Anderson Cooper talks about ‘Yolanda’ on the Letterman show

He may have left the Philippines last week but the devastation brought by super typhoon Yolanda (international code name ‘Haiyan’) is still on Anderson Cooper’s mind. The multi-awarded CNN news anchor talked about his experience in covering the disaster during his appearance on the David Letterman Show last November 19.

During the guesting, Cooper repeated most of the comments he made while in the Philippines. “I think the figure now is close to 4000 but they don’t have any idea. There’s no accurate report.”

Yolanda’s death toll became the focus of media attention after President Benigno Aquino III told Christiane Amanpour, Cooper’s colleague at CNN, that the 10,000 casualty estimate is “too much.” Shortly after, Elmer Soria, the police official who gave the initial estimate was removed from his post.

When Letterman asked him about the lessons learned from Yolanda (a “breaking storm,” according to him), Cooper raised the importance of preparing relief supplies early on. Watch an excerpt of his sit-down with Letterman through this link.

anderson cooper david letterman
Anderson Cooper talks about his experience in the Philippines with David Letterman (Screenshot from )


“It is easy for reporters to come in and be critical because relief is never going to be fast enough. That said, if you know that the biggest storm ever to hit is going to hit, the Philippine government talked about prepositioning supplies. Well clearly, whatever supplies prepositioned was not enough. Nobody food and nobody had water,” he said.


He went on to say that the relief effort in Japan in the wake of the 2011 earthquake in the Tohoku prefecture is “much more organized.” “They had soldiers out the next day (after the disaster). There was none of that for five, six days (in the Philippines),” he said.


That specific comment of Cooper earned the ire of TV Patrol anchor and radio commentator Korina Sanchez. In one of her live shows last week, Sanchez slammed Cooper for not really knowing what’s really happening on the ground. Sanchez received flak from netizens for her remarks.


“The Philippines is a poor country, and the government is not set-up to give relief in this kind of way. But it was upsetting to the people there who were searching for their children not to have sustenance. There were people coming up to us asking for water,” he related.

Cooper then related to Letterman what reporting from the Philippines meant to him. “I honestly think it’s an honor to be there and to be able to give to people who don’t have a voice and don’t have access to power,” he said.

“There’s nothing sadder to me than to see a person living a good and decent life whose family ends up dying on the side of the road, dissolving into nothing, and nobody even notices their passing. And nobody in authority helps in the search for them and nobody tells their story,” the 46-year-old Cooper said.


“I don’t believe (my reporting) changes much but I believe in the power of honouring their passing, learning their names, learning who they are, and the life they lived,” Cooper said, receiving applause from the live audience.





Mark Pere Madrona

The Filipino Scribe (TFS) is managed by Mark Pere Madrona, a multi-awarded writer and licensed professional teacher from the Philippines. Mr. Madrona earned his master’s degree in history from the University of the Philippines-Diliman last 2020. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in journalism cum laude from the same university back in 2010. His area of interests includes Philippine journalism, history, and politics as well as social media. Know more about him here:

27 thoughts on “Anderson Cooper talks about ‘Yolanda’ on the Letterman show

  1. Mr. Anderson is so correct…there was no Ground Commander while Mar Roxas could have been the the Ground commander himself! And…if He can’t be a ground Commander… because he is an Idiot …so he can’t be Ground Commander of anything ( quoting from an FB poster) He could have asked Mayor Romualdez of Tacloban, Mayor Duterte of Davao and Red Cross Official Dick Gordon to be ground commanders…if He did not let partisan politics get bin the way.

  2. Get over it Anderson we heard a lot from you. We are very grateful of the efforts you have rendered to the Philippines. Instead of talking negative feedbacks to the Philippines which absolutely can’t help this time. What happen to the philippines is a wake up call not just for us but for the whole world. And worst things will happen in other countries because this is what the world is suppose to be. And if that time will come there will be no more rich or poor country. We can humbly extend our help in various ways. And if you believe in God just continue praying for the safety of everyone.

    1. Without the initial report of mr. Cooper, there would not have been the massive outpouring of relief efforts from the whole world…

      1. I beg to disagree, even before Anderson Cooper was here to do his live report, coverage from international media was already being done and the countries that helped already had their relief efforts underway. I wouldn’t go as far as saying “initial”…

    2. pls dnt take it negatively too.. what he said was true. We filipinos might be reacting to it coz the truth hurts and we cannot accept it. all we can do is just to take it as it is. it was even a good things it was brought up for the sake of awareness. that people all around the world may know the kind of life we have, the kind of governance we have, and the kind of help we need from other rich countries, be it financial support, civil services, and even moral support just to improve our lives as Filipinos. Cooper was right, Philippine government is neither wrong. This is just awareness. A voice that awakens the world that we all need improvements and help from each other.

      1. Agreed. The only way to avoid the negative comments and criticisms is to improve the conditions, not spend energy on denying the truth. In my opinion, the government has not had enough exposure and accountability to the people or the rest of the world, that’s why politicians think they can get away with being corrupt, or not working hard enough to improve the lives of the people. If we spent as much energy keeping the government in check as we did fighting everyone who criticizes we would have a vastly improved country.

    3. If nothing was said to the world then the death toll would be higher. Who in their right mind would allow people to die just because being critical of the government causes embarrassment for them. They were elected to serve the people and not just to be idolized and praised for having been elected. Vote wisely and don’t sell your vote. The money you get for selling your vote is the same as paying for you and your children’s future miseries.

      1. This comment is spot on.
        The problems of a corrupt political system in the Philippines is sustained by the fact that the voters allow themselves to be used as pawns by accepting their own little bribes before casting their votes.
        Unfortunately if you have very little then it is hard to refuse a gift even when you know that the Devil is behind the giving.

    4. Mr./Ms. Unknown, you are putting this “negativity” thingy out of context; actually, this is an often abused term by naive netizens– avoid “negative feedback,” aw!

      Pls. don’t use the “if you believe in God” argument. If you’re a follower of Christ, take heed from his statement that believers should not be indifferent and are bound by duty to expose the TRUTH from what they see (e.g. corruption of leaders) to set themselves free. Otherwise, they’ll be likened to driftwoods or dead woods, “God will have no drift-wood for His sacrifices, no drift-men for His ministers. Self-consecration is the beginning of His service, and a sense of our own freedom and our own responsibility…”(Quote from commentary on Isaiah 6:4-8, Study

  3. The Philippines is not a one island country, it is an archipelago. There is no way we can compare immediate or “instant” relief operations as almost the whole island was washed out. It is unfair to compare with Japan who is a one island region and is far more advanced in technology and resources. More talk more mistakes…let’s just do something if we want to help and put an end to make ourselves better than the rest. No one stays heads up, when the head is full, it has to bend…thanks

    1. Very right!!!! Can they handle better in this kind of situation with a geography like ours? What I read and heard from CNN reporters so far are criticisms and quite LIMITED analysis of situation even though they were present onsite. They saw how strong Filipinos are. Politicians or not we are doing the best we can,

    2. You forget to emphasize that we are also a typhoon prone country. And we more or less know that our country is hit by 20 to 25 typhoons yearly. The Netherlands which is below sea level has, through centuries, perfected their defenses against being inundated. Why cant the Philippines adapt to real threats to its national security and the safety of its citizens?? Whats are excuse this time? Lack of funds? Poor planning? lack of political will? lack of data and information? or all of the above. We should put an end to making all sorts of excuses because our people are getting impatient and very angry with government. In many developed countries there is a tern for it — urban planning, environmental planning, land use planning, investment planning, comprehensive development planning etc.

      1. Thank you DICK, I agree with the whole of your comment, it’s just plain COMMON SENSE. Engineers from all the developed countries would help with the planning to make the people of the Philippines safer from the weather, once that was done the country could develop into a major power, poverty would go and the people would live a full and rewardiIG
        life. ALL THEY NEED IS THE WILL.

  4. I agree with Anderson it’s heartbreaking to see the news people died families separated, they could have done better if they only focus on the safety of people and providing their needs even before it happened they know it’s coming but they didn’t do much, this is a wake up call for the Phil government make your governance better so you don’t get criticized when something like this happened. Phil is not that poor it’s a rich country we can be better just like other asian countries if not for the corrupt government officials they can enhance our techonology become more advance they can develop programs that will help their people they can develop infrastruture, they can build evacuation centres that will protect the people when times like this comes, they can do something to better the land structure also to avoid flooding around the phil, every year people experience flooding but the govt is doing nothing. Imagine how much 10 billion pesos can do to our country if it didn’t get to the pocket of the politicians. Selfish politicians they corrupt so they can have a luxurious life, they can send their kids to school abroad, they go shopping abroad they go gamble abroad it’s disgusting how they run for govt position not to work but to get rich.

  5. I for one am glad that the rest of the world is seeing how incompetent and corrupt Filipino politicians are (not sorry to say that I lump all you politicos together). No matter how many promises over the years these folks make, no matter who they are, they will never improve your way of life. They are all easily blinded by power and money and celebrity. F*#$ing idiots! They should all be in prison!

  6. I know people from Tacloban. They prepared. The LGU’s prepared. The relief goods were set aside early on. The people were evacuated to gyms. But it was really the storm surge that was unexpected. The sudden surge washed away the goods and destroyed the coliseums in 10 seconds. Nobody could’ve prepared for that.

  7. It’s another case of incompetence– in the sense that we have deployed a wrong person who happened to be the DILG secretary– but one who does not have the experience– and one who grew up with steaks, posh and high lifestyle, limousines, and comfy living- being one of the richest man in the country. What does he know of poverty and food? of house? he may be overwhelmed bec his standards are way, way off from the majoirty, and maybe he’s talking of a house made of tiles, and paints. I wished Mar Roxas could have forgotten being a politician bec million people are at stake, and this is no time for politics. He could have asked for more experienced men like Richard Gordon, Bayani |Fernando, Mayor Duterte, Richard Hagedorn– who are really field men, who can live among the poor, and have the experience to handle such magnitude of disaster. IN the firts place, these guys are not a threat to their seats. They lost in the previous election- they lost bec people’s votes are bought. But Im sure if they are asked to help now, they will be more than willing to lead. For the sake of the people.

  8. I liked what the reporter did because it sends out an unbiased message to the whole world how shameless and incompetent are our elected(kay namayad) and appointed(kay duol sa dughan) government officials kay puro pangurakot, pa-pogi ug pamugas-pugas para sa sunod na election lang gihimo.

    It may not make any difference because most of us are very forgetful and tend to forget the past. Look who’s there in the senate, congress, capitol and our municipal hall; the same corrupt people and bloodlines we’ve been complaining for decades.

    Asa ka pa!

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