Bartolome and his family on the dredger that was their home for almost a month after Typhoon Haiyan smashed into Leyte Island in the central Philippines on November 8 last year. Bartolome and his family are rebuilding their lives: he and his wife have jobs and their children are back at school.
Typhoon Haiyan Anniversary: From ship to shore, a story of survival
TACLOBAN, the Philippines, November 6 (UNHCR) – The big dredger looks menacing as it towers over the houses next to it. Children run around the ship, playing and seemingly unaware of the tragedy that placed it there. Somebody has nonetheless scribbled a message on the ship's hull, which tells a different story: Stupid Yolanda.
The dredger was home to Bartolome and his family, together with 37 other families, for three weeks after Typhoon Haiyan hit the island of Leyte in the Philippines on November 8 last year. Typhoons are not uncommon in the Philippines and, over the years, people have learnt what to do and how to cope. But this was no ordinary typhoon.
Haiyan, locally called Typhoon Yolanda, swept over the central Phillipines with winds of 235 kilometres an hour and was one of the strongest typhoons to have ever hit the Southeast Asia nation. The storm affected around 14 million people and caused extensive damage to property. Entire communities were wiped out and the island of Leyte was especially affected. Thousands of people were killed on Leyte and elsewhere by the super storm.
"No one expected that the typhoon would be that strong. Yolanda was merciless," said Bartolome, sitting in his house built on pillars by the sea. "Everyone was aware that the typhoon was strong but the forecast was not that clear on how strong it would be."
Like many men, Bartolome sent his wife and children to an evacuation centre and stayed behind to guard his house. At his brother-in-law's house they huddled together and began preparing a meal, thinking it was just a question of waiting the storm out. But as the wind and rain increased, they saw the houses around them being blown away and destroyed one by one. Four people knocked on the door and asked to be let in. When the water began to rise they climbed up to the second floor, and then the roof.
"The rain and wind was so hard that it hurt when it touched your skin," said Bartolome. "My body was in pain. That's how strong the typhoon was."
As they were lying on the roof, he prayed that the waves would stop. By this point, they were almost as high as the house. Suddenly, a ship passed by and Bartolome thought that they were being saved. He soon realised that they were not rescuers. The people he saw waving from the ship were also survivors who had climbed onto the vessel.
When UNHCR found Bartolome and his family, they were living on the ship with other families in horrific conditions. They had no choice; their house was completely destroyed, the streets were full of debris and littered with rotting human and animal corpses. The stench was unbearable.
With the support of United Parcel Service (UPS), UNHCR provided Bartolome and his family with a solar-powered lantern, kitchen set, mats and a tent, helping them to move off the ship. As one of UNHCR's leading corporate partners, the shipment and logistics company contributed crucial funds to the immediate response and long-term recovery.
"I'm really thankful to UNHCR," said Bartolome. "They gave us a tent when they stopped by the ship. Not just to us but they also provided tents to other survivors of the whole province. I can't imagine what [the city of] Tacloban would look like without UNHCR and the other organizations."
The dredger remains a part of Bartolome's neighbourhood, reminding him of the awful events of the past. With the support he received from UPS and UNHCR, he quickly regained his strength and was able to swiftly rebuild his house. "I said we would be back in the house by the New Year, and I was right," said Bartolome proudly.
By Marjanna Bergman in Tacloban, the Philippines
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the photo I made late in the evening when the sun is very deep, for the orange color, I used a brown graduated filters, and a gray graduated filters I've turned down for the water,is a bit unusual, but I'm experimenting, sometimes
Tacloban (English: /tækˈloʊbən/ tak-loh-ban; Waray and Filipino: [tɐkˈloban]) is a first income class highly urbanized city in the Philippines and the provincial capital of Leyte where it is geographically situated but governed administratively independent from it. It is 360 miles (580 km) southeast from Manila. According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 242,089 and is the most populous city in the Eastern Visayas region. In the 2013 election, it had 109,027 registered voters.
It is also the regional center of Eastern Visayas, being the main gateway by air to the region. Tacloban was briefly the capital of the Philippines, from 20 October 1944 to 27 February 1945.
In an extensive survey conducted by the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center and released in July 2010, Tacloban ranks as the fifth most competitive city in the Philippines, and second in the emerging cities category.
On 8 November 2013, the city was largely destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan, having previously suffered similar destruction and loss of life in 1897 and 1912.
On 17 January 2015, Pope Francis visited Tacloban during his Papal Visit in the Philippines and held a mass at Barangay San Jose, and later he led mass of 30,000 people in front of the airport.
Tacloban was first known as Kankabatok, an allusion to the first inhabitants – Kabatok. They established their dwellings in the vicinity of the present day Santo Niño Church. Others who came later were Gumoda, Haraging and Huraw who erected their own settlements in nearby sites. Huraw's domain is the hill where the city hall now sits. The combined settlements acquired the name Kankabatok, meaning Kabatok's property.
By the end of the 16th century, Kankabatok was under the political administration of Palo and part of the parish of Basey, Samar. It was discovered in 1770, by the Augustinian Mission, who were superseded by the Franciscans in 1813. During this period, Kankabatok was renamed to Tacloban.
The change of the name came about in this manner: Kankabatok was a favorite haunt of fishermen. They would use a bamboo contraption called a "taklub" to catch crabs, shrimps or fish. When asked where they were going, the fishermen would answer, " tarakluban", which meant the place where they used the device to catch these marine resources. Eventually, the name Tarakluban or Tacloban took prominence.
It is not known when Tacloban became a municipality because records supporting this fact were destroyed during a typhoon. It is commonly believed that Tacloban was officially proclaimed a municipality in 1770. In 1768, Leyte and Samar were separated into two provinces, each constituting a politico-military province. Due to its strategic location, Tacloban became a vital trading point between the two provinces.
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Picture extrapolated from the "Letters to Tacloban" reportage.
LETTERS TO TACLOBAN - Full documentary on
8 November 2013, typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines.
What was left behind was a wounded country with cities such as Tacloban, completely destroyed.
The government received help from many countries and international NGOs, but the reconstruction plan is far from being completed.
The core of this movie is the story of a group of children who relocated to Calabanga after the disaster, and the delivery of their letters to their families in Tacloban.
From Manila to Calabanga, through Legazpi and Tacloban, this documentary highlights the slow and painful process of both physical and emotional reconstruction after the strongest typhoon ever recorded, hit the Philippines.
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For the full story:
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