Around 1,000 personnel from the Japanese troops and three naval warships have returned to the Philippines to help the people who lost their homes after the central area of the country was hit by the disastrous Haiyan typhoon.
Around 300 families have set up temporary home in the city’s convention centre and many more live in tents. One of the most important missions of the Japanese troops is to keep healthy sanitary conditions, which for some has become a personal mission.
“It really hit me that natural disasters are terrible things. Japan also experienced this during the Great East Japan Earthquake (the tsunami). So it would be wonderful for us Japanese if we could use that experience to help here,” said Lieutenant Hioshi Ito.
Despite the fact that many people have lost their homes, some of them are preparing for Christmas, a season that stretches for four months in the Philippines.
Despite having no running water or electricity one family who are living in an old shop front is determined to have some Christmas cheer.
“Three days after the typhoon my daughter saw a Christmas tree in the rubble. She picked it up and fixed it because it was broken and falling apart,” explained Josephine Llego, according to the international press.
The tree has become a small symbol of hope in a city which bore the brunt of one of the worst storms to hit landfall. The most recent reported number of victims has reached 5,240 while 1,613 are still missing.