My Yolanda Experience

November 8, 2013, exactly 6 years ago when the most devastating weather system smashed the heart of the Philippines the Visayas Region. Six years had passed but the memory is still clear, the terror is still there and I can’t help to shed a tear just thinking of what happened that unforgettable day. The day I was given a second life along with my family.

Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda in the local) was monitored since it had developed in the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Weeks before its landfall it has been predicted to be strong as it was maintaining and getting more strength while it was still in the vast ocean of the pacific and still outside of the Philippine Area of Responsibility. As it entered PAR it gained more strength. Weather monitoring agencies all over the world was following its development.

While the weather experts in the world was getting anxious of the possible impact of the Super Typhoon Haiyan we, in Leyte where not concerned at all some may have been concerned but generally everyone was just doing their daily routine when we see the news over the television and heard on radio everyone would just say it’s nothing there is no storm that can sow fear among us as we grow up with storms every year. We are “warays” we are known to be brave and strong.

The day before Haiyan made its landfall in Eastern Visayas everything was normal there was no panic buying though some were also preparing but panic was nowhere to be seen in the faces of the people. I for myself went to Tacloban City  ( I am from Palo, Leyte the town next to Tacloban City)on November 7, 2013 to run some errand and decided to buy a can of milk for my 8 months old son and 2 packs of diaper. Unknown to us was that due to the foreseen catastrophic effect of the Super Typhoon Haiyan weather experts and media people local and international flocked in to these part of the country to cover its landfall.

I went to Tacloban early in the afternoon, the sun was still shining brightly, the rain came later in the afternoon. When I went home I went my parents’ house as I left my child to the care of their househelper when I get there my parents were already preparing to evacuate to my sisters’ two storey house located in Brgy. Salvacion a coastal barangay in our Municipality the rain was already falling torrentially it was already because of the upcoming typhoon. After picking up my baby I went to our house immediately (two storey but made of wood) located near the market of the town we arrived almost the same time as my husband and he informed me that we will be staying at his parents’ house in anticipation of the Typhoons’ landfall.

At my parents in-laws house everything was normal we watched TV for the hourly report of the status of the Typhoon, outside the rain was still falling hard and once in a while the wind would gust. Reports says the Typhoon was getting nearer and it may landfall early the next morning. We slept in the living area and we slept late as the television was turned on all through the night to keep us updated. Around 4 am the next morning my sister-in-law who is a pharmacist in pharmaceutical store prepared herself for work as there was no announcement of cancelation of work from the head of their branch. My parents in-law stopped her due to the anticipated landfall of the typhoon she was on the other hand was insisting but in the end followed her parents. Strong winds were already starting to sweep around we know the Typhoon has made its landfall in the Eastern part of Samar and heading its way to our place. A few minutes before 6 am on November 8, 2019 I texted my niece in Salvacion where my parents evacuated she replied that everything is their house are already flying then the electricity went out. We stayed at the living room my baby was sound asleep in his crib we observed outside indeed the winds was getting stronger and the rain was falling crazy at first my husband’s cousin who was with the family can manage to go outside to watch over the dog to keep him from falling and flying leaves and branches of the trees. However, the worst was still about to engulf us. As minutes pass by the winds was getting stronger it was smashing at the windows the little store outside the house was being ripped of its roof the main door of the house was blown hardly and the rain was already coming in from the window sills as some of the window glass are smashed it was then that we decided to move in towards the kitchen area of the house fear started to creep among us as the main door of the house was ripped from it frame and thrown a few feet away from the door. We could see that the roof of the house was being forcibly ripped off and one by one corrugated sheets come off and flown to who knows where. We were already terrified we know that it was just getting started so we kept close to each other protecting the babies we had three little children that time 2 babies and 1 toddler. We prayed together in our fear but we get distracted as we could hear banging everywhere due perhaps to the neighbors wooden house being flown and all forms of debris flying outside. As the corrugated sheets, wooden trusses and the ceiling of the house are being torn apart and flown away my father in-law instructed us to seek safety under the kitchen sink. At that time there were five adult female including me, 3 adult male and 3 children was in the house. All of us except for my parent’s in-law and my husbands’ cousin seek safety under the kitchen sink along with cockroaches and other insect that was perhaps also seeking safety. We continued praying but we cannot even finish one prayer as we can’t hear each other until we just stop praying together. We listened and kept silent as the howling and whistling of the strong winds was all we could hear and the bangs and smashing everywhere. Each time the wind would gust the walls and even the floor would tremble. I was scared that the house would collapse. I was praying on my own that the house would hold on. I cried as the fear engulfed me I was praying for it to end but was only getting stronger it was then that I decided to just entrust ourselves and our lives to our creator as I accepted that perhaps it was going to be our end that we are not going to see the sun anymore and that this might be the end of the world for us. Instead of praying for the storm to stop I prayed that my creator will accept my soul in heaven. I surrendered our life to the creator that if he decides that this is how our life should end and so his will shall be done. But I cried, not for myself but for the baby I was carrying who just sleep his way and never minding what’s going on around him. I was crying for him because he might not see and experience the world and everything that it can offer. I was crying because I thought his life would just end that day that he will no longer see his future.

