The revised article is published in The Manila Times on November 30, 2013.
PILAR, Capiz: The residents and officials of two villages in this coastal town shared their stories of survival in the aftermath of Typhoon ‘Yolanda’ (international name: ‘Haiyan’) after the world’s strongest cyclone this year caused massive destruction here three weeks ago.
A group of six women who serve as health workers in Barangay Binaobawan narrated to The Manila Times that they had to share whatever resources they had in hand like food, scraps of wood and tarpaulins with each other to keep themselves alive and to help in rebuilding their community ruined by powerful winds and storm surges as high as 15 feet.
“Kailangan na naming magbayanihan ba, kasi sino na lang ba ang magtutulungan kundi kami-kami ring mga taga-Binaobawan,” said Daisy Baybayan with her voice cracked.
“Ginagawa naming ‘yun para sa mga anak namin,” added alias “Joyce”, a fellow health worker, teary-eyed. “Sila po kasi ang pinakakawawa. ‘Di bale na po kaming mga matatanda, basta makakain at mabuhay po nang maayos ang mga anak naming sa gitna po ng kahirapan naming ngayon.”
Baybayan also recalled that some of the residents also asked for help from their relatives who are working overseas, and divided the help they extended to the entire constituency.
“Joyce” added that they also had to collect rainwater as for their drinking and cleaning needs.
Maricel Espina, on the other hand, told The Times that a day after Yolanda’s onslaught, she had to ask her son to walk kilometers away toward the town proper just to ask for food and drinking water.
Espina was in grief at that time.
She lost her two nieces who were drowned after their boat sank on their way to the shore due to storm surges at around noon of November 8, when Signal number 4 was already raised in Capiz. Both were found hanging on trees. They were the only casualties here.
Her family also lost their sources of income: two boats and three hogs, which one they would feast on for the upcoming holiday.
Chief stands up amid grief
Binaobawan chief Rolando Baybayan, Jr. had to stand up and be a source of hope for his constituents amidst their anguish. “Ibinoto nila kami kasi naniniwala sila sa aming pamamahala. Sa sitwasyon namin ngayon, kailangan kong maging matatg para sa kanila.”
He admitted that although the local government had given aid to his constituents, more is needed for them to endure the long-term devastating effects of Yolanda’s fury.
“Puminta na ang municipal [Department of Social Welfare and Development] at ang staff ni Congressman [Antonio del Rosario] dito at nagbigay ng relief goods,” he said.
“Pero sa pagkakaalala ko, 3 kilos ng bigas lang lang sa bawat pamilya ang ibinigay ng DSWD. Tapos 200 relief packs lang ang binigay ng staff ni Congressman, samantalang 315 pamilya kami. So hindi talaga sapat para sa amin.”
Other private individuals and groups also brought aid here, but stressed that these were still not enough to live.
However, Binaobawan folk show their gratitude through messages written in manila paper.
He said his community is in dire need of drinking water, food, school supplies for their children and medicines. He added they asked for their houses and their motor boats – the villages’ source of livelihood being fishing – be rebuilt immediately.
Aid comes, but more than usual
Until on November 28, HEKS, an interchurch-based aid group based in Switzerland, together with Task Force Mapalad (TFM), a local non-government organization, and Western Visayas College of Science and Technology (WVCST), provided relief aid good for two weeks to 315 families of Binaobawan and 175 families in Dulangan.
Reynaldo Ureta, HEKS’s representative in the country, explained that the choice of the area for the distribution of relief packs was made upon the recommendation of the damage assessment teams deployed by the group in ruined areas in the Visayas ruined by Yolanda.
He added that the relief packs contain 25 kilos of rice, five cans of sardines, two kilos of mongo beans, one kilo of iodized salt, and two kilos of dried fish. Each pack could cost around P1,000 to P1,500.
“We follow the so-called Sphere Standard for humanitarian aid where food items to be given to survivors of calamities should last for two weeks,” Ureta said.
He also said that HEKS responded to the needs of the said communities based on the capacity of the local government to help the survivors.
“We will also help in rebuilding their houses and their boats so that they can fish again and earn income,” he added
When Daisy and her colleagues learned of the said relief distribution a days before, she cried for joy.
“Naiyak po ako, sobra. Hindi ko po inakala na ganito kabait ang Panginoon sa amin,” she said.
“Noong una nga po, panay po ang sisi ko sa Diyos. Bakit po ba ganito ang sinapit naming, kako. Pero n’ung nalaman ko po itong pagdating ng relief goods, nag-sorry po ako sa kanya at napalitan ng pasasalamat kasi hindi Niya kami pinabayaan.