Samar is the large, eastern-most island in the mid-Philippines. At its northern tip is the infamous San Bernandino Strait where Japanese Admiral Kurita snuck behind Halsey's fleet in Oct 25, 1944, and was able to attack the American landing forces off southeastern Samar, which only had a handful of jeep-carriers and destroyers for protection. And they drove the Kurita battleships off.
Due south is the Surigao Strait where, on the night before (Oct 24, 1944), two Japanese battle fleets were sunk by American Admiral Oldendorf's old battleship line in a midnight "crossing of the T" - the last naval engagement where battleships faced each other.
Southwest of Samar is Leyte Island, where MacArthur had his cameras rolling for his repeated "I have returned" publicity tour.
Tacloban is the major city that connects the two islands.
Cebu is the next largest island to the southwest, and almost directly in mid-Philippines.
All of these islands ARE mountain-tops, by the way, rising from some of the deepest parts of this planet's ocean floors. Some lands are now mesas, but many of the islands still have ridges and peaks. As Hubby says, however, "Think 'landslide'." The populated slopes on these islands often look like Brasilian hillside shanty-towns, only flimsier because the Wet and Typhoon Seasons are more constantly damaging.
North of Samar has the island with Legazbi CIty, and I've seen news of massive destruction up there, too, so it seems like the typhoon probably smashed thru the entire center with so many tiny, low-lying islands and small fishing villages.
I suspect the number of severely damaged communities outnumbers the quantity of available aircraft, much less relief ships (probably in the few hundred, total. I suspect they are probably thousands of towns and villages are damaged.)
We flew into Manilla in the Winter, 2003 and then down to Tacloban, picked up a small yacht and sailed into the central seas to Cebu. A wonderful two-week trip, full of coral-mesa diving and fantastic tropical-paradise experiences. Every island was like that, but every community had a shanty-town that reminded me of their historic livelihoods - fishing, the sea, and turistas were something new.
I haven't found photos of the hillside areas, butthese photos show a few lowland cities' destruction. I suspect the slope-destruction is so massive that no one can get to them yet.
The YouTube video pages has been lengthening by the hour. I found a small fly-over video two hours ago and now it's buried at least 10 pages deep.
These remind me of the day-after of the Japanese Tsunami, although fortunately it's not snowing on the Filipinos. And they are missing the radioactivity possibilities. But the number of face-covering masks and kerchiefs. Very telling.