It was getting dark and almost curfew time. My colleagues and I were about 20 minutes away from Tacloban city downtown, walking along the coast, surveying what was left of what people here called “Barangay 70” (Village 70) in Rawis.
Strangely enough, amid the ruins of this coastal barangay, life was bustling. People gathered in clusters, some were pumping water from a deep well while others chatted by the doorstep of their makeshift houses. A group of children ran after us, asking for their pictures to be taken.
I met 54-year-old Procopio Molina as he was waiting to receive five kilos of WFP rice for his participation in a Food-for-Work debris-clearing project that day.
“When the typhoon came, my family and I ran up to that tall house,” Procopio said, pointing to a beaten-up concrete house that stood out among the makeshift houses. “We holed ourselves up there for five hours, waiting for the water to recede”.
“Today we worked from 8am to 4pm. We moved some rocks that were washed ashore,” he narrated.
“I’m quite thankful for this rice, but really, I just want to go back to work,” Procopio said shyly but firmly. Prior to Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda), he was working as a truck driver for a company based in Tacloban City.
By now it was pitch black. Since electricity has not yet been restored, my colleagues and I had to walk back to our rented van with the help of the light from our mobile phones.
As we were walking away, Procopio’s neighbors began teasing him, “hey, you’re going to be famous!” The night may be dark, but the optimism of these people remains bright.