An open letter to CNN

For the past week, the Philippines has caught international media attention, and why wouldn’t it?  The strongest typhoon of the year Haiyan (local name:  Yolanda) hit Eastern Visayas with winds 3.5 times stronger than that of Hurricane Katrina.  If you’ve seen the photos from Day 1, everything is just flattened out.  It was a heartbreaking sight.  What used to be a slowly progressing town was reduced to clutter.

Someone even said it was as if a hand flattened Tacloban.

So since then, and it’s been Day 8 now, journalists and foreign aid have been constantly pouring in.  With all those eyes tuned in to our country, it is not a wonder that criticism of the Philippine government would rise.  It came to the point that noted journalist Anderson Cooper of CNN had to explain his style of reporting just because local diva (hehe) Korina Sanchez openly criticized his commentary on her radio show.

And I get the frustration.  It is taking long to reach everyone.  The Philippines is an archipelago, which by definition is an intensive group of islands.  As much as the Filipinos are together in this one, the geography of our country literally divides us.

But the defense of our country cannot be better encapsulated than this open letter I chanced upon while browsing things to retweet and echo back on Twitter.  You will love this, I promise.

Dear Sirs:

I just wanted to make some comments on the reporting of the CNN International crew here in Manila, regarding the relief efforts for the victims of super-typhoon Haiyan (which we locally call typhoon Yolanda).
First, full disclosure: I am a retired Filipino executive and computer person. I was born in the Philippines and spent all my life here (save for some very short overseas stints connected with my career). I have worked with a large local Philippine utility, started up several entrepreneurial offshore software service companies (when outsourcing was not yet in vogue), and also served as the Philippine country head for a multi-billion dollar Japanese computer company. This diverse work background allows me to always see both the local and global point of view, and to see things from the very different standpoints of a third-world citizen, and a person familiar with first-world mindsets and lifestyles.

I appreciate CNN’s reporting, as it brings this sad news to all corners of the world, and in turn, that helps bring in much needed charity and aid. The tenor and tone of CNN’s reporting has not been very palatable for a local person like me (the focus seems to be on the country’s incompetence). But I shrug that aside, as there is probably some truth to that angle. And in reality, what counts now is that help arrives for the people who need them most; recriminations and blame can come later. Last night, I listened to a CNN reporter wondering about the absence of night flights in Tacloban, in the context of the government not doing enough to bring in relief goods. It was like listening to newbie executives from Tokyo, London or the USA with no real international experience, yet assuming that their country’s rules and circumstances applied equally to the rest of the world. That was the proverbial last straw: I knew I had to react and call your attention to a few things (with some risk, since these topics are not my area of competence):

1. The airport in Tacloban is a small provincial airport: when you get two commercial Airbus flights arriving simultaneously, you are already close to straining that airport’s capacity. Even under normal operations, the last flights arrive in Tacloban at around 6pm, partly because of daylight limitations. Considering that the typhoon wiped out the airport and the air traffic gear, and killed most of the airport staff, you basically have nothing but an unlit runway which can handle only smaller turbo-prop planes. You can only do so much with that. I would assume that our Air Force pilots are already taking risks by doing landings at dusk. Take note that in the absence of any working infrastructure, the cargo will have to be off-loaded from the plane manually, while it sits in the tarmac. If you do the math, I wonder how aircraft turnarounds can be done in a day? How many tons of supplies could theoretically be handled in one day?

2. The Philippine air force has only three C130 cargo planes (I am not sure if there is a fourth one). This is supposedly the best locally-available plane that is suited for this mission: large enough to carry major cargo load, but not too large to exceed the runway limitations. We do not have any large helicopters that can effectively move substantial cargo. I am happy to read in the newspapers that the USA is lending another eight C130 planes. I am not the expert, but I would suspect that even with more planes, the bottleneck would be in capacity of the airport to allow more planes to land and be offloaded, as discussed above.

3. A major portion of the road from the Airport to Tacloban City is a narrow cement road of one lane in each direction. With debris, fallen trees, toppled electric poles, and even corpses littering the road, it took time to clear the airport itself, so that they could airlift heavy equipment needed to clear the roads. Then it took even more time to make the roads passable. Listening to our Interior Secretary on CNN, he disclosed that the Army was able to bring in 20 military trucks to Leyte. Half of them were allocated to transport relief goods to the different villages in the city, and the rest were assigned for clearing, rescue and other tasks. With very little local cargo trucks surviving the typhoon, I guess this would be another bottleneck. Again, I assume that if I do the math, there is only so much volume that can be moved daily from the airport to the city.

4. The Philippines is an archipelago. Tacloban City is in Leyte island, which has no road link with the other major cities/islands. The only external land link (the San Juanico bridge) is with the neighboring island of Samar, which was equally hard hit by the typhoon, and which is just like Leyte (in terms of limited transportation infrastructure). The logistics of getting relief, supplies and equipment to Tacloban is daunting. Not too long ago, my company put up a large chunk of the communication backbone infrastructure in Leyte province. It was already a challenge to get equipment onto the ground then. This has always been the challenge of our geography and topography. What more now, when the transportation/communication systems are effectively wiped out in Tacloban?

5. There is an alternate land/sea route from Manila to Leyte: down 600 kilometers through the Pan-Philippine highway to the small southern province of Sorsogon, taking a ferry to the island of Samar, and then 200+ kilometers of bad roads to Tacloban City. I was told that some private (non-government) donations are being transported by large trucks through this route. So many trucks are now idle in Matnog town down in Sorsogon, waiting for the lone ferry which can carry them across the very rough San Bernardino Straits to the town of Allen in Samar island. The sheer volume probably is over-whelming. Again I do not have the exact numbers, but my educated guess is that the low-volume Matnog ferry needs to transport in a few days what they would normally do over one or two months.

6. The government administrative organization in Tacloban is gone. Most local government employees are victims themselves. This adds to the problems of organizing relief efforts locally. Even if augmented with external staff, the local knowledge and the local relationships are hard to replace. In some other smaller towns (where the death toll and/or damage has not been as bad), local governments are still somehow functioning and coping. They are able to bury their dead, set up temporary makeshift shelters, organize and police themselves. Short term, they need food, water and medical supplies to arrive; medium term, they need assistance in clean-up, reconstruction and rebuilding. But Tacloban is in a really bad condition. What can you expect from a city that has lost practically everything?

I am told of the comparison with the Fukushima earthquake/tsunami, where relief supplies arrived promptly, efficiently, and in volume. I think there is one major backgrounder that CNN staff fail to mention: that Tacloban is not Fukushima, that it is not Atlanta. And the Philippines is not Japan, and certainly not the USA. Even before the typhoon, this region was one of the less developed in the country, with limited infrastructure. There was only a small airport, limited trucking capacity, a limited road system, and a small seaport servicing limited inter-island shipping. And with the damage from the typhoon, that limited infrastructure has been severely downgraded. It is easy to blame the typhoon. But the truth is: Tacloban is a small city in a third-world country. If you had to bring in that volume of cargo in that short window of time in pre-typhoon Tacloban, it would already have been a challenge. It is easy for a first-world person to take everything for granted. The reality (or sometimes, the advantage?) of growing up in a third-world country is that you do not assume anything, you take nothing for granted, you are grateful for what little you have (and you do not cry over what you do not have).

I understand and sympathize with the desperate needs of the victims. Every little bit counts. The smallest food or water package can make the difference between life and death. I think every Filipino knows that. And that is why I am very happy with the national display of compassion and civic duty. Everyone, even the poorest, even the prison inmates, is donating food and money. People are volunteering their time. All the local corporations are helping. In the Philippines, Christmas is the most important holiday, and the annual company Christmas Party is probably the most important company event for most employees. Yet in very many companies in Manila, employees have decided to forego their Christmas party, and instead divert the party budget to relief/aid.

From what I see on TV, the situation on the ground is not pretty. I do accept that efficiency needs to be improved, that service levels have to go up. I do acknowledge that our country’s resources are limited, that our internal delivery capabilities may not be world-class. I do understand that there may be ineffective policies/processes and even wrong decisions made by government. But what I cannot understand is the negative tenor of CNN reporting. I suspect that CNN reporters are viewing this through the eyes of a first-world citizen, with an assumed framework of infrastructure and an expectation of certain service levels. I suspect these are expectations that we would have never met, even in the pre-typhoon days.

Or perhaps it is a question of attitude: a half-empty glass rather than a half-full glass. At my age, I have experienced and lived through earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and at least twenty really bad typhoons (but admittedly, none as bad as Yolanda). From my experience, what we have now is not just a half-filled glass, I personally view it as probably at least 75% full (meaning, I think this is a big improvement over past efforts in past calamities). But please do not fault us for being a third-world country. Please do not explicitly or implicitly attribute everything to our incompetence, what might be due to other factors (such as those that result from limited resources or infrastructure, or those conditions that God or nature seems to have chosen for us). Our people are doing what they can, so let’s give them a break. More so in these difficult times, when suffering is high, emotions are feverish, and tempers are frayed.

It breaks my heart to see my countrymen suffering so much. I will do my share, whatever I can do to help. I will bear insults and harsh words, if this is the price for my people to receive the aid we need. I make no excuses for my country’s shortcomings, but I just wish that some positive slant (the many small tales of heroism, the hard work of our soldiers, the volunteerism and compassion of the typical citizen, etc) would also be mentioned equally. I just needed to let you know how this particular Filipino reacts to your reporting, and I suspect there are many, many other folks who feel the same way that I do.

For whatever the limitations, I still sincerely thank you for your coverage, and the benefits that it will bring my countrymen.

I don’t know who the author is, but this just made me tear up.

Nothing left to say here, that pretty much sums it up.  To end this post, let’s hashtag this bitch.

UPDATE 11/17/2013:
We have the original post!  Thank you very much. 

This letter has driven my stats crazy, and a lot of opinions have been thrown in every now and then.  Le Beau already told me to close the comments section as people are becoming a little too passionate about their opinion.  But, as a fellow commenter on stuff that pushes my buttons, I don’t think I would want to close the comments box.  Please please please though abide by one rule:  YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE SMART TO GIVE YOUR OPINION, BUT YOU HAVE TO BE POLITE.



331 thoughts on “An open letter to CNN

  1. “Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.” – Bruce Lee ; Wala na din dapat palusot. Jan kasi magaling din ang pinoy. Accept the bad comments and use them to improve ourselves in the future. Kung palaging mag rarason, di kasi tayo mag babago.

  2. REPLY TO THE LETTER OF A Filipino Executive’s Open Letter to CNN’s Anderson Cooper
    In response to the letter “A Filipino Executive’s Open Letter to CNN’s Anderson Cooper” posted by Aireen Navarro Khauv Facebook account.

    – The CNN thru Anderson Cooper is not actually criticizing the Philippines nor the Filipinos in general but were reporting on what the actual scene at the Ground Zero in Tacloban and how it was supposedly being handled immediately by the National Government. In fact Mr Cooper commend the heartfelt spirit of Bayanihan among survivors. They help, support and hold on to each other in order to survive and continue to live…Though he is not a Filipino, he was responsible to his news report to deliver the actual scene and to uncover the truth. Unlike other local stations here in the Philippines, they cover the truth to protect their interest and the public image of their supported Politician. Tsk tsk…

    It is noted that one week before the landfall, it has been announced internationally that a SUPER TYPHOON named HAIYAN may strongly hit mostly coastal areas of Visayas region. Then on November 7, 2013 ,the President made a press release or announcement thru media that the Government is prepared for the Typhoon Haiyan. He said that teams of rescuers: 3 c130, 32 helicopters & planes, 20 ships of Philippine NAVY are positioned and LGU were organized to attend to the immediate needs of possible victims of this typhoon right after the typhoon. In short, he assured the public that teams were prepared for the typhoon!

    Many are debating on the performance of the Government on this issue. Many are using the excuse of having a hrad time travelling due its inter island travel plus the debris caused by the calamity. But this shouldn’t be an excuse to make slow actions especially in helping the survivors. Lame excuses and delays put their remaining lives at stake. They have survived much but still are continue suffering due to slow actions by the govt.


