Eye of the Storm

More than two months have passed but images can still bring chill to my being. The thought that I will just hold on to the strongest baluster  when the water will reach us in the 2nd floor is but a dim memory. A story I can tell over and over again,though.

What started as an ordinary field work became a race to Tacloban from Borongan on 7 November to be able to get the next available flight to Manila. Unfortunately, we were not that lucky. We decided to wait for the typhoon and fly out on Saturday. We bought some supplies and I do remember having coffee at a local cafe at Robinsons.

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Night time came and winds were a bit strong. I managed to inform my boss that we were in a secured place. Morning arrived and at 5 AM, wind started to howl. I greeted ny best friend a happy birthday and had breakfast.

At 7AM, while my door was being slammed and the glass door in the brink of being pulled out by the strong wind, I peeked from the bathroom window and saw cars floating. I decided to go to my officemate’s room at the 3rd floor. I was greeted by fellow transients trapped in the stairs landing because the roof in the upper floor was destroyed.

What followed was the longest 1 hour of my life. In between prayers, I was thinking how to secure what was left of my belongings (I gave away some of my clothes) and the best place I can hold on to when the water will continuously to rise.

As fast as the wind speed, Haiyan left with major destruction. It was the strongest typhoon. And when you’re in the middle of it, all you can think of are the lessons you try to impart to the communities- severe wind, storm surge and preparedness.

A walk to the airport a day after —before the clearing operations, was like a scene from a zombie movie. People in daze. Cars over each other. Dead bodies wrapped in makeshift bodybags. Houses destroyed.
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After a walk of 12km in total to see the runway and C130 unloading goods, it was a ray of light. A long “walk to home”in my pajamas with people you don’t know. People that you share a bond with for experiencing the same harrowing event. I can’t fathom how those who were left behind were able to make it day by day. I only pray that after all these months, all will be well. It may take some time to rebuild the physical structures but I believe that the spirit of resilience will not falter among the affected people in the Visayas.

Tacloban will always remain special in my heart. May Haiyan be a lesson on the importance of preparedness not just before the storm but in the planning for the future with climate change in mind.

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