But after almost 3 hours the winds begun to slow down as well as the rain. A corrugated sheet that has flown inside the house kept us covered and safe under the sink. When we observed that the winds and rains subsided a bit my husband, his cousin and my parents’ in-law who kept themselves safe in the bathroom went out to check the status outside the house and the neighbors. When we observed that the storm has passed we came out of the kitchen sink and went to the safety of a neighbors house that was not torn by the winds. We were very thankful and so relieved that we were safe and alive. Relieved that the worst was over we did not mind the damage that right in our nose we were just grateful of the life that was spared and to us it is our second life. One by one people came out from their either torn or collapsed houses to assess the damage as far as my vision can see the magnitude of the impact of the onslaught of Super Typhoon Haiyan was beyond human comprehension especially when we heard news that many had died in the coastal areas due to the storm surge. I was worried about my parents as I heard news that many drowned in Brgy. Salvacion I asked my husband to check on my sister who stayed in the house where we live near the market and my parents in my other sisters’ house. Later I found out that my sisters’ house where my parents evacuated was flooded in the first floor but it was a relief that my parents’ my sister and my niece were safe. My family were all safe and survived the monstrous typhoon. But the grief of others who lost their loved once was enormous. The aftermath of the Super Typhoon Yolanda was an apocalypse with about 10 thousand people died and others missing, properties damage, piles of ruin everywhere, buildings and houses collapsed concrete post down, electricity went out for months. It became a humanitarian concern as many people were displaced. The image of our place when Super Typhoon Yolanda passed is one that no one can ever imagine would happen but it did happen to us but as people and with the flock in of all humanitarian support we were able to stand strong again. I could say we have moved on after six years but we will never forget especially the loved ones that was lost and pains it marked upon us.

Comments 10

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Hello, dear Aline,

Finally, you are able to write your Yolanda Survival Story, and my face is wet with tears as I tried to imagine what you and the thousands of people went through during that unforgettable day. Hugs, dear.

I am so proud of you for mustering the courage to write your experience. No one can tell your story the way it happened except you. I'm glad that none of your family members died.

This resonates so much with me, " Instead of praying for the storm to stop I prayed that my creator will accept my soul in heaven. I surrendered our life to the creator that if he decides that this is how our life should end and so his will shall be done. But I cried, not for myself but for the baby I was carrying who just sleep his way and never minding what’s going on around him. I was crying for him because he might not see and experience the world and everything that it can offer. I was crying because I thought his life would just end that day that he will no longer see his future."

It's also the same feeling I had when I encountered Typhoon Urduja (Kai-Tak). Both of my children were in my arms during the height of the storm. It goes to show how as women we put our children first before ours.

I love your story, dear. I hope there will be more Typhoon Yolanda stories written on this platform. One voice after another so we can all be loud enough to speak out against climate change!

Congrats for finally publishing it!

Nov 14
Nov 14

Hi Aline,

Thank you for sharing your survival story. You are the reason, why a humanitarian worker is at work... serving and saving lives.

Six years after, we will never forget. Every person who survived and experienced became strong and their faith strengthened.

We learned after that.

Your story and all those who survive will forever be remembered and we will work together to be more vigilant and prepared for the coming disaster to come.

Anita Shrestha
Nov 14
Nov 14

Dear Sis
Thank you for sharing this sad news. Keep strong, god bless you

Nov 14
Nov 14

Hello Aline!
So sad getting your experience. We thank God for keeping you safe. Continue to have courage. Thanks for letting us know your story. Stay bless.

Hi everyone thanks for all your comments, Yes Karen I thank you for pushing me to publish experience and I think somehow doing this made me free from somethings that's been hurting for so long. My experience though is easier than those who have lost not just one but all of their family members leaving them alone to live for rest of their lives, my heart goes out to all of them because the pain for them is so unbearable even up to this moment. I have a 2 classmates from the law school when the typhoon occurred they just arrived home a few days back from taking the bar exam (they were best friends) one is still missing the other one only her mother survived. When they cross my mind I pray for their souls.

Jill Langhus
Nov 15
Nov 15

Hello Aline,

Holy cow! That's quite the story, there... I'm glad your whole family survived it, but how scary and traumatic for all of you. Thank you for sharing this harrowing experience:-)

I hope you're well and having a great Friday!

Joy Xi
Nov 15
Nov 15

Thank you for sharing. It's too easy for those of us who haven't experienced disaster like these to forget about the stories soon after they stop appearing on the news, but the impact lasts a lifetime.

Evelyn Chioma Joseph

Ohhh! Thanks so much for sharing this amazing write up. Keep up with all you do for humanity. Remain blessed.

Thank you so much for sharing what you went through. I am glad you were all safe and the little children too. I pray you get the strength to keep moving on and benefit of what the world has to offer

Usha K.C.
Nov 19
Nov 19

Hi Aline
sorry to hear about your story of survival .
Sending you a big hug dear.