Saturday, August 25, 2012


    In our efforts to help in Humanitarian initiatives, there is an additional initiative that is added in some parts of the world. That initiative is vaccinations. There are many diseases in the world that are now being controlled due the effort of many countries under the direction of the World Health Organization (WHO). One of these diseases being controlled in this part of the world is polio. Many of the PWDs that we fit with wheelchairs are polio victims,
   Such efforts help the world to be a better place to live. One of the advantages of WHO is that they work with a common denominator in all countries, Disease. That is a reality that politics can't brush aside.

We had been invited to this regional meeting because we had been contributors in the past.
The meetings were held at the WHO Headquarters in Manila. This picture shows part of  the campus of WHO and shows the building that contains the assembly hall.
The majority of the presentations and general discussions took place in this assembly hall.
We were also involved in a breakout meeting that had to do with funding and priority of projects.
   In attendance at that regional meeting were representatives from Australia, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, India, and China. We also had representatives from UNICEF, UNESCO, and the United States Centers for Disease Control. Others in attendance were Global WHO members from Geneva, UNICEF from Brazil, and other leaders from Europe. These attendees were generally the leaders of National Institutes of Health from their respective countries. I am sure I have missed someone, but it was like seeing Rock Stars in the health care field worldwide.
Some of the objectives of the meeting involved vaccination manufacturing, cold chain distribution, vaccine affordability, volunteer and health care worker training and new vaccines.
During one of the breaks, I introduced myself to Dr. Shafiqul Hossain. He is a member of the WHO Western Pacific Region representing India. He gave a presentation of cold chain distribution and the problems he faced with distribution of vaccines in his area of the world. In our discussion, I mentioned options that might be viable from my past experience in US drug distribution. We exchanged personal information so that we could continue productive communication in the future. He and I were excited at the possibilities.  This new avenue of approach could also give the church a more active role in the vaccine initiative.
Let's see what happens.


   If possible, we try and see historical sites if we are able. On our trip to see flooded areas in Tarloc, we were close to a memorial for the preservation of history of the World War II Death March in Capas, Bataan.
   The memorial honors more than 30,000 Filipino Soldiers and 2500 American Soldiers that lost their lives in a brutal march of about 70 miles to the Province of Bataan.
   After a 3-month long battle in western Luzon in January to April 1942, the American and Philippine armies were without food, water and ammunition. General MacArthur had returned to Australia and turned control of the Philippines over to General Wainwright. His lead in the Luzon Forces was General Edward King. Without knowledge given to General Wainwright, General King surrendered to the Imperial Japanese Army. What ensued was a brutal and deadly march to a prison camp to the north in the Bataan province.
   Part of the march included soldiers being placed in cattle cars for the last part of the trip. Cars that may hold 50 soldiers were loaded with 100 to 150 men. Many deaths occurred due to suffocation or even being trampled if they fell.
   Even after arriving at the camp thousands more died. Of the estimated 72,000 men taken prisoner, upon liberation only 4000 were alive.

This is the scene as we entered the memorial. The 'no entry' is for automobiles, foot traffic is allowed here. There are actually 2 memorials in this area for the death march, this is the newest one.
This is a separate memorial for the Americans. 2500 names are engraved on the walls that form this remembrance.
This cross is a replica of one that was made and hidden in the prison camp. It's existence gave the prisoners hope. It was hidden from the guards. If it would have been discovered, many men would have been killed.
This is the main memorial that recognizes the Filipinos that were lost in this terrible event. Over 30,000 soldiers from the Philippine Army and Philippine Scouts were lost here.
The main structure rises over 200 ft and is made of black cement.
Etched in the surrounding wall of the tower are names of the Filipinos that lost their lives. There is really only one reason that these memorials stand in my opinion. The hope that these atrocities will never be repeated.
I have included a link in the next part of our blog of the death march. It would be something that children should not read.



    If you don't know I like cars, you don't know me.

   I have seen some amazing vehicles here that I haven't even seen in the US. Unfortunately, I rarely have a camera ready when I see one. However, we stopped for gas the other day and saw some beauties.
   Pictured above are two Lamborghini Gallardos and a Porche Carrara S. There are a lot of Mercedes and BMWs here, as well as other expensive lines. I have even seen Ferraris and a McLaren. Nice!!!
   One question - With all the small roads and slow traffic, where do you let them loose?


   More requests are coming into the Philippine Area Office for food and other supplies. We are also putting together hygiene kits, baby kits, sleeping kits and if needed, cleaning kits.
   The hygiene kits consist of alcohol for disinfecting, tooth paste, tooth brushes, bath soap, bar soap for laundry and toilet paper. After safety and food, this is the next requested need. I can't even imagine how grimy I would feel dealing with the muck for a week. Give me a shower!
   The sleeping kits consist of mat and blanket. The baby kit are made up of diapers and wipes. And as they return to their homes, cleaning kits. These are made up of bleach, rubber gloves, powered soap, and scrub brushes. As I mentioned before, the needs change on a daily basis.

The second round of packing took place on Monday August 20th. It has been declared a Holiday by the President of the Philippines. It is also a national holiday on Tuesday, so if we don't get the packing done on Monday, we have Tuesday to finish it up. We again called for volunteers and hoped to get 200 to do the work. It's a holiday, so we are not sure how the response will be. Our projected start time is 8am. By 7:15am they are starting to show up. By 8:30am we have well over 300 and still coming. To accommodate the numbers, we just assign every original job to 2 people or even 3 as the numbers grow.
We are packing both food and hygiene kits today and hoped to get a majority done by 4pm. The volunteers just kept coming and except for some cleanup and missing product, we completed the work by 11am.
More food kits were produced this day as well as equal amount of hygiene kits. I have to marvel at the willingness of the volunteers. Many more volunteers showed up in the afternoon even though the work was done. We guess we had over 600 volunteers respond for our request for help.
Even the smallest of children want to help. This little boy was taking the empty food boxes to a place to be broken down by the older children.

Friday, August 24, 2012


   No matter how hard we try, sometimes the information just doesn't seem accurate. This especially occurs when we gather information from areas we have not worked with before.
  We received information of need from several barangays to the north of Manila. We couldn't verify the needs, so it's road trip time to the Tarloc area. Ground truthing is going out and verifying for ourselves what is happening without the biased information we sometimes get.

As compared to last week when we passed through, the waters had gone down a lot.
However, the longer the water stays high, the more likely it is to damage the rice crops.
These rice fields are gone and will need to be planted again. Fortunately, there is enough time to plant and harvest a crop before the dry season starts in January. Rice take 90 to 120 days to mature from the time of planting.
When rice is harvested, it needs to be dried. This farmer will be able to get 2 crops this season because he was able to plant early. Here is the concrete road where a farmer has the rice all spread out to dry. Clayton, they even use the outside basketball courts. 'Time Out'  'til the rice dries!!


   The most important immediate need when a disaster hits is relocation and safety. In most areas there is an evacuation center. In many cases that center is an LDS Chapel.  People swarm to those locations as their homes are flooded or destroyed.
   As soon as safety is accomplished, food and water become the next priority. We have two lines of response to help those in need. One line of response is orchestrated through the Priesthood. This involves coordination from Bishops and Branch Presidents to Stake and District Presidents up to the area offices where we are located. Priesthood leaders are given resources to help the members.
  The second line of response is through Humanitarian Services of the church. We are under the direction of the Area Welfare Services and respond to the community and non-member needs. We have and are continuing to enlarge a network of sources that can give us accurate and dependable information on where and what the needs are. And those needs change daily as the calamity progresses. As needs are assessed, a plan of action is developed that generally includes food.
  This is the first of two large repacking events thus far during this calamity.

We sent out a call for volunteers. This was my first experience in the repacking event and was hopeful that we would get enough help to get the work done. We thought if we could get 150, we would be able to complete the work in one day. They started to show up early, and at one point I counted 230. But that number continually changed as people had to leave and others showed up. I learned a great lesson that day. The members don't have much, but they can give of their time to serve others.
It really looks chaotic, but they are getting it done. A wave of yellow 'Helping Hands' vests that is as beautiful as any seascape.
The packing involves breaking down 50 kilo rice bags into 3 kilo amounts to put in a food kit. We also add 6 cans of sardines, 4 cans of corned beef and 6 packages of noodles. This should help a family of 4 for 3 days or more. These kits are put back into empty rice bags and stacked for shipment.
We packaged thousands of kits that day. Bring on the trucks. We need to get it to the people in need.
No event is done until we can take the pictures. Lasting memories of time spent together in helping others. Even the youngest children fell the fun, excitement and joy of serving.


   It seems it had been raining for weeks. The accumulation was well over 500 mm of rain (25 mm to one inch) in a heavy period of 5 days. With all of the countryside already saturated, the water had no where to go but up.
   Lowlands and river banks were the worst hit. This is the area where the poorest of the poor are located. If you read the attached article earlier in our blog about a man-made tragedy, you know that the squatters are a serious problem. The location of these people create drainage problems and puts them in harm's way every time there is a calamity.
  However, they are not the only ones affected. This calamity has affected more than 2 million people.
Many are left homeless and without food, water, clothing and a place to sleep.

This is the adjoining city to the barangay we are going to examine. The government is set up as provinces, municipalities, cities and barangay. The barangay is the smallest unit and is a portion of the city. The barangay we are visiting is San Miguel. They have been hard hit by the rising waters. It has been a week since the bulk of the rain hit and they will have standing water for some time to come. They are really susceptible to disease in this area.
 This is the high road that connects both sides of the barangay. Makeshift tents are created to stay in until which time they can return to their homes. They sleep on the road.
No matter where we go, children find us. I will not put pictures like this in our reports. They may not believe us when we say they need help. 
This young lady was sitting in the back of a small truck. I was drawn to her because of her beautiful smile. I asked her, 'Do you have food?' No. 'Do you have water?' No. 'Do you have a place to stay?' No. 'Why are you so happy?' She answered something profound, 'Because this is what God has for me. I am OK.' This people can teach us volumes.

Monday, August 20, 2012


     We got into the 3 vans we took to GMA for repacking and we headed home. I was in the lead but it was hard to see in the heavy rain. If  I could only get to C-5 Highway, we would be home free. Sister Founbreano, a Senior Filipino Missionary, was helping me find the way, I thought.
  Bam!!!!! We hit a hole in the road that was hidden by the rain. Wop, wop, wop. There went the tire on my van.
  Wow, everyone is exhausted and we need to change a tire in this pouring rain. This is not the time to pray for patience, I thought.

Just then we received heavenly messengers. Well they certainly were to us. Several strong young men appeared and asked if they could help.
Immediately after that, the Barangay Captain and several of his police officers showed up. He said, 'We thought we would travel the streets to see if anyone needed help'. Boy did we. Come to find out the lug nuts were rusted on and it was hard to get them off. Don't think I could have handled that.
Sister Hadlock was talking to the Barangay Captain and mentioned we were lost. I didn't think we were lost. Anyway, the Captain said he would give us a police escort back to our office. With lights flashing, we made it home. We are truly blessed.


    We have made  a great bond with partner GMA Kapuso Foundation. They are the foundation arm of GMA Network.
  GMA is one of the early broadcasters in the Philippines. An American war broadcaster, Robert Stewart, started the company in 1950 that eventually became this large network. It now consists of 47 Relay Stations, 4 TV Stations and 34 Radio Stations. The origins in 1950 were radio and expansion into TV happened in 1961.
   With Marshall Law happening in 1972, President Ferdinand Marcos took control of all TV and Radio in an attempt to keep communist dialog out of the country. It wasn't until 1984 that GMA regained full control of their stations.
   With success comes responsibility to others. In 2002, GMA Kapuso (Heart) Foundation was born with executive director Carmela C. Tiangco. She goes by 'Mel' and is the anchor of their news shows. A comparative personally in American would be Barbara Walters. We met with her for an hour and a half and got a good feel of what GMA Kapuso was all about. She is not married and has no children of her own, but she is strongly connected with the Filipino children and wants to help where ever she can. We will work on some more projects with her in the very near future.

Our assignment tonight is to repack rice and make clothing bags to be distributed.
We arrive at their warehouse in heavy rain. It just doesn't rain here, it pours buckets at a time. I have never been in rain so heavy. You can turn on the wipers at full speed, but it doesn't keep the windshield clear enough to see well. You must drive slow. We were to supply 20 volunteers, we end up with 14 Senior Missionaries, 4 Young Elders and 8 Young Sisters.
The work is to separate donated clothing, the same as you would see at DI. We separated it into Mom, Dad and children sizes and put them in bags with a good selection in each bag.

We also repackaged rice. We took from 50 Kilo bags and made 4
Kilo bags for distribution to the families in need. They like to give clothing with the food. This is hard work as you would expect. We are finished in about 6 hours and we are all exhausted. Take me home, PLEASE!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


    We have talked about the traffic before. You may think we are exaggerating. No, we're not. It can be one of the most terrifying experiences to drive for the first time over here. You are afraid for your life until you get the hang of it and then it becomes a challenge.
    I love it when I can cut off a Jeppney or a Bus. They think because I drive a car, I won't challenge them. Well, I will.
    We came down to the parking garage the other day and I told Sister Hadlock that my blood sugar was low and she would have to drive. Can you believe she thought I was making it up? 
I gave her the keys and away we went.

It was raining pretty hard and the monsoons had been going on for several days.  I'm glad her first attempt was with few people on the road.

She did it and we made it back to the office and back home with her driving. Good Job!


    Mission President DeLaMare assigned us to the Tayuman Ward. This ward has had challenges with leadership in the past, but is currently presided over by a wonderful bishop. Bishop Marlon Urbano is a returned missionary and has had great experience in leadership. Another problem they face is the moving of the ward to a new building about 3 kilometers away from the rented building they had been using. Few people have transportation or the money to be taken to church. But the Bishop told us, "If they have Faith, they have Feet". He knows his congregation well and knows what will help them. His has a wonderful wife, two children and another on the way. He is an inspired leader and we are fortunate to be assigned here.

  As you can see, we have a beautiful ward building with landscape to match. It is about a 45 minute to 1 hour drive to get out there for 8am start of meetings on Sunday. However, it takes twice that long to get back to our apartment in Mandaluyong City. Once people are awake, they are on the road.

This is the Priesthood. We excuse the Aaronic Priesthood for their meeting and we stay together as High Priests and Elders for the lessons. I am impressed with the knowledge and understanding that they have of the Gospel and Priesthood functions.

Photo Deleted by Sister Hadlock because the picture of me was really bad. I will replace it when I get a new one. Elder Hadlock is in real trouble for posting that one!

This is the Relief Society as they are adjorning. They generally have more Sisters than we have Brethren for meetings.

This is my favorite. The Primary is just wonderful. I have made several friends with these little children. This past Sunday, we had a small devotional for the Primary about Missionary work. I told them the Lord wants them to be willing and worthy. They can do that now.


  A few weeks ago, we were approached by La Sagesse School to provide intermediate wheelchairs to many of their students. The Sisters of Wisdom (Catholic) sponsored school has been in operation for many years, but just recently received enough funding to build a new school and rehabilitation center. They have 128 students that are handicapped. The majority have cerebral palsy or Downs syndrome. This makes it imperative that they have wheelchairs to handle the CP patients. This will allow the children to function better at school and be handled easier at home.
   The end result of our meeting was a scheduled tour of their facilities. Our plan was to be there on Aug 3rd at 9am. We left in plenty of time, but the traffic was terrible. The actual distance is probably 12 to 15 miles, but it took us an hour and one-half to get there. We were a full hour late.
   The one end of the building is one long wheelchair ramp that connects all 4 floors. It is a beautiful building by any standard. The first 3 floors and classrooms and physical and occupation therapy rooms. The top floor is a large hall with a stage on one end for a variety of events.
   They were anxious to see us and escorted us to the top floor to begin the tour. Unknown to us, they had prepared a program rehearsal for us. They have a large program prepared for the next week, but they are going to use us for the dress rehearsal.
   Sister Henedina Latayada is the person in charge of the school. She is so kind and loving and literally treats us like royalty. We form a quick bond with her that will be eternal. We will have more to do with her in the future.

Sister Latayada is standing next to Sister Hadlock in this photo. Elder and Sister Dupaix accompanied us to the school. They have been assigned to us by public affairs to cover our assignments. They enter the information on

The hall is decorated and full of children, staff and family.

Traditional dances are performed by the students. It is amazing to see these teenagers, mostly with downs syndrome, perform for us.

Each dance uses traditional costume

This particular dance is done by the staff. It requires quickness and timing, or you may lose a foot.

Following the program, we are treated to a wonderful meal of traditional Filipino food. I have to admit, I passed on a few items.

It is not hard to fall in love with the children here. This little boy has cerebral palsy and has very little control of his body. But he loves to be held and cuddled. I am happy to accommodate.
The physical therapy and occupational therapy rooms are similar to what you would see in the US.
The school rooms are all painted in pastel pinks and blues. These colors help the children to be relaxed. I included the pink room in honor of my granddaughters. They know how much I like Pink. The ratio of teacher to student is small, about 1 to 4 or 1 to 8, depending on age and ability. They receive no gov't assistance. All they do at the school is done through donation.
Many are able to do crafts and small tasks. The picture shows baskets in production by the children. The baskets are made from old phone books. They take each page and roll them to about the diameter smaller than a pencil. They then use these 'straws' to build baskets.
They sell these in a little store they have located there. Plus they sell these items outside of the school in various locations.
We had established a great relationship here that goes well beyond wheelchairs.