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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs