Saturday, November 9, 2013

Living with Typhoons in Manila and Cebu, Philippines

The historic landfall of  ferocious Typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda in the Philippines shook up Filipinos and those with relatives in the Philippines. I was relieved to hear from family and friends there that they are fine. They had basically hunkered down in their homes with food, water, candles and matches, prepared for the worst. Fortunately Yolanda whipped through very fast so that the damage was not as bad as it could have been. When typhoons hover in a place, there is more rain, which causes flooding, landslides, and more havoc.  Still, as of today, Haiyan claimed more than 1,000 lives mostly from Tacloban, click here for an update.

This recent typhoon disaster reminded me of the days when I was a student in Cebu and later in Manila. There were different storm signals from 1 to 4, with 4 being the most severe.

As a young student, I didn't really think about how the typhoon affected people's lives. I (and other students) would be happy because there was no school. It was like an unexpected holiday.  If the storm was not severe, we would go to movies and to our favorite hangouts. But when the rain was hard, we stayed home. We had all heard horror stories of flying corrugated roofing decapitating someone, and of falling branches or uprooted trees falling on people's heads.

The lower category storm - #1 and #2 meant hard rain; but the higher categories #3 and #4 had severe rain and stronger winds so that trees and branches strained and snapped. Roads would flood as well, especially in Manila, and this would happen so quickly. Cars got stuck and traffic was a terrible mess.  In Manila,  there was no choice but to wade in that flood water. Some people would even paddle around in canoes in the streets of Manila.

If the storm was bad, there was no electricity, which was why we kept candles and matches and canned food, including crackers in the house at all times. My mother was very diligent about this, having experienced the dire conditions of World War II.

Just over a year ago, I was in the Philippines with my son Andrew and we visited Palawan Island, staying in the Daluyon Resort. There was a storm that blew in on our second night there. Seated in the restaurant that was open to the gardens in two sides, a strong wind and rain suddenly rushed in, knocking down tables and lamps. The guests ran to the back part near the protective wall. The restaurant employees were very calm. They cleaned up and set up new tables where we wouldn't get wet and we went on with our dinner.  They provided us with huge umbrellas so we could get back to our cottages.  It rained all night. It was strong, lashing rain with lightning criss-crossing the sky.

In the morning, after the storm had passed, we walked around and took pictures of nipa huts that had been flattened, coconut trees felled, and so on. This storm was perhaps a Category #2; nothing like the off-the-chart Category #4 + of Haiyan/Yolanda.

I'm afraid the casualty count will go up in the Philippines as a result of Haiyan; but in balance, people were relieved that it wasn't worse.  Someone emailed after the storm, "We're alive!"

ADDENDUM: Father Romeo Desuyo, parish priest of Odlot, was able to send a text message to a friend before the cell phone service went out:


When I get more information, I will post either in my Facebook account or here.  Our Lady has been appearing in his church in Odlot, and it is a pilgrim site.

Further, the situation in Tacloban, Leyte is very bad, with 1,200 dead, no food nor water, and people are ransacking stores and homes from hunger. 

 I took these pictures in Palawan. It shows our cottage in the lovely Daluyon Resort (which I highly recommend), and that's Andrew in front of the Underground Cave, and shooting baskets with some kids. There are pictures after the storm, showing flattened huts, and so on.

Read also:
Jews in the Philippines - 1940 and 2013
Childhood in the Path of Typhoons
Update- destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda in Central Philippines
 The Yolanda Aftermath in Photos
Typhoon Haiyan Hammers Philippines

Fiction: Talking About the Woman in Cholon
Fiction: New Tricks
The Horror of the War in Syria to the Civilian Population
Ancient Rock Art - Petroglyphs and Pictograms from the American Southwest
Friendship: Thanks for all the laughs, Marily!
The Schools I attended - St. Theresa's College 
The Schools I attended - UP & Maryknoll
The Schools I attended - UCLA

Have a great weekend,
tags: Philippines, Visayas, typhoon, storm, super typhoon, Haiyan, Yolanda

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