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Typhoon leaves Mantecans anxious

Concern about relatives caught in deadly Philippines storm

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Typhoon leaves Mantecans anxious

A picture of one of the ravaged cities in Leyte sends a message to the world pleading for help to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

Photo contributed/

POSTED November 14, 2013 1:25 a.m.

Lourdes Amick and her family can rest easy – but not completely.

She knows that her mother, who will turn 90 on Nov. 27, along with her sister and brother, have survived deadly typhoon Haiyan that slammed the Philippines late last week leaving in its wake thousands of dead victims and thousands more injured.

But their seaside homes in the town of Tolosa in Leyte – the island where General Douglas MacArthur landed during World War II – were completely destroyed.

Amick has not actually talked to her mother or siblings via telephone or any of the social media outlets on the Internet. What she knows were relayed to her, and to the rest of her extended family living in the San Jose area, by people close to the family who have been in contact with her mother and siblings – a brother who is a retired U.S. Navy and Vietnam veteran, and a sister who went to Tolosa to help take care of their soon-to-be nonagenarian mother. In the mid-1980s, their mother went back to the Philippines and retired there after working for many years as a quality assurance operator at one of the electronic companies in the Silicon Valley. The rest of the 10 children in the family live and work in San Jose.

For three days after Typhoon Haiyan, packing 195 miles per hour winds, hit the mid-section of the Philippines, Amick’s family was on edge. All communication connections in Tolosa were destroyed leaving them in limbo as to the fate of their mother and siblings.

“We only found out on Sunday that my mother and brother and sister are alive. There were only two casualties in the town proper (of Tolosa) but the barrios were totaled,” Amick said.

“We have confirmed that they are okay. The only problem they have now is they don’t have any government assistance – no food, everything; medical, nothing. My sister was able to find some food; they have a little bit of food, but how long will it last?” added Amick.

In the wake of the deadly typhoon, her family in Tolosa suffered a big scare when her brother could not have his twice-a-week dialysis because of the destruction. With the help of family and friends, her brother was finally able to get to a dialysis facility after a five-hour drive.

Amick’s mother, sister and brother have found places to stay in the meantime. People they knew helped them evacuate to a safe place where they are now staying in an apartment.

Her siblings here in California and their extended family are pooling their resources together trying to help their mother and siblings in the typhoon-ravaged country. Amick said they are trying to find a way to fly them to either Cebu or Manila where they have relatives.

In the meantime, Amick is also trying to organize a garage sale to raise money that she plans to send to an organization in their town of Tolosa to help other victims of the typhoon.

Mantecans still awaiting word about relatives in Samar/Leyte

While there’s relatively good news for the Amick family from the Philippines, the family of Alma Alcala-Lozano is still in limbo in regards to the fate of family members scattered in the islands of Leyte and Samar.

“Our 90-year-old Aunt Lila and niece Ana Marie have lived in that city (Tacloban, Leyte) all their lives, and we do not know what has become of them and countless others,” Alcala-Lozano said via e-mail.

“According to our nephew Bong (who now lives in Texas), the Cabugayan clan numbers up to 500 throughout that whole area, most in Samar,” she wrote. “Now that Haiyan has paid his cruel savage visit to our ancestral homeland, I fear that our land and our clan may not recover. The images and tales of the aftermath are horrendous. It can never be the same…, not for decades. And the entire nation is plunged into despair as to how to begin to repair and restore and renew.”

Alcala-Lozano’s late mother was from the Samar and Leyte islands and last lived in the city of Tacloban before her late father, Atanasio, a World War II U.S. Army soldier and teletype operator for General McArthur, sent for her and her sister Nora to come to America. In the 1970s, Alcala-Lozano and her mother had an opportunity to visit relatives living in those two islands. She visited Basay, “which became known as Basey because U.S. soldiers pronounced it with American accents…, and the Barangay of Bakubak where I met so many of my mother’s clan.”

As she struggles to absorb the “enormity and destruction (that was) wrathfully dealt out in one fell swoop” upon her ancestral homeland, Alcala-Lozano said she feels “unable to help… except for donations and prayers.”

She recalled reading a tweet comment following a new report about the typhoon which reminded her of the resilience of Filipinos in the face of adversity, giving her hope. “He wrote, ‘God only sends his harshest tests to his strongest soldiers.’”

Amick’s friend, Rowena Tebaldi, shared the same sentiment as she talked about the tribulations Amick’s family is facing in the wake of the deadly catastrophe. “God gave the strongest typhoon to the strongest and most resilient people in the strongest country,” Tebaldi said.

While earliest estimates placed the number of dead from the Typhoon Haiyan up to 10,000, Philippine President Benigno Aquino in an ABC News story said that the death toll will probably be much lower – from 2,000 to 2,500. Nearly 2,600 people have been confirmed injured.

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