Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Current Events’

The winner of Tiger Test: Rebuilding Tacloban is–

December 04, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Contest, Current Events No Comments →

In the first of our monthly Tigerair contests, we asked readers to answer this question.


We received some very interesting answers. We like this one best because it responds directly to the most pressing needs of Tacloban’s people while making sure they play a dynamic role in their city’s recovery and transformation.

Rebuilding is a complicated process. My suggestions are for Tacloban or a similar urban area and can be implemented in the next 6 months:

1. Restore the LGU hierarchy (Mayor to Barangay) during the recovery phase (now). This is critical especially in channeling relief efforts. Having an official work-flow will prevent parallel or overlapping operations, which can cause conflicts among the providers and/or the beneficiaries.

2. The survivors must be given shelter on a selected and secure area. I prefer building bunkhouses over tent cities because bunkhouses are sturdier and more secure than tents. Bunkhouses are also conducive for restoring the dignity of the survivors, many of whom had lost everything in a traumatic way.

3. Prior to rebuilding, the services of an experienced urban planner must be acquired by the LGU to work with the City Administrator so that the city can be planned in a better manner, e.g. to ensure the balance of commercial, residential, public, and service spaces, as well as building infrastructures that will mitigate the impact of future events, such as sea walls and permanent evacuation facilities.

4. During the rebuilding itself, put the citizens to work through a cash-for-
work program. This way, those who lost their jobs have the chance to earn once again for their families; at the same time, this will give them a sense of ownership of the city because of their role in the actual rebuilding of the city.

5. Prioritization in the rebuilding must be exercised: roads first, service buildings like schools, hospitals and clinics next followed by the local government offices.

6. Similarly, a food-for-school program can also be implemented for the children of the survivors for them to return to and stay in school. For each day of school attendance of a child, his/ her household will receive a specific amount of food.

7. As the rebuilding progresses, the LGU must institutionalize a city-wide disaster response plan that will be strictly implemented as necessary. Such disaster plan must be disseminated well, supported by an education campaign so that everyone understands what to do, who to see and where to go during emergency events. Education campaigns must comprise of conducting “drills” for typhoons, earthquakes, etc., education sessions down to the barangay level, and other communication activities.

8. Rebuilding assistance of various organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, Gawad Kalinga, and the like must be coordinated with the LGU so that their construction projects will be in compliance with the urban plan that the city has formulated.

So our winner is the boomerang kid. Congratulations, you receive a Php5,000 voucher from Tigerair Philippines that you can exchange for a round-trip ticket to any of their domestic destinations. We’ll email you instructions for collecting your prize.

The next Tiger Test will be posted on Friday. Join our Tiger Test to win free tickets to Tigerair destinations.

This contest is sponsored by Tigerair Philippines. To find out more about Tigerair deals and promos, follow TigerAir Philippines on Facebook and Twitter.

Medecins Sans Frontieres volunteer notes how the people of Tacloban are taking back their city

December 04, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events No Comments →

Setting up the inflatable hospital at Bethany Hospital, Tacloban. © Yann Libessart/MSF

Two weeks on, the drowned of Tacloban have almost all been buried. Streets are usable and busy. People visit food distribution centres as if they were on a shopping trip, selecting only what they need. The water system is functioning again – whereas it still doesn’t in Port-au-Prince, where cholera still has devastating effects. Shops have re-opened. ATMs spit out cash. Prostitution is back.- Yann Libessart, Medecins Sans Frontieres

Read Haiti and the Philippines: Indecent Comparisons at

Things We Learned From The Storm

November 28, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events 2 Comments →

1. Elect the officials who can keep you alive.

Philippine life makes so much more sense to us in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda. Elections really are a matter of life and death, and not just because the goons of the opposing parties are shooting at each other. Your choice of local government officials can literally keep you alive.

In this new era of catastrophic weather events, we need leaders who can save lives at the most basic level. Don’t judge candidates by their grand promises, their confident attitude, or their looks. Don’t choose them because one of their ancestors paid for the funeral of one of yours. Don’t choose them for their family names—after Yolanda, we should be especially wary of electing people just because we recognize their names. Don’t pick them for their showbiz connections or the hotness of their spouses. Judge them according to their ability to preserve your life and limb.

Here’s a slogan: Buhay muna bago kabuhayan. (Aanhin mo ang kabuhayan kung patay ka na?)

Read our column at

Tiger Test: How do you rebuild a city obliterated by Typhoon Yolanda?

November 20, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Contest, Current Events 13 Comments →


Rescue and recovery operations in the areas obliterated by Typhoon Yolanda are well underway. Donations have been pouring in from local and foreign sources. The residents of Tacloban, Guiuan, the stricken areas, have started picking up the pieces, literally. It’s time to give serious thought to the task of rebuilding.

The task is huge. It seems insurmountable. It will take years and years. It must be done.

How do we rebuild a devastated city and make it better? Send us your brightest ideas. We’d like some practical, workable solutions, but we’re never averse to far-out schemes from the science-fiction universe. Post your answers in Comments.

Our judges will select the brightest idea, and its sender will receive a Tigerair gift voucher worth Php5,000, good for a round-trip ticket to any Tigerair Philippines domestic destination. Tigerair flies out of NAIA 4 to Bacolod, Cebu, Iloilo, Boracay (Kalibo with transfer to Caticlan), Puerto Princesa and Tacloban.

Post your bright ideas in Comments. We’re accepting entries till 30 November 2013.

This contest is sponsored by Tigerair Philippines. To find out more about Tigerair deals and promos, follow TigerAir Philippines on Facebook and Twitter.

