“We survived through sheer fortitude.” This was how Lilian Florendo, a 48-year-old mother of five children, described their ordeal following the devastation brought by Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda).
Standing in line in Tanauan Apostolic Church, waiting for the food distribution to start, Lilian stands out with a bright smile on her face and an eagerness to talk with me. The events of that dreadful day, now a memory.
“More than 200 people died from our barangay (village),” said Lilian. “Even some of the people who evacuated in Calogcog Elementary School were not spared. The water rushed in and they couldn’t go out.”
Lilian is from a coastal barangay called Sta. Cruz. Fortunately for her and her family, they evacuated ahead of the typhoon to the gym of Tanauan School of Craftsmanship and Home Industry, where they remained safe.
“The first few days after the storm, I couldn’t help but cry. Hunger, the stench of sweat, it was all there,” she narrated. “The first batch of relief goods arrived after three days”.
“I was able to bring some of our stuff from the house like clothes, plates and chairs but some of them got lost in the evacuation center,” she lamented.
Lilian used to sell palm wine at the market but since the coconut trees were damaged in Leyte, she remains unsure of her livelihood.
“I don’t know yet, it’s still too chaotic…but next week, I want to return to our home, gather some galvanized iron sheets, some wood and then try to put a roof back on our house,” shared Lilian.
At least for now, one thing is certain – her husband has resumed his work as a rickshaw driver.