after the storm
I wasn’t prepared for this, and neither was my government. After 3 very challenging weeks, I have already come to terms with the situation, that recovery will be a long process but we’ll eventually get there. The Philippine government, however, is still in denial. We survived, but eventually it will be politics that will kill us all.
I went out to take photos on the following morning, but after seeing so much pain and struggle, I couldn’t play the role of a casual observer. I, too, was part of this and I realized that I had a bigger role to play: to survive the aftermath, both physically and emotionally.
The water supply was shut down except for this pipe at the Tacloban Shopping Center. There was already a long line of people waiting in line. They brought every bottle and bucket they had to fill with water. I made a mental calculation of whatever water I had left in my water tank, which was zero, zip, zilch. The water pipe broke during the storm and all the water flowed like rain into the gutter.
In the days to follow, money had no value. It reminded me something I’ve come across: until the last tree has been cut and the last fish caught will people realize that money can’t be eaten. The situation was a little different but the result would have been the same because all the groceries were looted empty and so were the drug stores. Some people may have money, but nobody was selling.
We had no news. Telephone lines were down as well as all the cell towers. It was only on November 10 that I was able to send an email to my wife, who was in Manila that time, telling her that our children and I were safe. The whole time we were out of coverage was very excruciating, and I can imagine how it was for my wife not to hear any news about us.
“we’re safe, the rest of the family is safe. Food and water for a few more days, hopefully relief comes soon. No water electricity”
The emotions rushing through me as soon as I got the word out were just too overwhelming.
Meanwhile, this is the scene across from where I live, taken on the morning of November 9.
Fast forward to November 28. Pictures below were taken at the Tacloban Convention Center, now an evacuation center.
A kid’s broken tricycle gets a second chance as a cart for carrying heavy loads.
A guitar with no strings attached.
This is something I see every day, the only difference is that these children are living in an evacuation center.
Things will be better. If he can be confident about it, so should everybody.
I’ve been spending a lot of time relaying information through Facebook, and have also lamented the fact that our government has been dragging its feet in terms of distributing relief goods and getting people to safety. The breakdown of peace and order triggered a mass exodus, myself included. At the airport, people were treated badly by military personnel in charge of the military planes. I have been on one of those long queues, exposed to the elements, only to be told to disperse and line up by the gate, and then to be told again that we should get priority numbers which nobody was issuing. There were those whom I talked to who stood in line for 3 days, sleeping at the airport, without food nor water, and still weren’t able to get a ride out.
I’ve returned to Tacloban after a week of rest in Manila, only to find out that we have only been given 2 relief bags for the past 3 weeks. That is food for around 4 days total. If we were to rely on these for survival, there wouldn’t be any survivors left. The Philippine government sent politicians instead of experts. They sent bumbling bureaucrats where even volunteers could have done a better job at organizing rescue and distribution of relief goods. The policies concerning disaster aid was shameful at best.
Haiyan was something we could deal with, but the way our government treated and is treating us is more catastrophic than the typhoon itself.