Quantcast
Latest Stories

City in ruins slowly picking up the pieces

By

HOPE AMID THE RUINS A woman waves from atop her destroyed home at the Inquirer aerial team, which surveyed the destruction caused by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” in Leyte on Saturday. Fluttering in the wind beside her is a Philippine flag. RAFFY LERMA

People in Tacloban City are slowly picking up the pieces of their shattered lives, with the city that only a week ago found itself in the eye of a monster storm trying to muster the courage to move on.

As litter and debris dominated the landscape of this storm-ravaged capital of Leyte province, pockets of the beaten city are beginning to come alive.

On Saturday morning—the usual market day in the provinces—a few ambulant vendors turned up at the break of dawn on Avenida Veteranos, selling what little they had salvaged from the rubble: vegetables, root crops, bananas and oranges, condiments, noodles, used or water-damaged clothes and toothpaste.

Small boxes for gift-wrapping shared space with picture frames, plastic bowls and glasses.

The smell of rotten food wafted from the piles of garbage as people quietly huddled around the precious commodities.

Fellow feeling

None of the sellers were heartless enough to want to rip off the cash-strapped survivors who were fellow typhoon victims.

Remy Yare, 34, was selling noodles for P50 a pack, which in better times would have sold for as high as P90 a pack, and a pack of “sotanghon” for P50 from the usual P60.

Yare said she decided to bring out her goods, lest they rot in her store that had been heavily damaged by Supertyphoon “Yolanda.”

Celia Orique, who is in her 60s, placed her goods—ripe squash and onions—on a piece of plywood she had picked up along the way. She said she had managed to secure the Davao-grown vegetables before Yolanda came.

Orique lost her house, but not everything.

“I only saved this shirt and shorts, but my husband and children are all safe,” said Orique, thanking the heavens for sparing her family from a greater calamity.

Greatest tragedy

The resilient attitude that Filipinos are known for is displayed in many houses across the city.

On Tacloban’s main streets and in many side roads, many children could be seen fetching water from busted water pipes, while their parents and elders cleaned their backyards that were strewn with every imaginable litter.

But for most of the city, recovery could take time as only the main roads are passable, having been cleared of debris by the public works department.

It will take years before the people of Tacloban and the surrounding towns can recover.

Malaysian Abdul Mutalif Abdul Rahim, an aid worker for some 20 years, said that Yolanda was “the greatest human tragedy” he had ever seen.

 

Ghost town

When the Inquirer team went around the city on Friday night—exactly a week after Yolanda ripped through this city, bringing winds and storm surges—the city that was once the commercial hub of Leyte and the whole of Eastern Visayas resembled a ghost town.

With power lines down, the city was in total darkness—only the public buildings serving as relief and rescue command centers such as the Leyte Sports Complex, City Hall and a few hospitals were lit up, courtesy of power generators.

Amid this massive humanitarian emergency, expecting survivors to find ways to move on at this point may be a pipe dream—many still had to find and/or bury their loved ones.

The Inquirer spotted yesterday one body still left lying by the roadside, but Interior Secretary Mar Roxas—after he was alerted by Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman during a 7 a.m. briefing—had already made arrangements for its retrieval and transfer to one of the two mass graves at the outskirts of the city.

‘Anywhere but here’

Fleeing survivors said they were not just escaping the putrid smell of death, hunger and desperation.

They just wanted to forget.

Imelda Pasagui, 45, recounted the horror of a 5-meter storm surge that engulfed the coastal communities of the city on Nov. 8.

Pasagui and her family had heeded official warnings for preemptive evacuation, abandoning their house two days before Yolanda struck. They survived.

When she and her family returned to her barangay near Sto. Niño Church last Wednesday, Pasagui said bodies were still trapped under the rubble—in collapsed houses and structures, under the ships that had been washed ashore and in the many still inaccessible alleys and roads.

Pasagui was with her children, husband and a group of some 20 family members, neighbors and relatives who had camped out at the Tacloban port, waiting to be ferried by the Philippine Navy’s BRP Bacolod to Cebu.

She said she had relatives in Cebu City, but planned to reach Quezon City, or any place as far away as possible from their devastated hometown.

“Our houses were swept away. Nothing was left except the broken floors. There’s nothing here for us, nothing,” she said, fighting off tears.

“You can’t buy anything here,” she said. “(Take us) anywhere but here.”


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Avenida Veteranos , noodles , Remy Yare , Supertyphoon Yolanda , Tacloban City , typhoon victims , Typhoon Yolanda , Yolanda aid , “sotanghon”




Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Opinions split on Napoles turning state witness
  3. Delfin Lee: Blame Pag-Ibig, not me
  4. Plunder complaint filed vs PNP chief, firearms office head over license delivery deal
  5. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  6. San Juan cops fail to arrest Cedric Lee
  7. More ‘Yolanda’ bodies found
  8. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  9. Lawyer: Napoles ‘will tell all’
  10. Boy ‘sexually assaulted’ at Indonesia international school
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  3. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  4. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  5. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  6. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  7. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  8. Reckless driver endangered lives of Aquino, entourage–report
  9. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  10. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  9. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
  10. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
Advertisement

News

  • PNP chief on plunder raps: ‘Amateurish’
  • Makati readies 12-month traffic plan for Skyway 3
  • Heard on Radyo Inquirer 990AM
  • Did you know
  • HK apology: Why Estrada and not Aquino?
  • Sports

  • Mixers trim Aces, force do-or-die tiff
  • Donaire junks Garcia as coach, taps father
  • ’Bye Ginebra: No heavy heart this time
  • UAAP board tackles new rules
  • Baguio climb to decide Le Tour de Filipinas
  • Lifestyle

  • Entering the monkhood a rite of passage
  • Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  • Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  • Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  • Life lessons I want to teach my son
  • Entertainment

  • Return of ‘Ibong Adarna’
  • Practical Phytos plans his future
  • In love … with acting
  • From prison to the peak of success
  • ‘Asedillo’ location thrives
  • Business

  • PH banks not ready for Asean integration
  • Stocks down on profit-taking
  • Banks allowed to use ‘cloud’
  • SMIC to issue P15-B bonds
  • Honda upgrades PH plant
  • Technology

  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • 19 Ukrainians, Russians, Filipinas rescued in bar raid
  • Filipinos coming home from Mideast must obtain MERS clearance – DOH
  • US Secret Service in Manila ahead of Obama visit
  • Palace thanks Estrada for successful HK mission
  • Hong Kong accepts PH apology; sanctions also lifted
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement