BSM Response to Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan)

Update on Typhoon Yolanda response fund activity

On November 8, Typhoon Yolanda battered the Visayas region of the Philippines. Its record-breaking winds and treacherous storm surge caused substantial damage and took the lives of at least 6000 people. It displaced 6 million people and left nearly 2 million homeless. The BSM community and our partner international schools rallied immediately to help, together raising a magnificent 5.5 million pesos ($125,000). Immediate relief effort supported the Philippine Red Cross, and a committee of BSM students were actively involved in selecting other rebuilding projects to support. They chose to build houses, repair fishing boats, distribute solar lights and re-roof damaged school classrooms.

  • In the six months since the storm we have supported our community service partners to achieve the following
  • 100 houses being repaired or rebuilt in Daanbantayan, northern Cebu
  • 15 fishing boats and nets provided to families who lost their boats in northern Cebu
  • 12 classrooms in 3 different schools re-roofed and rehabilitated, 5 more ongoing on Panay Island
  • 1100 solar lights distributed to typhoon-affected households on Malapascua Island
  • Immediate relief: support to the families of 44 BSM staff who lost their houses; 1000 relief bags packed for the Red Cross; 3 van-loads of relief goods sent down to the Visayas in the week after the storm
Repaired classroom roof in Tanay, Panay Island Repairing a classroom roof in Maayan municipality, Panay Island A resident of Malapascua Island with her solar light distributed in the wake of Typhoon Yolanda
Residents of Malapascua Island with their solar lights. 1,100 were distributed on the island, which was hit hard by Typhoon Yolanda BSM students and parents travelled to Malapascua Island to distribute solar lights BSM staff spent a day packing relief goods 
BSM staff packing relief goods with the Philippines Marines

BSM students packing relief goods

BSM students, staff and parents packing up the Philippines Red Cross lorry a week after the typhoon struck
The BSM Red Cross youth committee standing with some of the 1000 relief goods packs We have been able to fund the construction of 100 houses like this in northern Cebu A group of BSM staff visited Daanbantayan with a team from the BBC to look at the projects that we are funding

We are funding repairs to five classrooms in this primary school in Binon-An, Panay Island

We have replaced the roof of this school, one of 10 that we have repaired to date with 5 to be done by the start of the new academic year in June 2014 BSM students and staff helping to paint up a new home built following Typhoon Yolanda. We will continue to support the communities we have helped through relief and rebuilding projects
Chairman of the BSM Board of Governors, Simon Bewlay, busy helping build a house in northern Cebu and rebuilding projects    


Simon Wooldridge
Service Learning Co-ordinator

Visit to Typhoon Response Projects We Are Funding in Daanbatayan, Cebu Province

On Saturday February 1st 2014 a team of BSM staff travelled down to visit the projects that we are funding in Daanbatayan, Cebu Province. I had previously visited other projects on Panay Island just a couple of weeks after Typhoon Yolanda, at which time it was still very much the ‘relief’ phase of recovery operations – debris being collected, villages being cleaned, damage being assessed. This time, three months on from when that phenomenally powerful storm swept through the Visayas, we witnessed a different scene: rebuilding is well underway for many and life is getting back to normal. Driving up the road from Cebu City to Daanbatayan, in all the villages along the road there are people busy hammering iron sheeting back onto roofs, building and repairing wooden houses, and delivering supplies. However, it is clear that there are many still in great need in an area that was already quite poor and vulnerable before the Typhoon struck.

Working with the Springboard Foundation and HOPE Worldwide, we are providing funding of 2.5 million pesos (approximately $60,000) for the repair and rebuilding of 100 houses, 15 fishing boats and the nets that they need, and repairs to the roof on one of the primary schools in the village. These projects will take approximately four months – which is all the time we have before the next rainy season starts again in earnest. BSM students and families will be involved helping with some simple construction activities during this time. There is a well quoted maxim in disaster response – ‘build back better’ – this is what we really want to see during this project.

