There were several contributors to the disaster:
-Typhoons rarely pass that far south. Most turn north and hit eastern Visayas and Luzon several hundred kilometers up north. This region normally doesn´t have a problem with natural disasters. The last storm happened back in the 1970s.
The government meteorological service issued warnings several days ahaed, but most people ignored them, since "we never get typhoons here".
- The Cagayan river at Cagayan de Oro springs from the mountain plateau of Bukidnon. This place is famous for it´s pineapple plantations. The jungle has been cleared away and pineapples planted instead, from horizon to horizon (mostly belonging to the Del Monte fruit company). Now jungle can absorb rainwater and store it temporarely. Pineapple fields don´t do this. The water runs immediately along the surface into the creeks and rivers.
- The mountains above Iligan city in the province Llanao del Sur have been heavily affected by illegal logging (the region belongs to the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindenao, which is considered to be lawless even by Filipino standards).
Across the highway through Tominobo to Zamboanga there is a shop which purifies water and sells it in 4 gallon bottles as drinking water (Jetblue, maybe you know the shop beside the CitiHardware shop). My fiancée told me today that she heard from her sister that all the employees narrowly escaped the disaster. They were all living in Tambacan and just escaped with their lives, but lost everything except for the clothes they were wearing at the time.
My fiancée´s family and some neighbours are organising donations, from clothes and basic household equipment to money. My Fiancée is organising a collection among her colleagues in Ireland. I will add something as well.