Recovery is still taking place in Yolanda-battered areas, and is expected to be completed in 2017. But how far have we really gone three years after the catastrophe?

Hope Shines in Yolanda-Hit Areas

By George Vincent Gamayo


AFTERMATH OF STORM SURGES. No less than 10 ships were swept off the sea, smashing into Leyte’s coastal communities during the onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda.

It’s been three years since Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) struck Visayas and Palawan on November 2013, devastating 6,300 lives, displacing more than four million residents, and affecting 14 million people.

The broken seawall in Marabut, a 5th class municipality in Western Samar, prone to storm surges and vulnerable to sea level rise.

Yolanda, considered one of the strongest typhoons in the world in the past century, first made landfall in Samar, wiping out its substandard seawall in Barangay Pinalanga in Marabut. In 2015, the seawall was rehabilitated under the initiative of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), through its program Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) by empowering the coastal community to rebuild the structure.


Classrooms at the Lantangan Elementary School in Iloilo were washed out by the typhoon.

After the calamity, teachers in Gigantes Island conducted classes under the shade of trees. But early this year, damaged rooms were rehabilitated and new schoolrooms were built.

As of September this year, the government was able to construct 1,316 new classrooms in areas affected by Yolanda. But over 10,000 schoolrooms still need rehabilitation.

Nearly 50,000 boats were either replaced or repaired by the government. One of the beneficiaries is Billy Bolohabo of Lantangan in Carles, Iloilo. ”They provided us boats, nets and other fishing equipment,” he said. “They even gave out cash support to help us. All of us are very thankful for the opportunity to start again.”

Typhoon Yolanda wrecked 1,140,332 houses— 550,928 from these were totally damaged. The National Housing Authority (NHA) targeted 205,128 housing units but as of June 2016, only 2,287 were distributed from the 25,967 accomplished units.

Ivy Dacuno is one of the recipients of a permanent house from the government a year after the tragedy. She used to live in Barangay 88 in San Jose, Tacloban City, one of the worst-hit areas due to the ravage of storm surges that killed one of her children. Apart from the shelter assistance, the DSWD provided her with a 15-day skills and livelihood training. “Tinuruan kami magluto ng mga pagkaing pwede naming ibenta. Binigyan din kami sa training ng P12,000 para makapagsimula ng sarili naming business,” Ivy explained. (We learned how to cook food that we can sell. They also gave us P15,000 so we can start our own small business.”) She now sells food in their relocation site in Barangay 97, Cabalawan, Tacloban City.

Ivy starts her day by feeding her children, and cooking porridge to sell in the neighborhood.

With the DSWD’s Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) program, P20.73 billion were distributed among those who were left homeless. As of mid-August this year, 468,528 beneficiaries with totally damaged houses received P30,000 each, while P10,000 were given to those with partially damaged abodes.

Rosemarie with her daughter, a 4th grade student

Rosemarie Arponbiong, 35, survived the height of the crisis by joining food for work programs. 5 kilos of rice were given to them for fifteen days in exchange for clearing off debris caused by the typhoon. A year after the catastrophe, she received P30,000 from the DSWD, and was able to build a new home for her family— this time, a concrete one.

Kapag malakas ang ulan, nakikinig na lang ako sa radyo para malaman kung posibleng tumaas ang tubig. Kung sa hangin lang naman, kayang kaya na ng bago naming bahay,” Rosemarie enthuses. (I listen to the radio whenever there are heavy rains to watch out for possible floods. But I’m happy that our new house can withstand strong gusts of winds.)

Eda carrying her youngest child who was born days before the wrath of Yolanda

Eda Dumape, a mother of five in San Remegio in Cebu, will never forget the longest two hours of her life during the onslaught of Yolanda. “Pait kaayo ang kaagi nko sa bagyong Yolanda kay bag-o pakong nanganak nya kay kanag nangaguba pa ang among atop sa balay nyang mga bata namo lisud kaayo kay bag-o pa kong nanganak. Nag-agas-agas akong dugo. Gitakluban nalang ko sa akong bana ug habol kay para di ko maka kita sa tanan nga nanghitabo, kay ang dili ko ma kuwan sa maong bagyo. Pag-human sa maong hangin, pag menor na siya.  nibalhin mi didto sa among silingan nga kasaligan sad siya, dayon, mao pud pag kusog utro sa hangin, giuyog pud ang maong among gibalhinan sa pikas balay,”  Eda reminisces. (My experience during Typhoon Yolanda was the most difficult because I just gave birth to my youngest. I was bleeding at that time. Because our roof was ruined, my husband covered me with a blanket so I wouldn’t see what was happening.  We immediately evacuated and transferred to our neighbor when the winds calmed. But the strong winds reoccurred, and our neighbor’s house started shaking.) Eda received a P10,000 grant from ESA, which she used in rehabilitating their house.

People in Abuyog, Leyte building their flood control system. As of the first quarter of 2016, more than 90 flood control structures were constructed to protect Yolanda survivors from hydrological hazards.

The indigenous people in Sitio Nagpana in Barotac Viejo, Iloilo were given a multi-purpose hall, which they can use as evacuation site during inclement weather.

Yolanda may have devastated lives and property, but still, it did not break the spirit of survivors. With the lessons they had learned, people were able to get back on their feet. In the midst of massive destruction, there will always be room for hope, camaraderie and resilience.

Cyclone Pam raged in the South Pacific island nation, Vanuatu. The category 5 cyclone has been compared to Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) that devastated Central Philippines back in November 2013.

BBC News Asia reported that up to 90% of infrastructure were drastically shattered in the Pacific Island’s state capital Port Vila. The situation in the area was described into one word, “apocalyptic”, Red Cross Spokesperson said.

courtesy of: NBC.News.com
courtesy of: NBC.News.com

With winds of up to 165 mph, Pam swerved off from its forecast track damaging populated areas on Friday night. Like what happened during the nightmare of Yolanda, communities were wiped out.

For better comparison, let us go into the details of Pam’s and Yolanda’s (Haiyan) similarities.

courtesy: NOAA/NASA
courtesy: NOAA/NASA
courtesy: Joint Typhoon Warning Center
courtesy: Joint Typhoon Warning Center

Point #1: Winds
The Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) has recorded windspeeds 190 miles per hour for Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) during its landfall. Cyclone Pam was reported to have moved at 165 mph as it battered Central and Southern Vanuatu.

Point #2: Pressure
According to JTWC, Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) has a reported central pressure of 895 millibars upon making its landfall on November 7, 2013. Meanwhile, Cyclone Pam is at 899 millibars as of 11 PM on March 13 as reported by the Fiji Meteorological Service.

Specifics shows slight differences between Cyclone Pam and Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). However, the disparity were of no value considering the annihilation they both brought.