TACLOBAN City--The destruction that Yolanda left was just too much for some survivors to handle that they could not afford to wallow in sadness or grieve for loved ones who perished in the tragedy.
They were busy looking for missing relatives, rebuilding their shelters, looking for food and trying to have a semblance of normalcy in their lives.
Lilibeth Planas lost her husband Edgardo and six of their seven children to Yolanda.
For months, she kept looking for them while attending to her child who survived, eight-year-old Bonvic Anthony.
Edgardo’s body was identified recently at the processing station of the dead inside the Holy Cross Gardens, where a mass grave for the 2,273 casualties from this city is found.
As for her six children, it was only when June came and she only had one child to send to school that Lilibeth accepted the fact that she would never see them again.
Last Nov. 8, a year after Yolanda, Lilibeth went to the mass grave to visit Edgardo and bring him his favorite pork adobo with rice and a bottle of Red Horse, his favorite beer.
For an hour, Lilibeth endured the heat and sat on her husband’s grave, praying, staring at the cross and cleaning the area.
Lilibeth said she misses her family but that she can’t afford to get carried away by her emotions, not when she and Bonvic are still staying in a makeshift tent and she can barely send him to school with her meager earnings as a fruit vendor.
In his message during the commemorative activity at the mass grave, Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez urged survivors to transform their pain to strength and use this as a motivation to overcome difficulties.
“Now is the time for us to rise and work for the future of our children. Let us work to make Tacloban a livable city and that we may be able to live in safety and comfort in a decent shelter,” Romualdez added.
For residents in the coastal barangay of San Jose, Yolanda left them homeless and without livelihood. And even if some of them had been moved to bunkhouses in resettlement camps, they refuse to leave their homes lest their families go hungry.
Lourdes Cabanganan, 64, made sure her son would be able to salvage debris so they could put up a makeshift house.
Her family is occupying a unit in the resettlement camp located eight kilometers away, but she prefers to stay in San Jose so her son could still fish, their only means of livelihood.
The family of Marwin Magallanes of Barangay Magay in Tanauan town has been identified as a beneficiary of a group’s housing project. But Magallanes says that even with the new house, he would still not totally leave their hut under the bridge, near the sea that once tried to claim their lives in a storm surge.
“Things are difficult as it is now. Imagine how it would be like when we will be made to move to a place far from the sea,” he said.
Virginia Navarro’s house in Dulag town was also destroyed. She and her family are now sharing a small house with her parents and her sibling’s family.
Navarro admits the situation is difficult but she prefers it that way for now, so she can save her earnings from selling food at a public school and help her husband build them a new home.