The typhoon that hit Cebu in 1949

CEBUPEDIA - Clarence Paul Oaminal (The Freeman) - February 11, 2015 - 12:00am

All out relief was the order made by President Elpidio Quirino on November 2, 1949. Typhoon Camila struck Cebu, Negros Occidental and other areas in the Visayas.

President Quirino ordered the rushing of relief to the typhoon victims. He issued this to the Philippine National Red Cross, PRATRA, Philippine Air Force, Social Welfare Commission and other agencies collaborating, medical and social welfare personnel, and some 9,000 pounds of medical and food supplies were immediately transported aboard two PAF planes to Cebu and Negros Occidental.

Quirinos's Executive Secretary, Teodoro Evangelista, announced that relief goods would continue to pour into all typhoon-stricken areas until requirements of sufferers were met.

Upon orders of the president, Evangelista clarified reports in some sections of the press to the effect that the weather bureau (today's PAGASA) officials might face a probe due to alleged neglect in issuing advance warning. Director Casimiro del Rosario reported to the executive secretary on November 3, 1949 to say that the weather bureau issued out a warning ten hours ahead. Del Rosario explained that the practice of his bureau is to give typhoon warnings 24 hours in advance. Due, however, to the peculiarities of the storm that hit the Visayas, he said the weather bureau officials were able to give the warning only ten hours ahead.

Casimiro Villacin del Rosario, born on June 13, 1896 in Bantayan, Cebu, headed the country's weather bureau for 11 years. He finished his BS Civil Engineering with honors at the University of the Philippines in 1918, then his MS in Physics at Yale University in the United States in 1924, and PhD in Physics at the University of Pennsylvania in 1932.  He was vice chair for the National Science Development Board in 1968. He was awarded the Presidential Award in 1965 for his outstanding works in physics, meteorology, and astronomy. He died on September 15, 1982.

Incidentally, typhoon Camila left in its wake a toll of no less than 585 persons dead or missing, destroyed 30,650 houses, and rendered 194,519 homeless, according to consolidated reports issued by the Philippine National Red Cross.

During the November 11, 1949 Cabinet meeting, President Quirino authorized the allocation of P250,000 for the immediate relief of typhoon victims in the Visayas. President Quirino directed Commissioner of Budget, Pio Joven, to release the amount immediately, and also directed Commissioner of Social Welfare Asuncion Perez to collaborate with the Philippine National Red Cross and other government relief agencies in bringing succor to the typhoon-stricken areas.

The prompt and decisive action of President Quirino in addressing the relief of the typhoon stricken areas in the Visayas contributed to his winning the election. Quirino succeeded his friend, Manuel A. Roxas, who died before finishing his term. The November 1949 elections was his first elections as president.

Incidentally, an issue of curtailment of press freedom was raised after the elections. On November 17, 1949 a news item was brought to the attention of the newly elected president reporting that the "Pioneer Press" of Cebu City had been forced to suspend publications through alleged intimidation by pro-administration elements. The president showed deep concern and ordered the immediate verification of the report. Senate president Pro Tempore Mariano Jesus Cuenco informed the president that the news report was completely false and malicious.

Senator M.J. Cuenco said that the Pioneer Press had consistently been anti-administration since 1946 but that it had never been molested. In a telegram from Cebu, Senator Cuenco explained that the Pioneer Press has been steadfastly losing since last year and the dissolution of the firm was precipitated because some of the partners were openly opposed to the policies pursued by the newspaper.


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