Here Lies Love: David Byrne’s Concert for the Philippines

November 20, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, Music No Comments →


From David Byrne’s e-newsletter. Send it out to your friends in New York.

About a week ago, on November 7th (NYC time), Super Typhoon Yolanda (as Typhoon Haiyan is known in the Philippines) made landfall. It was the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall on record. Ever. The full extent of damage and the death toll have yet to be assessed, but it’s unimaginably catastrophic. The city of Tacloban on the island of Leyte has been almost wiped off the face of the earth. No place could have withstood this storm.

This past spring and summer, a musical I had been working on for years called Here Lies Love ran at The Public Theater here in NY. It takes place in the Philippines, and it follows the rise and fall of Imelda Marcos, the former first lady of the Philippines. The first song sung by Imelda begins with the words “When I was a young girl in Leyte.” The show is about the resiliency of the Philippine people—that sentiment couldn’t be more timely.

Upon hearing about this tragedy, the cast contacted me about doing a show to raise money for relief efforts. Most of our cast is Filipino, and all of us feel the same way. It’s personal for all of us. We all dropped whatever we were doing and this concert version of the show will happen in one week—Monday, November 25th, 8PM, at Terminal 5 here in New York.

You can get tickets here. All proceeds will go to recovery efforts that Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières are doing in the Philippines.

We’ll be doing a concert version of the show—this won’t be the same immersive, interactive experience as the theatrical version. But we’ll do EVERY song, in order, with the original cast and costumes—plus I’ll be helping out and singing as well. The show is wall-to-wall songs. If you didn’t see or hear the production, now is your chance to hear it and at the same time to do something for the survivors in the Philippines. Wear comfortable shoes!

We’ve pulled this together incredibly quickly. Thanks, of course, to the cast and crew, The Public Theater, Bowery Presents (who have graciously donated this venue), Todomundo and The Philippine Embassy.

- David Byrne

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Our review of the album Here Lies Love, from 2010.

A relief center volunteer’s report: Operation Hatid at Villamor Airbase

November 19, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Announcements, Current Events 3 Comments →

A typhoon Haiyan survivor arrives on a C-130 aircraft at Villamor Airbase. Photo from

Our friend Tina was at the Villamor airbase relief center from 1 to 6pm last Sunday. She sent us her report.

Organized volunteers are accepting relief goods, sorting, packing. Food is provided for all, including the volunteers. The place is orderly and calm despite this being a constantly morphing effort coordinated by total strangers, the Philippine military, and the Department of Social Welfare. Clothes, soap, water, food items are sorted. Volunteers fret that more people don’t give tabo, the staple of Pinoy survival in emergencies.

Across the tarmac, Yolanda refugees disembark from the C-130—old people in wheelchairs, little children hopping off. Soldiers help them with their baggage. The volunteers wait in the Villamor grandstand, straining and quiet. As the refugees approach the gauntlet of waiting “marshals” (also called usherettes—the grandstand is a sort of theater) a cheer arises and people applaud.

The refugees are given a hot meal first, then debriefed and given medical attention, free calls on Smart, aid packages. They’re asked if they have someone coming for them, or if they need transport. The process takes about an hour. Outside, in the parking lot, volunteer dispatchers (known only by their first names—one gets the impression that some of them are lawyers, one reluctantly admits she works for a multinational) announce those who would need rides.

“O, sino diyan ang puwedeng maghatid ng apat sa Imus, Cavite?”

“Special passenger, buntis na kailangang ihatid sa Fabella.”

“Tatlo lang, pero yung isa naka-wheelchair, papuntang Batasan Hills.”

The rule: You have to bring people to their relatives. If no relatives are waiting, you bring them back and turn them over to DSWD. (The lawyers are adamant about this.)

It’s brisk like an auction, with volunteer drivers holding up numbers they’d been given as they arrived. Priority is given to the lowest number, as it means the driver has been waiting the longest. “O, 63, wala bang mas mababa? Okay, yan, 45, awarded!” Palakpakan at tawanan. Parang bingo.

One driver has made three round-trips to Batangas in three days. One arrival needs to get to Baguio. Silence falls, then a driver says, “Sige, ihatid ko sila nang balikan.” The other drivers pitch in for gas. I estimate that at least 250 arrivals will have been dispatched by 8 p.m. “Dito lang ho sa Pilipinas nagkukumpitensya para makatulong.” One Chinese Pinoy takes 14 people off in the family van.

Flights (plane, helicopter, PH, US) are scheduled every three hours or so but are often delayed, but unscheduled flights show up out of nowhere. This being the Philipppines, dispatchers joke with the crowd in the lull between flights. “Yung U.S. plane, 100 passengers, pero Pinoy plane, 200! Siksikan, nakasabit sa wing!” Tawanan.

Refugees are already matched by the time they get to the tent, where they wait a bit—refugees on one side, drivers on the other, like boys and girls at a high school dance. Volunteers ebb and flow, so people can call to schedule their assignments for the next two to three weeks—especially for graveyard shifts, as the planes arrive well into the night.

The refugees look sun- and wind-burned. Exhausted. But some are smiling. A little boy, maybe 18 months, his feet totally black and cracked, wriggles on a chair. Dispatchers say not to pressure them with too many questions, to treat them gently. “Help make this the best day of their lives.” Some look middle class, but some of them have never even ridden a jeep in their lives, the dispatcher says. Most had lined up in Tacloban for three to five days to get on a flight.

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To register as a volunteer, visit Operation Hatid on Facebook.