By Cheryl Ravelo
Two years after the devastating typhoon Ketsana hit Manila on September 26, followed by Typhoon Parma a week later, I thought this year would just be to commemorate the tragedy of those twin typhoons whose magnitude of destruction was historic for this country. But, I never knew we would relive it again, and this time with much greater damage brought by Typhoons Nesat and Nalgae.
When I went out to cover Nesat, I said to myself it’s just another typhoon, got some pictures of school cancellations, knee-deep flooding and villagers pre-emptively evacuating with their families, belongings and pets.
It was a hot and humid Wednesday morning when I finally received much sought after permission to document childbirth at the government-run Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital.
I suited up with excitement. I put on a hospital gown together with a mask and cap that I bought inside the hospital. I entered a two-door room filled with doctors and nurses. I walked around and found the labor room on the left side. It had six beds but all were occupied. There was a patient on the first bed who was uneasy, fear flashed in her eyes. Medical staff stood next to the bed to counsel her. Next to her was a doctor conducting an internal exam on a mother, I could see her pain while waiting to be fully dilated. In no time they transferred her into the delivery room.
Tons of garbage floated alongside debris of charred wood. Residents hurried about, trying to save whatever belongings they could. There were no flash floods, but I was wading through knee-deep flood waters to cover the aftermath of a fire in Manila’s equivalent of Venice.
A fire broke out at night in one of Manila’s most densely populated cities, Malabon City, known for its year-long floods due to the coastal city’s gradual sinking. When the smoke cleared at dawn the next morning, an estimated 300 houses were burned to the ground.
By Cheryl Ravelo
One year ago, my country was in mourning when former President Corazon Aquino died. Cory, as she is known, is revered as the mother of Philippine democracy because of her role in the overthrow of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.
Today, I’m at Mass in the same school gymnasium where her body was laid for the public to pay their last respects. I’m with the same media people who covered the week-long mourning period and funeral. I’m photographing the same Aquino family, whom some call the Philippines’ Kennedys. There’s a crowd of supporters, gleaming in the yellow shirts and ribbons that were Cory’s trademark.