It's three months since super-typhoon Haiyan cut a deadly path through South Asia. 6100 people were killed. Today we learn of the incredible British generosity in the storm's wake. Following the DEC Philippines appeal last November, it is expected that around 90 million pounds has been donated by people in the UK. That's a truly phenomenal amount, a proud achievement for a country where austerity driven cuts have had most people tightening their financial belts.
I was deployed to the Philippines in the days following the disaster. Reporting from Northern Cebu, I witnessed an incredible level of destruction, and the hardship that Haiyan had delivered.
Across the Philippines half a million homes were destroyed, entire towns obliterated by the 170 mile per hour winds. Who can forget images of Chinese cement ships carried from the sea in-land on the 30 foot storm surge? Those ships lie there today as a lasting legacy of the horror of Haiyan.
Returning to the country, a team from ITV's Daybreak spoke to an 11-year-old boy. Asked where his parents were, the boy pointed to one of the ships and said "my mummy under there". Elders in Cebu City speak of 221 townsfolk under the vessel. Salvage isn't on the horizon now, or in the future. Already locals are hanging their clothes to dry on the ship-come-tomb. There are many more pressing problems such as the lack of sanitation, food, and shelter. Power in Tacloban city is sparse as is the running water.
Generous private donations have enabled charities and NGOs to act quickly on the ground. Many vehicles were destroyed in the storm, although a fleet of hundreds of new trucks and SUVs have now been brought in. Today these logo emblazoned vehicles move with purpose along recently unblocked roads, carrying thousands of aid workers now based in the Philippines. Their task is daunting.
Save The Children has food distribution centres in a number of centres in the worst hit areas. Measuring malnutrition and child-heath, staff hand out energy biscuits and immunisations to the youngest. Older children are offered psychological support to cope with their trauma and loss.
That loss is staggering. In one small municipal town alone, 600 people were killed and a further 100 are missing, most of those are believed to be children.
Care International is teaching people to build stronger homes, supplying the tools and the materials to do so. It's a simple message urging locals to employ structural principles that could help them withstand another storm. There's no lack of desire to make things better than before, but a shortfall of cash will sadly hold such progress back.
Three months on there are still broken homes, desperately impoverished children looking for scraps of food in rubbish, and a sense of anger - not at the charities, but at officials and the government. The talk of corruption and politics is rife.
During my assignment in the aftermath of the typhoon I met Junior Balante in St Remigo, a coastal town in northern Cebu. The fisherman had lost his boat in the storms. Of even more concern was the total destruction of the five homes in his compound, housing thirty members of his family. With a one-month-old baby too, Junior was very worried about the future and how he was going to care for his loved ones.
Daybreak caught up with him last month. Life is still difficult, although a fortnight ago he managed to get a job as a pump boy at a nearby petrol station. It pays £3 a day, a salary that doesn't go far in feeding 30 hungry mouths.
The compound is on the beach, shaded by palm trees. In many ways we might think of it as a fantasy location, but this coastal idyll is anything but with the homes in ruins and the fishing boat still broken. There have been no food packages for Junior and his family, no water supplies, no visits from charities or even nails to fix the roof. He's incredibly thankful to the UK for sending aid, but blames local corruption and politics for people like him not seeing any of it.
The Daybreak team was surprised not to see Junior's wife Alita, whom we found caring for newborn baby Janmer last November. He says that a day after the interview she left for Manila to find work as a nanny. A tough decision, born out of the toughest of circumstances. Their need for food and income was so great she decided to leave her own baby behind so she could be paid to care for someone else's children. It is a sad outcome for a family who survived the storm, but now find themselves struggling to rebuild their lives.
Philippines - three months on, Daybreak, ITV, Friday 7 February, 6-8.30am www.itv.com/daybreak
Suggested For You
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.Learn more