What Yolanda survivors wish for this Christmas

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Monday, December 9, 2013

TACLOBAN CITY -- One month after Super Typhoon Yolanda and 16 days before Christmas, thousands of residents in Eastern Visayas are still homeless, uncertain whether they would be able to enjoy the holiday season.

But for Basilide “Nang Bading” Durana, Marife Magallanes, Frances Lee Ajeda and “Budoy,” they cannot not celebrate Christmas, despite the traumatic experience they went through on November 8.

Nang Bading was joined by her son Alfredo in clearing out a tiny lot by the road in Barangay Bislig, Tanauan. The lot, a few meters away from where Alfredo’s shanty used to stand, is not theirs but it’s where they intend to set up a tent, should they be given one.

The area is too small to accommodate Nang Bading, Alfredo and his family, but she prefers that they stay together as a family, no matter how cramped things get.

No words are enough for Nang Bading to describe how thankful she is that everyone in her family is alive. Alfredo had gone to higher ground to secure his young children while Nang Bading chose to stay in the barangay chapel, of which she is the caretaker.

When the storm surge came, she held on tightly to the grills of the chapel. But Nang Bading, who stands no more than five feet, had to climb some more just so her head would stay above water, which rose as high as eight feet.

She said this is what adults -- about 300 of them -- inside the one-storey chapel also did to survive. The children had been secured in a space near the altar.

When the water subsided, bodies were found everywhere.

Hope amid the ruins in Tanauan, Leyte a month after Typhoon Yolanda
HOPE AMID THE RUINS. In Barangay Bislig in Tanauan, Leyte, messages of survival, a Santa doll and a flag stand out amid the ruins left by Yolanda. A tent from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (background) adds some hope to the landscape. This spot is a few meters from where Basilide Durana and her son Alfredo hope to set up a tent, should they receive one. (Sun.Star Cebu Photo/Rianne C. Tecson)

“I don’t want to keep on moving from one place to another. I just want to be together with my family, especially now that it’s Christmas,” Nang Bading said. She just hopes that aid, especially housing materials, will be distributed equally to the survivors.

Nang Bading and Alfredo lost their homes but they said that the mere fact that no one in the family died is reason enough to celebrate Christmas.

It’s exactly the same thing that Marife is thankful for, which is why she was all smiles when her brother salvaged among the rubble a Christmas tree and some decorations. Marife said they’ve never had a Christmas tree and decor in their shanty by the riverbank in Barangay Magay, also in Tanauan.

Marife, her three siblings and their father left their shanty a day before Yolanda came and went to the mountains.

“I can’t think of anything more to wish for this Christmas. I am just happy we are all safe,” she said.

Frances Lee Ajeda, 9, and “Budoy,” 6, want something they consider too big to ask this Christmas -- she, jobs for her parents, and him, a house.

Frances’s family lives in Barangay 70, Tacloban City, the area where eight vessels were washed ashore at the height of Yolanda, and have since occupied the area where shanties used to stand. It is also in this same area where her parents have built a shanty after Yolanda.

“I just want a decent home for us,” said Frances.

Budoy wants a house for his family, too. This is why he goes to the Leyte Landing Memorial in Barangay Candahug, Palo every day, asking either food or “even just P1” from those who are curious enough to see what has happened to the statues of General Douglas MacArthur and his soldiers.

“If they give me food, my mother doesn’t have to buy and we have money. If you give me even just P1, I will still give it to her so we can build a house,” he said. (Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 09, 2013.

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