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)
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)

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

FIFA Indictments Put Gold Cup Tournament Under Cloud

Experts say US indictments could lead to charges of other world soccer officials, and lead to major shakeup in sport's governance More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs