#PalawanNeedsHelpToo: Filipinos cry for aid for Odette-hit Palawan

December 20, 2021 - 12:05 PM
Photo of the destruction at the Araceli Central School in Araceli, Palawan (Facebook/Ronan Sibal)

Calls for help for Palawan took over social media over the weekend following the onslaught of Typhoon “Odette” (international name: Rai).

Odette pummeled through the province after making landfall last Friday, December 17 with maximum sustained winds of 150 kilometers per hour (kph) and gustiness of up to 205 kph, according to the state weather bureau.

This was the ninth time it made landfall in the Philippines.

Its first landfall was over Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte last week.

‘Palawan is part of the Philippines too’

In the wake of Odette, the hashtags #PalawanNeedsHelpToo, #PalawanNeedsHelp, #SavePalawan and other related hashtags circulated around Facebook and Twitter.

Concerned Filipinos made a collective appeal for help online for emergency aid and rescue operations for the island, also a known tourist destination.

“Palawan is also part of the Philippines! And they also need help from the government,” one Twitter user said.

“Habang nakikita ko ang paghahanda ng mga relief operation para sa ibang probinsiya na affected ni #OdettePH, tila nakalimutan na affected rin ang Palawan. Palawan has gone dark and it’s been three days,” another Twitter user said.

“Help has been pouring in to other provinces but Palawan is yet to receive help and attenion. I hope this gets to the proper authorities. Palawan needs help,” another doctor online user wrote.

Palawan Daily, a Palawan-based publication, reported that nearly all communication in the province had been down for more than 48 hours already.

It also said that some residents only managed to post due to satellite connection and within areas where Globe and Smart were still operational.

Palawan Daily’s Facebook page also shared photos and videos from residents who captured the aftermath in their municipalities.

On December 19, Ronan Sibal, principal of Araceli Central School, released photos of the devastation of Odette at the school and the surrounding areas.

Sibal also shared in the post that this was the first time he experienced such severe calamity in his hometown.

“Of my five decades of existence, [this was my] first time ever to experience such kind of calamity, it’s not the usual one that happened to us. It’s not only DepEd structures being affected but the entire municipality as well,” Sibal said.

“The Araceli Central School after two weeks of preparation on the retirement of one of our colleagues, here it is devastated by Odette. Lord, please HEAL OUR LAND (prayer emojis),” he added.

Oceanographer Deo Florence Onda of the University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute also shared a screenshot of an album of photos that showed leveled houses and uprooted trees in Palawan.

Onda also revealed that he has yet to receive an update from from his family there.

“Photos from Palawan just started coming in. Palaweños are not used to calamities so the damages have far reaching consequences,” Onda said.

“I feel helpless. I still have not contacted family back home. Community will definitely need help to recover. We will be organizing relief ops soon,” he added.

Science organization Earth Shaker later joined in the bayanihan move to raise awareness about the situation in Palawan.

It shared photos of destroyed houses and broken branches of trees in the municipality of Dumaran.

The photos were credited to Roy Aurello Pagliawan, a resident of Dumaran.

Government’s response

Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope Libiran of the Department of Transportation announced on Monday, December 20 that two ships from the Philippine Coast Guard have already been deployed to conduct relief efforts to Palawan.

“In fact, according to PCG Commandant Admiral Leopoldo Laroya, these PCG vessels have been prepositioned there prior to the landfall of #Odette,” Libiran said on Facebook.

“Rest assured that the Philippine Coast Guard have been tirelessly conducting relief and rescue operations in the province, in coordination with the DSWD and the PGU/LGU,” she added.