Pre-Christmas Tragedy: Tropical Storm "Sendong"
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Pre-Christmas Tragedy: Tropical Storm "Sendong"

Many households in the flood-ravaged cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan city, Philippines are sad and grieving. There will be no fireworks or Christmas lights but instead, candles will be lit in houses where power has yet to be restored, and in funeral wakes.


The Philippines is divided into three main groups of islands: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Luzon contains the country’s capital – Manila, Visayas contains most fine beaches in the country including the well-known Boracay Island while Mindanao the southern part where one can find the Palawan Underground River, one of the 7 Wonders.

It is said that the Philippines is prone to earthquakes and typhoons because of its tropical climate and its location on the Pacific Ring of Fire.

My mobile phone receives update news from two networks 24 hours daily and in December 14; it started sending news of an approaching tropical storm code name: Sendong.

1. December 14 – WEATHER UPDATE: Tropical Storm ‘Sendong’ approaches PH.

2. December 15 – TS ‘Sendong’ to bring more rains into PH.

Mindanao, the Southern Philippines have a very cool climate that makes its agriculture prosper. Foods and grains including fruits that reach Luzon mostly came from Mindanao, including Durian fruits and mangosteen. And history states that very rare typhoon or storm touches the land. But Mindanao is not excused from the global effects of climate change and is now experiencing typhoons for the last two years.

On the night of December 16, TS Sendong landed at Mindanao hitting Cagayan de Oro and Iligan city.

3. December 17 (02:51:47 am) – Breaking News: CAGAYAN DE ORO – At least 60 people, many of them children killed by floods spawned by Tropical Storm ‘Sendong’ across Mindanao the Inquirer Mindanao bureau reports; 39 recovered in CDO alone.

4. December 17 (05:37:34 am) – ‘Sendong’ now is approaching Palawan, Signal 2: Palawan, Southern Negros, Zamboanga Del Norte; Sibnal 1Cuyo, Southern Cebu, Siquijor, Northern Negros, Zamboanga del Sur, Misamis Occiedntal; 60 confirmed dead, 260 missing in Iligan city flash flood.

5. December 17 (06:20:24 am) – ABS-CBN ALERT-The death toll from TS Sendong rose to 56, the NDRRMC (National Disaster Commission) said; 51 drowned in Mindanao including 40 in Iligan city and 5 were killed in a landslide in Compostela valley, Iligan city has been declared under the state of calamity.

6. December 17 (07:09:58 am) – CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—more than 100 people confirmed dead in floods spawned by TS Sendong in various Mindanao area; 300 missing; residents ignored warnings.

7. December 17 (09:26:05 am) – ABS-CBN ALERT: Officials said TS Sendong has left 180 people dead and nearly 400 other missing. Military spokesman said 97 bodies were recovered in CDO while 75 bodies found in Iligan city. In Iligan, 250 people remained unaccounted for with 150 missing in CDO, military reports.

8. December 17 (05:01:55 pm) – ABS-CBN ALERT: Sendong left 400 dead and nearly 200 others missing, PH Red Cross said 215 died in CDO, while Iligan lost 144 lives, other affected areas like Bukidnon, where 47 people died, 25 people drowned in Negros and 9 others killed elsewhere as of Sat. 11 pm.

9. December 18 (04:01:57 am) – Despite claims of early warning PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) caught sleeping on Sendong; it leaves 440 dead, more than 200 missing 106,000 affected: running out of coffins in Cagayan de Oro.

10. December 18 (08:02:15 am) – Sendong death toll now 521

11. December 18 (11:32:23 pm) – Bodies began filling up as rescue workers raced against time to locate hundreds of still missing from the flashflood that killed more than 600 people across vast areas in Mindanao over the week end.

12. December 19 (06:39:57 am) –ABS-CBN ALERT: The National Reduction and Management Council said it has counted a total of 632 fatalities from TS Sendong as of 12 pm, Monday. Most of the dead were from the hardest hit areas of CDO and Iligan city where NDRRMC has recorded 580 fatalities of 580 fatalities. Official said 84 bodies have yet to be ID’d and claimed by kin.

