The shanties that have been blocking the view of the bay have already been torn down and the evacuees have finally been relocated to temporary bunkhouses while waiting for the permanent shelters to be constructed. Things are moving at a pace that a snail can run circles around it. People have come to rely too much on relief goods and dole outs. One misguided sector has started to demand cash and they are growing restless. This does not bode well. The relief phase should have been over weeks if not months ago and the recovery phase should have started immediately after that, but the government is dragging its feet.
While some people wallow in self pity and helplessness, there are those who are eager to start anew.
Today is the maiden voyage of the floating tub Frigidaire. I arrived just in time to witness the blessing of the bay water.
It was a simple send off. We didn’t have any champagne around to christen it and before it hit water, and despite the availability of beer as substitute, we didn’t want to risk breaking the boat.
Just a few minutes into the maiden voyage and something tells me that that tub is going to become an old maid, never to sail again.
On the other side of the bay, a community is sprouting. This will be the new “normal”, which is not any different from what was normal before the typhoon.
This is her new home. Her previous home was on the beach at the other side of the peninsula. It was washed out by the surge. This new home is quite near the beach and is still inside the danger zone, also in danger of being washed out in the future.
Summer is here once more but it seems like the days are getting shorter, or perhaps it is the working hours that are getting longer. And then there’s the bike ride that I look forward to after a long day.
The last 2 photo walks threw me off my normal routine, and I’ve found myself having too much time with nothing to do on a weekend. We still have a long way to go to put our lives back to where we were, and by going back to doing the things we used to do puts a semblance of normalcy while we’re on the road to recovery.
The topic of conversations still remains the same up to this day, and it can drain the spirit in so many ways. How I wish I can forget about it, even for just a day.
So today I’ve decided that there will be no serious conversation except for questions pertaining to the coefficient of friction and maximum velocity.
After some serious experiments, we’ve concluded that anything that is fun should be repeated over and over again.
One day they’ll miss this beautiful scenery, especially the sunrise from behind the mountain.
I was very glad to see a familiar face from a photo walk a year or 2 ago.
Now this is chilling out big time. We should all be doing this more often.
Come walk with me on a late afternoon on any given day and you’ll definitely smile at the sight of screaming, giggling and laughing children playing with wanton abandon. Enjoy that smile because it’s not going to last. This is one part of the world where population growth has been increasing exponentially while the standard of living has been going the other direction. The millennia old marching order remains the same despite the difficult life – go forth and multiply.
It is very common to see a family of 5,6,7,8,9, 10 or more, but nobody ever asked the mothers if they would like to have that many children. Of course some will argue that having that many children is a blessing, but for whom is this blessing? For the children who have to share a bowl of noodles for lunch and dinner? Or for the parents who have to content themselves with whatever is left after all the kids have eaten? There are exceptions, though. Some large families have managed to do well and live comfortable lives, but that is only a small part of the demography. The majority is stuck in a vicious cycle of poverty, and here we have people dictating on state policies, people who will never know what it is like to be a mother of 10 who is living in the slums and too busy taking care of the kids and other household chores that there is no time to find work. And what if one child gets sick? Theories and dogma seem to be so out of touch with reality, and the sad part is that those who think they know what’s best are usually people who live in comfort. They too are so out of touch with reality.
We’re past the 100 days mark from the storm of the ages. People are still living in makeshift shanties with no relocation sites ready for them to go to. Many places are still without electricity. Consumer goods are expensive, and public transport ceases to operate after dark. There have been one too many stories of drivers finding their fully loaded vehicle suddenly without any passenger, or some drivers dropping passengers off at houses where all residents have supposedly perished in the storm surge. These stories will only continue to grow in number.
This is at Anibong. It has been a long time since I last saw a gas lamp (Petromax as it is called here despite the brand being a Coleman or Butterfly). I would like to see it lit after it has been repaired.
People have resorted to riding on 2 wheels. I too have been on my motorcycle a lot more often, and a weekly bicycle ride whenever I needed some fresh air. Vulcanizing shops are enjoying the good business.
It’s almost dinner time and there are still some customers waiting. This is tiring work.
No I didn’t miss my Sunday routine, I just missed out on interesting things to shoot. And I got tired of seeing so much destruction, of people still struggling, and of people just waiting for things to happen. We’re still so far from normal, and it will be that way for some time, or maybe for a long time. I need a break.
..and some cold drinks.
Boxes belonging to Mario. All of them. Smells very fishy.
The street sign is so negative. Somebody should rephrase that.
6:30 pm, downtown area. No standing in line to take the public transport, only standing alone because almost everyone else have already gone home.
A seat with a view, with a view of the bottom too.
Once there was a way to get back home… and I will sing a lullaby.
There’s a big difference between shooting on a weekday and shooting on a Sunday. I guess I can take some weekends off for a while.
I will reserve my commentary for another day. This is just too beautiful to spoil with social issues, no matter how pressing.
The municipalities of Palo and Tanauan are 2 of the hardest hit towns of super typhoon Yolanda, and this is the first time I’ve visited these places. From what I’ve heard, the storm surge has swept the coastal areas clear of all structures. I can only imagine.
I have been through this road many times in the past, and the sight that was before me was almost as close as what I have imagined. Except for familiar intersections, everywhere else looked like the same wasteland with headless trunks of coconut trees jutting out of the landscape.
This is the major intersection heading to the town proper of Tanauan. At the fork of the road is an island that has become a burial ground for those who perished in the typhoon. The total number of casualties may have already exceeded 10,000, yet the government is still insisting on reporting a low 6,000+ for some unknown reason that is only designed to make the government look good.
It has been 80 days, and still a lot of things haven’t been taken cared of yet.
Here a fisherman is almost finished building his boat. How they survived 80 days without a source of income is something I wasn’t keen on prying. Food relief was few and far between.
His house was on the other side of the highway, away from the coastline which was more than 500 meters away, still the tide surged in. They managed to evacuate to the nearby school but it was also badly damaged that they had to climb into a floating pick up truck, and that’s when he lost 2 of his children.
The lack of skilled boat builders have forced these fishermen to learn carpentry skills out of necessity.
A temporary boat while waiting for the main boat to be finished. Only a few fishermen have returned to their livelihood.
No walls, no ceiling, but full of smiles.
Up to now there is still no sense of normalcy. People are still living in evacuation centers, receiving relief goods and are waiting for government to relocate them to safer areas. There won’t be any drastic change in the situation in the coming months. Forward movement will be painstakingly slow with hazards to look out for while on the road to recovery.
The sky was overcast, the air was chilly and made colder by sudden bursts of misty showers. I started from where I turned back last weekend, at the junction of Aslum and Old Road, Sagkahan. This was the first time I’ve come to this place, not knowing what to expect except that this place was flattened by the storm surge.
There’s really not much left of this place. Some people have not yet gotten over their losses, and probably won’t for the rest of their lives.
This used to be a busy crowded marketplace.
Despite everything that happened, kids will always find ways to filter tragic episodes in their lives. They know they’ve lost family members – a brother or a sister, a father or a mother, or both, or maybe all, but that morning they were gleefully singing a Christmas song.
… except for this little girl.
This is the kind of therapy everybody should have.
A broken section of the road at Payapay, San Jose. The first thing that came to my mind when I first came to this place is that nature is taking back what is rightfully hers. The beaches are back to their pristine beauty – no man made structure was left standing. For the residents of this community, life has become more difficult.
By the looks of things, there seems to be no other choice but to adapt.
Rainy days used to be something I look forward to on weekends, but it has been raining like forever since December. Water was leaking into my supposedly watertight shoes, dripping through the stitching of my umbrella and soaking my shirt under the heavy jacket which was already supersaturated with rain water. I miss the sunshine.
Apparently, nobody can afford to wait forever, especially if it involves fun. It sure feels good to forget about everything else but the current moment. The adults can take care of themselves anyway.
Playing with another is better than playing alone, and this game doesn’t need to have a loser. Our politicians have a lot to learn about cooperative play. It’s more fun this way.
While some people feel the rain, others just don’t want to get wet.
A literal definition of chilling out (in the cold windy rain).
While the government has been dragging its feet on providing housing/shelter for those who have to relocate to a safer areas, people are madly rushing to rebuild their homes to put a roof over their heads. Rusty nails can be hammered straight and reused, unlike politicians, useless even if new.
Sheets of torn galvanized iron roofing materials are headed for the scrapyard. The injuries caused by these flying guillotines are innumerable.
This is the best seat in the house.
The Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation is probably the most recognized group, with due respect to all other foreign aid organizations. They provided cash for work programs, prepared hot meals for the community, gave financial aid to the locals and pump primed the local economy through the money given to the affected families. The streets would most probably still be littered with debris if not for their mobilization of dump trucks and the local communities in clearing up their neighborhood. Now they are doing school rehabilitation. Thank you, Tzu Chi. Thank you also to all foreign aid organizations and volunteers.
Life sprouts in the gutters. This is where we are now, 2 months later.
Streetlights on a few major roads in Tacloban City are already lighted, but a large part of the city is still in the dark. Public transport vehicles are very rarely seen in the early evening, as are people who are living outside the downtown area. Nighttime activities in this once busy city have been reduced to virtually none.
Without electricity, karaoke bars and beer houses are out of business. People looking for entertainment, like these two friends sharing a 1-liter bottle of beer, make do with music from a cellphone accompanied by a flashlight spun around as if it were a disco ball.
This scene could be anytime past midnight on any night back then…
Hundreds of commuters would have been waiting for their ride on this street corner, and where there were many public transport jeepneys double-parked on the streets waiting for passengers, none can be seen tonight. The only car visible in this area is one police car, the only one that was spared from the storm surge. Inside the car are half a dozen policemen making sure that the streets are safe.
A sidewalk vendor listening intently to the evening radio program. This corner of the sidewalk is where she sleeps.
An evening coffee from a makeshift booth, while over at the back, a shuttered McDonalds fastfood restaurant.
Across the street, a fruit vendor has set up her display in front of another shuttered fast food giant, Jollibee.
And still on the other street corner, another fruit stand. This one has been there for quite some time already, but business has been slow lately.
Somebody just found his stash of fireworks, 3 days after new year’s eve.
It’s 9:20 pm and all is quiet.
We’re back at square one, or at least some of us are. Others are not as fortunate and are still struggling to get a grip on reality up to this day. The situation is improving, but not by much. There are very long lines everywhere – bank ATMs, grocery stores, pharmacies, gasoline stations, meat shops, fast food outlets now reduced to food trucks, relief goods distributions, soup kitchens, medical check ups, etc, etc. Street vendors have taken over the city’s commerce, selling goods ranging from basic food items to looted merchandise.
Of all the items being sold on the streets, the fastest moving items are soda in 1.5 liter bottles. Prices have now dropped to Php50 each, inching closer to the pre-disaster price. 8oz soda bottles are also now appearing on sidewalks. That’s a sparkle of hope that things will be alright, but all in good time.
Cycling has become the main form of transportation within the city as public transportation is roughly at 10-15% operational.
There’s not much in terms of Christmas toys this year, nor new clothes.
Everyone is starting all over again. A new wooden cart from fallen coconut lumber and old materials picked up from piles of debris. These could have easily been somebody’s wall or floorboard, somebody’s house that could never be put back together again.
Amid the setback lies a golden opportunity. All it takes is the right mindset.
Somebody once gave the advice to not put all the eggs in one basket. That somebody didn’t know that this guy had eggs that will fill more than one basket, and this guy will be returning with another batch of eggs to sell, and then another after that until he runs out of chicken. But the chicken will come from the eggs, and then the eggs will come from the chicken, and so the cycle continues, and the question will remain unanswered.
Things are now moving forward, but if you ask me where we are at this point in time, my answer would be: we’re just barely above water.
Thank you all for your feedback and I would like to apologize for not being able to respond to all of them. There are still many concerns that need to be addressed; some are urgent, some are not, but any one of them has the potential of throwing a monkey wrench into the thinking process. Life here is still a long way from what it used to be, and there is that possibility of it not returning to what it was before, but we’ll move on. There will be no timeline for that. We’ll get there when we get there.
It has been a good 3 years for this blog. Thank you all for accompanying me in my photo walks and I wish you all a better year in 2014.