In Greek mythology, the Twelve Olympians are the major deities of the Greek pantheon, commonly considered to be
Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Hephaestus, Hermes and either Hestia, or
Dionysus. Hades and Persephone were sometimes included as part of the twelve Olympians (primarily due to the
influence of the Eleusinian Mysteries), although in general Hades was excluded, because he resided permanently in the
underworld and never visited Mount Olympus. Heracles and Asclepius were sometimes included as well.
The Twelve Olympians
Fragment of a Hellenistic relief (1st century BC – 1st century AD) depicting the Twelve Olympians carrying their
attributes in procession; from left to right, Hestia (scepter), Hermes (winged cap and staff), Aphrodite (veiled), Ares
(helmet and spear), Demeter (scepter and wheat sheaf), Hephaestus (staff), Hera (scepter), Poseidon (trident), Athena
(owl and helmet), Zeus (thunderbolt and staff), Artemis (bow and quiver), Apollo (lyre), from the Walters Art
The Twelve Olympians, also known as the Dodekatheon (Greek: Δωδεκάθεον，δώδεκα,*3+*4+ dōdeka, "twelve"+
θεοί, theoi, "gods"), were the principal deities of the Greek pantheon, residing atop a mythical Mount Olympus. The
Olympians gained their supremacy in a war of gods in which Zeus led his siblings to victory over the Titans.
The concept of the "Twelve Gods" is older than any extant Greek or Roman sources. The gods meet in council in the
Homeric epics, but the first ancient reference to religious ceremonies for the Olympians collectively is found in the
Homeric Hymn to Hermes. The Greek cult of the Twelve Olympians can be traced to 6th-century BC Athens and probably
has no precedent in the Mycenaean period. The altar to the Twelve Olympians at Athens is usually dated to the
archonship of the younger Pesistratos, in 522/521 BC.
While the number was fixed at twelve, there was considerable variation as to which deities were included.
However, the twelve as most commonly portrayed in art and poetry were Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena,
Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Hephaestus, Hermes and either Hestia, or Dionysus.
Hades, known in the Eleusinian tradition as Pluto, was not usually included among the Olympians because his realm was
the underworld. Plato connected the Twelve Olympians with the twelve months, and implies that he considered Pluto
one of the twelve in proposing that the final month be devoted to him and the spirits of the dead. In Phaedrus
Plato aligns the Twelve with the Zodiac and would exclude Hestia from their rank. But Eudoxus of Cnidus was the
first to relate gods and signs.
In ancient Greek religion, the "Olympian Gods" and the "Cults of Twelve Gods" were often relatively distinct
concepts. The Dodekatheon of Herodorus of Heraclea included Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Hermes, Athena, Apollo,
Alpheus, Cronus, Rhea and the Charites. Herodotus also mentions that Heracles was included as one of the
Twelve by some. At Kos, Heracles and Dionysus are added to the Twelve, and Ares and Hephaestus are not. For
Pindar, the Bibliotheca, and Herodorus, Heracles is not one of the Twelve Gods, but the one who established their
cult. Lucian (2nd century AD) includes Heracles and Asclepius as members of the Twelve, without explaining which
two had to give way for them.
Hebe, Helios, Eros, Selene and Persephone are other important gods and goddesses who are sometimes included in a
group of twelve. Eros is often depicted alongside the other twelve, especially his mother Aphrodite, but not usually
counted in their number.
The Roman poet Ennius gives the Roman equivalents (the Dii Consentes) as six male-female complements, preserving
the place of Vesta (Greek Hestia), who played a crucial role in Roman religion as a state goddess maintained by the
The major gods[edit
Functions and attributes
King of the gods and ruler of Mount Olympus; god of the sky, and thunder. Youngest child of the Titans
Cronus and Rhea. Symbols include the thunderbolt, eagle, oak tree, scepter, and scales. Brother and
husband of Hera, although he had many lovers. Brother of Poseidon and Hades.
Queen of the gods and the goddess of marriage and family. Symbols include the peacock, pomegranate,
crown, cuckoo, lion, and cow. Youngest daughter of Cronus and Rhea. Wife and sister of Zeus. Being the
goddess of marriage, she frequently tried to get revenge on Zeus' lovers and their children.
God of the seas, earthquakes, and tidal wave. Symbols include the horse, bull, dolphin, and trident. Middle
son of Cronus and Rhea. Brother of Zeus and Hades. Married to the Nereid Amphitrite, although, like most
male Greek Gods, he had many lovers.
Goddess of fertility, agriculture, nature, and the seasons. Symbols include the poppy, wheat, torch, and pig.
Middle daughter of Cronus and Rhea. Her Latin name, Ceres, gave us the word "cereal".
Goddess of wisdom, handicrafts, defense, and strategic warfare. Symbols include the owl and the olive tree.
Daughter of Zeus and the OceanidMetis, she rose from her father's head fully grown and in full battle armor
after he swallowed her mother.
God of light, knowledge, healing, plague and darkness, the arts, music, poetry, prophecy, archery, the sun,
manly youth, and beauty. Son of Zeus and Leto. Symbols include the sun, lyre, bow and arrow, raven,
dolphin, wolf, swan, and mouse. Twin brother of Artemis.
Goddess of the hunt, virginity, childbirth, archery, the moon, and all animals. Symbols include the moon, deer,
hound, she-bear, snake, cypress tree, and bow and arrow. Daughter of Zeus and Leto and twin sister of
God of war, violence, and bloodshed. Symbols include the boar, serpent, dog, vulture, spear, and shield. Son
of Zeus and Hera, all the other gods (except Aphrodite) despised him. His Latin name, Mars, gave us the
Goddess of love, beauty, and desire. Symbols include the dove, bird, apple, bee, swan, myrtle, and rose.
Daughter of Zeus and the Oceanid Dione, or perhaps born from the sea foam after Uranus' semen dripped
into the sea after being castrated by his youngest son, Cronus, who then threw his father's genitals into the
sea. Married to Hephaestus, although she had many adulterous affairs, most notably with Ares. Her name
gave us the word "aphrodisiac", while her Latin name, Venus, gave us the word "venereal".[B]
Master blacksmith and craftsman of the gods; god of fire and the forge. Symbols include fire, anvil, axe,
donkey, hammer, tongs, and quail. Son of Hera, either by Zeus or alone. Married to Aphrodite, though unlike
most divine husbands, he was rarely ever licentious. His Latin name, Vulcan, gave us the word "volcano."
Messenger of the gods; god of commerce, thieves, and games. Symbols include the caduceus (staff entwined
with two snakes), winged sandals and cap, stork, and tortoise (whose shell he used to invent the lyre). Son of
Zeus and the nymph Maia. The second-youngest Olympian, just older than Dionysus.
Goddess of the hearth and of the right ordering of domesticity and the family; she was born into the first
Olympian generation and was one of the original twelve Olympians, until she gave her throne to Dionysus in
order to keep the peace, making her the most generous and gentlest of the gods. She is the first child of
Cronus and Rhea, eldest sister of Hades, Demeter, Poseidon, Hera, and Zeus. Also the eldest of the
God of wine, celebrations, and ecstasy. Patron god of the art of theatre. Symbols include the grapevine, ivy,
cup, tiger, panther, leopard, dolphin, and goat. Son of Zeus and the mortal Theban princess Semele. Married
to the Cretan princess Ariadne. The youngest Olympian, as well as the only one to have a mortal mother.
Other Olympian gods
The following gods and goddess are sometimes included as one of the twelve Olympians.
Functions and Attributes
God of the Underworld, dead and the riches under the Earth ("Pluto" translates to "The Rich
Pluto(sometimesOrcus or One"); he was born into the first Olympian generation, the elder brother of Zeus, Poseidon, Hera,
and Demeter, and younger brother of Hestia, but as he lives in the Underworld rather than on
Mount Olympus, he is typically not included amongst the twelve Olympians.
A divine hero, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon and great-grandson (and
half-brother) of Perseus (Περσεύς). He was the greatest of the Greek heroes, a paragon of
masculinity and a champion of the Olympian order against chthonic monsters.
Queen of the Underworld and a daughter of Demeter and Zeus. Also goddess of spring time. She
became the consort of Hades, the god of the underworld, when he kidnapped her. Demeter,
driven to distraction by the disappearance of her daughter, neglected the earth so that nothing
would grow. Zeus eventually ordered Hades to allow Persephone to leave the underworld and
rejoin her mother. Hades did this, but because Persephone had eaten six of the twelve
pomegranate seeds in the underworld when Hades first kidnapped her, she had to spend six
months in the underworld each year. This created the seasons when for six months everything
grows and flourishes then for the other six months everything wilts and dies.
The god of medicine and healing. He represents the healing aspect of the medical arts; his
daughters are Hygieia ("Health"), Iaso ("Medicine"), Aceso ("Healing"), Aglæa/Ægle ("Healthy
Glow"), and Panacea ("Universal Remedy"). He is the son of Apollo and Coronis.
The god of sexual love and beauty. He was also worshipped as a fertility deity, son
of Aphrodite and Ares. He was depicted often as carrying alyre or bow and arrow. He is often
accompanied by dolphins, roses, and torches.
She is the daughter of Zeus and Hera. Hebe was the cupbearer for the gods and goddesses of
Mount Olympus, serving their nectar and ambrosia, until she was married to Heracles.
The god of nature, the wild, shepherds and flocks, mountains, hunting, the forest, and rustic
music, as well as the companion of the nymphs. The root of the word 'panic' comes from the god
Minor residents of Mount Olympus
Aeolus - King of the winds, keeper of the Anemoi, master of the seasonal winds.
Amphitrite - Queen of the Sea, mother of Triton and wife of Poseidon.
Anemoi – The personifications of the four wind directions (North, South, East and West).
Aura - Goddess of cool breezes and fresh air.
Bia – Personification of force.
Circe - minor goddess of magic, not to be confused with Hecate.
Deimos - God of terror, son of Ares and brother of Phobos.
Dione – Oceanid; Mother of Aphrodite by Zeus in Homer's version.
Eileithyia – Goddess of childbirth; daughter of Hera and Zeus.
Enyo - A goddess of warfare, companion of Ares. She was also the sister of Ares in some cases. In those cases, her parents are Zeus and
Eos – Personification of dawn.
Eris – Goddess of discord and strife.
Ganymede – Cupbearer of the gods' palace at Olympus.
Graces - Goddesses of beauty and attendants of Aphrodite and Hera.
Harmonia - Goddess of concord and harmony, opposite of Eris, daughter of Aphrodite.
Hecate - Goddess associated with magic, witches and crossroads.
Helios - Titan; personification of the sun.
Horae – Wardens of Olympus.
Hypnos - God of sleep, father of Morpheus and son of Nyx.
Iris – Personification of the Rainbow, also the messenger of Olympus along with Hermes.
Kratos – Personification of power.
Leto – Titaness of the unseen; the mother of Apollo and Artemis.
Moirai - The 'Fates'. Clotho (the spinner), Lachesis (the allotter) and Atropos (the unturnable).
Momus - God of satire, mockery, satires, and poets.
Morpheus – God of dreams.
Muses – Nine goddesses of science and arts. Their names are Calliope, Urania, Clio, Polyhymnia, Melpomene, Terpsichore, Thalia,
Euterpe, and Erato.
Nemesis – Greek goddess of retribution and revenge, daughter of Nyx.
Nike – Goddess of victory.
Nyx - Goddess of night.
Paean – Physician of the gods.
Perseus – Son of Zeus, slayer of Medusa, the legendary founder of Mycenae and of the Perseid dynasty.
Phobos - God of fear, son of Ares and brother of Deimos.
Selene – Titaness; personification of the moon.
Styx - Goddess of the River Styx, the river where gods swear oaths on.
Thanatos - God of Death, sometimes a personification of Death.
Theseus - Son of Poseidon, first Hero of Athens and slayer of the Minotaur.
Triton - Messenger of the Seas, son of Poseidon and Amphitrite. He holds a twisted conch shell.
Tyche - Goddess of Luck.
Zelus – Personification of Emulation.
How To Write a Feature Story
There are many kinds of feature stories. Here are some
Popular content of print, electronic and Internet media
Human Interest: The best-known kind of feature story is the
Misty yellow flower What Are Feature Stories?
human-interest story that discusses issues through the
Feature stories are human-interest articles that focus on experiences of another.
particular people, places and events.
Profiles: A very common type of feature is the profile that
Feature stories are journalistic, researched, descriptive, reveals an individual's character and lifestyle. The profile
colorful, thoughtful, reflective, thorough writing about exposes different facets of the subject so readers will feel
they know the person.
Feature stories cover topics in depth, going further than mere How-To: These articles help people learn by telling them how
hard news coverage by amplifying and explaining the most to do something. The writer learns about the topic through
interesting and important elements of a situation or education, experience, research or interviews with experts.
Historical Features: These features commemorate important
Feature stories are popular content elements of newspapers, dates in history or turning points in our social, political and
magazines, blogs, websites, newsletters, television cultural development. They offer a useful juxtaposition of
broadcasts and other mass media.
then and now. Historical features take the reader back to
While journalists reporting late-breaking hard news don't revisit an event and issues surrounding it. A variation is the
have enough preparation time and copy length to include this date in history short feature, which reminds people of
much background and description, writers of features have significant events on a particular date.
the space and time to evoke imagery in their stories and fill in
details of the circumstances and atmosphere.
Seasonal Themes: Stories about holidays and the change of
A feature story is not meant to report the latest breaking seasons address matters at specific times of a year. For
news, but rather an in-depth look at a subject.
instance, they cover life milestones, social, political and
cultural cycles, and business cycles.
Feature articles range from the news feature that provides
sidebar background to a current event hard news story, to a Behind the Scenes: Inside views of unusual occupations,
relatively timeless story that has natural human interest.
issues, and events give readers a feeling of penetrating the
inner circle or being a mouse in a corner. Readers like feeling
Features generally are longer than hard-news articles privy to unusual details and well kept secrets about
because the feature penetrates deeper into its subject, procedures or activities they might not ordinarily be exposed
expanding on the details rather than trying to concentrate on to or allowed to participate in.
a few important key points.
In hard news stories, often referred to as inverted pyramid Feature stories are journalistic reports. They are not opinion
style, the reporter makes the point, sets the tone, and frames essays or editorials. They should not be confused with
the issue in the first paragraph or two.
creative writing or works of fiction.
The writer's opinions and attitudes are not important to the
In a feature story, on the other hand, the writer has the time story.
and space to develop the theme, but sometimes postpones
the main point until the end. The whole story does not have The writer keeps herself or himself out of the story.
to be encapsulated in the lead.
Writing in the third person helps maintain the necessary The writer avoids steering the story or imposing personal
ideas on the sources.
The writer avoids deciding on the theme of the story until
Hard news stories report very timely events that have just sufficient information has been gathered to show a direction
occurred. Feature stories, on the other hand, are soft news or point of view.
because they are not as timely, not as swiftly reported. Story format
Feature writers have the extra time to complete background
research, interviews and observation for their stories.
The information in a feature is organized differently from
hard news stories. Sometimes a writer uses several
Here are some suggestions for polishing feature writing skills paragraphs of copy at the outset to engage the reader before
and developing an eye for feature story ideas.
getting on with the main elements of the story.
Feature stories give readers information in a pleasing,
entertaining format that highlights an issue by describing the After the title and opening paragraph grab a reader, narrative
people, places, events and ideas that shape it.
hooks are used to persuade the reader to continue reading.
These hooks are attractive story elements such as action,
Feature stories are really more like nonfiction short stories mystery, drama or appealing characters intended to pull the
than hard news stories.
reader forward through the story. They are complex
narratives that come to life through colorful description,
While there should a news peg for the existence of a story at meaningful anecdotes and significant quotes.
a particular time, the immediacy of the event is secondary in In hard news stories, the reporter makes the point, sets the
a feature story. In fact, sometimes there is no immediate tone, and frames the issue in the first paragraph or two.
In feature stories, the whole story does not have to be
The power of a feature story lies in its ability to amplify the encapsulated in an inverted pyramid lead. The writer can
focus on an issue through first-rate story telling, irony, develop the storyline in a variety of ways and choose to
humor, human appeal, atmosphere and colorful details.
postpone the main point until later in the copy or even the
Features have a clear beginning, middle and end and are A writer can choose to tell the story out of order to engage
longer than hard-news stories.
the reader's interest.
A story could begin with a dramatic moment and, once the
reader is curious, the story could flash back to the history
Journalists use three tools to gather information for stories: needed to understand it.
observation, interview and background research.
A story-within-a-story could be used with a narrator in the
After completing these, the writer brings the story to life outer story telling the inner story to satisfy the curiosity of
through colorful description, meaningful anecdotes and readers.
These elements are obtained when interviewing and A storyline could alert readers that the story began in a way
observing by jotting down everything encountered – smells, that seemed ordinary, but they must follow it to understand
noises, colors, textures, emotions, details seen and heard in what happened eventually.
As with any news reporting, feature stories are subject to the
journalistic standards of accuracy, fairness and precision. The
The journalist keeps an open mind while interviewing quality of a story is judged on its content, organization and
subjects and researching sources.
Features writers use The Associated Press Stylebook for
correct journalistic style.
As newspapers and other print media face stiffer competition
today from Internet news media, more feature stories are
How long are these articles?
published because they can be more engaging to read. Wire
Newspaper features often are 500 to 2500 words in length.
services, such as the Associated Press and reuters, which
once distributed mostly hard news, now send feature stories
Magazine features usually are 500 to 5,000 words.
Features on websites and blogs generally range from 250–
2500 words, but hard drive space is relatively inexpensive so
the length could vary dramatically through the use of nonlinear hyperlinking of content.
Public relations professionals frequently write feature
articles. For instance, a company newsletter story profiling
employees voluntarily helping the local community could
benefit employees and their families as well as the firm's
stockholders. Or a profile of a corporate CEO could be
Any medium might use a shorter or longer story than usual, released to media when the firm makes news.
depending on its perceived value.
Broadcast journalists use human interest stories, profiles,
Attention spans seem to grow ever shorter so brevity is historical pieces, seasonal packages, behind the scenes
valued. More than ever, all writing today needs to be clear revelations and even how-to descriptions. These can be seen
and heard everywhere in television and radio news.
A typical television news package includes an edited set of
Every story is illustrated, usually with one or more video clips for a story narrated by a reporter following a
photographs, but the art can be drawings, paintings, written script. Unlike a magazine article, for example, the TV
sketches, video or machinima, colorful graphs and charts, or feature story also will have audio, video, graphics and video
other creative expressions depending on the medium for effects. A news anchor with an over-the-shoulder graphic will
which the feature is packaged for dissemination.
be seen reading a lead-in introduction before the package is
aired and concluding the story with additional i
Is this just for print journalists?
nformation called a tag.
(Editor’s Note: DJ Yap, the Inquirer’s environment reporter,
and photographer Niño Jesus Orbeta were the first Inquirer
team sent from Manila to cover Supertyphoon “Yolanda” in
Tacloban City. They arrived on Nov. 7, a day before the
world’s strongest typhoon landed. His tweet on that fateful
Friday morning—“Sounds of glass shattering; hotel guests
in lobby, restless, alarmed. ‘Jesus Christ,’ says our fotog
Niño Orbeta. ‘Worse than Reming.’”—was the first and last
time we heard from them until they sent word through
GMA 7 on Saturday night that they made it through the
The woman’s smile was a ray of sunshine utterly out of
place on that dark and desperate Friday.
She was standing among the ruins of an old church in
downtown Tacloban when I chanced upon her, just hours
after Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name:
“Haiyan”) tore into the city, sending its residents into the
clutches of despair.
Hers was the first true smile I saw that day, the sight of it so
unexpected, so jarring, that I found myself asking the one
question journalists were supposed to avoid during a
catastrophe: “How are you?”
“We are all right. With God’s mercy we are all safe,” she
Her name is Julita Jaca, and she is 65 years old. She was
paying a visit to all the churches in town to say her prayers
as her “way of thanking Mama Mary” for saving her and her
Along with those neighbors, Jaca had taken refuge on the
second floor of their house in a village overlooking
Cancabato Bay. They survived, almost miraculously, the
ferocious surge of wind and water that flattened entire
villages and killed multitudes in the coastal parts of Leyte.
But something was bothering Jaca.
Her 33-year-old son, she said, was reluctant to let the
neighbors stay with them and to share the week’s supply of
food and water the family had stocked up in preparation
for the storm.
“I want to tell my son that it’s not the time to be selfish,”
she said, her eyes welling up. “I want him to understand
that it is during times like this that we must help others. We
should not be selfish.”
Her voice broke then, replaced by quiet sobs.
For the first time that day, I came close to crying, too.
All day, the Inquirer team consisting of myself and
photographer Niño Jesus Orbeta walked the streets of
Tacloban, absorbing the scenes of shock, terror, grief and
desolation that had engulfed this city of 220,000 people.
Of the emotional stories we documented, it was Jaca’s
account, punctuated by smiles and tears, that struck the
most strident chord in me.
Here was a mother driven to tears not by the loss of her
loved ones or the deaths all around her, but by the erosion
of her son’s humanity.
It was at some level a triumph of the spirit.
Orbeta and I arrived in Tacloban early Thursday morning. It
was drizzling when our plane touched down in what then
seemed to be an auspicious time.
Nothing to worry about
On the way to the hotel, the tricycle driver told us that
there was nothing to worry about downtown. “The most it
*the flooding+ will reach is up to the knee,” he said. We
were almost reassured.
“We need to find a solid building,” said Orbeta, who hails
from Bicol, one of the places frequently battered by
tropical cyclones blowing in from the Pacific.
A lot of hotels downtown were fully booked, with mostly
residents of low-lying settlements. We checked in at Asia
Stars Hotel on one of the main avenues not far from the
Port of Tacloban.
We spent the rest of Thursday surveying the storm
preparations around the city and the adjacent town of Palo,
where Douglas MacArthur famously landed in 1944.
Residents went about their business unmindful of the
ominous clouds on the horizon. It was calm, perhaps too
That night, Orbeta and I discussed our game plan for the
next day, Yolanda’s landfall. The expectation was Tacloban
would be hit, but not too badly. We were to hire a vehicle
to take us to the areas expected to be most devastated
from the storm, and we would return to Tacloban to file
our stories and photographs.
But as I browsed for weather updates on the Internet and
checked Yolanda’s track, I thought, “Aren’t we on the direct
path of the storm?”
Coming into Tacloban, we had gathered that Yolanda would
hit the “Samar-Leyte area,” and there were indications it
would be moving northwest, theoretically hitting Samar
more heavily than Leyte.
In fact, my biggest concern at that point was that the storm
might strike another area too distant for us to go.
I was very, very wrong.
‘This is a strong one’
At 4 a.m. on Friday, we woke to the howling and whistling
of the wind outside, punctuated by what sounded like
booms and crashes, of things slamming into buildings, the
grating noises of metal hitting metal, of glass breaking and
shattering. It was so fierce the walls of the hotel shook
“Jesus Christ. This is a strong one,” Orbeta said, quickly
slinging his camera around his neck to snap pictures of the
scene outside. We went to the fire exit on the fourth floor
to look through the glass window.
The view was white. Sheets of water were sweeping
furiously inland, practically horizontally.
We saw corrugated metal roofing and other things we
couldn’t identify flying past. Cars were being dragged
through the flooded street. An electric pole was swaying
dangerously. The tide was sweeping inward, unbelievably
We rushed out the fire exit, afraid that debris might hit the
window. And soon enough, just as we closed the door, we
heard the shattering of glass.
A sharp object had pierced the fire exit window, letting the
water in and flooding our floor.
What’s going on?
Downstairs, the water had reached the ceiling of the
ground floor. Hotel guests were leaving their rooms, filling
the lobby, alarmed and restless.
“What is going on?” one whispered.
Conversations were hushed, as though people were afraid
of further angering the heavens.
The lights went out.
Orbeta and I went back to our room. Our phones and
modems had no signal. The hotel Wi-Fi was no longer
accessible. There was no water from the faucet.
I took stock of our supplies: just a 1-liter bottle of water for
each of us, a couple small packs of SkyFlakes crackers, a
handful of Fudgee cake bars. How are we going to survive
I thought of my family back home. I had not even told them
where I was.
I entertained morbid thoughts. Before shutting down my
phones and laptop to save on battery, I deleted everything I
didn’t want people to find there should I be killed. I felt like
laughing at the ridiculousness of it.
I lay in my bed, Orbeta in his. “Many people are probably
dying right now,” I said aloud. Orbeta agreed.
In the darkness we listened in silence to Yolanda’s roar.
By 9 a.m., the waters had subsided, but the winds
remained strong, and a current still ran through the streets,
only this time moving in the opposite direction, back east
where the disturbance had come.
From our vantage point at the hotel entrance, we could see
children wading through ankle-deep waters, some of them
entering shops forced open by the surging water. They
were already looting even before the storm had completely
By noon, we headed out to assess the damage, to talk to
people who were affected, to record their ordeal.
I saw the first bodies almost immediately. They were of a
woman and her young son on a wooden cart being pushed
by two men.
I signaled to Orbeta, and he began taking pictures.
I chased the tragic carriage through the main thoroughfare
to the small alleys. Everywhere the pushcart went,
residents mutely watched, some of them coming closer to
look at the faces of the dead.
The two corpses were taken to a village outpost. Then on
top of the mother, somebody placed a dead baby that had
gotten separated from them.
It wasn’t difficult to spot the woman’s husband and the
children’s father. He was weeping on the pavement, a
broken man. He had lost his entire family.
This story was repeated everywhere I went in what
remained of Tacloban, of mothers and husbands and
children, dead or missing. Some of the bereaved had faces
so racked with pain I couldn’t bear to watch, let alone try to
talk to them.
And those I managed to interview spoke of a heartwrenching grief.
Len de Guzman emerged, hysterical from a public
elementary school that was supposed to be an evacuation
center. Her 6-year-old daughter Ellen Shane had died in her
arms, drowned as they clung to the ceiling of a classroom,
frantically trying to keep their heads above the water.
Bodies were everywhere, under the rubble, on the
sidewalks, some covered with blankets, others uncovered,
still dripping blood.
Tragedy up close
We didn’t need to look for them. All we needed to do was
follow the trail of men and women, dazed, crying, helpless,
in the streets.
I had never seen a tragedy this close. My emotions were
drained, my mind numb. That was when I met Julita Jaca
with her incongruous smile. Maybe it was she who saved
Orbeta and I walked for hours that first day, recording
harrowing stories and images even as we had no way of
transmitting them to our editors.
Our feet were blistered, our backs sore. We returned to the
hotel in the evening, spent and hungry.
“We will have to ration our food,” I told Orbeta in jest. We
laughed at our meager supplies laid out on the bedside
The hotel management had served porridge and boiled
eggs to the guests earlier that day, but the porridge was
gone by the time we came back. We ate a boiled egg and
drank precious sips of water for dinner that night.
The next day, the scene on the streets downtown was
postapocalyptic: barefoot residents sifting through trash
that remained uncollected, the homeless wandering
around, stores looted and emptied, the looters still around
“It’s anarchy,” the owner of our hotel said, expressing his
fear that people might soon try to break into the building
out of desperation.
Lawlessness had gripped Tacloban, and nowhere was this
more evident than in the establishments stripped not only
of food and water but practically anything of value: bags,
clothes, shoes and slippers, appliances, TV sets, DVD
The paranoia and panic were contagious. Truthfully, I was
feeling it, too. Our drinking water was running out. Our
empty stomachs were groaning.
