Days of Terror: Surviving Typhoon Yolanda's Wrath

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I am alive. 

Yes, it feels so good to be alive.

I am a survivor of the worst and strongest typhoon ever to hit land in this lifetime, Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

I survived the typhoon, or better yet, she spared me and my family from her deadly wrath.

For whatever reason, I don’t know. But one thing’s for sure, I have a story to tell my grandchildren when I grow old.

And then time stood still. It was as if the world stopped turning and allowed us more time to find our lost loved ones and grieve for those who died. We lost track of time. It was as if every day was just the same, a nightmare that we all wanted to wake up from. We didn’t know what time of the day it was, what day of the week. All we did was to number the days and series of events as Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and so on.

It was a gloomy day for all of us. Gloomier were the faces of the people, us, who were struggling to come to terms with what hit us.


There was no electricity, no signal, no means of communication, the whole province of Leyte was just isolated. And we never felt more alone when we could not feel the help that was supposedly given to us immediately.

Normally, when forecast of a typhoon comes out, we would, by habit, go on a shopping spree for groceries and stock up on our pantries. Normally, you would stock up only what’s going to last for a couple of days or for a week.

In my case, I didn’t stock up on food much, so I was able to prepare 2-3 days worth of food because I know, establishments would be open by then.

But this wasn’t the case. What we expected didn’t happen and what we didn’t expect, happened. And as the series of events unfolded, every Waray-waray (Leyteno and Samareno) never knew that in a blink of an eye, our whole lives would change forever.

We could never fully prepare for something, a catastrophe, a typhoon as powerful as this. We can never say that we were fully prepared for something that we haven’t experienced before. Not in this lifetime, at least. No amount of preparation could have prevented loss of lives.
“Storms draw something out of us that calm seas don’t.”
- Bill Hybels


Difficult times like this can make or break a person’s character. Survival of the fittest was apparent and doing bad was easier than doing what was right, just to protect the welfare of the family. In times like this, is there really a right or wrong way to do things? I think that many people thought that looting was the only way to fill up hungry stomachs.

I became a victim of bullying by a snobbish elitist woman and was called stupid because I couldn’t lift a soiled box of soiled paper during the gun-grabbing/shooting incident between military men and inmates during a jail break at the City Hall. But I chose to forgive her because she was just being herself. This is one of those instances that however you try to mask poor character, it will always show during life and death situations.

People were pushed to their limits. We showed courage we didn’t know we had. We also showed evil we didn’t know was inside us. 

We each have our own story of survival. Other people’s suffering and experiences may be more than what me and my family dealt with, but this is our story. A story of how we cheated death, a story of how God has protected me and spared me of this tragedy, not only once but twice.

And yet, this is not just about me or my family. This is a story about every Leyteño, of courage, love, compassion and generosity. Every Leyteno’s story is a story of triumph, of how we made nations set aside their differences towards a common goal. To help.

This is humanity at its finest moment. And we are proud to be a part of world history when at very rare moments like this, citizens of the world became heroes in their own ways.


We may have lost some of our dear friends, some family members, but the spirit of volunteerism and humanity did not die with them. And in the end, it all boils down to realizing what matters most in life.

I left everything in Tacloban. 

I only took what I treasure and needed. My family. I didn’t have qualms or second thoughts about leaving the place I love, after all, I had with me everything I needed. My family. And I know, in the next months to come, Leyte will rise again.

To be continued…

Please watch out for my next posts as I will give a detailed account of how I and some of our friends survived. I will write everything my memory can recall.


I have taken many pictures, but unfortunately my memory card become corrupted. Maybe it's one way of telling me to move on. With or without pictures, the memories of this tragedy are still alive in my mind.

In loving memory of a friend and her family, Jeanberly Ross Macato, who died in the storm surge. I was honored to be a part of her new set of friends. Thank you for the happy times we shared, lunch at Zansibar, talks over colas and chips, your smile that I won't forget. Thank you for treating me the same way you treated your old friends. Thank you for inviting me to your wedding last September 12, 2013. I've never seen you so happy.  Thank you for the laughter and fun at your bridal shower.

Rest in peace Candy, I love you. You will be missed.

Rest in peace Rosario Macato, Jeanberly Ross Macato and John Raymond Macato.

Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and let your perpetual light shine upon them.

I wrote a post about her bridal shower here.

Of Friends and Masks and Shower Bloops

Keeping the faith that better days are coming,

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