We were accompanied on this trip by Mike Wooldridge, a BBC World Affairs Correspondent, who will be filing some reports in coming weeks for BBC Radio and the BBC News website on the situation in Daanbatayan. Some of the interviews he did were very moving – he talked to a couple in their 80’s whose house was completely destroyed, 30 years after they built it. During this typhoon they lost everything and are now sharing with other family members. They will be prioritised for a new house as part of this project. Fishermen who lost their boats are very keen to get back to sea and once again be able to provide for their family and community. More than 30,000 fishing boats in the Visayas were lost during the typhoon With the 15 boats that we are funding, each will support three families. The village school has reopened, but some classrooms cannot be used and getting these back into operation is important.

We met many people in Daanbatayan who asked us to thank those who have donated money and keep visiting and supporting. I will keep you updated on the progress of the recovery projects in Daanbatayan. Thanks for your continued interest! Below are some photos of our visit:

Simon Wooldridge
Service Learning Co-ordinator

January 15 2014

Fantastic total of 4,600,000 PHP (approx. $115,000) raised – here is how it is being spent!

The generosity of the BSM community and international schools from around the world has been really shown as we have received over $110,000 with which to support relief and recovery projects. Below are the projects that we are supporting in order to make an impact in helping people rebuild their lives.

Emergency relief supplies: The emergency phase is now complete. We packed over 1000 emergency relief packages that we sent down to the affected areas during the first week of the response with the Red Cross. We also filled a van full of essential supplies like water purification tablets, blankets, tarpaulins and canned food that were distributed around Hernani in Eastern Samar. We received a huge number of donated goods that we also routed to the affected areas with several trucks organised by the Springboard Foundation and the Philippine Government’s Department for Social Welfare and Development. The BSM staff who had immediate family affected were also provided with support to ensure that their emergency needs were met. Approximately 800,000 PHP ($20,000) was spent on relief supplies.

Repairing schools: A project repairing classrooms in two elementary schools and one high school, in Batad Municipality on Panay Island is well underway with the Young Focus organisation, one of our existing community service partners. Current estimates are that the repairs to these schools will be completed by mid-February.  1 million PHP ($25,000) has been committed to this project.

Repairing schools and fishing boats, replacing fishing nets, rebuilding houses: A project with the Springboard Foundation and HOPE worldwide (two NGOs based here in the Philippines) is getting started this month in Daanbatayan village, Cebu Province, after a thorough assessment of the long-term recovery needs following the typhoon and the end of the emergency response phase. The project will be quite comprehensive, including rebuilding houses, repairing fishing boats and nets, and repairing the roof and providing some playground equipment for the primary school. This will be an exciting project that BSM students and those from other international schools will be involved in personally helping the rebuilding as part of community service. 2.4 million PHP ($60,000) has been committed to this project.

Providing solar lights: Working with one of our community service partners, the One Million Lights Foundation, 1,100 solar lights – one for each household – will be distributed on Malapascua Island at the end of January. There have been a few delays in getting the lights imported from China where they are produced, but the distribution will take place within the next couple of weeks. We are really excited about this initiative as even before the typhoon there were major problems with little power (and even where it existed it was expensive and unreliable) and the alternative are kerosene lamps which are dangerous and hazardous to health. Around 320,000PHP ($8,000) will be spent on this project.

There is a small balance of approximately 80,000 ($2000) that will be used to give further support to one of the projects above over the next couple of months as the recovery work progresses and perhaps new needs are identified in the different communities we are supporting.

Thankyou so much to all those here at BSM and at the following schools around the world who contributed so generously: British International School – HCMC, Vietnam; British International School – Jakarta, Indonesia; St Stephen’s International School – Bangkok, Thailand;  International School of Tianjin – Tianjin, China; Highgate School – London, UK; British Vietnamese International School -  Hanoi, Vietnam;  British Vietnamese International School -  HCMC, Vietnam;  ABC International School – HCMC, Vietnam; Teda International School – Tianjin, China; Dulwich College – Beijing, China; Westbourne School – UK; Wellington College - Tianjin, China; European International school - Brussels, Belgium

I will keep this page updated with details on the progress of the different projects over the coming months.


Simon Wooldridge
Service Learning Co-ordinator

12 December 2013

BSM Typhoon Yolanda response: rebuilding schools project with Young Focus on Panay Island

This week I travelled down to Panay Island with a team from the Young Focus Foundation, to visit the two elementary schools and a high school that we will help repair and reequip with school supplies. A month after the storm hit, it is obvious that people have been very busy clearing debris and repairing houses. By the sides of the roads lie piles of broken timber and twisted iron sheeting. Electricity poles are being up-righted by the authorities. The roads are busy with trikes carrying students to school. Sari-Sari and hardware stores are buzzing. It is good to see signs of progress.
Down in the coastal villages of Tanao and Binon-An, in Batad municipality, where the schools are located, there is a mixed picture. As well as the record-strength winds, there was also a four metre storm surge in this area. There was a low death toll with mercifully only 15 people losing their lives in the municipality, but those houses and schools that were in the front line at sea level really got hammered. A barge carrying oil was holed triggering an oil spill that is making the sea water untouchable and means that fishing is not allowed. There have been some relief supplies reaching the villages, emergency latrines have been dug and houses are being patched up with tarpaulins. However, it is hard to see how people are going to support themselves to eat and rebuild as in this fishing community most boats were destroyed and no-one is sure how long the water will remain polluted from the oil spill.
It was great to see the school repair project get started. The local authorities, teachers, parents and students are all anxious to get classes back to normal as soon as possible. The high school is closed as most of the older students are helping in the clear-up, but in both the elementary schools classes are continuing in those rooms that are still usable and under trees and tarpaulins. The aim of the project is to get all classes back in rooms with roofs by the end of January. Another key part of the project will be to reequip some of the rooms with tables and chairs that were washed away or destroyed, and to replace books and textbooks that got wet. The major challenge for the project will be logistics – some building materials are in short supply and also local prices are inflated.
Everyone was very friendly and welcoming, despite all the difficulties that they have faced over the last month. Their resilience is remarkable. Thanks again for all your support, it really great to be able to assist these communities who are so grateful for the help they are receiving.
With some more contributions from other international schools, we are close to a total fund of 4 million pesos. We have now spent 60% on relief project, this school rebuilding project and on the solar lights project on Malapascua Island. We are looking at supporting one more project focusing on rebuilding livelihoods, as well as some further support to BSM staff who have families who have been particularly hard hit.
Merry Christmas!
Simon Wooldridge
Service Learning Co-ordinator

9 December 2013

Update: BSM  Typhoon Response fund reaches 3,660,000 pesos (approximately 83,000 USD)!

Thanks to very generous contributions from both the BSM community here in Manila and from many schools around the world, we now have a great amount with which to make a big difference helping typhoon victims. The schools that have supported BSM with this response are: British International School Jakarta, British International School Vietnam, St Stephen’s International School, International School of Tianjin, Highgate School, British Vietnamese International School Hanoi, and the British Vietnamese International School Ho Chi Minh. Approximately 60% of these funds have already been spent or committed to four relief and rebuilding programmes, and we are identifying a final house and livelihood rebuilding project to support. More details below on the project we have supported so far are below, and we will update you on developments as soon as we can.


6 December 2013

BSM staff member Jacqueline Walter has just returned to Manila after a second trip down to Samar to deliver the donations from the BSM community. Here are her observations:

The usual trip down to Hernani takes 20 hours, but following the typhoon there are serious delays on the damaged roads and ferries are choke-points with long lines of trucks carrying relief supplies. It took us 36 hours to drive down with the truck full of donations. Conditions down in Eastern Samar are still desperate – very little aid has reached small communities who are striving to help themselves, so the supplies that we took down were very gratefully received. The tarpaulins went straight up to replace roofs that had been blown away; clothes and blankets were distributed to families who have lost all possessions; and rice and water purification tablets helped to fill hungry bellies and provide drinkable water. The impact of this typhoon will be felt for a long time – a huge amount of collective infrastructure like roads, universities, schools and clinics has been destroyed. At the individual level fishermen have lost their boats, coconut farmers have seen all their trees fall over, and so many homes have been lost. I think that a key job bow is to restore the livelihoods of the communities down there – especially helping the fishermen rebuild their boats and get fishing again. Even amid the desperation, I saw wonderful smiles. The resilience of these communities is incredible and the Filipino spirit is strong.  I’m going back down just before Christmas and I will be looking at further ways that we can help the community of Hernani get back on its feet. Thanks to the BSM community for all your support, it has really made a difference.


29 November 2013

Newsflash from Jacqueline Walter, a BSM teacher distributing relief goods in Samar. He managed to contact her father who relayed this message to us today:

just been talking to Jacqui in Samar. Smart cellphone now running in some places. She has just delivered relief goods to Mercedes and Hernani. She said Hernani very badly damaged as sea came right in, wiping everything away. But both places very poor to start off with. Not much Government aid at all so the BSM and SpringBoard donations very much appreciated. But rebuilding the economy will be a problem.”

BSM students and staff have also this week been involved in deciding which rebuilding initiatives to support. We will support the following two projects which will hopefully have a positive impact in coming weeks:

One Million Lights (OML) solar lamps project in Malapascua: OML is partner charity of year 4 and year 11 at BSM. There are 1,100 households on Malapascua island assessed in the past week as needing a solar light. There is currently no electricity on the island outside of a couple of resorts with generators. Power before came from a generator which has been damaged. Before the typhoon, electricity was three times more expensive than Manila, so many households used kerosene lamps. Luc Vaillancourt, a BSM parent who went to the island immediately following the typhoon,  has started a group supporting the rebuilding of Malapascua. In partnership with OML, we can provide 1,100 lights for distribution before the end of December if all the logistics run smoothly.

Young Focus repair and re-building of primary and elementary schools in Batad, Ilo Ilo island: Young Focus (YF) is partner charity of nursery and reception. With some of their Manila-based staff who are from the area, they have identified two elementary schools and one high school in Batad that need repair/rebuilding. If repairs can be carried out in December, then classes can resume in January and the school children will not lose an entire academic year. They have staff on site, and have been liaising with the Department of Education, local authorities and engineers. They plan to start repairing the schools next week.

We are currently assessing which house rebuilding projects to support; we will keep you updated with news as plans develop.


26 November 2013

Update! Typhoon Yolanda response fund totals 2.4 million pesos (approximately $60,000) – relief goods all on their way and now we look at rebuilding.

The BSM community and the international network of British Schools around Asia has responded magnificently to the urgent appeals for help.

We spent the last two weeks focused on the relief phase – getting emergency relief supplies that we procured or were donated by BSM families down to people affected by the Typhoon. We worked with the Philippines Red Cross, Springboard Foundation and  with our BSM staff who have families in the area who were affected. Jacqui Walter, whose account of her trip to Samar is posted below on this site, travelled down again on Monday 25th November to the area with a van full of food, tarpaulins, household goods, bedding and water purification tablets. Below are some photos of staff helping her load supplies into the truck.

Now our attention switches to supporting rebuilding projects. Our students are closely involved in identifying the  projects that we will support and we are keen to create sustainable, long term partnerships to  help the affected communities rebuild their lives. We will keep you updated as projects develop.

Thank you all for your great support and generosity. Please get in touch with me if you have any further questions.

Simon Wooldridge
Service Learning Coordinator

20 November 2013

On Monday 18th November the whole staff of BSM was involved packing up emergency relief packages for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda. Sixty staff went down to the Philippine Army gym where they packed up goods with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), while others remained at school and helped pack up rice and tarpaulins that will travel down to Samar on Friday 22 November with BSM staff member Jacquie Walter. It was very rewarding work – great to be able to support in a very practical way. There was some competition between PE department staff as to how many sacks of rice they could carry!


15 November 2013

Update! Over PHP 1,080,000 (USD 27,000) collected in four days to support the victims of the typhoon

There has been a real outpouring of support and generosity for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda from the BSM community – students, staff, parents, friends – over the past few days. At BSM we have a Red Cross Youth Council who have been very active mobilising food relief donations – on Wednesday they packed 1000 Red Cross emergency food packs that were collected by the Red Cross that evening. Six van loads of clothes, household goods and food donated by BSM families has also been delivered to the Springboard Foundation who airlifted some to the affected areas on Thursday and are arranging ferries to contine getting the goods to the right places.

BSM students have also spearheaded a wonderful fundraising effort to provide a mixture of immediate relief aid and also which will be used to support longer term rebuilding of houses and schools. Forty BSM staff have families in the area who have lost their houses and, in some cases, sadly lost family members.

So far the generosity of the BSM community has been just amazing – we have collected over 1,080,000 pesos so far. If you would like to donate, please bring cash to the school or you can donate through the BSM school account. For inquiries regarding donations, please contact Precious Tabia at [email protected]

We will be doing everythig we can to ensure that the funds go directly and traceably to those in great need of our support right now and into the future.

Simon Wooldridge
Community Service Co-ordinator


Message from Ian Clayton, former Head of Senior School

Dear BSM community,

We were all moved by the terrible events wrought by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). Here at West Island School in Hong Kong we have a sizeable Filipino community. We also have a very strong commitment to service projects in the region and so we have already begun to coordinate relief in the way of material goods, food, buckets, etc. next week the school's service committee will meet to decide how to allocate funds and distribute them accordingly. We all are thinking about the People who have suffered loss and we hope we can contribute so that the affected can eventually continue with their lives.

Samasama tayong lahat!


BSM Staff Jacqueline Walter returns from a week in Samar

I thought that the storm would pass and my mother would call to tell me that everything was fine, which is what usually happens when there is a typhoon. But by Friday evening I had heard nothing. There were a lot of rumours about which areas had been badly hit, but no-one could get in touch with anyone in the affected areas. An aerial survey that took place on Saturday morning showed that the roads were passable, so I jumped in my car, loaded as many supplies as I could in the boot, and drove as fast as I could. It is usually a 20 hour drive, I did it in 18 hours. The roads were ok in Luzon and Northern Samar, but by the time I got to Catbologan there was a lot of debris on the roads, and I witnessed the start of the mass exodus of people. People were crammed in truck and cars – inside, of the roofs, tied on to ensure they did not fall. No-one had any baggage. The gas stations were also starting to run dry already.

When I got to my family’s house in Sulat it was a very emotional moment when I found my mother alive, but just for the briefest time as people were desperate for the supplies we had brought. Water was a real issue.  The town’s water supply had stopped working. One of the Barangay’s in town the sea had simply been totally washed out with everyone’s home gone. Even concrete homes washed away. People were just sitting under the rain. There are not even any trees left to cover them.

For the next three days I tried my best to distribute the supplies that I had bought and managed to source in the area. But shops were already empty, and prices were increasing. People were trying to barter anything they had for rice. Money is not that useful when there is nothing to buy. I visited a convent to give the nuns there some supplies – they could not leave the convent, and had nothing left. In that area there was not a security problem at that time – people really were focussing on supporting each other. I saw a few dead bodies, and there was a horrible stench in the air in many towns.

This morning I returned to Manila by car. Already there are long queues of trucks carrying supplies and the ferry ports are chaos. The prices of a place on the ferries are far higher than usual. So far there are massive needs, and it looks like the supplies that are getting out to the people who have lost everything are just a drop in the ocean.

Next week I will go back down with a boat full of the right, and useful, supplies. I know the people who need the goods and can quickly get them straight out. But I need your help! If you can donate some of the following items that would be great: rice, blankets, cookware – steel, non-breakable pans and pots, and cutlery.

Collection at BSM all next week, hopefully the boat will leave late next week so we have some days to get this all together.