Day 23: Reflecting on Loss

For Day 23 of our 30 Days of Typhoon Yolanda series, we share with you excerpts from a powerful reflection from Joanna, a young woman who has much to say about surviving and moving past November 8th, 2013.

“It has been a year since super typhoon Haiyan ravaged our beloved city…I will never forget what happened on that day, every detail, every feeling, every expression, every cry… I mean, who could ever forget the day you lost almost all of your family members to something uncontrollable and horrifying? A year ago, I lost both of my parents, my eldest brother Jonas, his wife Geo, and their son- Tarin, leaving only me and my elder brother Julius as survivors. Up to this day, the remains of my father haven’t been found and we do not know if my nephew is still alive.”


Searching for Survivors in Tanauan

Searching for Survivors in Tanauan

“Life is definitely unpredictable. Just because life was always easy for you it doesn’t mean it will stay that way forever. Just like how my life was turned upside down on that fateful day of November 8, 2013. Never in my wildest imaginations, have I ever thought going through such a horrific event like that. I’m sure everyone will agree with me if I say these things only happen in the movies, or it’s impossible for us to experience it first-hand.”

“Funny how at one point I had this picture perfect life, I had a heart that is content but in just about 2 hours, I was left with nothing but a heart that is empty and all of a sudden, everything changed.”

“November 8th, 2013 was the day I lost my everything. It was the first time I saw my father helpless and struggling. Knowing him, he always knew what to do, he’s one of the strongest people I know that’s why seeing him struggle and gasping for air was difficult for me.”

“November 8, 2013 was the day my mother died in my arms. It was the day hypothetical questions turned to reality, because that day I had to make the toughest decision in my life, whether to hold on to Nanay or just let go. It was the day I was sitting beside a water tank on the steel frames, shivering and the only thing that mattered to me was my family and how I wish I could save them all…That was the time I realized that family is everything…”


“There is always a turning point in one’s life. A time when you need to decide whether a situation will make or break you. Typhoon Haiyan was the turning point for me. It made me realize numerous things about life. When I thought I was about to lose myself because of what happened, it was when I was able to know myself and my strength. It made me realize that I shouldn’t have questioned why they died, because we do not own anything in this world, we are simply visitors and everything that we have right now is borrowed, including time.”

“I thought Haiyan took away everything from me, but I was wrong…Haiyan forgot to take away my resilience and optimism…”

“There is always a silver lining to everything and the life that I am living and will be living is the silver lining. When I thought that Haiyan crushed my dreams, in reality, Haiyan has opened so many doors for me; it has been one heck of a learning experience.”

Joanna lives by this quote, “I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.”

To read Joanna’s full reflection click here & to Read more about her survival story, visit


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