Philippine dance party to mark anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan rampage axed after uproar

A young girl stands at the threshold of one of the gateways of a public cemetery in Tacloban city on the even of All Soul's Day - a religious holiday in the Philippines for remembering the dead every Oct 31. -- ST PHOTO: RAUL CAPUNPON DANCEL
A young girl stands at the threshold of one of the gateways of a public cemetery in Tacloban city on the even of All Soul's Day - a religious holiday in the Philippines for remembering the dead every Oct 31. -- ST PHOTO: RAUL CAPUNPON DANCEL

MANILA (AFP) - Organisers of a dance party marking the anniversary of Super Typhoon Haiyan's rampage through the central Philippines said on Thursday they had called the event off after a storm of complaints.

The event, scheduled for Friday in Tacloban, the area most devastated by Haiyan, was supposed to be a celebration of the city's recovery and the resilience of its residents said lead organiser Calai Cinco. "We've already cancelled it. We've had some complaints. There were a lot of negative vibes on the Facebook page," she told AFP.

She said the event, with the slogan: "Party like it never happened: remember because it did," was intended to raise money for victims of the storm.

But some observers thought the party, as well as accompanying T-shirts being sold, made light of the tragedy on Nov 8 last year, when Haiyan sent huge storm surges deep inland, leaving 7,350 dead or missing and leaving millions more to survive in the ruins of their washed out homes.

One T-shirt had the slogan "Eat, Pray, Loot", referring to the widespread looting that followed the typhoon while another said "I thought it was a tsunami but it was just a storm surge".

"Those statement shirts leave a bad taste in the mouth. Callous and insensitive," one person commented on Facebook.

"It saddened us. We never imagined it would get that much controversy. We only wanted to show the humour of what happened. That was reality in the aftermath of the typhoon," said Ms Cinco, who survived the storm surges by fleeing to the upper floors of her house.

In the wake of the complaints, she and her group of friends who organised the event decided to call it off. "We didn't want to lose sight of our goals of helping the community," she said.

They have already sold about 300 of the shirts and will donate the money to the charity, she said.