Monday, November 18, 2013

Images From Tacloban

I might give him a lot of shit to keep him humble, but my husband is a true hero. I'm so proud of the work he, Embassy Manila, and the world's best military are doing to support the Filipino people.

 The only flights going in and out are on US military transport

 Supplies being airlifted in by the US military

 Aerial view of the devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda

 Many of the bodies washed up on the shore are from neighboring islands, which have few to no survivors

 Husband said the destruction was like something out of the Bible. He said he'd never seen anything like it.

Body parts, car parts, house parts, just…parts. Strewn everywhere.

 People are making the trek to the airport from the entire island for food and water as there are no supplies in the surrounding countryside except what we are able to airlift in.

 But we're getting those much needed supplies out as fast as we can.

 Mostly water and rice.

 Supplies are taken around the island via US military helicopters.

People would die from dehydration and starvation without these supplies. 

Husband looking heroic.

A nice shot for USAID.

The flight back looks a whole lot different than the flight up. The US military takes back American Citizens first, but then they fill their flights with others who need to be evacuated.

To Villamor AB in Manila. Hopefully they will be able to return to their homes someday.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Effects of Yolanda

Sorry I continue to be so far behind in posting. There are so many trips to post pictures of, but we lacked internet for the last 6 days (not because of Yolanda but because, well, it's the Philippines). Our lives at the Embassy continue to be dominated by efforts to help the victims of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). I think these pictures say it best. We are lucky to have been able to see Malapascua and Bohol* before they were destroyed. Bohol was not hit so hard, but Malapascua was basically completely wiped out. It is truly, truly devastating. Husband is part of the American Citizen Services section and will be heading down to Tacloban next week as part of a rotating team that's being dispatched to search for and assist affected Americans in the area. There are no standing structures, running water, or power, so the teams have to fly in early in the morning and come back late at night. There is also nowhere to land, except for the strip that our military restored, and no roads that are passable so they have to take a variety of transportation methods to do their work. It is a long and exhausting day for these unsung heroes, so I hope you'll all help spread the word about the awesome work our Consular people do in helping American citizens affected by disasters abroad. We really do our best to help everyone we can.

While the situation is improving, it will be a long, long time before any sense of normalcy can be felt in this area of the Philippines. If you would like to donate to victims of the typhoon, please consider donating cash to some of the large international relief organizations. Large international aid organizations know what to do in terms of spending your donations wisely in ways that will actually be helpful to victims of the typhoon.

*I will post those pictures soon!

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Marine Corps Ball

First time I've ever gotten to go to a military function and not had to wear a uniform, and of course I'm mega-pregnant! We still had a blast. Happy birthday, Marines!

Thursday, November 07, 2013

One More For the Road

Cause Manila ain't through with us yet!

Saturday, November 02, 2013

I Am the Worst Photographer

Since our adult Halloween party fell on the same day as the CLO's kids Halloween party this year, Husband and I split up to accomplish both party preparations and trick-or-treating. I forgot the camera, so I had to use my phone to take pictures of the kids, but, honestly, I don't think the medium much matters. I am the worst photographer ever. This is not unusual considering my complete lack of artistic ability. It is incomprehensible to me considering that the art gene runs pretty strong in my family. My mother is very arts and craft-y and is an excellent photographer in her own right. My older sister spent her whole life devoted to music and theater, including a 4-yr stint at a school for the arts and a major in musical theatre. My younger sister is a visual artist and graduated with a degree in art (before she realized that being a starving artist is way less fun in practice than when romanticized and returned to school to get her MBA, lol!). My oldest daughter is in the school choir and loves to sing, and my middle daughter has my mother's artistic touch. J is taking two art classes this year on top of her girl scout crafts. She can't get enough of being creative. And then there's me.... Just to give you a taste - here are the best of the pictures I captured this year:

The kids were Pocohontas and a ghost buster, btw. C deemed the CLO party "too babyish" this year. She did not dress up but instead went out with some friends to a movie and then had a sleepover. I imagine if we were in the US and it was more of a festive atmosphere she would have had a different reaction, but she seemed happy with her evening. Anyway, just as a comparison, here's a quick photo snapped by my friend W at the same event:

Depressingly different! At least Husband seems to do a pretty good job at documenting most of our adventures, so the kids aren't doomed to a lifetime of terrible childhood photos.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Travel Back-Post: Cebu Shangri La

Sooo behind on posting these things. I really like to post all our travels because this blog acts as a memory album for me (and our family) in many ways. I've been keeping it so long now, it astonishes me the things I've forgotten in just a few years, and it's nice to have a little pictorial memory of all the cool things we've done as a family. Plus the kids love looking back at old photos of themselves. It amazes me the memories that these pictures jog for them - always so different from my own. :) Anyway, about a month ago we spent a too-short weekend at the Shangri La Hotel in Cebu with our friend I&S and their kids. This was a total resort vacay, as in we did not leave the grounds of the resort once. I&S had been there before and described it to us as "little kid paradise," and they were not kidding! There are several pools including one large and several small water slides, a water play area for the smaller crew, a private beach area where you can snorkel, kayak, and do other water activities, and a mini golf course. And that's just the outdoor activities! The indoor playground area was also super cool. They had these crazy slides, one of which included a death defying drop that required the kids to put on a boxing-like helmet in order to ride. The kids were all too nervous to give it a try until I noticed that A (natch) was missing. Next thing I knew, I heard a loud shriek of joy followed by, "That was awesome!!!!!" Then it was impossible to pry him away. After that the ice was broken and all the kids followed suit (well, to be fair, J only went once and that was because Husband went with her - a daredevil she is not!). Watching I, a 6-foot something, 200lb+ man go down after A's teeny 35lb butt was pretty hilarious, though. The slide ends in a ball pit to slow your velocity. A's plunge into the pit had me worried that he'd been swallowed up. I's plunge cause balls to flip out the pit so hard they came raining down on our heads. Truly one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

The Shang really was a great vacation for the kids (and for us), but it was very, very pricey. We only went for one night (flew in very early on a Saturday morning and flew out at 10:30pm on Sunday night) and yet it cost as much as our last 3-day/2-night vacation to Bohol (which I will blog about soon, promise!). The food was good, definitely Western quality, but you paid for it. The buffet dinner was about $100 (yes, dollars)/pp. Kids ate free, which was nice, but it was still a cost of $300 for all of us to eat + alcohol. Childcare, water gear, and other extras were also an additional cost. For the Philippines I found this to be a little excessive in terms of pricing. We've stayed at tons of Western-style, very nice resorts here without being priced out in this manner. But, the resort was packed, so they're clearly not concerned. I will say that about 80-90% of their customers were non-Filipino, which may either be indicative of their pricing or the reason for it. Anyway, it was worth it for the time we spent there, but I don't think it's a place I would go back to. There's too many other nice places to go that are far more affordable.