News / Asia

Typhoon-ravaged Philippines City Adjusts to ‘New Normal'

FILE - Typhoon survivors living in temporary shelters are seen near ships that ran aground, nearly 100 days after super Typhoon Haiyan devastated Tacloban city in central Philippines.
FILE - Typhoon survivors living in temporary shelters are seen near ships that ran aground, nearly 100 days after super Typhoon Haiyan devastated Tacloban city in central Philippines.
Simone Orendain
Parts of the central Philippines are still struggling to recover from last November’s devastating super typhoon. In the hard-hit city of Tacloban, which suffered the worst of the storm, residents adjust to a life of fewer jobs and fewer people.
 
Downtown Tacloban’s streets are tight with motorcycle sidecars and double-parked vehicles, and there is a lot of activity on its sidewalks. But a closer look reveals that commerce is dominated by street vendors positioned in front of shuttered establishments.  The few grocers and banks that are open have snaking lines outside their doors.
Beached ships among shanties along this seaside community of Anibong. The city says shipping companies have been given months to remove the ships, if not the government will move them, Tacloban City, Philippines, March 9, 2014. (Simone Orendain for VOA)Beached ships among shanties along this seaside community of Anibong. The city says shipping companies have been given months to remove the ships, if not the government will move them, Tacloban City, Philippines, March 9, 2014. (Simone Orendain for VOA)
x
Beached ships among shanties along this seaside community of Anibong. The city says shipping companies have been given months to remove the ships, if not the government will move them, Tacloban City, Philippines, March 9, 2014. (Simone Orendain for VOA)
Beached ships among shanties along this seaside community of Anibong. The city says shipping companies have been given months to remove the ships, if not the government will move them, Tacloban City, Philippines, March 9, 2014. (Simone Orendain for VOA)

While almost all of the debris that clogged the city is cleared and thousands of dead bodies removed, Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez said the recovery is not moving fast enough - especially for business.
 
“Since 90 percent of business in Tacloban is trading, I would say the big guys, not even half are in operation… They were very hurt.  It caused a lot of damage because of the looting and it’s hard to claim insurance with looting,” said Romualdez.
 
Romualdez said the biggest mall alone could supply close to 1,500 jobs if only it would reopen. He said about 20,000 people remain homeless and almost all of them were working before the storm hit and churned up a six-meter storm surge that left about 3,000 dead in this city alone.
 
More than 20 percent of the 250,000 residents here live in poverty. Romualdez said that at the end of the month, Tacloban will unveil its master plan to help mitigate the effects of super storms, which weather forecasters say are becoming the norm.
 
Four months after Typhoon Haiyan did its damage, water service is available at less than half its capacity; 52 percent of the city has electricity. The city has placed residents in some 1,200 bunkhouses and temporary shelters, but that falls far short of the needed housing.
"Bunkhouses" or temporary housing for people who had been living in evacuation sites since the storm. Each structure can house up to 24 families of five. The community shares a common kitchen, bathrooms and medical facility. (Simone Orendain for VOA)"Bunkhouses" or temporary housing for people who had been living in evacuation sites since the storm. Each structure can house up to 24 families of five. The community shares a common kitchen, bathrooms and medical facility. (Simone Orendain for VOA)
x
"Bunkhouses" or temporary housing for people who had been living in evacuation sites since the storm. Each structure can house up to 24 families of five. The community shares a common kitchen, bathrooms and medical facility. (Simone Orendain for VOA)
"Bunkhouses" or temporary housing for people who had been living in evacuation sites since the storm. Each structure can house up to 24 families of five. The community shares a common kitchen, bathrooms and medical facility. (Simone Orendain for VOA)

The shortage can be seen in communities that quickly grew up around what were originally evacuation sites, mostly public schools. Also, seaside dwellers immediately returned and rebuilt their shanties, even if their next-door neighbors are now beached barges and ships.
 
In Anibong, shanties with blue tarp and corrugated metal roofs are going up behind signs that read “40 meter easement from shoreline is a no-build zone.” 
 
Elsa Solajes and her family have made their living fishing offshore for more than 30 years. She pointed at the massive bow of a red and blue ship that is just behind their recently erected shanty and said that during the storm, the ship destroyed their cinderblock house as they ran to the mountain.  It was right on top of their kitchen, wrecking it, she recalled.

Solajes said the family received a donated fishing boat, but they are still short one so their catch is greatly reduced. These residents are also dealing with pitch black once the sun goes down, so their days are shortened.
 
Romualdez said the city will enforce the 40-meter easement rule and it will move seaside squatters once a housing area further inland is ready to be occupied.
 
Solajes said she worries about how the family will make a living away from the water.
 
Further away from the water, in Community 94, Renaldo Viñas, a local councilman, is helping to oversee the distribution of relief goods. He is also a recipient.
 
The Department of Social Welfare and Development made a delivery one other time after the storm, according to Viñas. The community has mostly relied on international aid.
 
Viñas lost 11 family members to Haiyan. His motorcycle sidecar fabrication business just reopened in early March. Before that, his family mostly depended on help from relatives in the United States and Manila.
 
But not everyone is struggling. Back in downtown Tacloban, Giuseppe’s Italian restaurant is doing brisk business with a mostly foreign clientele. The owner Joseph Bonavitacola said just two of his nine food service businesses have reopened. Still, things have been good since two weeks after the storm, even without his regular affluent clientele who have moved to cities like Manila and Cebu.
 
“We’re doing well and hopefully it stays that way, and these foreign workers stay here for the long term so that, you know, it’s a big help for everybody. A big help,” said Bonavitacola.
 
Bonavitacola said six months after the storm, he expects most if not all the businesses will be open again and the city “will be fine.”

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Ayjayar from: Manila, Malaysia
March 20, 2014 2:48 PM
Filipinos have shown to themselves and to the world how resilient they are in the face of trials and calamities. In my travels abroad, many of my friends have expressed admiration at this trait of ours, and I proudly tell them we were born into adversities not of our own making - typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions - because of geography. I also tell them how lucky they are, and to use this as a built-in advantage to assist in their own nation-building, and to minimize their complaints about corruption, weak leadership, etc, because these are endemic in any society, and that they should stay positive.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid