Hello. I’m Alex Austria, a journalism student from UP Diliman. I’m writing this because many of us still fail to see the impact and devastation Typhoon Yolanda has caused Filipinos in Eastern Visayas. I had contacted a friend, whom I knew back in my freshman days in Kalayaan Dormitory. She hails from Eastern Visayas.
This is her story about the typhoon that causes her to worry every minute of every day.
Please read and reblog, if you will.
November 8, 2013, started out like any normal Friday for DJ Pesado, a 4th year BS Materials Engineering student from the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman. Though she knew that a strong typhoon would hit her hometown in Tacloban, Leyte, she initially shrugged it off.
“Sanay na naman kami dun sa Region 8, na laging dinadaanan ng bagyo,” she shares. DJ even had prior contact with her sister, who is in Tacloban, the night before Typhoon Yolanda (International name: Haiyan) hit.
Her sister told her that though it was already Typhoon Signal No. 4 in Tacloban, there was nothing to be worried about.
“Normal lang sa amin na mag-imbak ng food, mag-aayos ng bahay kung may mga tulo,”says DJ.
She only started to worry on the day of the storm surge, when she saw footage from a major news network of the damage Typhoon Yolanda was wreaking across Tacloban.
“Nakita ko na kasi kung gaano kalakas yung bagyo,” she says, adding that in her 20 years of living there, she has never encountered a storm that strong in the typhoon-prone region.
That was the time when DJ tried texting and calling her family in Tacloban, all to no avail. It was around the same time that she learned from news reports that there was a loss of cellphone signal in her hometown.
DJ was in UP that day, having class. But she couldn’t focus, knowing all too well that their place back in Tacloban, V&G Subdivision, was prone to flooding. “Sasabihin na agad ng mga taga-Leyte na, ah, baha diyan lagi pag umuulan,” she says, adding that those who live there even have an inside joke about it. “Kung may bagyo, lagi yang may joke sa amin. ‘Oh, may barko na ba sa V&G?’”
However, DJ soon learned that this storm was no laughing matter for them anymore.
“Lahat talaga wasak. Establishments, pangakabuhayan, tirahan. Lahat,” she says sadly.
Much to her chagrin, the people who lived in places not affected by the typhoon even found humor in the disaster and poked fun at it.
“Tumatakbo lagi sa isip ko, ‘Kung alam niyo lang,” she shares. However, deep inside she knows that she cannot blame those people.
“Nung incident ng lindol sa Bohol, tsaka sa iba pang natural disasters, aaminin kong kebs lang ako. Parang ganun lang din ako, wala namang effect sa akin yung mga nangyayari,” she says.
However, she adds that as someone who has directly experienced the anxiety and fear for one’s family and loved ones in a typhoon-ravaged area, she gained a new perspective.
“Since nabaliktad, naramdaman ko na yung sakit. Yung inis. Parang, marami na ang namatay dito, ganyan pa rin kayo? Pero…di ko na sinasabi explicitly. Nasa isip ko na lang kasi yun nga. I was in their shoes once.”
But the Internet and social media had their uses for those like DJ, who are anxious for any information for their loved ones, saying that they were helpful especially for those who had no means of communication to Leyte and Samar.
“Kahit papaano, may updates kaming nakukuha. Very convenient talaga. Tsaka nakakapag-usap na yung mga kamag-anak ng mga naapektuhan kaagad. Nagtatanungan, nagtutulungan.”
However, she and the others who are relying on these means of communication cannot help but be wary, too.
“May mga info na di reliable. Since walang makaka-verify sa info posted, it’s up to us kung maniniwala kami o hindi. Pangit man o hindi ang info, iniisip na lang naming na sana ma-verify na lang agad.”
DJ has tried the Google Person Finder and the different trackers set up by media organizations,but has so far failed to receive any word from her family and her loved ones.
She cites examples of her and her friends, those who do not have any news whatsoever about what happened in their respective hometowns, such as Dulag, a coastal area in Leyte. “May mga kaunti-kaunting news, but nothing official yet, unlike Tacloban, Palo and Ormoc na makikita mo sa news,” she adds.
The best she and the others who have families afflicted by the typhoon can do is to help, she says. Nowadays, DJ spends her spare time at the local branch of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) or in the various relief operations set up by local governments, colleges and universities. She appeals to the public to donate relief goods and help in their packing.
“Kahit kaunti lang talaga na tulong, okay na yun,” she says. However, she also adds that pity alone is not enough. “Hindi kami makakabangon kung awa lang ang ibibigay.”
DJ adds that though not everyone can relate to what she and those like her are currently going through, she wishes that they would be sensitive enough to know that the calamity has affected an entire region.
“May mga survivors nga, pero sugatan, namatayan ng kamag-anak, wala nang bahay, wala nang pangkabuhayan. Wala na yung mga schools, sira. Paano mag-aaral yung mga estudyante? Wala na yung mga establishments and buildings, paano magtra-trabaho?”she laments.
With her story, she hopes that the impact of the devastation of Typhoon Yolanda goes beyond the pictures that one now sees frequently in the media. “Maramdaman na rin sana nila kung gaano kalala ‘to,” says DJ. “Life goes on here. Hindi lang naming mapigilang umiyak paminsan. Paano babangon ang Leyte at Samar? Back to scratch lahat.”
For DJ and her friends who came from Eastern Visayas, the whole experience is painful.“Dito, wala lang siya. Pero doon, wala talaga. Tumigil ang oras,” says DJ.
“Tumigil ang buhay sa amin.”