Were we to resort to looting, too? It was unconscionable,
but in some ways, understandable.
Was Thomas Hobbes right after all? Was this the true
nature of humans without law and without government?
Fortunately, Orbeta and I came across a woman selling
bottled water, soft drinks and potato chips from a roadside.
She allowed us to buy two big bottles of water and a couple
of packs of chips. She couldn’t sell us more, the woman
said, as she had nothing else to feed her family.
By our fourth day in Tacloban, we were brimming with
stories and images, but with nothing to show for it.
Orbeta was concerned that the longer we stayed there,
unable to send our materials, our stories and photos would
no longer be usable, overtaken by newer developments.
“They do not even know yet that we are OK,” I reminded
him, referring to our editors.
By chance, we met a team from GMA 7 network led by
reporters Jiggy Manicad and Micaela Papa. They were on
their way to Palo, where they had set up to broadcast live
(The Inquirer would later acquire satellite phones to be
used by subsequent teams sent to the area.)
We had also wanted to visit Palo, so we accepted the GMA
7 team’s kind offer to join their party.
Palo was 13 kilometers away, and the walk was punishing.
My feet bled from chafing. The streets were filled with
people carrying all sorts of things taken from stores,
anything that could be useful.
Others were looking for their loved ones in the piles of
Two young men were peering at the faces of the corpses
lying in front of a building. I witnessed the exact moment
they recognized their dead father.
Tears streamed down their faces, and the older brother
could only sit down beside the body, his face crumpled.
It was heart-wrenching.
Palo was just as devastated as Tacloban, if not more so.
The corpses, most of them now in body bags, were taken to
a cathedral. They had started to putrefy. Family members
stood some distance away.
The somber silence was interrupted by a commotion on the
road. Men aboard a moving truck were giving away dressed
People immediately swarmed around the truck as chickens
flew like projectiles from it.
Although deep in grief, the residents erupted with laughter,
delighted by the unexpected treat.
A little boy who got a chicken played with it, flapping its
wings and clucking his tongue, as he walked home, bringing
dinner for his family.
Later that night, toward the end of his report, Jiggy
Manicad announced on live TV that we were safe. (One
editor, Juliet Labog-Javellana, would tell me later how
worried sick she was about us, and how Manicad’s
announcement eased her worries).
The GMA 7 team also told us that they were to hitch a ride
on a C-130 military transport plane, which was to land in
the Tacloban airport early the next morning. Manicad
offered to let us come with them, and we gladly accepted.
The news team had also invited a few others who were
stranded in Tacloban. They didn’t need to do it, but they
did. I am forever thankful to them for their generosity.
On the ride to the airport, in two rental vans, Orbeta and I
saw dozens of people, including little children, walking
aimlessly in the streets, in the stillness and darkness of the
wee hours, against a backdrop of a city in ruins. It was 3
Where will these people sleep? What will become of them?
Will help ever reach them? I wondered.
What I saw in the broad light of day had been horrible. But
nothing prepared me for the night. It was far grimmer,
darker, what “nightmare” means, but real.
The buildings of Tacloban will rise again, no doubt, but it
will take much longer to heal the people.
Meeting a monster
I am no stranger to monster typhoons.
I’d flown to Mindanao for two Decembers in a row, in 2011
and 2012, to report on the aftermath of Tropical Storm
“Sendong” (“Washi”) and Typhoon “Pablo” (“Bopha”),
respectively. I covered the devastation inflicted by Tropical
Storm “Ondoy” (“Ketsana”) on the eastern parts of Metro
Manila four years ago.
But Yolanda was the first monster I set out to meet a day
before it came.
It was the first one to truly take me out of my comfort
zone, to make me fear for my life, and to show me a
terrifying glimpse of the nature of people at their best, at
their most desolate, and at their most wicked.
I arrived in Tacloban a veteran reporter of disasters,
mistakenly believing I had seen it all. I left the broken city
humbled and grateful, sure only of the knowledge that I
knew nothing at all.
I won’t ever forget what happened there. May it never