    “I compare this with a Chess game, each character plays different roles : One king, one queen, two rooks, two knights, two bishops, and eight pawns. Each of the six piece types moves differently. A good player strategically moves his pawns to be the front liners. So if the front liners were caught, there you see bishops and knights to protect the kingdom.

    But in this kind of tragedy, Mr President wasnt able to assess well whats the name of the game. His slow in decision making and poor handling of men to help the survivors may lead to anther disaster and more horrific results.If his pawns couldn’t have done their job because they too were victims of this typhoon, they shouldn’t be blamed. Let your bishops, knights and rookies move FAST.

    Somebody said that the President went there personally to witness the result of typhoon. Did it make a difference? The King dont need to move if his men were united as one with common goal to attend to this kind of disasters. In this kind of game, expect that he will be bombarded with local and international criticism and that is honestly fair because we see with our very own eyes that people survived the deadly typhoon but efforts were in vain because they are dying in hunger and pain.

    Most importantly, I may not be a good speaker but I am an excellent listener.
    MR PRESIDENT, your speech is not a form of encouragement- you were blaming the local government as always you do that reflect your poor leadership. And why do u always say “I THINK..” and “WELL..”?–Dont you know that a good speaker needs to be assertive and competent to every word you utter? You should have said ” I BELIEVE” instead of “I THINK” or say “WE DO” instead of saying “THEY DO”.

    MR PRESIDENT, i believe that you need to REVIEW the TIPS first before you deliver a speech/attend to an interview. Take note that your facial expression (SMILING WHILE DELIVERING THE WARNING OF THE SUPER TYPHOON), gestures, as well as any distracting mannerisms you might have affects the perception of your audience.


    • Our President shwed up on tv right after Yolanda’s fury blaming the Local government of not doing much to save the people…He should deliver a comforting words instead…And I will give him the title of ” BLAME GAMING PRESIDENT…

  3. we all have our comments… but do you think those comments will help our brothers and sisters? we should act rather than ranting about how our government is doing their job to help our brothers and sisters affected by typhoon.

  4. All I can say is I feel the same when I first watched that report of Anderson. True government are slow but please do not compare us to the first World country. Filipinos are trying to keep moving with their lives no matter what and Filipinos will help each other.

    • Many foreigners who have gone to Tacloban during the time of this tragedy do not completely agree with Anderson Cooper’s report. I am not saying who’s observations is correct. However, it is natural that Cooper’s report will stick to many people’s minds whether it was accurate or not because he was in front of the camera all that time broadcasting to a bigger audience. Never mind that he is a celebrity reporter while many of the foreign observers are actually volunteers with experience in crisis and disaster management. Others do not have the same exposure like Cooper does. Like this guy from the United Nations who said things are slow but that is expected in a major catastrophe like this.

      Reporters carrying nothing but their cameras will surely be there ahead of the relief goods. Getting the victims’ remarks is not helping either since victims in any tragedy will always say they are not getting enough. The scene of tragedy is far too complex for just one person to make an evaluation of what has actually happened. Reading from the history of past tragedies in other countries, government are always blamed for their slow response, no matter what. I guess the government will just have to do its best even if their best is not good enough.

  5. Unfortunately I can’t help but react to what seemingly an ordinary letter gone viral. Its heartbreaking that living in excuses, and portraying them in a moral limelight is deeply rooted in our culture. A simple wise saying “If there is a will, there’s a way.” Relaying help fast certainly was difficult, but not impossible. Thousand lives are at stake, and to justify inefficient methods with logistics that can be maneuvered, is an insult to the dying, to the hungry, and to those who could have made it but didn’t.

  6. Tacloban Airport was the most accessible of all the affected areas yet Anderson saw the lack of government presence (help) right there. His expectation was fair. Government was slow. Why be defensive of the government’s usual unreliable ways? Why get hurt for the negative but truthful and constructive news coverage? It looked bad to the world but it is the truth. Anderson is a reporter. He was doing his job…accurate reporting.

  7. Guys, no need to argue about this. Just look at those reporters’ eyes & you can see who’s really reaching out to the world for help. I saw that in Cooper’s eyes. I saw compassion in his eyes. You can feel from his voice that he’s trying not to cry because he felt the Filipino suffering. Why? Because he was there with them, talked to them, lived with them. And where were our leaders who are supposed to be there first? They were in there confortable homes busy planning on how they would take advantage of the situation for political gains. That’s why if I were one of the victims, I would go hungry but I will not accept reliefs with politicians’ names on them because this means that they will continue to strip me off up to my dignity because in this time if my loss they want my vote in exchange of the relief.

    Wake up Filipino people. Let’s think of our children. There’s still a flickering hope.

    • what a funny comment..very very funny..realy??you are not going to take the relief with names on it?weeeeeeeee…talk to the hand.this is a childish immature comment you are not eating for 5 days and your not gonna take the relief goods with name on it?? basically you rather die?than eat?so whats the point of surviving a very strong typhoon if your gonna die because of your pride hahaha

  8. This is not the first time this catastrophe happened in this part of the country or anywhere else. My Canadian friend, just because we were friends for more than 10 years now, will always tell me when I say a storm is coming – “Yeah, and this happens on a yearly basis for your country, right?”

    What he meant was since our country is on a location that gets visited by typhoons on a regular basis, how come our government has not done something about the infrastructures in those areas prone to typhoon?

    I saw one Facebook photo where it showed a newspaper clip from the USA, dated November 29, 1912 with a headline on a strong typhoon hitting Leyte and Samar with thousands killed. So my first reaction was – what have our past leaders done to improve the situation? Guess you know the answer – NOTHING. After the Ormoc tragedy – what happened? What solutions did the authorities do to prevent it from happening again? Same reply – nothing!

    Why can’t our people, esp. both the LGUs and the national government take lessons from the natives of Batanes? How come they survive almost all typhoons that come their way and we don’t hear them cry out loud – “We were hit!” ? It’s because they prepare for it, prepared for it and will continue to prepare for it. They build their houses according to how they will withstand the onslaught of the typhoons. That’s the simple solution.

