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Report about continuing autonomous Typhoon Yolanda disaster relief initiatives by anarchists (Philippines)

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Mobile Anarchist School volunteers and its immediate network have no time to rest; right after our first mission, we came back to Manila just to complete the requirements for “Climate Crises and Direct Action Forum” where we shared the details of our initiative in Leyte.

We able to gather resources enough to support six volunteers for 15 days action. We discussed the details of our second mission and carefully outlined our plan based on our experience.

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BACKGROUND

More than a month after super typhoon “Yolanda” pummeled Visayas, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported on Thursday morning that the death toll has slightly increased to 5,982 from 5,959 reported Wednesday. The number of people injured and missing remained at 27,022 and 1,779, respectively.

Affected cities: 57; affected provinces: 44. Number of people/families affected: 12.191 million people/ 2.582 million families number of people displaced: 3.98 million people/ 869,742 families in evacuation centers: 21,669 families/ 93,814 people.

The number of damaged houses decreased to 1.192 million, nearly half of which were totally destroyed. To date, power outage is still being experienced in some provinces and municipalities of Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, and Eastern Visayas.

Based on the latest inspection of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), a total of 1,959 transmission facilities have been damaged. Electricity has already been restored in Ormoc City, Leyte and in the municipalities of Anilao, Banate, Barotac Viejo, and Ajuy, all of which are in Iloilo.

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SOLAR GUERILLA AUTONOMOUS RESPONSE TEAM – Mobile Anarchist School

As mentioned earlier, we focused our initiative in Barangay Libtong, municipality of San Miguel. There was no casualty or injury reported but the damage based on estimate of barangay captain is so extensive; in fact rice fields, coconut trees, infrastructures such as rice mills, market, tele-communications and among others are destroyed.

When we arrived there for our second mission, we see signs of very slow recovery process. The relief is scarce; families have no means to access government support to rebuild their homes. Communication is difficult, prices of basic commodities and services are still double and power restoration is far from completion.

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On our first day we upgraded the capacity of our solar set-up. We installed 300 watts solar panels with 30 amperes solar control charger and two units of 12 volts batteries (3SM deep cycle 70 amperes and 2SM 50 amperes). We set-up the team to effectively carry-out charging operations, medicine and relief distribution, food not bombs and stress de-briefing activities.

Two volunteers handled the charging operations, and another was assigned in medicine distribution. The other three volunteers distributed tasks in handling food preparations.

Charging and medicine distribution operated on the daily basis (from second to eleventh day).

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Barangay Central activities: we conducted art workshop, series of games, food not bombs and gifts sharing for kids and youth. Around 60 children participated the event that last for three hours.

Activities in “Iskwater”: we organized the same pattern of activities with different variations; we did not expect more than a hundred of children swarmed our event. Due to the time constraint and limitation of supplies and materials, we felt so sad to see many of them did not able to participate and did not able to get food.

We repacked our limited relief to double the number of families who will receive the goods. We focus our effort in charging and medicine distribution while the two volunteers spontaneously organized games for kids who were always around the area of our campsite. Actually, the tandem always does this activity every afternoon during our stay except during bad weather.

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We organized workshops, food not bombs, games and gift sharing to children in Pikas. Kids there are relatively small in number compare to Barangay Central and in Squatter; but they are very warm just like the places we had previously visited.

Limited supply obliged us to prioritize families without houses. We distributed relief in Iskwater, Barangay Central and Olputan areas.

These activities were carried-out in our 14-day mission including two ways travel time.

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REFLECTIONS

In our ten years of operating food not bombs, free market and similar activities we are used to positive impressions from the people and communities.

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School teacher is highly respectable career in many municipalities in the archipelago. A school teacher with her two daughters showed-up in one of our events all of them were wearing black shirts. Afterwards, the teacher told the reason why they are wearing black, because they respect the people who preferred to wear black color.

The community treats us good and with respect, perhaps it is natural for the people to treat us this way as long as we provide service or share supplies. On the other hand they also asked why institutions are not working efficiently and creatively to provide support. We are not supposed to be here if the government is doing its job.

In general, it’s not normal to see strange looking people providing or sharing things services essential to our daily lives without asking anything in return. Strange looking would mean heavily tattooed, body pierced, weird hairstyles and preferring black over the other colors.  Likewise, it is really odd to see these strange looking people who has no boss and privilege less but active in the front line of disaster to extend solidarity to the victims.

Our appearance raised curiosity which made people come, mingle and inter-act with us. They are expecting “formal” and “decent” people to come to help in exchange of political allegiance or spiritual favor. They are really surprise to know that strange looking people like us are here to share base on our capacity without asking anything in return.

For us this is not a heroic act, we believe that helping is a normal and common relationship in many organisms. Currently, human being is essentially guided by the idea of competition reinforce by capitalism and statism. The idea of supremacy, hierarchy, uniformity and centralized pattern distorted our values. Our relationship with nature, to our self and with others is now characterized by domination and control that eventually resulted to inequality, poverty, ignorance, patriarchy and ecological destructions.

Mutual Aid can be effective if delivered directly.

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This entry was posted on Friday, January 3rd, 2014 at 5:51 pm and is filed under Eco Struggle.