We arrived at the landing zone in the middle of the night and woke to the view of the spectacular glacial valley.
www.youcaring.com/mattphilippines Video Update 3
Distribution has started of the equivalent of 12 million liters of clean drinking water in the form of LifeStraw Community filters in regions hit by the eye of typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
Thanks so much to everyone who has donated so far.
As a bonus, if I reach the target of £10,000 I will rebuild a primary school which is badly damaged in the small fishing village of Guibitayan.
Weather permitting I will be taking banka boats through the passage in northern Leyte to distribute filters in the region of Guiuan where the typhoon made first landfall. I will pass Tacloban and also remote islands on the way and distribute filters.
Please also watch my latest video update .
I am about to go into a very remote region so please bear with the updates.
I’ve been here in the Philippines in the path of the eye of Typhoon Yolanda for nearly two weeks now. I’m working on a voluntary basis as a formal adviser to Shelterbox International, reporting data from remote locations where I lived previously in areas of Northern Cebu, Leyte and Samar to the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism UNCP UNDAC and and the UN Food Cluster while deploying community water filtration and emergency basic life support and first aid.
As the second week progressed, people on the island I am staying began to clean up and try to get some sense of normality back. In some places, much of the tree cover has gone, and the land looks like someone has toasted it with a blowtorch. It’s easy to forget shade, one of the critical functions of coconut palms and trees in this environment until they are gone. The temperature is almost unbearable, I may say this however I used to live here for years and I know what is “normal” the locals also agree with me. It’s critical to understand that following a typhoon on the scale of Yolanda, the environmental scenario is substantially altered fro the worse and the typhoon itself merely marks the beginning of the disaster. I began to find
something happening repetitively which has been incredibly saddening and needs to be addressed as a real post typhoon disaster.
Within a week, on one island, I have personally encountered 5 cases of severe medical emergency from heat related issues; sadly four of these people died. The first I encountered was a 60 year old with high blood pressure who had been carrying relief goods up the beach all morning. After setting up a small TV so his friends and family could watch the Manny Pacquio fight, he sat down on his bed and had a sever stroke. He was still breathing when I got to his house and I managed to stabilize him and get him onto a small boat in an attempt to get him to a hospital. His breathing arrested half way to the mainland but I managed to get him breathing again. I didn’t have much hope but I managed to get him to the hospital alive. He died a few days later. The other victims of this were a 1 month old baby which had dehydration due to repetitive vomiting. A Dr from a “medical mission” told the mother this was normal. After a second visit, the mission Dr said that he couldn’t put a dextrose drip into the baby because he wasn’t a nurse, that’s what I was told by the parents. By the time I got the baby to the hospital, they couldn’t find anywhere to put the drip; it was too late. On a positive note, the last victim I dealt with was a 59 year old who was having a heart attack after cutting coconut lumber with a chainsaw all day. Apparently he needed a stent operation for some time but couldn’t afford it ans was still carrying on working in an attempt to rebuild houses. I’m happy to say that I last saw DukDuk walking on a beach smiling. It gives me hope when I manage to do this; the mortality rate on this island is way off the scale.
I know that the mortality rate is increasing in other places I have visited while making assessments, especially in Leyte where there are many villages are complaining of sickness and diarrhea. Getting clean drinking water to these regions is of paramount importance. Although I have no proof of this, the scenario in the mountainous regions I have visited in Leyte and Samar reminds me of the situation in Haiti in that deforestation causes fast runoff of effluent into water supplies. The patterns the direction of trees make little sense, and accounts of wind directions during the typhoon describe many different directions which do not resemble the usual experience of an eye passing overhead. Another thought strikes in my mind and that is the risk of flash flooding and landslides. Many of the trees are totally uprooted and the topsoil is laid bare to the immense heat of the sun. Many crops are damaged and often villages spoke of 90% of their rice crop damaged, almost all bananas gone, for which they will have to wait 1 – 2 years for a new crop, their new maize seedlings damaged to around 70%, coconut palms form which they sell for oil partially or completely gone and also a good deal of fishing gear destroyed. A great deal of wildlife has been killed and habitat destroyed.
Please help me if you can.
After a long long production period it’s finally out! Working with Jeb has been a truly amazing experience.
Special thanks to the insight and wisdom of Georg Finch, Luke Meadows, everyone and everything at www.GoPro.com and especially Matt Meyerson at RTRP http://www.rp-rt.com/who-we-are/
Big Props to everyone that’s been supportive and made it happen! Especially Jhonathan Florez http://www.jhonathanflorez.com/
And wow of course don’t forget to check http://jebcorliss.net/
I’ve lived through several Typhoons in this region including “Frank” which was a living hell; Haiyan is far far worse. You cannot walk, you must crawl as if you need to leave your shelter as the winds are so strong and it is impossible to stand up. Debris are critically life threatening as pieces of roof and bamboo fly horizontally past your head. The sound and darkness is something I will never forget. The eye of both Haiyan and Frank passed over Malapascua Island, which was once my home for a number of years. At this time, I await any news from my friends there, so far I have heard nothing.
My memories of Frank in 2008 aren’t fond in any way and make me seriously consider my carbon footprint. The saddest part is the mortality following these events, which often goes unaccounted for in media and reports. Headlines are currently that the deathtoll “could soar” however many people die unaccounted in the statistics because they fall outside the obvious/convenient categories. Many people loose money exactly as we would but have no “insurance cover.” The deaths from parasites, dysentery, malnutrition, tuberculosis, tetanus, measles, and a wealth of things we simply take for granted are huge. You realise this fully when memories haunt you like trying to resuscitate your neighbour’s dead babies who had died of parasitic infestation a couple of weeks later or trying to help a woman with 20ft of bamboo impailed in her, two 12 year olds who died of tetanus… I heard nothing in the media about these incidents of which my experience was a meagre sample.
My thoughts go out to all living things in the path of the storm. Biodiversity density will definitely decline an the typhoons get more aggressive as the years progress. Due to the Archepelagic nature of the region, speciation and genetics make it probably more bio-diverse than any other place on Earth. I challenge anyone to this claim. The typhoons are getting repetitively worse year after year. I have experienced this personally and ther are papers which take this into regard. People find it harder and harder to live and eek out an existence from fishing. This is part of the Coral Triangle and these weather systems do have an impact upon reefs which are already under sever stress from unregulated illegal fishing. One could argue about resilience to these storms on the prehistoric record but not with the combination of anthropogenic impact added into the mix. If you ask many fisher folk what is the scariest thin about a super typhoon, they will most probably answer “gutom” – hunger. Starvation doesn’t make good statistics; we just don’t hear about it in this context.
Aid is throttled by chains of Government level corruption such as distribution to communities who vote in favour of political clans and dominating families. Donate carefully and enjoy your carbon emissions.
UPDATE! It would appear to be that it will take weeks to get aid to this hard hit region by the larger agencies so please donate below to proactive action which delivered rice, water and supplies yesterday (Nov 7th)
This morning’s pictures.
UPDATE: Since I wrote this post, I am pleased to announce that the incoming Mayor in Daanbantayan has pro-actively responded to the situation in the region and additionally the Governor of Iloilo has pledged his support for the total outright ban of Hulbot Hulbot trawling in the Philippines. I believe that it is imperative that we understand globally that no amount of greenwash modification of trawling gear is acceptable considering the current state of the benthos and declining density of biodiversity in our oceans and that we must learn by example from the Philippines in this effort.
Here is my original post;
In China, it has been mooted that there is a swing away from eating shark fin soup it has been heralded as a victory for wildlife conservation.
However, in my opinion, cutting the demand may be key but thinking in a more in-depth perspective, we need to look at the reality of the supply chain and not merely the demand. Statistics for landings tend to be based on known easily quantifiable data, unfortunately the scope is far wider than this and more often more covert.
There are massive grey areas in the statistics. For example, what I describe as “travelling dry fin dealers” are all over the Coral Triangle scouring small subsistence/survival fishers for fins for the soup and medicine market. These are not classed as “landings.” They are not seen drying on the roof tops of Hong Kong. They are in the homes of tens of thousands living in the arcepelagic geography of the region. If you look, pretty much every other fisher house in the Philippines has a set of longline hooks on steel leaders. Why are they doing it? Well one reason is the money for sure and the need to pay for things like their children’s education.
The combined efforts of many small fishers extracting sharks I would imagine is huge as studies such as “many hooks” have shown. Although the bait outlay is big, the landing effort is not what you might imagine. I have been shark longlining many times with small scale fishers as a passive observer and filmed the process. Most often, bottom lines are left overnight with buoys, By the morning, most of the catch is exhausted from pulling the line and rock weights or one shark pulling against the next a few hundred feet up the line.
So we have a relatively easy gamble, gambling is popular, but in my opinion it is the push pull factors which are so often not addressed. We may be addressing the consumer, which is fine, however what happens at the other end? Think of this as an extension of a food web, but with human economics playing the part of the extension and the human as the apex predator prior to this extension. How does this apex predator survive if there is no economic food supply? They often turn to alternative methods of cheap an low outlay fishing such as Dynamite and Cyanide which cost less than half a dollar to deploy. Thus the reef gets massacred.
Meanwhile, over the past 30 years, intensive trawling such as Hulbot Hulbot inside Municipal waters has decimated survival fisher folk’s ability to be sustainable for the sake of mafia controlled black market economics. You can see this here and note the “sea beggers” receiving free bycatch at the rear.
Since modified trawling cannot operate in deeper water and decimate the ecology, fishers claim that shark fishing is a great alternative to once profitable shallow water methods. This happens in other circumstances too. For example in Donsol where the WWF have the whale shark experience. Less than 500m from the visitor centre I interviewed a fishing village where many of the men were shark fishers for a living, selling to travelling dry fin dealers. Their other sources of income weren’t good enough apparently as they couldn’t fish for shrimp on the reefs which were now tourist attractions. That’s what they told me.
Grey areas such as these desperately need addressing. It’s simply not as simple as counting the landing statistics or looking at consumer trends or good PR campaigns; all ends of the equation need assessing. On a darker note, often, as cultural practices become more criminalised, the black market web thickens and the economics attract bigger players. This, in my opinion, is already happening with fishing mafias, just as we see with adrenalin poaching in Africa.
It also may be noted that there are probably far fewer shark fishers who fin repetitively than there are soup drinkers and effort may be more effective in providing alternative forms of livelihood.
Getting closer and closer to the geological gash known popularly as “The Crack” by the pilots, the weather was constantly threatening to explode over Walenstadt and wash away our gear and the team down the dry riverbed over the 1000ft+ precipice.
The Alpine ecology was stunning and we even got a glimpse of the Alpine Longhorn Beetle Rosalia Alpina classified under the IUCN Red List.
Yet again we’ve been negotiating camera gear into wingsuit proximity runs.
As ever, they are near vertical faces and this one was particularly interesting as it was an avalanche boulder field on the face of Brevent in Chamonix.
The escarpment was decorated with ominous bits of skier equipment and the shattered remains of a gondola which had fallen from about 400m above. It was challenging negotiating the twisted cables and falling rubble but we managed to get some serious altitude in the trench.