Filipina with Santa in Cebu Philippines

Santa Claus is real and I’ve met him and even severed as one of his elves this year while in Cebu City. For a the first few days that I was in Cebu City, I often saw this eccentric looking guy walking around in the Colon and Palez Streets area. I thought to myself, great! He looks more like Santa than I do. Maybe people will stop calling me Santa Claus. They have in fact stopped calling me Santa Claus because now they’ve seen the real one. I got to know him and he’s just an awesome guy. His alias is Roy Shackelford but he rarely uses this. It is fun to hear him use the hotel lobby phone and say “Hello, this is Santa calling.”  Santa Clause is in the Philippines spreading love and good cheer to those in need. Let me tell you what I know about Santa.

Santa has been distributing joy and gifts in the Philippines for the last six years. He visits pockets of poverty in the Cebu and other areas of the Philippines. Early this week he also went to Negros Occidental to visit with people in need on that island. I’ve had the joy of going with him on two of his outings. One of the places I joined Santa was a squatters area in Mandaue City, a suburb of Cebu City. You can’t really determine where Cebu City starts and Mandaue City starts. In Mandaue we went to Sitio Aroma which is found in Barangay Subangdako.

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Mother in Homless Shelter

Can you help Jessamie and her family gets back to her home in Samar? She lives at what is considered ground zero for Typhoon Haiyan also known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines. Her town, Guian, in Samar was the place where Haiyan first made landfall. Her home was completely destroyed. I met her and her family at an evacuation center in the heart of Cebu City.

Her husband was a nurse before the storm hit. I don’t think the hospital is still standing in their city. Very little was left there and I saw the mayor of the city say “I don’t know where to start” when he was referring to providing assistance and rebuilding. I have little down that community will be rebuilt though.

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Cebu City Streets are full of People with Character

Working Girl on Streets of Cebu City

Character comes in all kinds and its not always good. The streets of Cebu City provide an intriguing mix of the upper class, middle class and some with no class at all. I have been living in Bogo City in northern Cebu Province since May of 2008. I don’t come to the city all that often as it greatly increases my cost of living. When I do come, I enjoy most of the people on the streets. Cebu City streets are filled with people of all kinds of character and some of the most interesting is where you least expect it.

The only groups I don’t enjoy are the professional beggars. Now I know some are in bad need of help and I’d love to be able to help them. I usually don’t help the professionals. They tend to be a bit demanding and sometimes downright rude. I think part of their strategy is to irritate a person into giving. That’s a bad strategy to use on me.

The first time I was approached by one it was in Talisay, a suburb of Metro Cebu City. I had only been here a few days. It was a boy approaching his teenage years. I had no idea what I was giving him when I reached into my pocket to give him a coin. I picked the big one, thought it would be worth more. I later learned that I had given him one centavo which is rarely even used now. I had no idea how small of an amount it was.

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Am I Going to Disappear when I Return to Bogo City?

Sexy Filipina in Bogo City

The electricity is back on in Bogo City but Typhoon Haiyan has knocked out cable TV forever and it may be months before Internet coverage is restored.

Last night, I realized that I will have to return to Bogo City within a couple of weeks. I should probably do it now as my cost of living is too high at the moment. The electricity is on at my home again so I will have air conditioning. So what’s the problem? There is no sign of my Internet being restored any time soon. This is a distressing thought for me. I’d rather not think about it at all as its depressing.

The good news is that electricity has been resorted to large parts of Bogo City. The lights came on at my house late last week. They have been reliably on as well. The predicted frequent “brownouts” have not been seen. In the Philippines, when they say brownout, what they really mean is blackout. Its not a drop in power, those are called fluctuations. Brownouts in the Philippines are blackouts in the USA.

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Homeless Filipino in Cebu City

As most of you know, I gave up on staying in Bogo City soon after Typhoon Haiyan made landfall there. My memory from that time isn’t good. I remember feeling dazed after the storm but I don’t really understand that. I wasn’t aware of being afraid except for one brief time. I slept in Bogo City two nights after the storm. The second night was so horribly hot that I was gone before the sun set again.