13. December 19 (03:07:36 pm) –ABS-CBN ALERT: Fatalities from storm “Sendong” is at 927, the NDRRMC told ANC: 713 are recorded, worse than “Ondoy.”[1]

14. December 21 (10:07:55 am) – “Sendong” death toll soars to 1,000+ worse than Ondoy.

15. December 23 (04:57:08 am) – “Sendong” death toll now 1,080 recorded; number of missing people hits 1,079.

NO images attached to avoid striking emotions.

Photo by Robert Lim   

The image above shows galore of logging conveying unregulated cutting of trees in the areas where landslide and flash-flood happened. There is no place to blame anyone or anything on this scenario, the PAGASA warnings, and the disobedience of residents who ignore the warnings or the wrath of nature itself.

Greed is one element inescapable, due to the endless desire to accumulate more and more because of the unsatisfying nature of humane individuals.

As of today, December 25 (01:05:00 pm-Philippine Time), it was a "Silent Night" on Christmas Eve for thousands of people who lost their loved ones in the worst storm to hit the country this year.

Many households in the flood-ravaged cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan city, Philippines are sad and grieving. There will be no fireworks or Christmas lights but instead, candles will be lit in houses where power has yet to be restored, and in funeral wakes.

The NDRRMC put the number of missing at 1,979 and the confirmed death toll at 1,080 and may reach to 3,000 casualties.

I am writing this with a saddening-heart, although it is Christmas and Holiday season, a season of merriment and joy but this is reality, it’s a fact. My prayers to the victims of “Sendong”, the best I can share.

Thank you for all the thoughtful donations locally and internationally. God bless you all!

[1] Typhoon Ketsana (International Designation) PH Codename – “Ondoy” encompassing most of Luzon after at least 86 people were initially reported dead in landslides and other incidents. Flood water levels reached a record 20 feet (6.1 m) in rural areas. As of October 24, 2009, at least 464 deaths in the Philippines were officially reported from the typhoon

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Comments (17)

I share your sadness in this reported article of tragedy.

Ranked #1 in Philippines

Thank you very much Roberta.

This was a very sad tragedy, Kabayan. I cried several times for the victims. May they be remain happy this season.

Yes I read about this earlier, very tragic for the people there.

Mi hermano, le pido perdon. When I first heard of the reports I meant to "message" you and ask if you and yours were near the disaster. But because of the frenzy of the holiday which I try to avoid, it totally left my mind. My prayers and thoughts are with you and everyone touched by tragedies anywhere in the world. God Bless You. I pray all is well with you.

We're glad nothing that serious happened in Palawan even while we have signal no. 2. We'll have to pray that those who are missing are still alive. This is unfortunate as many of CDO residents could not celebrate the season.

Well presented and an untimely grief for the friends and relatives of our countrymen. We could only pray for the soul of those who perished, Ron.

Ranked #1 in Philippines

Thank everyone for the thoughtful comments, as of this day, the death toll reaches to 1,236 as recorded.

very sad incident indeed..another lesson to be learned

Ranked #1 in Philippines

Thank you Sir Nobert.

good reporting on such a terrible event

There seems to be little reprieve from natural disasters lately. I'm so sorry for the country and for the lives effected.

Ranked #1 in Philippines

Thank you @Carol and @Gayle.

Ranked #21 in Philippines

It's heart breaking. I feel sorry for all the people who have lost their lives and those who survived but have to suffer the pain of being left alone by loved ones.

My prayers are sent as well, my heart goes out to all who have lost

Ranked #1 in Philippines

Thanks @Aileen and @Christy, as of today, death toll recorded of almost 1,500 and many are still missing.

Ron, this is truly a tragedy of epic proportions, so sorry for your loss of countrymen, my heart goes out to you!