    The author of this letter was, like most of our national leaders, are just making excuses. It pisses me off that on a daily basis, we hear our President blaming others but himself. Never in the history of our typhoon-weary country did it occur that nobody was at the helm of the rescue operations. In the past, we hear of the Dept. of National Defense giving the commands. Soldiers are sent to the scene at once. During Typhoon Ketsana (Sept. 2009), Gibo Teodoro, as DND Chief, headed the National Disaster and Coordinating Council. GMA, the President, did not have to go to the affected areas to give instructions. Or any President before, for that matter. The whole machinery worked, at the time. (Not that I am a GMA supporter, for those who raised their brows upon eading this; just mentioning how it was before and this Typhoon Ketsana was the most recent before BS Aquino took the power).

    Today, though, with this calamity so huge – nobody has taken the role of the overseer/leader. Sure, Mar Roxas was there but he was unreachable in the first few days- some I think even wondered if he was swept away somewhere at the height of the storm.

    It took the CNN International Crew to inform us of the extent of the damage. They put the event on the map for all nations to see and do some action. They even dedicated their airtime to the Philippines not only for a day or two – but for more than a week! Our local channels did not even set aside their prime time shows for its coverage. It was mostly done during their regular news hours, and breaking news updates.

    Till today, more finger-pointing. It’s not stopping. While people in Malacanang tells the netizens to stop the blame game, you’d hear our own president doing just that when he goes on live broadcast.

    I’d say enough already!

    Pres. BS Aquino said one of the priorities is to rehabilitate the affected areas. I hope they will reconsider the infrastructures to be built. Have the Ivatans of Batanes in mind, please.

    Let us continue to pray for the victims. We are after all, affected by this in more ways than one.

    • i had a chance talking to a taxi driver who happened to be a native of batanes, an Ivatan himself, and talked non-stop of how their province continually plans and prepares for any typhoon and the dangers it bring since may years ago. And right, we dont hear them cry they were badly hit. He said that they have been oriented years ago on how to live through their typhoon-prone island by giving primary and utmost importance on the safety of their lives and property, so that all houses built on the island are able to withstand all types of typhoon hitting the island. I dont think it takes a genius to think about this plan and the idea is not exclusive to batanes province…. this can be duplicated in all other parts of the country of similar geographic situation…tacloban may have different soil characteristics from batanes’ adobe, but we are not exactly lacking in the know-how as our geniuses in the country have done many reclamation projects to date that were supposedly designed to.improve our people’s lives. it isnt too late for the govt to prioritize infrastructure since they have the WAYS and MEANS.

  9. Why should I care about what the reports say? First-world-eye-view, third-world-eye-view…who cares. They can say everything they want to say about the Philippines. If whatever they report facilitates lots of aid for us, then thank God for it. If it doesn’t, thank God for it. We will survive, that is certain…sooner or later. But survive we will whether or not they amuse themselves on grading our performance. We do not live for any other country’s appreciation.

  10. hello! wake up…let’s accept the fact that our government lacks leadership and could not make contingency plans… this could not happen if they had educated the people what a storm surge means in the first place. but then again we should not also finger point we should help each other. Thank God for other countries who helps us in this time of problem.. God bless us all

  11. “After a disaster, there will always be delays in the delivery of aid. While planes and helicopters can arrive in 24 to 48 hours after the storm clears, massive deliveries can only arrive by ship, which can take several days to sail — longer if they have to sail around a massive storm. Worse, damaged ports may take weeks to fix. With severe damage like that in Tacloban, roads may be impassible for many days or weeks, making distribution of aid difficult.”

    “When television crews race large cargo ships with airplanes and helicopters, the cameras will always win. Journalists will report on the gap between supply and demand. They will show the faces of people in need of Western largesse. They will turn isolated incidents of foraging and removal of goods from a truck or warehouse into a report on rampant looting.”

    John Crowley
    Research Affiliate at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative
    Consultant to U.N. agencies, U.S. government agencies, the World Bank, NATO and humanitarian NGOs. He tweets at @jcrowley
    Mr Crowley has been in Tacloban at the time of this crisis.

    Read more: Stop Catastrophizing Relief Efforts in the Philippines |

  12. Pingback: Open Letter to CNN | Thriving Pessimist...

  13. I guess being a journalist and reporter,to be a hit on what you do is to be the boldest, most controversial, most risky, most appealing (aside from being attractive himself) that you can be. And he is reporting in a first world country audience primarily, so it may be harsh to 3rd worlds when they hear it. Thanks for this letter as it may enlighten some people on the situation, but the news have some good effects anyway, both to our country and to the world.

      • Mr. Anderson Cooper was expressing his first impressions. He was spot-reporting, telling his opinion on what he saw at the very moment. On the other hand, foreigners working for international organizations have their own comments which are not in total agreement with Mr Cooper’s remarks. I’m sure all of them are telling the truth, it is just a matter of who made a more comprehensive evaluation and are more trained to do so.

  14. Well said… Opinions differ from how we look things from our own different , perspective, background, culture, education , and experiences. We tend to compare our country from their country which is not wise to do. Respect other culture and it’s people. Investigate if necessary before you say a word especially in social media.

  15. i just came from a funeral of a casualty in Tacloban … luckily the first dead body transported out of tacloban to have a decent burial ….. most of the people in the wake were typhoon survivors themselves who managed out of tacloban … majority of them with bandages and in pain….. they only had one line …. there was no government ( they were not referring to the LGUs who were victims themselves) but rather the National Government had done so little if not non existent ….. no planning , no coordination .Survivors are seeing planes and helicopters flying and they are waiving their cry for help …. but no relief goods came ….. there were stocks of rice in NFA but never distributed them despite people dying of hunger…. government should have tapped private helicopters to help considering we only have 3 C-130 planes … and worse is number of casualties are manipulated … pati ba naman statistics ng patay ay nanakawin ? they all are in unison in saying …. don’t listen to local TV stations …. they are not reporting the whole truth ………nakakahiya tayo … i hope the NDRMCCC of what you call them – should be more forward looking in their planning …. if first line of defense fails ( as they blame first responders failed) the top guys in NDRCCCC should not wait and see – but instead next level of defense be deployed and so on until it reach the top if only to achieve what is to be achieved . and for the President , good naman na realize mo din that you have to be hands on in Tacloban

