Coming to you live….

I believe I mentioned in my previous post that I was roped into hosting/anchoring a live talkshow here in Tacloban covering the Haiyan Candlelight Memorial.


I found out on Wednesday I was doing it, and so had very little time to practice for the 5-hour long live event on Saturday!

In spite of the nerves and jitters, we got there in the end, and it was actually really fun! During the rehearsals I had a large rat crawling across the beam in my eyeline, and I got somewhat frustrated by not having enough clear/straight answers to my questions. The producer was a lovely guy, but he has a tendency to sermonise everything and talk in riddles, which is not helpful when you have limited time…  I would ask things like “What order will the interviews and reports be in? Can I have a schedule in advance so I know what’s happening before I actually go live on-air?” and he would talk for 30 mins about humanity’s finest hour…. That was very frustrating! He also kept misunderstanding my frustration as nerves, and when I asked him to tell me what I should and shouldn’t do (like sit up, speak loudly, don’t turn your head etc) he asked me if I knew the difference between speaking and talking. I said no, not really, cos they’re synonyms, and he started singing “The Sound of Silence” to me. It was excruciating.

So as a result of that, right up to when we went live on-air, I had no idea what was happening next – there was no schedule to follow, it was more like them just waving bits of paper at me from behind a camera saying things like “Joe on the line” or “Go to Commercial” or “More energy!” Continue reading

Empowering Women

Last week was a real rollercoaster for me. I had some serious ups and downs.

There was the usual internal bickering and politics and bureaucracy that makes me want to tear my hair out several times a week. Plus a bit of a bollocking which I feel was slightly undeserved, so that never puts one in a good mood.

Then we had an unexpected donor visit – we found out at 4pm on Wednesday that they were coming at 9am the next morning, so we had to scramble to come up with some activities we could take them around and see. Luckily we pulled it all together (on account of having such an awesome team) and they absolutely loved it, so we ended the day on a massive high.


However, at 5pm on Friday, my lovely colleague P made my day – no, he made my week. Continue reading


Well now, here I am, coming up to 11 months here in the Philippines, and a lot has changed.

Tacloban is a very different city, with most shops up and running again (with the noticeable exception of McDonalds, whose refurbished grand opening is still being awaited with baited breath here in our bustling office….) 🙂

Organisations and Government officials alike are starting to plan and prepare for the 1-year on anniversary – a useful milestone to reflect on the fantastic achievements of the many many NGOs, Government staff, and others, while also taking stock of the long, long road to recovery ahead. Continue reading

Blog Hiatus


It seems I have forgotten all about my poor blog for the last 5 months, and left it shamefully alone and neglected.

Luckily I have the odd post I drafted a while ago and never got around to posting, so will now attempt to post a few of them and liven things up a bit in this corner of the internet!

While you’re waiting for some deep insights into the aid sector, here’s one of the best things I’ve spotted in Tacloban so far. I literally laugh out loud every time I drive past this place.


From the Philippines to CAR…

Well, my holiday is officially over, and there’s no more time to dwell on the post-holiday comedown, as I’m right back into the swing of things again!

I got back to the Philippines a week ago, and had a couple of days with my manager in Manila, before travelling to Ormoc via Tacloban. I had a nice couple of days catching up with some peeps in Tacloban over the weekend, and generally getting back into work mode. The night I arrived there was a fantastic torchlight parade through the streets of Tacloban to celebrate World Water Day, complete with fire-dancers and all sorts of fun performances.


It’s very hot and humid now, and still pissing with rain most of the time. Apparently this is the “dry season”, and by that I mean that it’s generally a bit less wet than the typhoon season. Or as several colleagues have informed me, there are two seasons in the Philippines, Wet and Very Wet. So this would be the Wet Season.

Continue reading

Maya’s comedy hour…

Well I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have plenty of ridiculous comedy moments while attempting to go about my business and appear somewhat professional along the way….

You can read the highlights of my comedy moments here, but since then there have been a few additional things that I thought you might all appreciate!

A couple of weeks ago I went to a meeting at the Department of Agriculture, where they were bringing in all 40 of the Municipal Agricultural Officers for a big meeting on rice seeds, fertilisers and discussing recovery plans for farmers. So there I am sitting at the table surrounded by important people, rooting around in my bag for a pen, and out flies a tampon and lands pointedly in the middle of the table. Rather awkward.

Continue reading

Challenge Anneka – The Great Rice Seed Race

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This week’s fictional guest post is by Anneka Rice, 90’s TV personality and star of “Challenge Anneka”

*Disclaimer – Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental, and any similarities between this post and actual aid work should not be taken seriously. 

December 5th 2013


Hi folks, it’s me, Anneka Rice here. I’ve been dragged out of retirement to help support the emergency response after a massive super-typhoon (Haiyan/Yolanda) cut a swathe of destruction through the middle of the Philippines. Maya asked me to help out by writing about our adventures on her blog, as she’s been a bit too busy to jot it all down.

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Most of you will remember me fondly from my “Challenge Anneka” days back in the 90’s. If you don’t, feel free to look me up on the interweb. I’m the one wearing the sexy neon jumpsuits and hanging out of helicopters.

Now then, Maya’s been in the province of Leyte, in a city called Tacloban, which was totally destroyed by the typhoon and subsequent storm surge (the waves were over 10 metres high! Can you imagine?). So let me set the scene for you.

Rice is one of the major staple crops here in Leyte, and in November most farmers had either just harvested, or were about to harvest their crops when the storm hit, wiping out almost all of their harvest, including their seeds. The next planting season is in December, towards the end of the rainy season, and it is crucial that the farmers are able to plant the next crop – as 2 failed harvests in a row means there could be a massive rice shortage in the coming year across the Philippines, not to mention the fact that those poor farmers won’t be able to sell anything or make any money for several months. Tragic!

So, Maya, along with her organisation, have decided to give out rice seeds to approximately 10,000 rice farmers in order to help them plant their crops before the rains come to an end.

So here we are, in the thick of it! It feels just like the good old days of Challenge! I dusted off my favourite pink and blue jumpsuit and headed for Tacloban. Maya told me the rice had to be planted by December 15th so the pressure’s on! Only 10 days to distribute 10,000 sacks of rice seed!

(I did point out to Maya that it would make for much better television if we could try and do it all in 3 days, but she didn’t look too keen on the idea. Plus technically my film crew aren’t actually here, but still, it’s the drama of a ticking clock that draws a crowd, and gets the adrenaline pumping!)

Anyhoo, it’s all Terribly Exciting, and there’s a lot of high-stakes pressure here. Continue reading

Tacloban – 7 weeks later

Some incredible footage of Tacloban a few days after the typhoon, and then 6 weeks later.

Really shows you the unbelievable clean-up efforts going on in this town, and even the markets springing up again!

See? What did I say?

Ok, shutting up about markets now….