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A decade after 'Yolanda': A new home at last

Every Taclobanon has a Super Typhoon (STY) Yolanda story.

For most of them, it is a story of tragedy and pain. For many, it is a narrative of an irreversible loss of the comforts of a warm abode and a roof over their heads, or a livelihood that could have secured a better future for the family, and for each one, it is a tragic tale about remembering the lives of those who are dear to them or those people whom they have simply come to know.

Joseph Gadaingan, a 37-year-old STY Yolanda survivor, recalled the traumatic experience brought by the most powerful typhoon that took thousands of lives in Eastern Visayas during the wee hours of November 8, 2013.

Just like the prelude to every harrowing story of each Taclobanon, Joseph, along with his siblings and cousins, underestimated the power of the typhoon, being accustomed to such calamities at least a few times each year. Little did they know that the catastrophic damage of STY Yolanda would make its mark in history and would forever change the landscape of Tacloban City.

Joseph’s house in Brgy. 37-A Palanog, a reclamation area several kilometers away from Cancabato Bay that gave birth to 5-meter-high storm surges, was not spared by the wrath of one of the strongest storms to make landfall in recorded history.

He recalled seeing his home being engulfed by muddy, silty water in just a matter of minutes while swimming away from one house to another, watching each one swept away into the 20-foot swell.

“Dumako an dagat tapos makusog an hangin, an mga balay, an mga tawo nagkaaanod. (The sea became bigger, the wind stronger, and the houses were all swept away by the waves, even the people),” Joseph recalled, his eyes welling up with tears.

Joseph continued to recount every vivid and horrid detail he witnessed the day after. Dead bodies of friends scattered along the road, shrieks of pain and disbelief, smells of death and rotting flesh, chilling air, and hunger—there, the once-alive and busy streets of the city—all of these are still etched fresh in his memories even a decade after STY Yolanda. 

“Kaluoy han Diyos, ngatanan kami ha akon pamilya nakaligtas. (All of my immediate families were saved, thank God),” Joseph continued with a forced smile.

A small boat washed inland with scattered debris along Magsaysay Boulevard in Tacloban City after Super Typhoon Yolanda barreled through the regional capital with a storm surge, killing over 2,000 of the city residents on November 8, 2013. (File Photo: PIA)

Home at Last

Joseph, his family, and some neighbors now live in Greendale Residence in Tacloban City, one of several relocation sites built for the survivors of STY Typhoon Yolanda.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. personally handed over certificates of award to Joseph and seven others representing the thousands of beneficiaries of the National Housing Authority’s Yolanda Permanent Housing Sites, during the 10th Yolanda commemoration anniversary held Wednesday, November 8, at the Tacloban City Convention Center.

Joseph Gadaingan, a Yolanda survivor and NHA Pabahay beneficiary, received the certificate of award from President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., during the 10th anniversary commemoration of Super Typhoon Yolanda held on Wednesday, November 8, at the Tacloban City Convention Center. (Photo: PIA Region VIII)

During the same event, President Marcos Jr. instructed the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) and the National Housing Authority (NHA) to fast-track the awarding of housing units to the other victims of STY Yolanda.

“Let us continue to work hard so that we can provide them with the tools and the resources to rebuild their lives,” President Marcos said.

The President also recognized Tacloban’s disaster risk reduction and management efforts through the creation of contingency, public service, and disaster response plans both at the barangay and city levels.

“Damo nga salamat po kan President Marcos pagkanhi ha am paghatag hin nga pabahay, harayo na kami kamakaharadlok nga dagat, medyo safety na kami (Thank you so much to President Marcos for coming here to Tacloban and personally awarding us these certificates. We're now safely living far from the treacherous sea),” Joseph said in an interview.

The certification shall be the legal basis for the release of titles to Joseph and to a thousand other beneficiaries.

Joseph (2nd from right) with NHA General Manager Joeben Tai and seven other beneficiaries who received housing units under the Yolanda Permanent Housing Program during the 10th Year Commemoration of Super Typhoon Yolanda. (Photo courtesy of NHA)

Collective efforts after the storm

The President also extended his gratitude to the international community, which extended their assistance to the Filipino people and the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan), especially for the rehabilitation of Tacloban City.

“To the survivors who continue to move forward, we salute your indomitable spirit and character. As we commemorate this 10th year of Yolanda, let us continue to offer our prayers for our dearly departed, even as we find our own path towards peace, towards healing, [and] towards recovery,” President Marcos said.

“To all the national leaders, to all the local leaders, then and now, the private sector, the international [and] local organizations, volunteers, [and] donors: accept our eternal gratitude,” he added.

The story of Joseph is a story of survival, resilience amidst diversity, and finding faith despite tragedy. Just like his namesake in the Bible, Joseph and his family transferred from a neighbor’s house to another during the storm and eventually found a home to start anew while remembering friends and neighbors who perished.

As President Marcos commemorated the 10th year of ‘Yolanda’, he urged every Taclobanon, “We must always keep a special place in our hearts for those we lost and who are uncounted for. [L]et them not be unremembered.” (VTG/PIA Eastern Samar)

Sheltered. Housing units in Glendale Residences, Tacloban City, where Joseph and other survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda now reside. (Photo: PIA Region VIII)

About the Author

Samuel Candido


Region 8

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