Devastated Philippine City No Stranger To Calamity

Novelist Gina Apostol grew up in Tacloban before moving to America. She has relatives in cities near Tacloban, who have been making their way to the shattered area to try to help other family members. She says her family worries about the law and order situation there.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The American air craft carrier George Washington is now serving as a launching platform for typhoon aid in the Philippines. It's the latest chapter in relations between two countries that share a long and intimate history. The relationship includes many Filipinos who have moved to the United States, like novelist Gina Apostol.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

She grew up in Tacloban. We found her in Massachusetts where she's been tracking down her relatives in that devastated city.

GINA APOSTOL: I am hearing that they want to get out. They are not clear if the law in order situation is going to improve. There is panic, there is looting. And the people are devastated.

INSKEEP: Apostol says people in Tacloban are used to what she calls awesome, strange powers, washing ashore.

APOSTOL: The way I call it, Tacloban is a town of MacArthur and typhoons. That's how I describe it.

MONTAGNE: She's speaking of General Douglas MacArthur. A statue on the beach at Tacloban marks where MacArthur waded ashore, reclaiming the Philippines from the Japanese occupation in World War Two.

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