Flying over Palawan is how I imagine all of the Philippines used to look - rolling forests (hardly any plantations), reefs, mangroves. And even that is a shifted baseline.
This is what winter looks like in the Philippines.
(When it’s not raining, which is also a lot).
Perks of the constant-state-of-packing-and-unpacking: I’m falling in love with one Filipino destination at a time.
As always the Internet is the most basic of basic and I’m lucky if Tumblr even loads!
I’ll be back to answer your questions when we get into a bit more of a routine. For now, despite Internet frustrations, I’m enjoying a beautiful breakfast view!
Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms ever seen, hit the Philippines with record force
MAAMB: This typhoon broke the scale. Pak!
The storm (known as Yolanda in the Philippines) has officially maxed out the Dvorak scale, which is used to measure strong strength using satellites. That means Haiyan has approached the theoretical maximum intensity for any storm, anywhere. From the latest NOAA bulletin:
DVORAK TECHNIQUE MAKES NO ALLOWANCE FOR AN EYE EMBEDDED SO DEEPLY IN CLOUD TOPS AS COLD [AS THIS]
Put another way, the most commonly used satellite-based intensity scale just wasn’t designed to handle a storm this strong. At its peak, one real-time estimate of the storm’s intensity actually ticked slightly above the maximum to 8.1 on an 8.0 scale. This meteorologist, for one, has never seen that before.
It’s nearly inconceivable that any weather station would survive such conditions for very long to verify, so we may never know exactly how strong this storm was. There have only been a handful of storms anywhere on Earth (pdf) that have reached this estimated intensity—and only three since 1969. Such strong storms usually remain out at sea where wind speed verification is impossible without aircraft.
MAAMB: Already battering the south, it’s eerily calm where I am. We’re expecting it to kick off for us this evening. They’ll cut the power later, and I’ve got posts in the queue and food, water and a sturdy house which is more than I can say for so many Filipinos.
Preparations have been going on for days, but the humanitarian and environmental disaster of this storm is, for me right now, inconceivable. The news is already brimming with images of disaster and flooding in the islands at the frontline. With the human suffering comes damage to coastal ecosystems which this country heavily relies on, and to add insult to injury, an untold amount of trash and debris will be washed out to sea.
One of the islands closest to my heart, Malapascua, home of the diving industry centred around Thresher Sharks was hit early this morning. Reports of 7m storm surges are flying around the internet. I can’t even comprehend the damage to that tiny island, where people will definitely be stuck since storm warnings have cancelled boats.
We’re going to need your help after this, of that I have no doubt.
I would like to invite any climate change deniers to come join us here in the Philippines for the next 24 hours.
Thank you all for your well-wishes, but I’m sure I’ll be fine. I’m not on the direct path of the storm. Send your thoughts to those who aren’t so fortunate, and after the storm, send them your food/medicine/money/clothes.
I think the correct term for this is “Oh Shit”
I can totally handle a Category 5 Super Typhoon on my own right?
Well, the local boys are still playing basketball, but I did see a man bring in his goats.
As the skies darken and the rain starts, I feel incredibly lucky to be in sturdy accommodation. My thoughts are will all of those who have been evacuated and those who have to weather this monstrosity in less-than-secure housing. As if poverty isn’t enough of a hard life, those with less in life are always hit the hardest.
Stay safe Philippines. Remember:
Who Will Win Control of the South China Sea?
This is the best article I’ve read all year.
The dispute between China and the Philippines about Scarborough Shoal made headlines last year, but the issue of multiple nations claiming the shoal, and the nearby Spratly islands has since dropped out of the public eye.
This article takes you right into the frontline, which is probably the most unique situation in which people are protecting national sovereignty, from a beached, rusting, pot-holed old US navy ship.
It’s a complex situation, but the article does an amazing job of taking you through it step by step.
Topic of the day : Earthquakes
My alarm clock this morning was a 7.2 magnitude earthquake from a neighbouring island (Bohol). There have been loads of aftershocks, reports reaching over 100, some big, some small.
There’s been lots of fatalities and damage to some of the country’s oldest buildings, beautiful aging spanish churches.
Everyone’s fine at my house, but we did differ in our reactions. Some stood in doorways, some rushed into the garden…and we seem to be swapping in the aftershocks, which begs the question: what are you supposed to do in an earthquake?
This local blog post has a really interesting infographic, and some photos from today’s event.
I post this because earthquakes of this size aren’t all that common here and a lot of us are disaster unprepared. Might as well have the latest advice in your head when that unexpected fight or flight kicks in.
In 2011, I had a dream to start a community-based, multi-stakeholder project in Malapascua Island, Cebu. The dive site called Monad Shoal, about 30 minutes away from Malapascua, is the only place in the world where thresher sharks can be seen almost everyday because of their unique…
Anna has been my friend and (f)inspiration and it’s been amazing to see, first-hand, the progress that the project is making. It was an idea, now it’s shaping towards a reality.
Follow through on your ideas…you never know where you’ll end up!
Sorry I haven’t been posting much original material lately… my time has been enveloped by Zoox and Green Fins work (as jobs tend to do) over the last few months, and as always it has been incredibly rewarding.
A highlight was a project of one the Zoox volunteers who managed to pull together a week of clean ups around various dive sites and beaches around Puerto Galera, Philippines.
In total, 205 people participated over the week, and we managed to collect a whopping 953.5 kg of rubbish and throw in a whole load of local community awareness about marine debris.
Organizing a clean up is much more than meets the eye, especially if you want to count what you have collected, or are trying to organize various people or town garbage trucks to meet you at a certain time. But it doesn’t have to be a big event. Take a picnic at a beach with friends, and after you clean up your mess, go and pick up the rest and see what the weirdest thing you can find is.
On one dive this week, I found everything I would need for for my own picnic including a rug, umbrella, crockery, cutlery and beer (a bit salty but so was the rest!). It’s unbelievable what finds it’s way into the ocean, but when you are faced with the reality of it being right there in front of you, it helps reinforce actions when you are dry again.
It’s thought that 80% of the trash in the ocean comes from land. And that’s not just beach-side communities, thats you and me, and family and friends. Let’s start there, with what we can easily change, and hopefully we can inspire others to start making a difference too.