAGASA), it first smashed into Samar and Leyte, with maximum sustained winds at 235km/h, with gusts up to 275 km/h. Along with it came storm surges that reached as high as 20 feet, engulfing coastal communities.

The devastation spans over 7,251 barangays in 471 municipalities and 51 cities. Over 8 million people in 43 provinces of Regions IV-A, IV-B, V, VI, VII, VIII, X, XI and Caraga are affected. As of writing, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) has reported 2,357 deaths. There are unofficial reports from the media that account the death toll to reach as much as 10,000, basing on reports from local officials. Of the 582,303 displaced individuals, only 359,574 are in 1,099 evacuation centers. Thousands remain missing.

Means of communication and transport remain a problem in the affected areas. To expedite the rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts, Dumangas and Janiuay in Iloilo, and the Province of Antique have been put under state of national calamity. Assistance, however, such as distribution of food, clean water and medicines, is only beginning to arrive four days after the typhoon. The NDRRMC reports that PHP 22, 796, 391 worth of relief assistance has already been provided. This is, however, a far cry from what is needed in the situation. This is evidenced by the looting from malls, grocery stores and shops for necessities such as food and clean water.

The CHD together with Samahan Operasyong Sagip (SOS) is appealing for donations to the affected populations of ST Yolanda. Relief delivery is the immediate response to extend aid to all survivors in the Visayas. We accept cash deposits in any amount. You may also donate in kind (rice, dried fish, canned goods, mung bean, oil, salt, sugar, water and laundry soap). Volunteers for repacking of goods and in providing of health services are also needed.

For cash donations, please send it through the following bank account: 
Account name: Samahang Operasyong Sagip, Inc.
Metro Bank
Savings Account # 636-3-63608747-6
Swift Code: MBTCPHMM
Metrobank-Examiner Quezon Avenue Branch, 1517 Ave Maria Bldg, Quezon City, Philippines

Donations in-kind may be brought to: 
Council for Health and Development
#8 Mines Street, Brgy. Vasra, Visayas Avenue, Quezon City, Philippines

Please contact us through:
 (+632) 929-8109