    • Stop rationalizing. Even if we belong to a 3rd world country, it doesn’t mean ganun na rin ang level ng decision making at pag-iisip natin. It’s true that there’s a big difference when it comes in the advancement of technology but the basic action which supposedly had been done immediately after the typhoon ay nangyari sana. Meron naman tayong mga gamit na pwedeng gamitin ng gobyerno at pwede namang baguhin ang plano ng emergency rescue pero pinabayaan lang nila ito. hindi hadlang ang mga iniisa-isa mong deficiencies ng ating bansa to immediately send the first responder to save more lives and care for the victims kahit sa unang araw pa. Stop making excuses, let’s accept the fact and the truth na naging mabagal ang gobyerno natin. Pasalamatan na lang natin ang mga unang gumawa ng hakbang para makatulong agad sa mga kababayan natin na nabiktima ng kalamidad. Dapat maging praktikal tayo para hindi tayo niloloko ng mga nakaposisyon sa gobyerno na ginagawa tayong mga mangmang dahil masyado kayong emosyonal. Totoong masakit tumanggap ng katotohanan pero ito ang daan para umaunlad ang ating bansa. Himukin natin ang mabubuti nating opisyal na gumawa pa ng hakbang para maibangon ang ating bansa sa pangit na sistema.

      • You want someone to stop rationalizing but you yourself is simply assuming. Everything you said are based on hearsay and things you did not witness. Other foreigners were there and they have a different view of the situation, much different than what has been reported by Anderson Cooper. Mr. Coorper reported his first impression, which is not exactly the whole situation.

      • I agree with you, Rodel. Mr. Cooper just delivered a first-hand information –direct from the affected people. Bakit hindi nalang natin tanggapin na medu naging mabagal ang national response, tapos sinisisi pa ang LGU. Apektado nga kasali mga local officials so they can no longer do their job. They needed the national help.

  16. Many must have not read the last line in bold letters. “YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE SMART TO GIVE YOUR OPINION, BUT YOU HAVE TO BE POLITE.”

      • lol…he said he will not make excuses for his countries short comings…yet all he is talking about are excuses of the criticism that int reporters noted…and i doubt he is an executive he talks like a reporter/journalist; every point detailed and researched or an activist too much pride for his country’s shortcomings and has too much to say yet remains anonymous.

      • I have that same thought also, Vans. Very detailed and comprehensive ang pagkasulat. Parang di tuloy ako makapaniwala na dinisclose niyang profile. Parang journalist or someone trained. Anyway, nangyari na yun. Focus nalang tayo sa pagtulong sa ating mga kababayan. Mahirap man isipin, we need to move on at tumulong sa kahit anumang paraan sa mga nabiktima. Kahit ano pang nakasulat dito, I have my own opinion. At mas pinatindi pa yun sa mga nangyayari sa kasalukuyan.

      • To me, it doesn’t matter who wrote that piece, whether a real plain observer or a hired journalist. I find everything in the write-up credible and those that he wasn’t sure about, he disclosed. It is not his fault that he writes well and we don’t.

        I have my own experience with the rural areas of the country and I know how difficult it is just to move around with just a piece of luggage in tow even during normal days. I can’t imagine how worse it could be during a calamity while carrying tons of relief goods.

    • I completely understand the nature of circumstances in dealing with a magnitude disaster such as ours, but my point is, along with numerous others is that the government’s answer (denials and finger pointing) to such criticisms and pretensions do not justify the means and instead of promising to do more, they lead to insinuations of cover-ups. If the government had just kept quiet and started putting their act together, there wouldn’t be this much drama!

  17. “sana ikaw nalang presidente kasi mabilis ka umaksyon”
    ~ e kaso nga hnd ako galing sa isang political dynasty bukod pa sa wala akong pera pangampanya – tapat na politikong talunan

  18. Mr Author… we don’t need to defend ourselves… The reason why the National Government did not response quickly its because the local government in Tacloban or even the whole province of Sammar and Leyte is not an ally of your Beloved President…The president has all the power to control or response without passing by local government… one thing I can say About our Government… LOUSY and Corrupt…

    • To ramski.. i am not a pro pnoy however i guess you miss the part where the author mentioned that the lgu in leyte samar were victims as well.. i hope before you do some judgment, think as if you were there.. i just dont understand why some people always blame the president and his cabinet.. have you done something good for the victims? check yourself first.. sometimes our thoughts are like the cnn reporter who doesnt know much about the real deal.

  19. Logistics enumerated, i quote from previous commentary

    “1. The airport in Tacloban is a small provincial airport:
    2. The Philippine air force has only three C130 cargo planes
    3. A major portion of the road from the Airport to Tacloban City is a narrow cement road of one lane in each direction.
    4. The Philippines is an archipelago
    5. There is an alternate land/sea route from Manila to Leyte: down 600 kilometers through the Pan-Philippine highway to the small southern province of Sorsogon, taking a ferry to the island of Samar, and then 200+ kilometers of bad roads to Tacloban City.
    6. The government administrative organization in Tacloban is gone.
    7. Tacloban is a small city in a third-world country. ”

    My 2 cents:
    This logistics problem stems from the fact that under logistics preparedness program, they failed to do, at the least, annual vulnerability and capacity assessment and re-assessment, post hoc assessment as well as for every eventuality. This is a dynamic process and needs accountability if not performed right. I have been musing on their ulterior motives, with distrust and suspicion.

    1. Tacloban airport is small and it meets the needs of population that is approximately 40% below poverty . They serve the tourist industry and some little trading activities only. Annual GDP will not even take a major dent after this calamity. I will bet on that. The way I see it, there were no vested economic interest to improve transportation in this region because of the meager % GDP. The way I understand, transportation logistics ( tiny airport) has been serving the locals, tourists and investors during NORMAL trading times. As far as developing the roads and airports for emergency preparedness, they rolled the dice and thus, it did not make economic sense to the politicians. I have an idea- pork barrel fund can be used here, it does not need economic justification to spend for logistics preparedness. I would like to read a detailed annual report from NDRRC. Any links?

    “The entire population of the Eastern Visayas, which includes Biliran, Leyte, and Samar islands, accounts for less than 4.5 percent of the country’s population and its share of economic output is even smaller at 2.2 percent of total national GDP, JP Morgan noted.

