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

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers 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.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More