Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tacloban Visit June 2014 - Summary

Moving on...

I would like to thank the following partners and supporters for accommodating my team: Cebu Pacific Air and DOT Eastern Visayas
Seven months after typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) wrought devastation in Visayas and Palawan – the struggle and fight continue on…
While the battle is somewhat subsiding in most parts, Eastern Visayan cities or towns are still fighting and just slowly recovering from the nightmare brought about by the strongest recorded typhoon that ever hit the Philippine shore.  Or the world.   

A Welcome sign outside the airport. Shelter tents visible from a distance  .

While many people had picked up their pieces and moved on, others are still living through the post-apocalyptic effects of giant waves and killer storm.  Some still live in tents, some struggle to find income enough to meet their daily needs, still others battle post-traumatic stress, or even nightmares about lost family members…

My trip was an eye-opener in many ways.  While the primary objective was to tour (and encourage others to also visit) and help rebuild the economy, the interaction with the survivors and the sight of ruins told me many things...  The severity of the devastation;  the long fight ahead especially for unattended segments of the society (like kids with special needs),  our own lack of disaster preparedness; but it also showed the strong resiliency of our communities, and the heart and passion of those who survived and stayed to help others.
Disembarking passengers from a plane, as seen from partially reconstructed airport

We visited 4 schools to hand-over donations

and also planted seedlings

The good news was that, recovery is on the way and one may feel that most parts are back to normal.  Shops had opened, as well as hotels, restaurants and many other businesses. There were new visible players in the business arena, them recognizing both the need and revenue potential.  Road transport system is normal; even airport is very operational albeit still in a bad state and shape. 

one of several stranded ships

still intact building in downtown city

What’s new and unique for me are visits to the ‘ruins’ or remnant signs of the past typhoon.  Several huge ships are still stuck inland, and perhaps will stay there for a long time – if not for good. Big structures like the Sto. Nino church ruin and collapsed stadium are good for ‘reminder pictures’… Reminder about the power of nature, or how fragile life is.
This building was a shelter to many people during the raging storm

Sto Nino church, destroyed by the typhoon

Our tour didn’t only capture ‘the usual’, we went to Ulot (Samar) – 1.5 hours away from Tacloban to experience a unique boat ride .  They call it a ‘Torpedo ride’.  It was a surprisingly long but fast motorized boat that was operated by expert pilot who navigated through rapids and boulder-full of river.  It offered a thrill ride where you see yourself zooming fast very near big rocks and obstacles, and sometimes get free shower from big splashes of water as the boat cuts through the waves.  Taking this boat ride also supported the livelihood project that would offer income to local guides and boat owners – to lead them away from unsustainable tree-poaching.

Torpedo boat ride in Ulot river

All in all - the trip was simply great, rewarding and fun. The people who we’ve all met and interacted with helped a lot in my own understanding about the calamity, about survival, about genuine care to others, about the on-going needs of many people, and about our continual fight against many challenges.

Our visit was short but sweet, and fulfilling.  And I’m sure, anyone who will visit Tacloban or the surrounding areas would have, not just nice pictures to bring home - but also the same pleasant, memorable and fulfilling experiences.

Tara na!

We’d also like to thank our supporters and friends from – Granda Manor, Bukid Outdoor, Calle Z, Leyte Gulf Travel and Tours. 
To help you with your bookings, contact: Bukid Outdoor and Travel (Jason 0918 905 0079), or Leyte Gulf Travel (Ludette 0918 938 3960)
the 2 crazy dudes in San Juanico Bridge

No comments: