Before the Typhoon Joel lived with his wife and daughter in Palo. Though their home was not directly on the sea, they still experienced a great deal of damage to their home along with intense flooding. Luckily, Joel’s car, which he had purchased not long before the typhoon, was not destroyed in the storm and he was able to evacuate his family via land to Manila, a journey that took him over 24 hours. After safely residing in Manila for over 2 months, Joel returned to what was left of his home to begin again.
After Typhoon Yolanda, what was the state of your house?
Half of the roof got blown off, a part of the back wall crumbled, and water … water everywhere! The ceiling in most parts of the house and nearly all windows were in shambles and all appliances and furniture was destroyed.
One Year Later, is your house fully repaired?
It’s livable. A year after Yolanda, we still sleep in the living room, or just about anywhere we can pitch mosquito nets. We managed to get the roof and lighting fixtures repaired, though. The wall is also fixed.
The ceiling and our bedrooms, however, will have to wait. Windows in the bedrooms are still non-existent, and there’s this hole in one of the bedroom walls that we used as a drain for all the seawater that Yolanda pushed into the house.
What type of support did you receive from International Humanitarian Organizations?
A few international organizations helped. Tzu Chi provided additional funds for home repair, while Oxfam and Red Cross gave us food, including rice, canned goods, and toiletries.
What is one way life has change since Yolanda?
I’d have to say the amount of work we do in a day. Life before the typhoon was comfortable. Life in Leyte today is hectic. Apart from work that you have to do to earn a living, you need to put in a lot of hours rebuilding and maintaining your home. Your eight-hour work shift is now 16 hours long, leaving you with only eight hours to commute, eat, socialize, do your private stuff, and spend time with family. Forget about alone time.
Reflecting on the past year, what do you have to share with the world about your experiences?
There are only two ways to express my gratitude. First is to thank all the donors, international organizations, and other people who have contributed in their own way to reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in Leyte. Without their invaluable help, Leyte, its cities and towns, and its people could not have possibly recovered in such a short time.
The scars remain, but the healing salve that is the hand of the volunteer soothes us.
Second is to pay it forward. A good deed deserves to be answered in kind. I have resolved to help others as others have helped me. Recently, I went to a small town south of Tacloban to help build shelters for the victims of Yolanda, a first of many attempts at repaying the kindness that people and organizations have shown us.
One year after Typhoon Yolanda, Joel is back at work as a Content Editor at GoAbroad.com and is now also a successful owner of two bakeshops.
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