    The region is mostly agricultural, with coconut being the only crop produced in enough size (11 percent of total national production) and six percent of the country’s rice. But most of the harvest had been completed prior to Typhoon Yolanda’s landfall according to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

    Thus, even if we assume a 50 percent drop in economic output from the third quarter, the effect on national GDP will be small.”

    2. Military and civil defense is important. This cannot be overstated. In a country with 7000 islands, we do not need just dingy boats. What kind of defense budget cuts did they do the past decade?

    3. Again, existing logistics problem stems from the fact that they failed to see the need to develop this road. Again, this should be part of emergency preparedness strategy of an archipelago that gets inundated with earthquakes and typhoons. Why? Makati is not Tacloban city. I don’t want to expound on this.

    4. Look, we were once pacific islanders that can surf the seas. It does not mean that our poor countrymen living in the island should just paddle away in their fishing boats or surfboards when such dire warning comes.They need multiple ferry lines that have the capacity to evacuate the population in a fixed amount of time. Is this not part of disaster preparedness?( Sorry, i am getting sarcastic.) LGU should be able to make a simple math basing on the population they serve.

    5. An alternate land- sea route that connects to the south? Wow, a dream project for transportation department. Get the budget rolling, senator. 6 lane highway would be so dandy.( i am antsy i am even rhyming)

    6. I would not wait 3 days for the batphone to ring . After 24 hours, I would assume that the LGU lost their functions. Gut feeling lang. This is when you take over ASAP, Mr. President. ( i am wigging out)

    7. You got me here, it was not economically sound to invest in transportation logistics here. Understandable. Poverty level here is…..spill it, they are not worth more than the people from Ayala Ave.
    I emphasize ” transportation” as other logistical issues were met fairly quickly. (I breathe…..slowly…..there, trying to keep my sanity and doing my best not to come across as arrogant. Ain’t I a bitch!)

    I can be placid about all this if I have no knowledge of pork barrel scams and government corruptions. But this argument is pointless when one considers the fact that all the logistic problems that arose is because the suits placed the issues at the back burner while the rest pocketed the money. Please, I really want to break this circle of thoughts but I cannot find a way to ignore bureaucracy and corruption without linking the logistical problems that reared its ugly head during this tragedy.

    • The CNN journalist reported what he saw or experienced. I am not a journalist but I believe journalists are not supposed to analyze what they see or experience. It is up to us readers, viewers, and or listeners to react or analyze what the journalists “report”; to try to make sense out of what has been reported. The open letter from the unknown author is an analysis, much like most of the rest of the responses in this thread. Would the analysis daunt CNN in the aspect of field/on-site journalism? I doubt it. I’d say the reporting was first-rate journalism and the open letter a first-rate analysis. And the analysis was met with a few first-rate rebuttals so far. In the end, those with the strongest moral arguments win.

      But whatever, for humanitarian reasons, let us all act fast and keep on acting to lessen the suffering of the survivors and aim to eventually help rebuild their lives.

    • May I call on the “blogger” to please publish this separately (as most often than not comments are not making the rounds in social media as fast as original articles) so that both sides be heard.

  20. I think all the media doesn’t want to portray the negative stuffs purposely but they want to report what is currently happening and what is the situation that is why most of the things we hear from CNN especially in the first few days after the typhoon are negative things. I think whoever wrote this open letter fail to realize that CNN also reported how strong the Filipinos are and no matter how poor our country is and how bad our goverment is, the Filipino people still inspire others with our resiliency! don’t blame CNN for reporting what they see.

    • I completely agree with geor. It’s useless to have false pride and patriotism and ego in this circumstance. Reporters will report. They aren’t doing it with a view to criticise. They are simply telling the world what they see. It is their job to tell the truth. Pandering to local egos is not their job. Pandering to people’s egos is an Asian thing and honestly, I think its a complete waste of time. It gets nothing done. What is achieved by saying the government is doing a great job when it is obviously not. Vital infrastructure was not in place because of corrupt politicians. Storm surge warnings were not made clear enough. The author of the rather long article says tacloban is small. Yes it is small. It doesn’t have the infrastructure under normal circumstances to handle night flights, true as well, it doesn’t. But stop for a second and ask yourself a major hub of a province doesn’t have something as basic as an airport that is night time capable.
      To run and sulk and play the victim when reporters have done nothing but tell the truth, to make excuses at this point in time, it’s not a good sign for the country. It’s attitudes like this that keep Asian countries in the ‘developing’ category. As a citizen you should be more critical and demanding of your own government than a foreigner. I know I am. That is why I don’t take offense when someone tells the truth about my country.

  21. I know the government is doing something – its best even.
    I know there are a lot of bottle necks in the relief operations that even UN cannot respond immediately,
    And I haven’t seen Tacloban’s recent state and only rely on media coverage; therefore I ask you to clarify the ff:

    We hate being compared to how Japan responded when a quake hit them, but we bring out how long it took for relief operations to get organized in Haiti?

    Mar said it’s not nurses we need, then you see a child with gauze held by packing tapes?! and a wife who cannot head to the bathroom because no one can take over pumping air into her husband?

    And if it is not true that there is no organized effort, why would Body Bags Disappear?

    A story from someone heartbroken because people surrounded their copter but they only carried goods for the military in checkpoint posts?

    A pilot without order was able to drop 10sacks of relief goods to a certain area claimed to be inaccessible due to bla bla?

    A barangay captain was refused relief goods because there were no available trucks, so he brought in vehicles and secured the release papers, but he was still out there waiting; until when? until somebody dies of hunger like that 88-year old man who made it to the news?

    Asking the foreign media to look for these type of stories to show how strong the filipino people are, is that an indication that local media limits its news to these type of stories? Is that what journalism is all about?

    Have you read comments from foreign citizens starting to doubt about donating because of what they see on the news? Oh of course, it is the Filipino people’s fault for criticizing instead of helping, might as well blame the survivors who keep telling media they haven’t received any goods yet huh?

    While it is true that MR. President should not take all the blame for this, he chose to run for the leadership chair. And a good leader takes credit for the good things and willingly ACCEPTS BLAME when something goes wrong..

    many people say we should stop bickering but

    do u think not letting the world know their pleas will help them “bangon”? nagpapainterview sila para ipaalam na wala sila makain, na sugatan sila, na hinahanap pa nila pamilya nila, pero gusto natin na huwag ishare un para walang pressure? if we do not criticize, if we wait until everythinh gets in place the way they run it, how will they improve? how will change come? if no pressure is imposed, what happens after? 100years ago the same incident happened in tacloban killing 7000 people but it was long forgotten maybe because recording then was not as “advanced” as it is now. This time we have the chance to speak up, do we let it pass again?

  22. This is ridiculous. I would call it stupid, but I’m still trying to be nice here. Stop it, seriously. We don’t have to “defend” ourselves. If you want to show that our country is strong and is capable of rising above this tragedy then do your part by helping out in the relief operations and donations and be content with that. Don’t act all righteous just because you have an opinion and an internet connection. Get out there and act!

    • exactly! in this time of grave calamity, we all have to do what we’ve got to do the fastest, most efficient way we can. the lives of a lot of super typhoon victims depend on all the food, water, medicine, clothing,, that they need to survive at this present time.. saka na ‘yung sisihan pag nakaraos na lahat!

  23. Damaged has been done my fellow countrymen. Lets all stop bitching about who says it right, whats important is that we strive to bring back the lost lives of the people who are affected on the tragedy!

  24. The Phil. government has its lapses, and being a third-world country isn’t an excuse. It’s a fact. We are not ready for a catastrophe this huge. The government, came and responded as much as it could, with the available resources at hand, with all the geographic obstacles, head-on. But they can only do so much. For all the international help and coverage, the country is more than grateful for this. For P.Noy, as the head of state, he wants what’s best for the Filipino but because his political body is riddled with corrupt officials, he, too, cannot function efficiently. Therefore, he needs to fix this body. Huge task ahead of him. To the Filipino soldiers who worked tirelessly in being there for both the dead and the living, you are heroes. To all who volunteered and shared even their smallest treasures, you are heroes as well. To those who have loud and bitter words for the Phil. govt., you keep it on its toes. But keep your balance. It’s too easy to say all the “could-haves or should-haves”. But the effective implementation and outside factors are too overwhelming. And they are not excuses. This is part of being third world.

  25. Truth hurts but there it is. Our country is poor with a government that is corrupt and inept. I admit that and in admitting that I open my heart and mind to the reality that we need help. We do not have the resources and the leadership (the President can’t do it all by himself) to handle a crisis of this magnitude. I for one welcome the help of the Americans (and of all the others as well). They can take over for all I care because honestly I believe that they are more efficient and effective in handling the situation.

    • You think??? So why are there lots of homeless people in America then? Speak for yourself….let them govern your life but not every Filipinos life….I am grateful to them but asking them to take over your country is another thing…colonial mentality as usual….

      • Hey Wella America does not have a lot of homeless people if you look at the overall population of the USA. There are homeless people but not a lot. Get your facts straight. Also it is true that the foreign nations helping specially the US are more organized and equipped than the Phil. Gov’t effort. Be grateful and get off your misplaced nationalistic pride and be realistic and wake up to the shortcomings of these elected officials. Fortunately despite all these ineptitude our kababayan will survive.

      • There are homeless people in America, just like in any country, because there are lazy people all over the world. I am not saying that everybody who is homeless is lazy. But generally speaking, people end up on the streets because they would rather complain than work.

  26. Field reporters normally and simply just report whatever they see and observe on their ground.. nobody needs to be blamed for the situation is really difficult.. the problem with some people is they quickly react base on their emotion instead of understanding first the issues at hand.

    • That is the point of view (one side of the coin) of Mr. Anderson Cooper. But there are also other points of view (other sides of the coin) by other writers or journalists or citizens. To me personally, Mr. Cooper seem to portray in his earlier reports that no government personnel was around to help the victims where he was; but there were some government personnel helping the victims in other parts of Tacloban as reported by Geraldine Uy Wong. (Read her article that she shared in FB). Hence, we should not just consider and rely on one’s point of view (one side of the coin) just because he/she is a foreign journalist, but should also consider other points of view (other sides of the coin) in order to be FAIR & JUST.

  27. This country is 115 years old. How many years do we need before we STOP making those “this country is an archipelago” and “we are 3rd world” excuses?

    • If some of you who commented on this letter had been to the typhoon hit areas were there or at least had been involved in the relief distribution planning (even after the typhoon) then you wold know how the government reacted. But not until you do then how could you comment the accuracy and veracity of what really transpired. So not until you saw and experienced it, better hold your tongue.

      • Tell that to BS Aguino, Mar Roxas and to all the lousy and corrupt politicians! They should be the ones to hold their tongues! All talk but cannot deliver, all excuses! This time we are ranting because we are very frustrated with th been handled. Remember that this is not the first time a typhoon killed thousands! And certainly this will not be the last! We need a government that has strong leadership, non-corrupt, competent so that the people’s taxes and country’s money will go to where it should go… to infrastructures such as roads, ports, airports, and strong buildings that can be used as evacuation centers when calamities strikes… I know it is not time to blame and point fingers, but we cannot help it because the government has failed us again.

    • This I much want to reply…talking points: 1.comparison Philippines vs South Korea (both archipelagos ) that suffered post world war ….difference nite n day has Hyundai ,Kia n daihatsu ..we have tricycle, abalabal,jeeps…one has TVs,refrigerators,washing machines ..we just buy them …they have samsung,,we have snatchers n riding in tandem criminals ..they have creators,inventors and scientists …we have a lot too ..ofws to whom I’m one of them …we have more natural resources than our neighbors but to no progress ..infact that’s the cause of corruption and destruction of our of ecosystem ..including improper disposal of waste n garbage 2. Political dynasties …can we get rid of that ..part of cutting off graft n corruption. 3. Comelec…why r we allowing ex convicts or persons that r known to have unsuitable backgrounds be in govt positions …there u go stop graft n corruption 4. Yes we r a third world country…be coz we allow it to be…we allow the likes of napoles et al …ampatuan et al …arroyo et al..mrs shoes et al to rule the daily lives of people…I forgot the contructors (all sorts) getting the money but not constructing any that is useful …and most members of govt ….again it boils down to graft n corruption …bottom line..we made the bed therefor we sleep on it

      • If I may add is reported that local govt became impotent or where we’re the congressmen n the senators of the afflicted areas n also the doh head ..r they all hiding in Manila coz the issue is too hot to handle ..they should be added on the first responders especially if local govt were almost wiped out ,if not who will ,the priests nuns n teachers …my gosh !!! 6 there’s no such thing as learning curve with this matter coz pinas gets 20-25 typhoons n heavy rains per yr so we should be experts on dealing with this

  28. The tone of the reports of CNN and other international agencies is negative because the situation is negative. It’s got nothing to do with different perspectives (first world and third world. half-empty or half full). Let’s drum roll for the heroes later and focus on the victims and their needs for now, shall we?

    • you sir are correct! I think all the media doesn’t want to portray the negative stuffs purposely but they want to report what is currently happening and what is the situation that is why most of the things we hear from CNN especially in the first few days after the typhoon are negative things. I think whoever wrote this open letter fail to realize that CNN also reported how strong the Filipinos are and no matter how poor our country is and how bad our goverment is, the Filipino people still inspire others with our resiliency! don’t blame CNN for reporting what they see.

      • Have you not notice.. media thrives during WAR, TSUNAMIS, TYPHOONS and other Tragedies. These are all negative stuffs. Seldom they report positive developments not unless they are of commercial value or they can have business out of it. They cover the Olympics, World Cup an other large events because they can make money out of it.. Human triumphs, innovations and inventions are only reported in passing. Take for example the Nobel prize Awards or the Ramon Magsaysay Awards.. These are events where people worth emulating are awarding and yet media focuses only a little amount of time on them.

  29. “Three C130 only” –>>maraming cgro yan kng hindi corrupt ang mga Politicians. And in my opinion, POLITICS is already a big business here in our country accompanied with media. So sad.

    • Actually, the first responders from the Philippine Air Force came first before anyone. They actually came too soon and were wiped out by the storm surge.

    • As a foreign aid worker, I can tell you that no foreign aid can enter the Philippines, let alone, Tacloban, without government approval and direction. The Philippine government coordinates all foreign aid.

  30. Oh please stop blaming now. We are not going to blame the government now if it had been an honest governance to the people of the Philippines. This has become a domino effect. The government has been taking advantage and has been stealing money from the people for so long. If those money have been used for building better infrastracture, invest in the best equipment, i must say we would have been prepared by this catastrophe. But look what we have now, this is the effect of the corruption, that’s why we have nothing and just rely on other countries help in times like this. So to the author, how would you say it is difficult. The bottom line here is we don’t have enough resources to build a better country because it is being stolen from us. That’s the bottom line. We cannot move forward because money from people goes to the government which they should use to serve people. Rather that money stays on top in the government and never go down to the public.

  31. I am a Filipino. I voted for Pnoy knowing that he is not the smartest and most-hardworking candidate. I voted for him because among all candidates, I belived that he is the only one that has the will to curb corruption. Whether he will be successful, is something that is yet to be seen.

    I agree with the author that CNN is very instrumental in securing international aid and should therefore be thanked accordingly. But unlike him, I also thank CNN for its strong criticisms about the way things are being handled by our government. We all know how difficult it is to respond. We all know the excuses. But if we all dwell on the excuses, we will never be able to give our 120%. And this is precisely what the situation calls for. Everybody simply should step up. Those who don’t need to have their asses kicked every now and then. It does not matter if the ass-kicking comes from a Filipino or a non-Filipino. In this instance, we are not divided by race or nationality.

    Those in the government who mind criticisms should not be in the government. Those whose morale is affected by criticisms have little desire to give their best anyway. So I don’t think there is a need to defend the government and the people involved.

  32. I will try to remember now what the late great Frank Sinatra said of journalists: “They are nothing but pimps and parasites. They are two-bit sluts, No, let me correct myself, they are dollar-fifty sluts.” The blame game and the negative reporting spewing from the mouths and pens of convince me that Frank was right.

  33. The letter was objectively written. Like what couple of our countrymen are saying ; this is not right time to blame or point finger tho who is right ir wrong. We are free to express iur own opinions and views towards the matter but likewise be reminded that it won’t lead us to anything beneficial if we just keepnon dwelling on the same pronlem without coming up with a solution.
    It’s just so ironic that despite of all of these troubles, we still find some people taking advantage of the situation and trying to cash in on the relief goods/aids.
    I am personally surprise on the delays in distributing the relief goods when in fact majority of which are already packed when it arrives and ready to be distributed. Why do DSWD personnel require volunteers to unpack and sort the goods????? Up to these point they still want to check whats inside and replace it with a cheaper / local one? It’s really very very sad and unacceptable that they are doing these. Wait like 2 -3 months and you’ll see theses imported relief goods being sold to thrift shop / tiangge. What a shame!!!
    Bottomline is corruption is so overwhelming here in this country called “Philippines” that sooner or later it will just back fire on each and everyone of us.

  34. Korina is this you? Come on! Stop the meager excuses!

    Philippines is an archipelago according to the American General WORKED TO THEIR ADVANTAGE!

    We are not even counting the various remote locations but even those near the vicinity of the airport took almost a week before help came! Which rock have you been hiding?

    The reason why the country is left undeveloped is because of sad apologists like you!

  35. I think,based on the entire context of the letter. it is clearly made by the communication department of the office of the philippine president. I don’t think they can reverse on what really happen on that day in tacloban or province of visayas.

  36. Praise for this letter for lifting the spirits of those who are pushing towards recovery and rehab. To the critics of this letter, you all suck! What have you done for the response to the disaster that you speak like you know a lot of what’s to be in all the ground zeroes? Fuck you. Or better yet, come to us in Northern Palawan ground zero and I’ll personally fuck you!

    • Well we’ll well mr Jeff try not to b nasty coz part of the problem is u ..u got the oil co. In ur neighborhood that gives stipend to the govt but where is it going decent infrastructure..why r u not demanding ur officials to do a good job ..u elected them…so the problem is chronic n systemic

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