I didn’t know how long I could stay in the City but at the time my goal was to stay two months. Only problem is I didn’t have the money for that. It looks like I will be here for about five weeks. I have paid for a room in a pension house and I think I have a bit more than two weeks left on that. Maybe a little longer I am not sure, The only way I’ve been able to do this is because of the generosity of eight people that have helped me out. I’m not going to mention them by name.

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Please Support This Haiyan Telethon on Google Plus

Support Haiyan Victimes

There is a Google Plus telephone going on this week to help the of Typhoon Haiyan. They are doing thirty minute broadcast each day this week. Today is the final day. The main goal is to raise money for the many Haiyan refugees. Now these are all my terms for what is going on. It is officially called “Let them find the smile again!”
I love the name but Filipinos never quite smiling. The people of the Philippines are amazing in that no matter what life throws at them, they keep smiling, they remain happy. Sure they have their moments of grief and you’ve probably seen it on YouTube but most Filipinos have their moment of grief and then move right on with that is happening right now.
They are not trying to raise boat loads of cash. They are trying to raise $2000 but I want to see them get a g

ood deal more than that. I’m not asking you to contribute a dime though. All I want you to do is get on Google plus and talk about it. Share this even on Google Plus, Twitter, and Facebook.

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Taken in Tacloban a Victim of Typhoon Haiyan

Some personal stories of the tragedy of those taken in Tacloban. Typhoon Haiyan took the lives of four my partners family and her ancestral home.

You may know by now that Jessie, my partner, is from Tacloban. She lived her entire life there until she was 28 years old. She knows many people in Tacloban including her family. She lost four family members during the landfall of Super Typhoon Yolanda also known as Haiyan in most of the world. The home she lived in for several years was destroyed. She still had many personal items there and they are all gone. She’s commented several times about loosing her books. We talked about all the old things that where there and that are now gone. I have pictures of much of it and stories of the lost.

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Filipinos Dealing with the Aftermath of Haiyan

Typhoon Haiyan Damage in Bogo City Cebu

I have seen some rare displays of grief by Filipinos on CNN over the last couple of weeks. A son telling his mother that his family is gone has stuck with me the most. However, if you know anything about Filipinos you know they will look for a way to be happy. Its really a smart way to live one’s life. Its not an effort for Filipinos its just built into Filipino culture for most. I’ve also seen CNN commenters note that a group of homeless Filipinos were sitting under a tarpoleon and laughing. Jessie showed a little grief too. She lost four family members, some of whom she use to live with. Filipinos are amazingly strong but there is a lot of hardship here and more that you may know.

Distribution of aid to those that need it remains the big story as far as those that survived Typhoon Haiyan. Sometimes political infighting seems to play a role in this. In the Bogo City area this seems to be going on.

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An Expat Deals with Typhoon Haiyan’s Aftermath

Dealing with Haiyan's Aftermath

It is now a week after Typhoon Yolanda, internationally named Haiyan, smashed into the friendly and small country town of Bogo City in the northern province of Cebu. I will share what my story has been like.

I think I should, as briefly as possible, set the stage a little, I’m not wealthy. I do okay here but each month is generally a bit of a struggle when it comes to cash. That has become worse over the last 18 months for a couple of reasons. I’ll talk about it, I’m not whining, people need to know what their expat life may be like. Many of the expats living in the Philippines are going through much the same thing and some are doing worse.

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Yolanda brings Devastation to Cebu Philippines

I woke up about 6 am as the electricity went out. We knew that the day would be different than most as we had already made preparations for the approach of Super Typhoon Haiyan also known as Yolanda in the Philippines.was November 8th, 2013 and the lights went out  Soon, we would be in the eye of a monster.

I have been living in Cebu for almost six years now and most of it has been in Bogo City. Things didn’t look good. The projected path for the eye of the storm was just off the tip of northern Cebu. The actual path was even worse for us.

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